You’re watching a movie, and you notice that all the stars (heroes and villains alike) look darn good in their jeans. Then suddenly, there’s someone who doesn’t – someone whose jeans are baggy in the seat, stretched ridiculously tight over the thighs and just look wrong. It’s the universal visual cue for an unlikeable person. The rude guy ignoring his dog’s mess on the sidewalk, which the hero steps in. The city worker harrassing someone. The slovenly person shoving a whole street cart taco into his mouth and getting in the way during the big chase scene. Their lack of sartorial style sets the stage for how the writers want us to characterize them. But did you ever wonder — as a regular human being that doesn’t have a well-paid Hollywood stylist choosing your wardrobe — how do you manage to choose jeans that make you look like a superhero instead of a superzero? Just how good do you really look in your jeans??
The first step to choosing a brilliant pair of jeans is to be brutally honest with yourself. Take a look in the mirror. Now, this is not the time to regret those donuts or rethink that languishing gym membership. Just look at the basic as-it-is-now shape relationship of your waist to your hips to your thighs to your calves. Because that is the basis of choosing the right pair of jeans.
While there is a standard definition of the types of fits you’ll generally find in a selection of jeans, classic straight leg jeans and boot cut jeans both fit comfortably from the thigh to the knee with little to no tapering. A proper fit should allow for movement without appearing either baggy or tight (though a pair that is made to stretch may look a little more snug). The difference is between the knee and the ankle. The straight leg jean is the same width from the knee to the ankle. The boot cut jean is 1″ wider at the ankle than the knee. This gives it a slightly flared look.
If you have short legs, the straight leg can make them look a little longer. If your hips are narrow, the straight leg is a better choice because anything with a flare at the ankles will make your shape bottom-heavy at the ankles, and you’ll end up looking like the jeans are wearing you instead of you wearing the jeans! If you’ve been hitting the gym and want to show off that muscular chest, a straight leg is your best bet. In fact, the straight leg jean is the most popular style simply because it looks good on just about everyone.
However, a boot cut jean can definitely be a lady’s best friend because that little bit of flare will help balance out your silhouette if you have wider hips. It will similarly diminish the appearance of a large chest (if that’s something you want!) and it will make long legs look even longer.
Skinny jeans have been popular for a while for both women and men. A step up from the skinny jean is the slim fit or athletic fit jean. Athletic styles are fitted at the seat, just slightly roomier in the legs and thigh than skinny jeans with a slight taper, while skinny jeans skim the body all the way down from seat to ankle. Skinny jeans work well for people who are, actually, skinny or who have a lean and balanced shape. Skinny legs and a larger middle? Nope, the skinny jeans will just draw attention to your stomach and make the proportions seem even more unbalanced.
Men, if you have any muscle form to your legs or glutes, or a waist that is not concave, opt for an athletic fit jean instead of skinny. The modern, slim look of athletic fit jeans is more fashion forward than the classic straight jean, without the tightness of a skinny jean. Trying to fit muscular thighs into a pair of skinny pants will pull on the fabric causing the seat to look flat and the wearer to be adjusting their pants all day long.
Ladies, if going for a skinny jean or a jegging, and you have curves, make sure to get a jean that allows you to move, doesn’t cut off circulation, has a waist high enough to avoid muffin top, and avoid skin-tone colors.
Whichever style you choose, the key is to get the right waist size and then make sure you buy a fit that respects the relationship between your waist and your seat and thighs.