How to buy the perfect pair of jeans
I live in jeans outside of work. Apart from dancing where I might opt for trousers because they’re cooler, it’s jeans for day or going out for me. The last time I had a wardrobe clear out, I had about 20 pairs of jeans, many that didn’t fit. Plus the 3 or 4 pairs I do actually fit into.
I have to admit, the numbers are creeping up again. Putting on weight (and having decluttered the old larger sizes last year) meant I’ve had to buy more. But hopefully my diet this year means I’ll be able to go down a few sizes and then I’ll have more choice of places to buy them.
The problem with jeans is that they’re a nightmare to buy. Maybe not for men. I just buy 34 long with a zip fly for the OH and they pretty much always fit. But for women it seems to be much harder. It’s not easy to find and buy the perfect pair of jeans.
Now ok, being a pear shape with a bit of a tummy (thanks to having a baby and csection) and being overweight doesn’t help. But my best friend is slim size 6-8 and even she struggles to find jeans that suits. Despite my struggles, I’ve often been asked where I’ve bought my jeans from so I wanted to share my tips on buying the perfect pair of jeans.
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How to buy the perfect pair of jeans
The easy (and expensive) way
Go custom made. Not within budget for most people, but you should be able to get the perfect jean that way. Levis make them in their flagship London store.
The alternative easy way
Find a jeans ‘factory’ type of shop where they stock lots of brands and where they quite often do alterations on site. When I was at uni, I went a couple of times to Liverpool specifically to a shop they had there. It’s handy to have it all in one place and I could just ask for bootcut, 32 inside leg, dark denim and they’d pull everything down in my size for me to try on.
For normal jeans buyers
Note – finding the best pair of jeans can take time and effort. Sometimes it happens by fluke (like my current favourite jeans I found in Primark). But whichever way, when you do find that pair, buy several pairs. If your weight fluctuates when buy a larger or smaller pair as well, just in case you never find that pair again.
1. Know your shape
Are you an apple, pear, athletic etc shape? That will guide you towards the style that suits you best. As well as understanding flattering colours and back pocket shapes.
2. Know your occasion (and heel height)
Where will you be wearing your jeans? Day to day, evening, for physical work. Each occasion may need a different style.
Likewise, will you be wearing heels or flip flops? Buy jeans in different leg lengths and do bear in mind that many will shrink in length with washing. Never wear half-mast trousers unless they’re meant to be ankle length or cropped (ie, not kick flare or bootcut)
3. Know the styles that suit your shape
You might love skinnies but they won’t suit, unless you wear them with the right tops. They will never work for me because my calves are too big. Likewise crops are unflattering generally, but certain styles with turn ups are ok depending on my weight at the time (and footwear). Tip, bootcut suit pretty much everyone apart from petites/short people
4. Buy in store
You will need to try jeans on. You can order from online stores who’ll do a personal shopper style experience where you can order different designer jeans and send back the ones you don’t want. But most people will buy from the high street, so shop in store to save time sending numerous parcels back. Also, support the high street (did you know that if you return online purchases in store, most stores have to take the hit rather than the online side even though it wasn’t originally bought in store).
That means, leave the kids at home – they will get bored – and take your time. Take a patient and truthful friend preferably because you will be shopping a long time unless you’re lucky.
.5 Be flexible about sizing
Don’t panic if your usual size doesn’t fit. Jeans always vary by brand and shape. You might be a classic size 12 everywhere, but for jeans you might have to go up a size. Even when I was a 10-12 I had to go up to a 14. Also remember that stores in general have different sizing. If you’ve a boyish athletic figure, shop in H&M or Topshop. If you’re more curvy head to M&S* or Debenhams. Don’t like the size you end up buying, cut out the label.
6. Stalk other people’s jeans
If you spot someone with jeans that you like, ask them where they got them from. Jeans are generic, it’s not like going and buying a unique handbag where they want to be the only person owning it. Most people will be flattered that their jeans look good on them, and you could find some great tips about places you might not have thought about.
