Finding a decent pair of jeans that enhances your best assets and subdues the less favorable ones is often a stressful, arduous process. Words like inseam, rise, and fit swim in your head. Even the well trained shopper can find it nearly impossible to navigate the denim terrain. Sizes are never uniform–not even within the same brands! After multitudes of frustration and careful observation, I give to you one gift: A navigation tool to help guide you to your perfect pair.
Inseam: Measures the length of your jeans from the crotch to the bottom. This is especially important for wider-legged styles because it determines where the jeans break, or widen. Generally speaking, most fits break right around your knees. Note: If you’re properly petite this measurement is important. Unless you are wildly disproportionate, your knees will likely not be in the same vicinity of the model that the jeans were based off of.
European Sizes: Sizes like 29×32, 24×34 and 32×32…What you need to know: The first number measures your waistline, as it relates to your hips and actually being able to button the jeans. The second number measures the outseam, or length of your jeans to the floor measured from the top of the jean to the bottom. Note: Just like American sizes, a 26 is not a universal 26, it’s actually based off of the brands model of choice which can vary by season. That said, you’ll have to try one size up and down all the same.
Rise: Low, mid, high waisted…The rise is measured from the top of the waistband to the bottom of the crotch. What you need to know: This determines how much of your lower back or bottom half is exposed when you bend over. Mid-rise or natural-rise denim ranges from 8.5-10″ and is a great option if you prefer to keep your assets private (personally, I vote yes on anything 8.5″ and up).
Fit: On a scale of tight to loose: skinny, slim, straight, boot-cut, boyfriend…this is one denim term that is actually self-implied. As a rule of thumb, you can fold the jeans in half (right where the knee would be). This is a helpful way to analyze the jeans from the knee to the bottom of the leg. If they don’t really break, they’re straight fit, if they cut/taper inwards they’re skinny. Most retailers say if you’re a size 6 then you’re a European size 28, which is false. The tighter the fit, the less accurate the size and the more alternatives you’ll need to try on.