Saturday, August 25, 2012

Find Your Style: Jeans

Of all the fashion I write about, it seems the one item that gets the most questions is jeans. We are all looking for a fantastic pair. The best thing about jeans is the versatility and wearability. If you have 1-2 pair in a great wash and shape, you can dress them up for date night, or down for weekend wear.
I recently got an email from a reader asking about how a pair of jeans I was wearing would work on specific body types. I was so glad to hear from her about this question, especially since it was about Gap jeans, of which I hope to have a better knowledge very soon. I figured I would share my thoughts about jeans in a post, rather than just in a single email.
It can be extremely frustrating to find that perfect fitting pair of jeans, only for the retailer to move on to the next fad and leave you sitting in the dust as to how to replace them.  Lets face it, it doesn't matter how nice those bright orange skinny jeans look on the hanger. If they don't flatter your body, they are not for you. I was chatting with my BFF Heather last week, and she told me she has a pair of Joes Jeans that she got in college that she literally has worn to shreds. The price-per-wear on those bad boys is down to less than a penny by now. That is how I would describe the perfect pair of jeans.
There are so many styles and options out there, it just takes a little time and on the job research. Here are some jeans I like, and how they might work on different body types.

Straight Leg Jeans
I favor this type of jean over anything else. I find this to be the most universally flattering on every body type. If you are afraid of skinny jeans, but don't love the look of a flare or boot cut, I would recommend straight. The nice thing about straight jeans is that you can wear these in a variety of washes, depending on the look you are going for. My favorite straight-leg jeans are the Real Straight from Gap. They have been a consistent favorite of mine for a long time, actually. Right now they are available in a variety of washes.
These are the 1969 Real Straight in a dark wash. If you only have one pair of jeans, these should be it. I see colored denim, including black as fashion, not staple in your wardrobe. I love a uniform dark wash in a basic jean more than any other jean.

If you are looking for a jean that works for a smaller waist, and curvy hip, you might give the Old Navy Sweetheart Skinny a try. I like that these have a higher rise, and at this price point, they are worth taking a look at. Warning: the last pair of Old Navy jeans I had stretched throughout the day, so if they zip comfortably in the fitting room, you might want to try the next size down as well.

A great investment jean is the AG Stevie. Again, you will find these in multiple washes, but I like the dark wash for an all around versatile pair of jeans. These have an approximate 7 inch rise, so they aren't as high as I would like, but I tend to layer my tops, so that helps make sure I am always covered in the right places.

Skinny Jeans/Legging Jeans
I lump them together because the lines are blurring, but I want to tackle them both. I see well-fitting skinny jeans as the pair you can wear with many types of tops without being obscene. That being said, I would like to stand at the top of the Empire State building and shout to all of America that unless you are a supermodel (and sometimes them too), PLEASE wear a long top, maybe even a short dress over leggings. They are called "leggings" not "pants" for a very good reason. Now that I have clarified my position on which should be worn for what, lets talk about fit.  
In my opinion, skinny jeans are not be reserved only for those under 130 pounds. It all comes down to fit. That is priority. If they fit you well, it doesn't matter whether you are a size 2 or a size 12. If you try on jeans, and there is heavy creasing in the back end/hip area, size up. If they are too big in the waist, but they fit in the hip, they are perfect. Jeans are supposed to fit the widest part of your body. You can have the waist and leg altered, and you probably should. A great pair of jeans is worth an investment. After all, it is just about the only item you will have in your closet that you could wear 7 days a week. If you don't want to put that kind of investment in a skinny jean, I totally understand, but put it into one pair you love. (See more about this under Boot Cut Jeans.)
The great thing about a nice pair of skinny jeans is that they can be rolled up and worn as a cropped length or worn down and scrunchy at the ankle. Also, they can be worn with flats, tennies, heels or boots. So much versatility.
Here are my favorite Skinny Jeans.
The AG Farrah High-Rise are my absolute favorite skinny jeans EVER. If you have been reading long, I apologize, because I realize I sound like a broken record. As the mom of four kids, I know what it is like to worry about bending over to pick up a child, sit at a sporting event, grocery shop, clean out the garage, scrub toilets and load the dishwasher all the while stopping every 5 minutes to hike up my pants so the world doesn't get a shot at my back side. The rise on these jeans is an incredible 9.75 inches. (WooHoo! Winner for mom's all over the world!) The great thing about these jeans is that even though they are high rise jeans, which has been a big no-no for so long, the pocket placement fools the eye into thinking they are lower than they are. That is key.  I have this particular pair in two washes. A darker and a medium wash, and they are what I reach for when I am spending long days in a gym watch my kids at volleyball or wrestling. No worries about the spectators behind me!
Also in the AG family is the Premier. I also have these in a cuffed version I found in the sale room at Anthropologie. The rise on these is also very high at 8". They also come in dark wash and white, which has been a big hit this summer (and a trend I expect to continue next spring/summer).

