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Denim Guide

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Does shopping for jeans sound like the last way you want to spend your day? Check out this denim guide before your next jeans purchase! From styles to rises to tips on finding the right pair for you, we’ve got the info you need to know!


Denim Styles

Bootcut: Cut slim through the hips and thighs, a bootcut flares away slightly from the calf down. Should be just wide enough to fit, you guessed it, a pair of boots. 

Flare: Similar to a bootcut, but with a more dramatic flare from the knee down, giving an almost bell-like shape.

Straight: Features a leg that goes straight down with no tapering or flare. Usually has a more relaxed fit through the hips and thighs. 

Skinny: A generally tighter fit all over including a skinny fitted leg that tapers to the ankles.

Boyfriend:  men’s-style featuring a slouchier look and looser fit throughout 

Girlfriend: similar to men’s style with a baggier fit through the hips, but slimmer in the legs. 

*Other styles include: ankle, cropped, trouser, and extreme flare


The Rise (3)

Ultra-Low: Sits very low on the hips. Usually 5-7 inch rise (or lower!).

Low: Sits low on the waist. Usually between a 7-9.5 inch rise.

Mid: Sits close to the natural waist. Usually between a 9-11 inch rise.

High: Sits above the natural waist, closer to the bottom of the ribcage. Usually over 12 inch rise.

Not only do you have your styles and rises, you’ve also got your washes. From black to acid wash to colored denim, there’s a lot of room to experiment!


The Fit

If you are:


  • If you don’t want jeans that are too tight, consider going up a size in a straight-leg cut.
  • Waist quite a bit smaller than your hips? Get jeans that fit at the waist and have a tailor take them in.
  • If you prefer not to draw any extra attention to your backside, avoid flap pockets or pockets with a lot of detail/embellishments. Smaller angled pockets can minimize the look of a prominent backside.



  • Choose a classic style that won’t overwhelm your frame. Extreme flares or wide-legs can make you look shorter. Cuffs will also make your legs look shorter.
  • Can’t find the styles you like in the petite section? Look for regular lengths in ankle style. They might be a perfect fit! 


Slim/Straight Shape

  • Boy cut styles are flattering and add a bit of curve.


Apple Shape

  • Want to take the notice off your stomach area? Look for a style that sits a little lower than your natural waist. If you need to, buy a size larger and have the hips/thighs taken in.
  • A bootcut or trouser cut also helps to provide balance for this body type.



  • A lower rise will elongate your torso.



  • Jeans that are cut slightly higher, near your natural waist will elongate your legs. Flare and wide-legged styles can make the legs look shorter.


Pear Shape

  • A style with a slightly lower rise will allow for more room in the hips/backside area without being baggy all over.
  • A slight boot-cut is really flattering for this type of body shape. (Too much flare can make the limbs look thicker.) Straight and trouser styles can also help to lengthen the look of the leg.


Flat or Non-Existent Backside

  • A stretch jean will add and emphasize some curve.
  • Details on back pockets add the illusion of curves where there might not be any. Also, pockets that are slightly higher can help to “lift”.


Denim Buying Tips

1. Try, try, try – you’re got to keep trying until you find the right brand and style for your body. It’s out there!

2. Make sure you try sitting down in a pair of jeans before you buy them. You may be surprised at just how low those jeans are!

3. The waist should fit comfortably without digging into your flesh. While you can (and should) allow for a little stretch (or a lot depending on the quality), they will only stretch so far!

4. If you can see the outline of the pockets through the front of your jeans, they’re too tight.

5. Find THE perfect pair? Consider buying at least two pair. Have one tailored for heels and one for flats. 

6. The standard straight-leg width is 17 inches and is always very classic and versatile. A slightly more flared boot-cut style is flattering on most body types.

7. Be flexible on your size. Like all clothing items, the number listed on the tag doesn’t matter, buy the ones that fit and flatter!

8. Not sure about the wash? When in doubt, go dark. A dark pair is both slimming and the most versatile. (Easily goes from day to night!)

9. Jeans should fall so that there is a slight fold as the leg hits the top of your shoe/foot.

10. While lengths are subject to your own opinion, the “proper” placement for the hem to fall when wearing heels is right around 1/4-1/2 inch from the ground.




Q. Do I need to wash my jeans after every wear?

A. It’s totally your call as to how often you wash your jeans. If you’ve got a pair that tends to get stretched out easily, you might want to wash more often to restore the shape. Have a pair that fits perfect with every wear? Skip the frequent washes. (Or even infrequent washes!) A wash every 2-3 weeks (or longer) is just about right unless you’ve got some obvious stains or dinginess to get out.


Q. Do I have to spend a lot on denim?

A. No!  Luckily in this day and time you’ve got plenty of options on denim. Want to try some colored jeans but aren’t sure about committing to an expensive pair? Grab a $20 pair  instead! You’ll find quality denim in both expensive and non-expensive form. The same for non-quality. Just because they’re costly doesn’t mean the quality is there! Having said that, don’t expect a low-cost pair to hold up for years. Do your research, try, try, and try on some more, and find the brand that works for you. 


Q. What is raw denim and do I need it?

A. Raw denim is essentially denim that hasn’t been washed after the dying process. Washing typically occurs after dying to both soften the denim and also to allow some dye to run off. With raw denim, most experts agree that the first wash should take place no sooner than six months to a year after purchase. (Though some agree that you should NEVER wash them.) Raw denim ensures that your jeans will maintain a custom look – the color will fade in areas where the fabric is regularly creased or rubbed. When you buy a pair of “regular” jeans, you pretty much know how they’re going to look and fit. After washing raw denim, the dye will come off unevenly leaving fade marks.


Q. My jeans ripped (and not in a cool “distressed denim” way). What are my options?

A. Fortunately, you’ve got more options now than just adding a patch or turning them into cut-offs! There are now companies like Denim Therapy that can actually repair denim to make it look like new. So whether it’s a hem that was torn, a hole in the knee, or the material just simply wearing out, you’ve definitely got options!


Q. What style is “in” right now?

A. Flares and bootcuts are definitely making a comeback, but straight, skinny, and boyfriend/girlfriend styles aren’t exactly going anywhere! When it comes to choosing denim, focus on the right style for your body type and your own personal preference! If flares don’t flatter you? Skip this trend! All these denim styles are considered “classic”, so you’re never truly out of style no matter which way you go (unless it’s the weird super high-waisted “mom” jean look that for some reason keeps going in and out of “style”).


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