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Finding The Right Jeans

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Jeans. Jeans. Jeans.

You’d think it wouldn’t be such a tricky article of clothing. You don’t have to go out and buy $200 jeans to look good. There are a lot of places that have great jeans, but not every jean is for every buyer or every body type.

The Hourglass

If you have a waist that’s very noticeably smaller than your chest and hips, congratulations – you’ve got an hourglass figure! It is probably the most desirable shape, but it is surprisingly hard to find jeans for that shape. Gap is probably your best bet because they have jeans specifically for curvy figures.

These jeans have a nice amount of stretch in them and usually aren’t nearly as low rise as a lot of jeans on the market. I find that I have to go a size smaller in their curvy jeans, so keep that in mind. Always remember the majority of jeans will stretch out, so when you’re in the dressing room, do some squats or lunges a few times or something like that just to see how much they really do stretch out. You can also do that to check if the jeans are too low. No matter how great they look, don’t ever buy jeans that are too low.

The Beanpole

This body type isn’t so hard to find jeans for since, hey, models are skinny. I have a friend who is very slender from many, many years of Kung Fu and she was always convinced, until recently, that she was a size 6. This annoyed me because I’m a size 6/8 and she’s unmistakably smaller than me. I took her to Express and forced her to try on a size 0 and a size 2, and guess what? The girl is a size 0! Craziness.

It was amazing to see what a pair of jeans that were actually her size did for her body. They gave her curves I hadn’t known existed. I definitely suggest Express for you slender ladies. They have lots of different washes and styles that are quite cute, but you can’t buy them off their website, so find a store and go buy them there. Express also has lots of great basics for work and everyday.

Ma Petite!

You probably have trouble finding jeans that are the right length for you and you likely have some of the same problems as those with an hourglass frame. I suggest Gap again because they provide their jeans in Short, Regular, and Long. I’m 5’8″ and I’ve bought a few of their jeans in Short. If you’re under 5’4″ you’ll most likely have to tailor all of your jeans, which is annoying, but worth it. A lot of stores even offer coupons to tailors if you buy jeans from them. Stores that do that most likely carry designer jeans because they’re cut for 6’2″ models.

The Supermodel

You have the exact opposite problem petite women have and probably some long torso issues as well (like myself). If you’re willing to spend more than a hundred dollars, go buy yourself some gorgeous designer jeans at Neiman Marcus or Barney’s because you won’t have to tailor them. I love Joe’s and Free People especially. I have the Muse cut by Joe’s, which is higher waisted and slightly stretchy, so it fits my body perfectly. They’ve got a great selection of jeans.

So, there you are — some lessons on jeans taken from my history of jean troubles.

Caroline’s Favorite Stores :

Free People
Urban Outfitters
H&M (Give us one in Austin, Please!)
Lucky Brand Jeans

Don’t forget about thrift stores. If you happen to live in Austin, I suggest Big Bertha’s on South Lamar. You’ll get great conversation from the store’s owner and lots of amazing clothes for haggle-able prices.

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About Caroline

  • Chibi

    I hate spending more than 30.00 on jeans. I’m a penny pincher when it comes to clothing.

    However I really do find it annoying that I cannot find jeans that won’t drag down to the ground. I always have to cut a few inches off my jeans. I dont care if they look shredded. It’s not to impress you anyway.

  • I’m going to say it again, the concept of the Sweatshop is seriously outmoded. The modern third-world factory is NOT the same thing as a classic early 20th century sweatshop. Workers in a Gap factory in Haiti or Malaysia are getting paid more than the prevailing wage in that area and have jobs which would not even be available if that factory were not there. They are not being exploited from their perspective, only from your elite western one. From their perspective they’re feeding their families and living a better life. Plus the longer that factory stays there the stronger their economy and consumer base will get and the more wages will rise until eventually the whole country is much better off.

    What you think of as exploitation is really economic opportunity.


  • ostrova

    Sweatshop conditions have everything to do with why I won’t buy certain jeans, which is what your article is about, Caroline. And The Gap and Old Navy use sweatshop labor.

  • I’ve never tried out either of those brands, I’ll have to go check them out! I know what you mean about old much beloved jeans. I had a pair of Abercrombie & Fitch jeans I found at a thrift store that I just loved. When the holes got too big I put fabric underneath and then I drew some little designs on the jeans with silver paint. Lots of fun! Though, not everyone likes looking like they had a little too much fun while shopping in Hobby Lobby.