At a lower price point, Target has a great line of jeans in more than one size type. They call it "Fit", and I think it runs 1-4 in different waist and leg measurements. I like these Mossimo Skinnies. I have not tried these on, but I have a similar pair that I paid a whopping $4 for that I wear when I am cooking and cleaning.
As for the legging jean trend, I like these:
These come in tons of fun colors and are always on sale. A great way to stock up on trendy colors.

Boot Cut Jeans
Although we don't see a lot of marketing for boot cut jeans right now, they are still a classic staple. Especially for dressing up with heels and boots, and even with a cute pair of Converse.
The thing to remember about boot cut and flared jeans is that they need to be the right length. If you plan to wear them with flats and cute tennies, they need to just brush the top of your foot bone, no longer. There is nothing more sad than to see someone with a great fitting pair of jeans that have the heel completely missing because they didn't take the time to have the hem done properly. They should only be longer if you are planning to wear with heels.
The Perfect Boot at Gap is a great example of a mid-price pair that look great on all body types. I have two pair of these that I thrifted!
In addition, the Long & Lean also give a nice flare that can balance out a curvy hip. I recommend giving these a try in the store, if you get a chance.
If you like the style of a boot cut jean, but want something a little less flared, these Pilcro Stet's at Anthropologie are always a great choice. These seem to be consistently available, as they are a popular seller.
For my sisters who need a little help in the backside, you should give this pair from Banana Republic a try. The medium dark wash is flattering, and the tab pockets on the back add a little illusion of a curvy booty.

Trouser Jeans
Here we have another pair of jeans that are not getting much press the last few seasons, but I still see a strong place for them, especially in workwear and dressy. Here are a few strong contenders.
I love this pair from Gap, simply because I am crazy about the nice rise on them. The uniform wash along with the dressy cut makes them perfect for the workplace.
Another pair of trouser jeans in a more casual wash is this pair from Banana Republic. We see the higher rise again, and these could pull double duty as a transition from bootcut style to work jeans.

Boyfriend Jeans & Colored Denim
These just fall completely into the fun category. I think of these more as weekend wear, unless you work in a very relaxed atmosphere. The great thing about boyfriend jeans is that they will accommodate all body types, as they are meant to be a relaxed jean. I think the thing to remember with them is that the shoe and the top are in correct proportion to the fit of the jeans, otherwise it can come off sloppy.
Colored jeans are just trendy fun. You can find these in almost every store now, from neon to muted to jewel tones. Again, how to wear them depends on the look you are going for. You can tone them down a bit by adding a neutral top and shoes, or rock them out by playing up the vibrancy and adding colorful shoes and/or tops.
Since these are trendy, I wouldn't spend much money on either one. I would keep my eye on a cute pair off the clearance rack. And I've seen them on clearance. I got my daughter 2 pair of colored jeans for school for $5 a piece.
This pair from Gap is a great example of a nice fitting pair of boyfriend jeans. I like the casual, faded wash as well.
If you can catch them on sale, try the AG Tomboy from Anthropologie. These are a good quality, and will last thru multiple washings.
This was my favorite pair of colored denim this season. The picture does not do justice to how bright they are, but I love the crop length and the brightness.
At a much lower price, my daughter and I have both tried on the Super Skinny Rockstar jeans at Old Navy. There are tons of colors to chose from. Just make sure you size up. Because they ain't kiddin' about super skinny.

Well, that wraps up my jeans post. Remember the only way to know what you love is to try on, try on, try on! 
There is so much more to talk about. What are your thoughts? I am considering doing a reader submission on your favorite jeans look. Are you willing to submit for such a feature?
I hope this helps you in your search for the perfect jeans!

After finishing this post, I realized that I forgot to share the one pair of jeans that I have on my lust list right now. Citizen of Humanity's Rocket High Rise. A 10.75" rise? Are you kidding me? I am crazy about the cut and the wash, as well.

I also noticed these Joe's Jeans on the Anthropologie website this morning. They would work great for us girls who are blessed with hips. They are almost a cross between straight cut and boot, and the rise is 9" on them, giving plenty of backside coverage.

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