Jeans are a staple in every woman’s wardrobe, especially during the fall and winter. They come in different cuts and styles to suit all shapes and sizes. However, it can be difficult to find jeans that fit perfectly.
Given that the leg cuts and silhouettes are changing, many of you may be shopping for new jeans. In this post we will go over how to find the perfect fit of women’s jeans and what you should consider when shopping for your new favorite pair! With this knowledge, you’ll know what jeans fit your body type.
This post was originally published in 2021. Updated for 2023.
- Some basic measurements for finding jeans that fit
- Fits and Cuts of Jeans for the Basic Body Types
- Here’s the deal on waist/hip fit.
- Tips for a great fit
- The best fabric content for great fitting jeans.
- More tips
- Styles of Jeans for Different Body Types
Some basic measurements for finding jeans that fit
Your basic measurements and body shape
First, know your measurements and body shape/type. Many jeans are sold by waist size, so you definitely want to measure your waist. You may also want to measure just above or below your natural waist if you are seeking a high rise or low rise jean.
This number will vary depending on where the waistband of the jeans sits on the body. The waist measurement may not be your jeans size- it’s not for me, but it’s still helpful to know, especially if you shop online.
Next, measure your rise. The rise is distance from the crotch to the top of the waistband. The back rise is generally three inches or so longer, but measure the back the same as the front.
Low-rise – Waistband sits 2 to 3 inches below navel. The rise is around 7 inches or less.
Mid-rise– Waistband sits just below navel. 8 inches
High-rise – Waistband sits at or above navel. 9-11 inches.
Generally, a mid-rise is universally flattering and more comfortable, although high rise jeans can be comfortable if you have a longer torso. Your unique body shape and proportions will effect how a rise fits on you. A curvy or pear shape body type will benefit from a higher rise, especially a higher back rise.
Know your inseam. Measure from your crotch to your ankle or where you want the hem to fall. This will very depending on whether you are shopping for boot cut jeans that should fall to just above the floor, or if you are shopping for a cropped pair of jeans. Where do want the crop to fall on you? Regardles of the leg style you choose for jeans, they should not bunch or pool at the bottom.
If you don’t know your body shape, you can take a helpful quiz to determine your shape.
Fits and Cuts of Jeans for the Basic Body Types
Now that you have the basic measurements down, let’s take a look at the different fits of jeans and the body types they work for.
Jeans come in a few fits. Slim, straight, curvy and loose/relaxed are the basic fits. Don’t confuse fit with leg style. Skinny, straight leg, boot cut, etc are all leg styles and don’t have much to do with how jeans fit your waist and hips.
Unfortunately, many manufactures focus on rise and leg style now so you have to take a closer look at the jeans to determine the fit of the hips and thigh area. Each brand may also differ in their description of fit.
Head to JCrew and you will see slim fit jeans that come in slim straight leg as well as straight fit defined as “A classic fit with our highest rise and a not too slim, not too relaxed leg.” JCrew defines their boyfriend jean as “A relaxed fit that sits lower on the hip for just the right amount of slouch.”
At Old Navy you will find descriptions like “fitted from hip to thigh” or “relaxed from hip to thigh.”
Go to Madewell and you find some varying descriptions of leg fits.
Confused and frustrated yet? Think it’s impossible to get perfect fitting jean?
Here’s the deal on waist/hip fit.
If you are a rectangle body shape, apple shape or inverted triangle body shape, you likely have narrow hips and legs and need a slim or straight fit jean. You don’t have a huge difference in waist to hip ratio. If you are hourglass figure or pear shape (triangle shape), you likely have curvy hips and a small waist and the best fit is a curvy fit that has a smaller waist and bigger hip.
A relaxed fit is a little looser in the hip and thigh area. Where do skinny jeans fit into the picture? Skinny jeans are fitted from waist to ankle, but they make them in straight and curvy fits, so most any body can find a pair that fits. However, you may not be comfortable with form fitting jeans, so other styles are totally acceptable and are becoming the norm over skinny jeans.
Tips for a great fit
It can be hard to tell from a brand’s description if they are a straight fit or curvy fit, so here are two tricks for eyeballing denim and getting a feel for the type of fit the jeans offer.
If the waist curves down some in the front when you lay them flat, it’s geared more toward a curvy fit. If the front of the waistband is more even with the back, the jeans are a straight fit.
You can also look at the yoke on the back. The more the yolk curves or dips, the more likely the jeans will work for a curvy fit. If the yoke is straigher across the back of the jeans, it’s likely a straight fit.
Okay, so we’ve got all of these fits (vs leg shape) down, but why do some jeans bag and stretch more after wearing them?
This has everything to do with fabric content and stretch and that also plays a part in finding a pair of jeans that fit.
The best fabric content for great fitting jeans.
100% cotton- True denim is 100% cotton. Beware cotton will always eventually stretch or break down, and won’t recover back to it’s original state because there is no stretch or elastic in the fabrication. 100% cotton jeans will feel tight at first. Save 100% cotton for looser, relaxed fits like boyfriend jeans.
Jeans now come in fabric blends that have some stretch to them to help them fit better and make them more comfortable. Higher quality jeans will bounce back to their original shape after wearing instead of looking misshapen in the rear or knees or any part that has had significant push on the material while wearing them. Stretch denim is usually some combination of cotton/ Lycra or spandex or elastane. (different names for the same material.)
98%/2% is the best combination but some brands include as much as 3-4% elastane. A higher elastance content makes the jeans super soft but also very stretchy, so be careful of buying them too big. They will stretch out a lot.
Even after shopping with all of these criteria in mind, there are a few more things you can do to find good fitting jeans.
