Shopping for jeans can be nothing short of a hassle; besides the different cuts and washes of denim, there are significant inconsistencies in sizing, which can make trying on jeans a nightmare. But what if we told you that you don’t have to lug four different sizes of the same jean to the dressing room just to find one that works?
That’s where this week’s Style 101 comes in, outlining our method of shopping for jeans that nixes the in-store guesswork and places the focus not on your pant size, but on your measurements. Here are a few things you can do to make your denim shopping experience as painless as possible:
Be sure to plan ahead. If you know you will be visiting a shopping mall in the near future, decide on the stores you want to visit ahead of your arrival, and research their denim stock. Take note of the different cuts (i.e. skinny, straight, bootcut, flare, etc.) available, the different brands available and the different washes available (i.e. light wash, dark wash, a rinse wash with whiskering at the hips or fading on the center of the thigh, etc.).
Also decide in advance the kinds of cuts, brands and washes you’d like to pursue depending on your taste, but don’t discount trying something new, either. If a style that you wouldn’t normally wear receives a high customer rating online, it may be something worth trying on once you’re in the store.
Also look for any descriptions of the different cuts online; many stores offer a ‘denim dictionary’ that explains in a few bullet points how a certain cut of jeans will fit. For example, a skinny jean will have a closer, tighter fit throughout your hips, thighs and calves, while a boyfriend jeans is much more relaxed throughout the leg. Knowing this ahead of time not only helps you pick out what kinds of cuts you’d like to try on, it also helps you decide what size to pick out; you may decide to try on a size up in a skinny jean while you may opt for your normal size or even a size down in the looser boyfriend style.
Take your measurements. For jeans, you will need to focus on your waist measurement (the smallest part of your waist) and your hip measurement (the fullest part of your hips). If you don’t have a measuring tape, try using yarn or ribbon and measure the results against a ruler. Knowing your measurements will help you bypass the standard sizing employed by many denim brands, which often vary. To skirt around standard sizing, compare your measurements to the brand’s size chart listed online before you go in the store; this way, you’ll have an idea of what size you are in a given brand of jeans before you even set foot on the fitting room floor.
Make note of the sizes you are in the brands you are seeking, and take them with you when you shop. Also be sure to look at any customer reviews on size, taking into account whether some customers say the style runs true to measurements listed on the size chart, runs smaller than average or runs larger than average.
Hit the store, but don’t forget to bring your size notes. This way, once you are digging through the piles of jeans in the store, you have an idea of what size you are looking for in the particular cut and wash you desire.
When trying on jeans, bring the size that best matches your measurements, plus a size larger or smaller depending on the cut of the jean — if you are trying on a skinny jean, bring a size larger to account for the slimmer fit, and if you are trying on a boyfriend style jean, bring a size smaller to counteract the roomier silhouette.
While trying on your jeans, assess the fit, cut and wash. Although it is easy to decide whether or not you like the cut and wash you picked, it can be a bit harder to tell if your jeans fit. Keep in mind that if the jeans fit in one place but not another, they can be altered to remedy the problem. For example, a common problem is that the jeans fit in the hip but are too big in the waist; if your hips are fuller, you should aim to fit your hips first, and then have the waist taken in via alterations. The same goes if the jeans fit your waist but are too baggy throughout the leg; the extra material around your leg can be tailored proportionally to ensure a proper fit.
While it may seem more complicated to research your selections prior to your denim hunt, it can be helpful to know a store’s stock, as well as the brand’s cut and sizing before you even set foot in a store because not only will it help you save time, it also makes you much more aware of clothing’s sizing system and silhouettes in general.
Knowing your measurements specifically allows you to be less attached to the size listed on the tag inside the jeans and to focus more on achieving a proper fit.
And remembering that your jeans can be altered to fit your body reminds us that we don’t have to work to fit the clothes; the clothes can be reworked to fit us.