A few months ago I was asked to do a shopping survey by a London department store – I think I’ve written about it before – and to cut a long story short, I said yes because I was essentially being paid to talk about my favourite subject. So, I was having a great time discussing where and how I shop, when the researcher asked me if there was anything I didn’t like to buy. “Er, no. Of course not,” was my immediate reply. Until I thought about it a bit harder and remembered the stress, pain and general angst involved in buying jeans. I hate it. I hate having to navigate brands, styles and washes galore. I hate the effort of having to try on 14 different pairs to find one that works. And I hate that unless you’re a size 6, you know you’re going to look shockingly awful in at least half of the jeans you try on.
And so, I decided to write a denim guide. Now, unfortunately, the one thing about jeans that I know for certain is that every woman is different. There is no universally perfect pair. We’re all still going to have to resolve ourselves to spending half a day in a changing room, trying to work out what looks good. But I thought that perhaps I could make it easier. To give you all a bit more information that might help make that perfect pair slightly less elusive and the whole experience slightly more pleasant. So, over the next few weeks, I’m going to putting together a must know when it comes to denim… a helpful starting point, if you will, for buying that wardrobe staple we all own. You might not agree with everything, you might want to try something different, but hopefully it’s a guideline for anyone that wants a little help in navigating denim despair. First up, I’m talking the best styles, rises and washes for different body types.
Pear shaped women, me included, have an hourglass silhouette with a proportionately smaller waist and bust but wider hips, thighs and bottom. I always go for high-waisted whatever style I choose as I like the way it cinches me in and draws the eye to my smaller waist rather than my larger anything else. It’s also great as you’re less likely to have the inevitable waist gape that comes from having to size up to accommodate hips and bum. As for style, my favourites are skinny and straight leg and, although not for me, a body-balancing bootleg is also great for wider hips too. I try to stick to darker shades with a more even wash or a light vertical fade down the middle of the leg as that gives a slimmer illusion, and keep details simple to avoid inadvertently bulking out areas I’d prefer to remain hidden. Oh, and medium sized pockets that angle slightly toward the centre and are a bit higher make your bum look perkier too.
Apple shaped women tend to have slender lower legs and smaller bottoms, with a proportionately larger waistline. Straight leg jeans are best to show of your legs and balance out your shape, but as long as you choose a pair that has firm fabric in the tummy area to cover and smooth, you can wear virtually any cut and look amazing. Essentially, the rule is that your jeans should skim your curves – too tight and you’re uncomfortable, too baggy and they add unnecessary bulk. Avoid the dreaded muffin top by choosing mid rise, or if you want something to hold you in a bit more you can always try a high rise too. Like pears, apples can go with darker shades or a light vertical fade down the middle of the leg for maximum elongation but should stay away from whiskering at the hips, horizontal fading or embellishments that accentuate those areas you’d prefer not to draw attention to.
Hourglasses tend to have pretty even bust and hip measurements with a very defined waistline – think of yourself as a voluptuous Jessica Rabbit. If your aim is to balance out your shape, go with straight cut or a bootleg. But if you’d rather embrace those gorgeous curves, you can also try skinny. High-rise would be my pick to accentuate the smallest part of your gorgeous hourglass frame. Same guidelines on colour, fades and embellishments apply as with pears and apples.
Inverted triangles usually have slim legs, hips and bottoms with broader shoulders or a larger bust. Because of this, the best jeans work to balance out your shape, so a bootcut, boyfriend or even a straight leg works really well. Strategically placed washes, pockets or embellishments can make the most of your natural assets – larger back pockets will create more fullness on your bottom and side pockets can accentuate hips, whilst a lighter wash down the centre of the front and back of the thigh can add fullness to slim legs. Low-rise styles are best for inverted triangles as they draw attention to your hips.
You’re a rectangle if your shoulders, bust and hips are around the same size with a less defined waist. And the good news is, you rectangles can pull off just about anything. Skinny fit jeans with their tapered leg are great to highlight the curves you have, or if you want to add a little more shape then you can also try a boyfriend style, although make sure they’re not too baggy. Like with inverted triangles, rectangles can get away with embellishments and pockets that add volume to your bottom and bring attention to the hips. Fading on the thighs and bum can also emphasise what you’ve already got. The best rise depends on whether your height is in your upper or lower body. Higher waisted jeans create the illusion of longer legs in those with a longer torso. Lower waisted styles that hit closest to the hip (your body’s widest point) will enhance this area and make your torso look longer than it actually is.