This denim directory has everything you ever wanted to know about shopping for the perfect jeans. I’m sharing everything I learned over 20 years in the fitting room, with hundreds of women of all sizes, so you can shop like a stylist for the best collection. Get jeans that fit the first time and avoid the hassle of try-ons and returns. It’s a numbers game and I’m going to tell you which ones you need to know.
FIT FIRST | IT’S A NUMBERS GAME
What one brand may label a “mid-rise” another might consider a “high rise”. Likewise a crop flare on a fit model may be a bell bottom on you!
Since all bodies and all brands are not the same, the most important thing to know before you buy is your numbers.
Start with a soft tape measure and use it to get the measurements from your best-fitting pair of jeans. Even if those jeans aren’t perfect, you’ll get an idea of what your ideal numbers should be.
NUMBER 1 | RISE
This is the most important measurement and the distance from the top of your waistband to the center crotch seam.
The most flattering rise on most women is usually between 10-11″.
Looking for less gap in the waist? Try a lower rise, closer to 9 or 10″. Because there is less difference between the measurement around your hips and around where the waistband sits, you get less of a gap in the waist.
Flatten your tummy. Find jeans with a rise that is about one or two finger widths below your belly button. This holds enough of your tummy in, avoiding muffin top, and avoids accentuating your tummy by cupping around it.
NUMBER 2 | INSEAM
An inseam is the distance from the center crotch seam to the hem.
You can be short with a long inseam or tall with a short inseam so make sure and know your number.
The most versatile inseam on a pair of jeans stops close to the ankle. This length gives you the most shoe options.
The “crop” standard is about 26″. Check out some more of my favorites 26″ crops here.
INSEAMS FOR SUMMER
BEST FOR LONG LEGS
BEST FOR SHORT LEGS
CROP FLARE IN 3 LENGTHS
24″ | 26″ | 29.5″
LET’S BE HONEST ABOUT OPENINGS
In Crop Flare styles choose an opening width that’s in proportion to your leg shape. Openings usually vary from about 14″ – 17″, like the Mother jeans I featured above for long legs.
I’m 5’4″ and my insider crop flares are 15.5″ wide at the opening.
I’M TELLING YOU STRAIGHT
The most flattering opening on most women is considered “straight”, hits right about the ankle, and is about 14″ wide.
LONG & STRAIGHT
UP TO 32″ INSEAM
SHORT & STRAIGT
AVERAGE & STRAIGHT
After 20+ years as as stylist and jeans and a white top are still My Favorite Outfit. My stylist friends, with over 100 collective years at Nordstrom, have a lot of the same favorites. Check them out in this post Professional Shoppers Share Their Favorite Finds.
DENIM HANGING OR FOLDED
Given the amount of real estate jeans take up in our wardrobe it’s safe to say we are denim obsessed. Here are my suggestions on how to make the best with what you have. Save this post until you get the “hang” of it. You can do the same with your sweaters.