With a seemingly endless selection of brands, styles, washes and fits, good denim can be a difficult code to crack. Jeans are a classic staple that are always on trend, and have consistently dominated runways and street style looks since their popularization in the 1950s. In a sea of options, the search for your ideal pair of jeans can feel daunting. However, if you follow a few simple tips and ask the right questions, discovering your perfect pair of jeans will never have been easier. 

Finding your perfect jean type

The main rule of thumb when picking out jeans is that they should flatter your figure and make you feel comfortable. Anything else, such as the design and style, is totally individual and up to personal preference. Some people enjoy a classic high-rise skinny jean, other people gravitate towards a more relaxed fit. Whatever you choose, paying attention to the fit of a pair of jeans remains crucial.

A good way to determine what styles of denim you like is to do research both online and through lived experience. Make yourself a Pinterest mood-board featuring jeans you like. Browse some of your favorite websites to bookmark styles that appeal to you. I also highly recommend going into stores to try on different kinds of denim. While you’re there, take note of what aspects of the jeans you try on appeal to you. Do you find you love a light wash? Do you exclusively wear mom jeans? All of this is key information in your search. 

Denim fit tips

To determine if the fit is right, pay attention to a few key areas: the waist, the hips, the thighs, and the length. If you examine all of these places for any gaps, bunching, pulling or dragging, you can quickly identify a poor fit. Generally, a well-fitting waistband on jeans is of utmost importance – you should be able to wear your jeans without a belt. The jeans should hug the waist without overly constricting it or gaping at the back. A handy trick for determining whether a pair of jeans will fit your waist without trying them on is to wrap the waistband around your neck. If the two ends of the waistband comfortably meet at the back of your neck, then the jeans should fit your waist well. 

Your perfect jeans and their fit will depend a lot on your body type and the type of denim you choose. It is often recommended that if you are on the curvier side and want a skinny jean, you should opt for denim with more stretch and elastic in it. However, if you prefer a more vintage, no-stretch fit, opt for rigid, majority-cotton, denim jeans.   

Feeling confident in jeans

In addition to physical comfort, confidence is important when you wear jeans. Just because a pair of super skinny jeans fits your body, does not mean you have to wear them if they don’t suit your style or make you feel comfortable in your own skin. Go with a cut of jeans that suits your fashion sense and lifestyle. For me, my ideal jeans are either flares, culotte style, or straight-leg mom jeans. It’s been years since I’ve worn or wanted to wear skinny jeans. 

Lastly, remember to be open to experimentation. Jeans are a classic wardrobe staple, but they also have the capacity to be unique and fun. With frayed edges, distressing, patterns, embroidery, bleaching and more, jeans can be a great way to show off your one-of-a-kind sense of style. Some great denim brands that I have recently been loving are Madewell, Topshop, and Pacsun. I’m also a sucker for a good pair of thrifted Levi’s (from the men’s section, for a more relaxed fit) due to their classic style and affordability when purchased secondhand. Follow all these simple tips and you’ll be sure to find jeans that you’ll never want to take off. 

  • Maggie Mahoney

    Maggie Mahoney is an editorial fellow based in Washington D.C. She is a soon to be graduating senior at American University studying Literature with a minor in Communications. Maggie is passionate about poetry, elementary education, blogging, and R&B music. She loves to cook and try new cuisines and considers herself a textbook Virgo.