Jeans are about as much fun to shop for as bathing suits, am I right? Between the rise and the length and the pockets and the rinse and all the other details that make a pair an immediate favorite or a total flop, it can seem like the perfect pair is truly a unicorn.
Fortunately, there have never been more options and more information out there, all there to help you find your perfect pair. And I’m here to add my perspective to the conversation. After all, I’m (well) over 40, and I’ve worked with hundreds of women of different ages, sizes, and body types. And we ALL struggle to find jeans.
Here, my tips to make the process just a little bit easier, and it starts with knowing a thing or two about yourself.
Know Your Inseam
If you don’t know how long your jeans need to be, you won’t have any idea what to look for when shopping online. Petite inseams are usually 28″, but your petite legs may require a 23″ or 25″. If you’re tall, this becomes even more important. Tall inseams are generally 32″, but your legs may require an extra-long inseam of 42″. Try using the helpful filters on sites like Search by Inseam or online retailers like ShopBop. My favorite source of denim is still Mott & Bow, which offers its slim boyfriend jeans in a 28, 30 and 32″ inseam lengths. (And if you use code “Nada” you get a discount!).
My favorite is the Mott & Bow Slim Boyfriend in the Hubert wash. This is a light wash that feels so fresh and different than anything else I have. It runs true to size (although you do get a backup size to try if you want), and I’m wearing a 26 with 28″ inseam. This style also comes in 30″ and 32″ inseams.
Shop Your Favorite Stores
Don’t discount your favorite regular clothing retailers, like J. Crew, Banana Republic, Express, The GAP, Old Navy, and Madewell as well as Talbots and Chico’s. All offer a wide range of sizes, lengths, and styles.
Spend Just Enough For A Great Fit
Spend no more, and no less, than you need to for a truly great fit. If you can find your perfect pair at Old Navy, fabulous. If you have to spend a little more to get the right fit from a pair, then it’s totally worth it to do so. Mott & Bow offers premium denim at a fair price ($108 for the slim boyfriend style).
Think Outside Of The Box
You might have to shop outside of your size range or regular store to get your best fit. Abercrombie, for example, has great jeans in a wide range of lengths, including extra short. Or try a cropped or ankle length style if you’re petite. If you’re tall, try tall specific retailers like The Height of Fashion, or retailers with tall lengths like J. Crew, ASOS, and Banana Republic.
Make Skinnies Modern
Love your skinnies? Keep them modern by styling them with updated tops and jackets, and add a pair of chunky boots. A pair of higher boots are a natural pairing with skinnies. Another updated look is a pair of distressed or faded skinnies.
And now on to the jeans! All of the jeans in this post and video can be found in this catalog.
Best Petite Jeans
Let me stop here and point you back to the first tip above. There is petite, and there is petite. My one claim to tall fame is that I once wore a pair of GAP Long jeans because of my relatively long 28″ inseam. I’m only 5’21/2″, but most of my length is in my legs. Your inseam might be longer or shorter, so measure a pair that currently fits to find your best fit before starting the shopping process. All of the petite styles can be found here.
Best Plus Jeans
There have never been more options for the majority of the population that falls into this category, often defined as a size 14 or higher. Brands like Universal Standard, ASOS Curve, Good American, and plus retailers like Eloqui all offer a diverse selection at plus sizes. Here are some standouts. All of my plus picks can be found here.
Best Tall Jeans
Long legs are such an enviable feature, but they can also make it tricky to find the perfect pair of jeans. You don’t want all of your jeans to be ankle length, or shorter. And unlike your petite friends, the length problem can’t be fixed with a hem. That’s why it’s critical to know how long your gorgeous gams truly are and to filter by length, usually 32″ or longer. Nineth, The Height of Fashion, and Amalli Talli all specialize in tall sizes, but you have many other options as well. You can find some of my favorite tall jeans right here.
Best Style Dial Red & Purple Jeans
If you have an hourglass body type, with shoulders and hips proportional and a waist that is defined (or slightly defined) your best silhouette will be a bootcut, bootleg or flair, although you can also do a boyfriend, skinny, and straight. Stay away from too boxy styles that hide your shape. You can find styles for your silhouette right here.
Best Style Dial Orange & Green Jeans
If you have a curvy lower body (hips, bum or thighs) and narrow shoulders, with a waist that is defined to slightly defined, you fall into this body type, sometimes referred to as a pear. This happens to be the most common body type among American women, and fortunately brands have stepped up to fit the large waist-to-hip ratio that makes your body so feminine. Contoured waistbands launched brands like Good American, and other companies followed suit. You can find my favorite picks for you right here.
Style Dial Blue
If you have a straighter body type, with shoulders wider than the hips, or proportional to them, and little waist definition, then you are a Style Dial Blue. This body type is most flattered in wide leg or flare style jeans which balance out the shoulders and create the illusion of a defined waist. You can find my picks for a Style Dial Blue right here.
What’s your biggest struggle when it comes to finding jeans? And what is your go-to pair? Let me know in the comments!
Nada Manley says
Hi Gayle! Pants are hard and most people have some fit issue! So you are not alone. Your inseam is quite long for a person who is 5’2″. I am the same height with longer legs and mine is 28. I wonder if you are buying your pants too long? No matter what your inseam length, I would recommend trying the Fashion Fit Formula. The focus is to help you find the right fit in your clothes by focusing on your vertical proportions which is exactly where you have a problem. I think it would make things so much clearer and help you figure out how to get the right fit. Here’s the link to check it out: https://nadamanley.com/fashionfitformula
For the last few years, I have had a problem with all pants. The pant legs always feel like I need to pull them up (like there is too much material between the crotch and my knee.) They may fit/look fine in the waist, hips, crotch, and overall length, but feel wrong around the knees when I walk. Is there a standard leg proportion (length above knee versus length below knee). The best jean brand I’ve found is NYDJ. But this is a problem even with sweats/yoga pants. I’m 5’2″ (115 lbs.) with a 29.5″ inseam, hourglass shape. I’ve never heard anyone else mention this. Am I just weird? 🙂
Nada Manley says
Hi Kay! Great question! I do think that jeans can be very flattering to older women and curvy or overweight women. The key is in the fit and the silhouette. Skinny jeans were harder for curvy women to wear in a flattering way, but depending on your shape you might find straight leg jeans flattering (for downplaying curves) or bootcut and flare jeans flattering (for playing up and highlighting your shape). If you get the shape and the fit right, they are one of the more flattering things we can wear, in my opinion.
As for distresswed, I don’t see it as mocking poor people. I think that people like the look of an old favorite pair of jeans but don’t want to wait to get it. That said, this is a matter of personal preference and personal style, and if you don’t love them, then totally skip them. They are not everyone’s cup of tea. 🙂 I’ll email you this answer too. Thanks so much for the comment! So glad that you are enjoying the videos!
Nada I have a problem with jeans. Are jeans really pretty to wear for older women or rather overweight women? Cowboys wearing jeans were/are work uniform, practical, hardwearing, fitted to their male shape.
Are the female siluette flattering ? What about distressed jeans ? Some say it is mocking poor people, refugees, homeless it being “fashionable “.
Please let me know why you like jeans and think they are cute? As I do not know where to find your response I would be grateful for your message on my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am enjoying your mails and find them useful and interesting. Many thanks in advance Kay