As a stylist, one of the biggest questions I get from my clients is about new denim and what styles and cuts will work for their bodies. My answer is, of course, there is not a one style/size/shape fits all, but if you know some key things about your body and the denim you see in the stores, you’ll end up finding it very easy to stash those skinnies away for another day.
First, let’s start with the rise. There have been some major freak-out moments since low-rise jeans came back onto the scene. Rest assured; you don’t have to wear low rise just because they are a trend. Instead, you should pay attention to your torso length and buy accordingly.
To figure out your torso length, take two hands and place them underneath your bust. You have a short torso if you can’t fit two hands between the underneath of your bust and your natural waist (where it naturally flows in). You have a balanced torso if you can fit just about two hands between those two areas. And if you can fit more than two hands, you have a long torso. It would be best if you bought the rise of your jeans according to this.
A short torso means you want to elongate your upper body, so medium to low rise will work best for you. A balanced torso means you have some freedom with the rise, but I would still suggest a mid-rise or high rise for a more polished look. A long torso means you want to elongate the leg so that a high rise will be your best bet. You may be able to also look to a mid-rise as well.
If you aren’t sure of the rise of a pair of pants, you can measure the pant from the top of the waist to the bottom of the crotch and use this as a guide.
Mid Rise – 9-11 inches
Low Rise – Anything below 9 inches
High Rise – Anything above 11 inches
Contrary to popular belief, a high rise will do wonders for a post-baby belly pooch. It helps to contain and smooth any excess around the belly area vs. having it hang out over pants with a lower rise.
Next, let’s talk about some of the key denim styles you’ll see in store for the foreseeable future.
Fitted through the waist and thigh, a flare widens from the knee down. Flare jeans have had a massive resurgence, and while some are resistant to this nostalgic style, you may want to think twice because they are incredibly flattering for most body types. If you have curves, think hourglass, bigger on the bottom, or even bigger on top, these jeans will look great enhancing or balancing your natural curves. Just wear them with footwear that prevents them from puddling on the ground, or have them tailored so they skim right along the top of your foot with flats. If you are someone without many curves, this jean style can also help add a gorgeous flow to your body.
Here are a few flare options I recommend.
Frame Le High Flare – All-around great flare style with a longer inseam for taller gals. The dark wash is on trend for this season and can look very polished for work.
MOTHER Weekender Fray is a great option for weekends and casual outings. Their composition makes them stretchy for comfort, and I love the raw edge hem.
Perfect for petites, these Favorite Daughter flares can also work for taller gals with a shorter inseam and flats.
Fitted in the waist, the wide-leg gradually widens from the hip down. Some women shy away from this style of jeans because they fear it will make them look wider. In fairness, it is in the name. However, a wide-leg can have a flowing, slimming effect to create elegance. This jean style can work for pretty much all body shapes. For those who are heavier on top, the wide-leg makes a nice balance on the bottom. For those with curves on the bottom, the wide-leg can again smooth and create elegance. For those without curves, a wide-leg can create a mile-long leg. Just remember to keep the top less voluminous with this type of pant.
Here are a few wide-leg options I love.
These Frame Le Palazzo High Rise Wide-Leg give the aforementioned legs for days. Even if you are shorter, you can tailor these significantly and still get gorgeous, trapsing through the effect of the street. The color will last you from now through the colder months.
These cropped AG wide-leg jeans are a much more casual version with the lighter wash and distressed hem. I want some sunglasses and an Aperol spritz to go with them.
The leg of the jean is the same width from the top to the bottom, and there is no tapering or flare. The thing to remember about these jeans is that straight is a cut, and these jeans can come in relaxed fits or slim fits, based on how tight the leg is around the body. You also want to ensure this jean hits right at the top of the ankle bone or just above to avoid an unflattering bunching.
Here are my straight-leg jean recommendations.
Available in a variety of lengths, this Madewell straight-leg jean has a beautiful wash and versatility.
These DL1961 Mara Ankle Straight-Leg jeans could take you from work to play with a simple switch-up of footwear.
Glaring white is another big trend for spring and summer, so a straight-leg pair like this DL 1961 pair is a great investment. Be cautious of these jeans if you try to balance a bigger lower half, as they will draw attention to your hips, legs, and booty.
Fitted in the waist and hip, this jean curves through the rest of the leg before tapering at the ankle. It is typically high-waisted. These may be one of the more tricky jean styles to pull off as they add width to the middle of your legs, but it can be done if you are someone who benefits from a fitted/nipped waist and hip (hourglass, bigger on the bottom). The key is to ensure the top is fitted through the torso so it’s clear the width added to the leg is an illusion. Additionally, you can go for a less dramatic barrel, so the added width is kept to a minimum. This style could also work for someone without curves wanting a more dramatic, fashion-forward look.
Here are my recommended barrel jean options.
This simple pair of barrel jeans have a great crop and is an excellent starting point for trying out this style.
This Rag & Bone pair is a favorite due to the ties around the ankle. The ties show the slenderness of the lower leg, making the barrel silhouette easier to wear.
This AYR pair is a great summertime option; just be careful if you carry weight around your thighs and hips, as the pocket detail will draw attention.
Super high rise (practically to your rib cage) and rigid denim. It often comes in a straight leg, but kick flares and slim are also available. This style of denim is great for someone who wants to highlight a waistline and elongate their legs. Be cautious of this style if you are bigger in your tummy section, as the cut may be tight and uncomfortable. It’s good to note that these jeans are usually 100% cotton and have almost no stretch.
AG Jeans coined the term pinch waist and made quite a phenomenon out of them in fashion. This is a classic straight-leg pair and a personal fav.
Here is another great version from Agolde in a darker wash with a slight kick or flare at the hem. This can be a bit more flattering to those curvy on the bottom.
While Levi’s doesn’t call their denim pinch waist, their ribcage styles have a similar effect to Agolde. This jean has 1% of elastane, so it has a bit of stretch, especially compared to the Agolde, which is 100% cotton. It also comes in a variety of washes.