    If you ever have another pair that you love but is getting a little worn out, take them to a tailor. Usually, they’ll be able to repair them : )

  • I think ABS jeans by Allen Schwartz and Buffalo jeans are the best! Well, at least those are two brands that fit me well… But my all-time favorite jeans were a pair of Levi’s, until a hole in the buttock area widened to the point of having one butt cheek almost hanging out without me even realizing it. That’s when I knew it was time for that pair to go in the garbage 🙁

  • I do agree that the working conditions are very bad but this all doesn’t really have much to do with my article.

  • ostrova

    They’re called “sweatshops” on part because of the working conditions, guys. Check it out.

  • Please, tell me how companies like Gap would mass produce consistent quality jeans without sweatshops and keeping the price under $100? If we eliminated sweatshops I guarantee you that the price for a simple pair of jeans would go up at least fifty dollars.

    And on your comment about jeans first coming around ‘like, a million years ago, Levi Strauss was born in 1829 so he probably started making jeans around the Civil War. That was about 150 years ago, hardly one million.

  • I have to support the gap because they use my fonts extensively in their t-shirt designs, and I do find their fonts perfectly adequate.

    The ‘sweatshop’ issue is really a non-issue, because while it may appear to be exploitation from our perspective, you aren’t considering that those evil employers generally pay about double the prevailing wage in the countries they outsource their work to and improve the economies of those countries dramatically so that they will eventually move from exploitation to a more equal sort of economic partnership.


  • ostrova

    I don’t shop at stores that sell clothes made in sweatshops, so that leaves out The Gap and the stores they own, and Old Navy is one of those. I don’t know where Levi’s is making its jeans these days. It makes me urpse to think that these were inexpensive pants for people who worked hard–like, one million years ago. Now, some designer fades them, patches them, gets the seams all whiskery, and charges hundreds for a pair. They go with your tough tough vehicle, which was made to get you across rutted back roads with a month’s worth of supplies. You take it to the mall for a latte.

  • Martin Lav

    “I’m wondering what happened to good old Levis that cost $29 and were just great.”

    There still there Davey.
    Just shipped in and made somewhere else.

  • Warhol is widely considered the most important artist of the second half of the 20th century. You may not agree, but your example is [uncharacteristically for you] philistine. Try again.

    I know what I like, but I also know a lot about art. I’m well aware of Andy Warhol’s contribution to modern art and my point is not that he wasn’t a great artist. I’m also not implying that Vivienne Westwood (for instance) isn’t a great designer. But a pair of jeans is a pair of jeans, whether they were put together by Westwood or by a computer at Gap HQ.

  • The biggest issue was why one pair was a size 2 and the other pair was a size 4.

    I recently figured out why that is. I can be a 6, 8, 10, or even 12. I discovered a few months ago when I went to buy the same pair of jeans I had bought a month before in the same size, the new ones were almost an entire size smaller in fit. This is because the measurements that companies put on a size are completely overlooked and irrelevent. It’s all marketing.

    A size 10 woman who goes into a store and fits into a size 6 or 8 will buy those jeans because it falsely makes her feel slimmer. Not to say all women are like that, but enough are.

  • I personally think that designer jeans fit me better than other jeans but that could be because designers have been switching away from the super super low rise to a higher rise. I have a long torso so I can’t wear those low jeans without flashing someone.

    I personally buy mine at Old Navy or, even better, American Eagle.

    I find that they both carry good jeans for men but subpar ones for women. I don’t really understand why that is so for Old Navy though because they’re owned by Gap who have nice jeans for women.

  • Fortunately (he breathed with a sigh that moved worlds from his shoulders) not all young women are obsessed with labels. On my daughter’s last visit, I ended up escaping only $7o some-odd dolars on two pairs of jeans for her. The biggest issue was why one pair was a size 2 and the other pair was a size 4. As for myself, I was just delirious with happiness to be done with the ordeal!

  • …Or those who would like to believe they are still young and shapely.

  • Same reason some folks would pay hundreds of thousands for a photo of a trashcan if they found out it was by Warhol.

    Dr. D:

    Warhol is widely considered the most important artist of the second half of the 20th century. You may not agree, but your example is [uncharacteristically for you] philistine. Try again.

    PS…I agree with you about overpriced jeans, but some fashionistas of my acquaintance swear there is a difference…it’s not in the price per se, but all in the fit on the young and shapely.

  • Nope. They’re exactly the same. You’re paying for the name. Same reason some folks would pay hundreds of thousands for a photo of a trashcan if they found out it was by Warhol.

    I personally buy mine at Old Navy or, even better, American Eagle. Plus, for some reason, the jeans you get in America are much softer than those I used to buy in Britain. They must treat or wash the denim differently over here.

  • I’m sitting here with my daughter getting her jeans altered at a tailor of all things and I’m wondering what happened to good old Levis that cost $29 and were just great. Prices on some of the designer jeans like the ones you mention are absolutely insane. Are they really THAT much better?