How To Find The Right Jeans

How To Find The Right Jeans

“I just love shopping for new jeans.” Said no woman. Ever. Me included. With one exception. When I’m helping clients/friends find their new jeans.  You see, I’m really, really good at finding jeans to fit others. Just not for myself, because I don’t have normal legs.  But what’s normal anyway?  When I work that out, I’ll get back to you; but don’t hold your breath!

It’s because of my own struggles with finding jeans to fit, and the sheer volume of clients I’ve worked with over the years who share similar frustrations, that I’ve worked out a few solutions and tips. And recently I received another “ASK AL” question from Jo which is what prompted this post. Here’s her question:


There’s really not a body-shape dilemma I haven’t come across or been able to help with. So let’s go Jo! Here are my top tips and recommendations for finding your perfect fit…

Initial Discomfort Is The Key

  1. Firstly, when trying on jeans, start with a size smaller than you think you are. Don’t buy according to the size of pants you are for your conservative work pants. If you think you’re a 10, go down to a 9. Jeans are supposed to be tight. They are meant to suck you in, in ways you never thought you’d ever be able to pull off with traditional pants. They are supposed to fit like a glove. To lift your bum and suck in your thighs.  The only exception being loose, baggy, boyfriend jeans of course, but that’s a whole other blog-post, called How To Wear Boyfriend Jeans.
  2. If the jeans are easy to pull up, and easy to button up in the fitting room, then they are too big! I want you to have to WORK at getting them on! I want you to feel like you won’t be able to breath, let alone sit down – initially! If I was taking you shopping, and waiting outside the fitting room, I’d want to see your feet jumping up and down as you try to hitch them up. I’d want to hear you gasping, for fear that you may need to be surgically removed from them. THEN, and only then, will I know you’re on the right track.
  3. Next step, once you’re suitably uncomfortable – is to commence your fitting room work-out! Do some squats; crouch down on your heels and stay there for a bit. Sit on the floor when you get tired squatting and crouching. I guaranteed after all this, you’ll start to see how much stretch there is and how, given some “breaking in” your new jeans will eventually mould to your body and fit the way they’re supposed to. This won’t happen if you had no trouble getting them on, from day one.  In about a week, they’ll be saggy and baggy where they’re supposed to be doing their best work (around your hips, bum and thighs. If you listen to my advice and go for the uncomfortable ones, I promise they will be fitting like a glove and you’ll wonder why you never did this type of jeans workout earlier!
  4. Jeans will stretch, and when they do you’ll be glad you listened to my advice! If you don’t, you’ll spend the rest of the time pulling them up to avoid plumber’s crack. It will take some getting used to if you’re the sort of girl who has traditionally bought jeans looking for instant comfort  from day one. But please trust me…  Remember: Breathing is optional, and sitting is superflous. Looking amazing in your hot jeans is mandatory!


What Colours Do I Need?

  1. An absolute must-have is a dark indigo denim. A wash that doesn’t have too much of a manufactured fade down the front of the thigh (this can draw attention to larger thighs) and no rips/tears. These will be your go-to jeans for everywhere. Dress ’em up with heels and a jacket, and dress ’em down with sneakers and a tee.
  2. The second is black skinny/slim-fit jeans. Great for night-time with heels. Great for casual Fridays at work with a blazer or jacket and ballet flats.
  3. Then any number of coloured denims: Take your pick – they’re everywhere in a range of colours and going strong for winter or summer pops of colour.

Low-Rise Vs High Rise. How High is Too High?

Many of my clients have told me they don’t like low-rise jeans because they fear the dreaded muffin-top and they find high-rise jeans hold things in better. Well, while I admit that high-rise  might give you the “feeling” that your tummy is being held in more securely,  they can actually add more bulk to your silhouette (think of the button, zip, waistband underneath a long-line fitted top). And they also make your bum look bigger too girls! For tips on how to wear high-waisted jeans well and the many problems to watch out for, here’s a blog I wrote a while back…Of Camel Toes and High-Waisted Pants

2013-06-12_13-48-40 2013-06-12_13-57-06Low or mid-rises are the most flattering as they make your bum/lower half appear smaller (see the pics below and tell me I’m wrong!) because you’re shaving off a few inches of fabric which visually gives the illusion of a smaller butt from the get-go.

How do you know if it’s high or low-rise without having to try them on? Look at the length of the zipper  and also how much fabric there is below it. It’s usually a good indicator.

2013-06-12_13-49-42 2013-06-12_13-55-12

The Skinny On Skinny Jeans

I recently wrote a blog – How To Wear Skinny Jeans – because too many women think they can’t wear them because they’re too big, and that’s just not true. You don’t have to be skinny to wear skinny jeans! It’s about HOW you wear them that counts.

If you’re self-conscious about your butt or thighs, a longer-line top or tunic will help. With jackets, make sure they don’t end right on your widest point. Just above is best, and if you can get a rounded or slightly scalloped hemline, even better!

Finding the right skinny/slim jeans is the first hurdle though. I recommend you try the following labels first for great-fitting slim/skinny jeans without having to take out a second mortgage: Jeans West, Country Road, JAG.

How to Wear Boyfriend Jeans


Here are some tips on How to Wear Boyfriend Jeans – of course you don’t need to do quite the same workout (described above) to find the perfect boyfriend jeans, but the key is not wearing jeans that are so baggy they just look 5 sizes too big. They won’t flatter anyone and will only add inches to your silhouette. Be sure to find ways to feminise your look too – roll up the hem, show off a pretty wedge, heels or boot, and be sure you don’t wear tops that are too loose or sloppy so that you still give your body some definition.

What Length Should My Jeans Be?


Generally speaking, when hemming pants, you should have them hemmed to 1cm off the ground at your heels – in your highest shoes. It’s impossible to be this exact all the time as all of our shoes are of differing heights. Here are some points to remember:

For skinny jeans, it’s impossible to follow the 1cm off the ground rule as the jeans won’t go past your foot that far! Hem them to the top of your foot – and crop to ankle-length by rolling up the hem from there.

For flared or bootcut, the 1cm off the ground rule applies so be sure to hem when wearing the shoes you would most likely wear them with. Don’t crop these jeans by rolling them up – they’ll just keep unravelling and driving you crazy! Plus, they look silly rolled up. Straight/boyfriend jeans can be rolled up, and where possible should be hemmed to the 1cm rule.

What Shoes With Which Jeans?

2013-06-12_14-27-27Almost any shoe can be worn with jeans, but how well it works, or how good it looks, has a lot to do with the cut/style of jeans and the type of shoes:

Skinny/Straight/Slim Straight:: Ballet flats, flat sandals, heeled sandals or pumps (chunky or stiletto , wedges, ankle or long boots (tucked in for long, tucked in or worn just to the top of for short boots), loafers, converse-style sneakers.

Boyfriend: Ankle boots, flat or heeled sandals or pumps, wedges, brogues and loafers, converse-style sneakers.

Bootcut/Flared:  Heels (sandals or pumps), chunky wedges and platforms, Boots (preferably with chunkier heels – not too pointy/stiletto),  Flat shoes don’t look so good with these cuts, unfortunately, and neither do round-toed stiletto pumps. No ballet flats please.

If you have any other Ask Al styling dilemmas you’d like solved, just visit me over on my Facebook Page and post me your question! In the meantime, happy jeans shopping girls!





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