Try on three sizes
Try on your size, one up, one down. Go in person, or order online from retailers that offer free shipping and free returns. Sizing varies greatly from one manufacturer and brand to another.
If it’s not premium denim, try the same size in a few pairs. Less expensive clothing is manufactured in bulk and often cut in bulk. The piece at the top of the stack will not be the same size as the piece at the bottom becasue the stack of fabric may have shifted in the cutting process. The seam allowance may not have been strictly adhered to for each pair, so one size 6 Old Navy will not be the same as another size 6 Old Navy in any item.
Go with what you know
Grab a pair you already love and measure the jeans as outlined above. Check the label for the fabric content and stretch. Knowing what already works goes a long way in finding a fabulous replacement pair.
Be patient and wear them around the house before cutting the tags and committing to them. Most women mistakenly buy the pair that’s comfortable in the fitting room, only to find that they have stretched out after a few hours of wearand are actually too big. Put them through a test at home so you don’t make that mistake.
Also pay attention to the wrinkles and folds your jeans make in the thigh area and the back of the thighs. If the folds are inverted, they are too small and you need a roomier fit. If they fold outward, the jeans are too big. You need a narrower thigh, like a slim or straight fit vs a relaxed fit.
Finding jeans that fit can be time consuming and challenging, but worth the effort to have a great fitting staple in your closet to go to over and over.
Notice we have only discussed fit so far- getting a pair that fits your waist, hips and thighs. What happens from the knee down has to do with leg styles. The leg style you choose can make a pair of jeans more or less flattering on your body.
Let’s explore the different styles and how they work with different body types.
Styles of Jeans for Different Body Types
Styles For a Rectange Body Shape
For a rectangular body shape, the goal is to create the illusion of curves and add visual interest to your silhouette.
- Bootcut Jeans: Bootcut jeans are slightly fitted at the hips and thighs and then gradually widen from the knee to the hem. This subtle flare can add volume and balance to your lower body, creating the illusion of curves.
- Flared Jeans: Similar to bootcut jeans, flared jeans have a more pronounced flare from the knee down. This exaggerated silhouette can help create the appearance of a more defined waistline and curvier hips.
- Wide-Leg Jeans: Wide-leg jeans with a high waist can be a great choice for rectangular body shapes. They add volume to the lower half of the body, making your hips and thighs look more proportionate.
Styles for an Inverted Triangle Shape
For an inverted triangle body shape, the goal is to balance out broader shoulders and a narrower waist and hips.
- Straight-Leg Jeans: Straight-leg jeans are a great choice as they provide a balanced look by maintaining a consistent width from the hips down to the ankles. This style can help downplay the broader shoulders and create a more proportionate silhouette.
- Wide-Leg Jeans: Wide-leg jeans can add volume to the lower half of your body, helping to create a more even distribution of visual weight between your upper and lower body.
- Flared Jeans: Flared jeans can provide a similar effect to wide-leg jeans, balancing out the proportions by adding volume to the lower legs.
- Bootcut Jeans: Bootcut jeans can help create a gentle balance between your shoulders and hips. They slightly flare out from the knee down, which can visually create more width in the lower half.
Styles for an Hourglass Body Shape
For an hourglass shapes, the goal is to accentuate your well-defined waist while highlighting your balanced proportions.
- High-Waisted Jeans: High-waisted jeans are a fantastic choice for hourglass figures, as they emphasize your waistline and create an elegant silhouette. They also help to balance out your bust and hips.
- Wide-Leg Jeans: Wide-leg jeans can complement your curves by adding volume to the lower half of your body. This style maintains the hourglass proportions while providing a stylish and trendy look.
- Bootcut Jeans: Bootcut jeans are slightly fitted at the hips and thighs and then gradually widen from the knee to the hem. This style helps to balance out your curves and creates a visually pleasing line from hips to ankles.
- Flared Jeans: Flared jeans offer a more pronounced flare from the knee down, adding drama to your lower half and accentuating your curves.
- Skinny Jeans: Skinny jeans can also work well for hourglass figures, especially when paired with a top that cinches at the waist. They showcase your curves while creating a sleek and streamlined look.
Styles for Pear Body Shape
For a pear body shape, the goal is to balance out your narrower shoulders and wider hips and thighs. Your perfect jeans include:
- Bootcut Jeans: Bootcut jeans are slightly fitted at the hips and thighs and then gradually widen from the knee to the hem. This style can help balance out your hips and create a more even proportion between your upper and lower body.
- Flared Jeans: Flared jeans offer a more dramatic flare from the knee down, which can visually balance out your hips and thighs.
- Wide-Leg Jeans: Wide-leg jeans can add volume to the lower half of your body, creating a more balanced appearance.
- Straight-Leg Jeans: Straight-leg jeans can help create a streamlined look while still providing enough room for your hips. This style can help balance out your proportions without adding too much volume.
Styles for an Apple Body Shape
For an apple body shape, the goal is to create the illusion of a defined waistline while balancing out your proportions and highlighting your legs.
The best jeans include:
- High-Rise Jeans: High-rise jeans are a fantastic choice for apple shapes as they can help control and smooth the midsection while providing the appearance of a more defined waist.
- Straight-Leg Jeans: Straight-leg jeans offer a streamlined silhouette that can help elongate your legs and create a balanced look. They don’t cling tightly to the midsection, providing comfort and a clean line.
- Bootcut Jeans: Bootcut jeans are slightly fitted at the hips and thighs and then gradually widen from the knee to the hem. This style can create a balanced silhouette by adding volume to the lower half of your body.
- Wide-Leg Jeans: Wide-leg jeans can provide a flowy and flattering look that doesn’t emphasize the midsection. This style can help balance out your proportions.
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