7. Start with your favourite shops
If you have shops you always shop in then start there. Most sell jeans nowadays, although you might not have the choice.
8. Try other places with good denim ranges
Obviously Levis have their own store, but Gap is another classic for denim.
If you’re a larger size 14+, then try:
- Sainsbury’s – great for jeggings, straight cut, and the more fashion styles each season – they’ve stocked girlfriend, boyfriend and other styles in ours. Go up to a size 22
- Marks & Spencer – range includes jeggings, straight, slim bootcut (although I’m struggling to find them this season), boyfriend, girlfriend, kick flare, distressed. Different cuts and waist heights across their different ranges – standard, Indigo and Per Una
Other shops with a variety of styles and fits include Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins and New Look.
To show you’re not alone in struggling to buy jeans, here’s some thoughts from other bloggers.
“I HATE buying jeans. My 3 x a C Section tummy and the waist band of jeans are NOT friends” Colette from Going on an Adventure
“I hate buying jeans too. I have a tiny waist compared to my hips and tops of my thighs. Standard length is normally just a tad too short for my liking and long are too long. I normally find something in Next, but I still have to wear a belt to contain the ‘gapping'” Mary from Over 40 and a mum to one
“I really really hate buying jeans! Thank heavens for Topshop – their jeans are the only jeans that manage to accommodate my small waist/big hips properly” Amy at All Things Amy
“I have a small waist and big hips/thighs (well, before I got pregnant) and the only jeans I can find to fit me are Levi’s. They used to do a curve ID range based on shape rather than size…The staff are pretty good at helping with sizes too. All other jeans I try on make me cry 😭. I wish they did maternity jeans though – i can’t fit into mine now and im desperate for some that look nice and fit” Sarah from Arthur Wears.
“My legs are quite short – too long for petite, too short for regular. My bottom is also bigger than my waist. Mint Velvet and Levi’s are the only ones I’ve found that fit, still not perfectly though” Victoria from Mummy Times Two.
“I used to go to Gap before I had kids, they were perfect and lasted years. Now I head to New Look because they’re guaranteed to fit without me even trying them on!” Kelly at Kelly Allen Writer.
How do you find buying the perfect pair of jeans? Do you have any other tips?
Why not take a look at these similar posts.
You would think that because all woman seem to struggle with jeans they would actually do something and make jeans that actually fit people. #TheList
Great post. I live in the same pair of jeans too and would love to buy more but am just scared of it to be honest!! #TheListLinky
Great post – buying jeans is a nightmare! You’re right, I don’t think it matters what size you are – I’m a size 6/8 like your friend, and it’s still really difficult to find the right pair. I have too many pairs of long length jeans from years ago that I now never wear because I never wear heels, and so I always end up coming back to the same 2 or 3 pairs. Waistbands can also be a problem as I don’t find low waistbands very flattering since having the kid.! I recently got a pair of jeans that fitted well in Dorothy Perkins so I’m going to have another look in there:) I tend to buy online as we don’t have any big stores near us and it’s also a bit more relaxed trying them on at home:)
That should have read kids, not kid, sorry! x
Dorothy Perkins used to be good for me. I’m struggling to find bootcut this season, so might have to try in there again although not sure they go up to my current size. There’s definitely the low vs high waist debate – neither are good for me. And I struggle with long too – I like long, but the long are too long even with heels but the medium are too short with heels. Minefield!
I’m not alone! I desperately need to go jeans shopping, but have been putting it off. Most of my current pairs have lighter patches at the knees from grovelling about on the floor playing with my son, so it’s time to take action. I’m usually quite successful in gap with their curvy range, but my last pair was jeggings style from Sainsburys – and a bargain too at £18!
I don’t think I know any women who enjoy buying jeans, I don’t know why they seem so much harder than trousers to get a decent fit. Thanks for including my thoughts.
No worries. I know, if my best friend who’s a size 8 athletic build struggles, there’s no hope for us more curvy hipped girls.
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