7 Rules to Finding the Perfect Jeans

by Lambeth Hochwald

7 Rules to Finding the Perfect Jeans

Check out our roadmap to jeans-shopping success from plain-speaking Clinton Kelly, host of What Not to Wear.


Try, Try Again



Blue jeans are as American as apple pie. But if you’re like most women, you find jeans shopping stressful. In fact, nearly 70 percent of Motherboard Moms said that they have to try on four or more pairs before they find a pair that fits. And Clinton Kelly, a fashion consultant and co-host of TLC’s What Not To Wear, told us the average woman on the TLC show tries on 20 pairs! Okay, so the dressing room can’t be avoided. But you can steer clear of other pitfalls of jeans shopping (and jeans wearing) with this smart advice from Kelly. How awesome does Rachel from Pink Peonies look in her perfect pair? Worth it.


Focus on Fit, Not Labels



You inspect the label on a pair of jeans, and it says that they’re a certain size and style, say boot-cut or straight-leg style. That’s good information, says fashion consultant Clinton Kelly, but keep in mind that one manufacturers’ definition of boot-cut is different from another’s. And when it comes to flares, some jeans flare out a bit, others a lot, like Cara of Cara Loren‘s pair.


“And, unfortunately, there is no universal sizing chart for designers to abide by,” says Kelly. “You may wear a size 10 in one line of jeans and a 14 in another. Don’t stress about it! Keep in mind: Women very frequently have a range of three sizes when it comes to the different items in their wardrobe.” When in doubt, Kelly says, grab a minimum of two different sizes to take into the dressing room.


Look for a Darker Wash



Jeans with a darker wash are more flattering and look more polished than jeans in a lighter wash, Kelly says. “Color versatility will come in handy if you want to wear jeans when you go out at night or if you’re trying to create a business casual look.”


Distressed Is A Yes



Distressed denim is trending, but be mindful that if you buy jeans with any sort of bleaching (lines on the hips or faded spots on the thigh, knees, or tush), the distressing will always emphasize those particular parts of your body. “If your jeans have a faded spot on the thighs, that bleached spot will make your thighs the focus of attention and, ultimately, make them look bigger,” says Kelly. Julia from Gal Meets Glam has the distressed look down in a flattering and fashionable pair of distressed denim.


Moms Know Best



They always say what goes around comes back around and with mom jeans that’s the case. Ya know those high-waisted, light-washed, taper-legged jeans, well they’re back. Mom jeans are trendier than ever with top fashion bloggers like Leandra of The Man Repller rocking them. “Women like mom jeans because they usually fit a wide range of shapes,” says Kelly. “They’re higher in the rise and wide in the tush so they work for more body types. Add a modern spin to your mom jeans with a crop top, high heels or statement necklace.


These Are Not Your Daughter’s Jeans



We’ve given the OK to wear your mom’s jeans but your daughter’s jeans are off limits. “This is another big fashion no-no,” says Kelly. “Tween girls experiment with style: Adolescence and young adulthood is all about finding a style that works,” he says.


But anytime you wear something that’s meant for a teen or tween, it says that you don’t know who you are and you’re trying to hold onto your youth, Kelly says. “The opposite is actually true: Wearing jeans for younger girls makes you look older. Keep in mind you don’t have to wear the trendiest jean. Find a jeans style you like that’s modern, sleek, and sophisticated. It’s your time to be you!”


For a cheeky take on this tip try a pair of Not Your Daughter brand jeans likes these worn by fashion bloggers Kara Manos and Caitlin Moran—they know how to work it.


Wear Your Jeans with the Right Stuff



Jeans and Keds is a classic combination, and this season try upping your style with a pair of cross-training sneakers. Keep the rest of your look polished to avoid looking too disheveled. We love Lucy from Lovely by Lucy‘s waffle-knit sweater. Show off your shoes in a pair of ankle-grazing jeans.