You know those cold, foggy Monday mornings, when you hardly want to get out of bed? Nestled underneath your blankets, the soothing gurgle of your coffee brewer in the background…
The mornings when you don’t want to put too much thought in your outfit, but still want to look good. The mornings when you need to be able to count on some tried and true wardrobe basics.
And no basics are more tried and true than your best jeans!
Those jeans that make you feel like a million bucks. They feel comfortable, look amazing, and create the perfect canvas for any outfit-dressed up, or dressed down!
So how do you end up with those perfect jeans? How do you make sure that the next pair you buy are actually the best jeans you’ve ever had?
If that’s what you need to know, then keep on reading:
Are they a good fit for you?
First things first: your best jeans need to give you your best fit.
And while there are countless magazines and websites out there telling you what you should wear based on your body type, and matching certain types with certain jeans, I will say this:
Knowing your body shape certainly helps. But it’s not the end all-be all to jeans shopping!
To give you a quick example: the general fashion magazine consensus is that straight cut jeans look good on everyone. However, in my case-having a silhouette somewhere in between a pear and an hourglass-a fit that skims my thighs and knees always flatters my body more!
So, what’s the better alternative?
To me, the first step when denim shopping should be getting to really know your body.
Look at it as a whole: favorite (and not so favorite) parts. Be objective about what you see in the mirror, and don’t diminish your favorite attributes in favor of criticizing what you perceive as flaws.
With this in mind, you can more easily decide what you want to highlight in your body.
Love your long legs, but are worried about the waistband digging into your stomach? Try on either high-waist or low-waist jeans. A mid-rise might end up strangling just the part of your silhouette that needs a bit more breathing room.
Or would you like to visually balance out your slim, long torso, with your shorter legs? Look for jeans that stop right above your ankle-you might never look back! They make your legs appear (too) long in the jeans, and stop at the most delicate part of your leg.
All in all, what’s worth keeping in mind is that if you want to visually enhance your bottom half, excess fabric (think paperbag cut, boyfriend jeans,) will do the job. If you want to visually elongate your bottom half, slim or skinny fits in a high waist are better.
Watch the wash!
The wash of your jeans is pretty much as important as the fit when it comes to achieving your overall desired look. As a rule of thumb, dark washes will slim and lengthen, and lighter washes will thicken and widen.
But, as always, there’s more!
Consider also the visual effect of a stonewashed pair of navy jeans.
Even though you may think the overall effect is a diminishing one, the lighter patches will in fact visually increase the area they are applied on (be that front of the thighs, bottom or knees).
And the larger the contrast between your denim’s base colour and the discolored areas, the more pronounced the effect.
Also important to keep in mind is that your denim’s wash influences not only your perceived silhouette, but also your overall style.
Classic navy jeans will look, well, classic and polished! While acid washed, ripped boyfriend jeans with a rolled cuff will look more nonchalant and urban. But more on style a bit later!
Know your fabric
Originally, all jeans were 100% cotton, and made to take on some serious wear and tear. Which makes sense, considering they were geared towards ranchers, miners, railroad workers etc.
As they evolved and started becoming more and more popular with the masses, jeans became equivalent with fashion, young generations, a laid back vibe. And producers started adding stretch, in the form of either lycra or spandex for extra comfort.
To get a better idea next time you’re looking at a new pair, keep in mind the following fabrics:
Raw denim is usually stiff and rugged, as it hasn’t been prewashed or treated. It often comes in a dark blue shade, and gives you the chance to personalize its fade.
100% cotton denim is just what the name says: 100% cotton. These jeans will usually be stiff at first, but give in after some wears, giving them a slouchy, relaxed look and feel.
Stretchy denim comes in various proportions of stretch. Very often you’ll find 2% spandex, 98% cotton ones, which will become less baggy than the 100% cotton. Stretchy denim will usually follow the curves of your body much closer, depending on the cut.
Waxed denim refers to the finish of the fabric. It has a slight sheen, which can mimic the look of less shiny leather pants for example. These jeans can be rigid or stretchy.
Acid wash denim Aah, the jeans of millennials’ teen years… I think most of us can remember a time in the early aughts, when distressed, acid washed denim was all the rage. These are the jeans that I was mentioning earlier, with various lighter patches.
Style match or flop?
Now that we’ve gone through your denim foundation, in terms of fabric, fit, and wash, it’s time for the fun stuff: matching your jeans to your style!
And to the rest of your wardrobe, of course.
Different kinds of jeans can help you achieve different looks more easily. Now, by no means am I suggesting that you eschew denim that doesn’t fit your overall vibe! But you may also discover that you are naturally drawn to some types more than others.
Like for example, if you have a very bohemian style, you may reach for a light blue, stiff denim pair in a straight cut (think young Jane Birkin) before anything else. Or you may feel more comfortable in a deep blue number with a flare, that just happens to go perfectly with a loose white shirt and your chunky heels.
Or if your style is, let’s say tomboy-classic, you may just fall head over heels with a pair of slouchy, sun bleached boyfriend jeans with turned up cuffs. Ones that would look oh, so great with a marinière T-shirt and comfy, burgundy loafers.
Did you feel an immediate relaxed, casual vibe?
Or imagine the same jeans with a white shirt, nude pumps and a steel grey blazer. A touch more business-like, but still-an outfit you could never accuse of being too classic or stuffy.
And don’t think jeans can’t be elegant!
Sure, I wouldn’t necessarily wear them to a cocktail hour wedding for example. However, for dressy-but-not-over-the-top-dressy occasions, they can hit juuust the right note.
My favorite way of elevating a well-cut pair of black or navy jeans is with the help of a very special top.
Think: a high-neck champagne silk blouse, or an aubergine sequined scalloped top. Or even a crisp, white shirt, coupled with a red lip, and a modern pair of pearl earrings.
Experiment til you drop!
And once you’ve mastered style on top of everything else, the final step for nabbing your best jeans is… just experimenting! Experiment with the style of jeans you go for, with their length, their colour and their size.
You may be surprised at how different a cut you had previously ruled out can look on you in a different wash-or a different size!
So give yourself a whole afternoon of store browsing. Take your time, and go to different stores and different brands, trying on as many types of jeans as you can.
Leave your complexes or negative thoughts at thepai fitting room door!
Try on the pair that seems a bit weird, or the one you feel you could never “pull off”. Try on stretchy pairs and rugged cotton ones, try the trendiest lengths and finishes, and even a crazy colour or two.
At the end you’ll get the best idea of what you actually like, and what makes you feel like your best self when wearing it.
Another pro tip?
Take pictures of yourself in each pair. Memories fade and can be deceiving, but you can refer to pictures later on, when you want to remember how a certain style looked on you.
And if you want to have a shopping list at the ready to better navigate the stores, I’ve put together a pretty printable with all different denim rises, lengths and cuts for you!
Get it by becoming a member of The Style Club!
I’m curious to know how many of these tips you were already aware of, and had already been applying. If at least one of them is new to you, and helps you on the path towards your best jeans, then my mission is complete 🙂
P.S.: If you haven’t by now, make sure to learn more about You and Your Personal Style! This 5 lesson video course is built to help you gain the confidence of expressing your inner world to the outer one through your personal style.
So for you beauty & fashion lovers out here who want to develop, refresh or be further inspired in your style, I’d say it’s a MUST!