Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Finding Jeans that Flatter

Great fit: nothing flatters like denim, but finding the right jeans can be a challenge. We've got you covered with tips on everything from what's hip to how to find your perfect pair

There's no better bottom than a blue one. And to prove our point, a Cotton Incorporated study concluded that the average woman has 17 denim items in her wardrobe and wears jeans at least four days a week. Unfortunately, this denim frenzy doesn't make it any easier to find your perfect pair. "Just because a certain cut is trendy doesn't mean it's going to fit your body type," says Hollywood stylist Kirsten Large. So we thought we'd save you some time in the dressing room, as well as some cash.

The Best Butt

Finding denim that does your derriere justice is key. "If you feel that your bottom is too big, always go for pants that have back pockets." suggests Steven Jolna, president of Bella Dahl Jeans. Other tricks to minimize? Pockets that tilt slightly inward are good, since they draw the eye toward the center. If you prefer your pants pocket-free. Megan O'Neill, senior designer at Jill Stuart jeans, suggests checking out the new designer denim lines that incorporate special decorative seams across the rear in V or crescent shapes.

However, if you're looking for jeans that will perk up a flat or small rear, pick pockets that sit higher and aren't too large. "Small butts should also steer clear of super-low waistbands because they make your rear look flat and very low," warns Jolna. "Plus, it doesn't matter how slim you are, when you sit down every woman gets a little bit of skin pooching over the top at the side when she wears super low-riders." To avoid excessive display of your Victoria's Secrets, look for jeans that are cut slightly higher in the back than in the front--you can tell this just by holding them up.

The amount of stretch in your jeans is important. "The most flattering jean has 1%-2% spandex in it because it just holds everything in," says Jolna. Some brands have up to 4%, which can have the opposite effect--they flatten everything, turning your butt from pert to pancake.

A Taut Tummy

With waistbands dipping farther down on jeans, knowing how low you should go is difficult. "The most flattering waistband on everyone is just on, or slightly below the hipbone," says Stefano Aldighieri, creative director for Seven for All Mankind Jeans. "On the runways right now you'll see some really high-waisted '80s-type denim, but they don't look good on anyone but supermodels." That's because a high waist cuts your torso in half and accentuates the natural belly curve, making you look heavier than you are. A lower waistband will show off all those crunches you've been doing.

When looking for flattering jeans, you should also consider what's on the front. There's a reason that the classic Levi's three-pocket look is still around--it looks good. If you're looking to conceal a thicker midsection or thighs, a couple of pockets do the trick by visually breaking up the lower torso and hip area.

A Leaner Leg

While we're not all born with supermodel legs, the right jeans make it easy to fake a little length. "For a leaner, longer look, the cuff of the jean should cover most of your heel," says Tim Kaeding, director of women's denim for Seven For All Mankind Jeans. That way, you have a solid line from your waist to your feet, Want other ways to streamline your legs? Pick a dark shade of denim--darker colors minimize any shape. If you're looking to downplay your thighs, pick a pair that's 100% cotton with a straight leg. "That way, the jeans just go straight down from the hip instead of hugging and accentuating bigger areas," says O'Neill. However, if you like your jeans with a little shape, pick a boot-cut leg with a small flare from the knee down. The wider ankle balances out a wider top half. "But steer clear of anything that's very flare-y because it looks too trendy and young," advises O'Neill.

Coming Clean! Once you finally find your ideal denims, take care of them so they'll last. Experts agree that jeans should be washed inside out in cool or warm water. If you stick them in the dryer (total jeanophiles let theirs air-dry), take them out while they're still a bit damp to minimize shrinkage. The spandex in stretch jeans causes them to shrink more, but after a few minutes of wear, they'll be perfect again!

Finding the Right Size

All jean sizes are not created equal. "Actually, finding your right size in jeans is trickier than other pants," says Jolna. That's because of the variety of cuts, as well as the different types of denim used. Dark jeans haven't gone through many chemical processes (think of your basic indigo Levi's), so they're more likely to shrink in the wash. If jeans are stonewashed or have gone through some chemical dye process (read: they look lived in), they'll pretty much stay true to size throughout washings.

The amount of stretch can also alter what size you take. "The general rule is that if jeans have some spandex in them you can go down a size, and if they have none you should go up a size," says Large. The zipper is another good indicator of whether you need to try on something else, If it's sticking up and not lying flat across your torso, the fabric is being stretched too tight--go out and get a bigger size. Also, if you try on your pants and there's a crease from the bottom of the zipper that runs out along both thighs, that means the blues are too tight. "If you get stretchy pants too tight, they don't look good because they'll flatten out your butt and cut into your waist," says Jolna.

When you're in the dressing room, sit down and see how low the pants ride at the back. If your butt is peeking out, they're too small. Also, make sure that the pockets lie flat when you're sitting. If they stick out, this specific cut of jean isn't right for your body type. Finally, squat down and make sure they're comfortable--after all, jeans are supposed to become your wardrobe staple.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Weider Publications

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I Must Set the Example

I Must Set the Example
For these two young ladies (except for the shoe and jean addiction)