Once every six months the runways of New York, Milan, Tokyo, and Paris are flooded with new creation from some of the worlds brightest and most talented fashion designers. Glamorous dresses, exotic bags, and magical shoes (so high we can only dream about walking in them), parade up and down the catwalks inspiring an elite group of editors and buyers; responsible for determining the so called "trends" of the season. Fashionistas worldwide oogle over the thought of draping themselves in the most current accouterments from designers such as Missoni, Givenchy, and Yves Saint Laurent. And yet, at the end of the day, when the tents come down, and all the models are fast asleep in their beds, the majority of us still prefer to hit the streets in our favorite pair of jeans.
Jeans were first developed by Levi Strauss and his partner Jacob Davis, as a workman's pant during the California Gold Rush in 1873. The durability of denim combined with duos patented rivet reinforcements made the Levi's jeans widely popular among the workforce in the 1800's, but it took almost 90 more years for denim to take off as a fashion staple. It's adoption is credited to the baby-boomers, who in the 1960's started working denim into their everyday wardrobes. Since then denim has morphed into a multi billion dollar industry, and is now produced by thousands of brand name labels to include everyone from the Gap, to Seven for All Mankind. Denim is quite possible, the most persistent trend of all time, rightfully considered to be the foundation on which most wardrobes are built. And thanks to its great versatility in color, style, fit, and design everyone can wear denim and still express their own unique style and individuality.
With all the options available the denim market can sometimes be a bit overwhelming; use the following guide to help better understand and determine your perfect style!
Common Denim Terms:
- Low-Rise: Jeans intended to sit low on, or below, the hips. They are also called lowcut jeans, hipsters, hip-huggers and lowriders. Usually they sit at least 8 centimetres (3 inches) lower than the belly button.
- Mid-Rise: Jeans that sit just below the waist.
- High Rise: Jeans that sit at or above the natural waist.
- Wash: Refers to the color of the jeans. Often times designers will name their washes to make the color similarities more recognizable between styles.
- Distressing: Refers to any signs of fraying, tearing or fading on the denim. New denim is often artificially distressed to make it appear more broken in.
- Vintaged: New "Vintaged" denim is often tinted with a slightly yellowish dye to make it appear older, dirtier, and more broken in.
- Dry Denim: Denim fabric that is not washed after being dyed during its production. Much of the appeal of dry denim lies in the fact that with time the fabric will fade in a manner similar to factory distressed denim. With dry denim, however, such fading is affected by the body of the person who wears the jeans and the activities of their daily life. This creates what many enthusiasts feel to be a more natural, unique look than pre-distressed denim.
- Indigo Dyeing: The process that created the traditional blue color of denim.
- Sulphur Dyeing: The process used to create black or colored denim. Ex: Grey, Rust, Mustard, Green and Red.
- Skinny: Also called "Cigarette", or "Pencil" jeans, have a slim fit that tappers tightly to the ankles.
- Straight: Jeans with a slim fit that are cut straight from the knee down to the ankle.
- Bootcut: Slim fitted jeans that are contoured throughout the hips and thigh, and flare out slightly from the knee down to the hem.
- Flared: Slim fitted jeans that are contoured throughout the hips and thigh, and flare out from the knee down to the hem.
- Bell-Bottoms: Slim fitted jeans that are contoured throughout the hips and thigh before flaring out dramatically from the knee down to the hem.
- Relaxed: Sometimes referred to as a "Boyfriend" jean. Relaxed jeans usually come in a low-rise style and have an extra roomy / slouchy cut throught the leg.
- Wide Leg: Slim fitted throughout the hips with a looser "wide cut" throughout the thigh and down to the hem.
- Trouser: A more tailored take on denim; generally this style comes in a wide leg cut, but it can also feature additional details such as pin-tucked seaming, cuffing, darting, or welt pockets.
Taking Your Measurements:
Finding the right size is key to shopping for jeans, and online this means knowing your measurements not your size, because sizing will always vary between style and designer. To take your measurements correctly you will need a flexible tape measure, a pen, and a notepad to write your results down on.
To begin, it is necessary to determining your waist circumference, hip circumference, and inseam length. In addition, some people may also want to determine their upper thigh circumference, mid thigh circumference, and knee circumference if they consider those areas to be "problem areas" for them. Not sure how to begin? Not to worry, we've got you covered!
- Natural Waist - Measure around your natural waistline, keeping the tape measure comfortably loose.
- Low Waist - Measure around the body (about 2-3 inches below the natural waistline), keeping the tape measure comfortably loose.
- Hips - With feet together measure around the fullest part of your hips/seat; approximately 7-8 inches below your natural waistline.
- Upper Thigh Circumference - With your feet slightly spread measure from the highest possible point all the way around your thigh.
- Mid Thigh Circumference - With your feet slightly spread measure all the way around your thigh; approximately 6 inches down from the crotch.
- Knee Circumference - Measure around one knee, parallel to the joint.
- Inseam - Measure from the crotch down along the inside of the leg to about one inch below the ankle.
Measuring Your Jeans:
In addition to taking your personal measurements, we also recommend measuring a pair of jeans that you already have and love to wear. Doing so will allow you to compare your measurements to the measurements of the jeans, and you will in turn gain an better understanding of how you prefer your jeans to fit.
There are lots of different techniques out there for taking measurements, but we recommend the following for greatest accuracy.
To begin lay your jeans out on a flat surface. Keep in mind, it is reasonable to apply a slight amount of tension to the denim when taking measurements, if you prefer a tighter fit in your jeans - but you don't want to over do it.
- Waist - Measure the waistband across the top from edge to edge. If the jeans dip in the front, don't worry (this is due to a difference in the front and back rise), the waist band does not have to be aligned to take a proper waist measurement. Double your measurement to get the circumference.
- Front Rise - Measure from the intersection of the crotch up the front to the top of the waistband.
- Back Rise - Measure from the intersection of the crotch up the back to the top of the waistband.
- Hips - Measure across the front, from edge to edge, just below the base of the zipper / fly. Double your measurement to get the circumference.
- Upper Thigh - Measure from the inseam intersection at the crotch out, all the way to the edge. Double your measurement to get the circumference.
- Mid Thigh - Measure 6 inches down from the crotch along the inseam. From there measure out, all the way to the edge. Double your measurement to get the circumference.
- Knee - Measure along the inseam approximately half way down the leg. From there measure out, all the way to the edge. Double your measurement to get the circumference.
- Inseam - Measure form the intersection of the crotch, down along the inseam all the way to the hem.
- Leg Opening - Measure across the bottom of the hem / cuff. Double your measurement to get the circumference.
Fit Recommendations by Body Type:
So now that you know your measurements, the only thing left for you to consider is the cut of your jeans. Let's face it, they all look gorgeous on the rack, but when it comes to wearing them, well that can be a very different story. If you want your jeans to look like they were made for you, you have to first consider your body type and then decide which styles will best accentuate it.
- Inverted Triangles - Women with an inverted triangle body shape should seek to improve the balance between their broad shoulders and narrow hips. When it comes to jeans this means choosing styles that will maximize the lower half. Try low-rise flared or bootcut jeans in a light or distressed color.
- Rectangle - Women with a rectangular body type are usually running a little low on curves, so they should look for styles that give the illusion of a curvier silhouette. Try bootcut or flared jeans in distressed washes, that have extra back pocket detailing such as flap pockets, or embellishments - to help bump up the backside.
- Triangle - Women with triangular shaped figures are usually bottom heavy so they should look for styles that minimize their hips, bringing them back into proportion with their slimmer shoulders. Try bootcut or straight leg jeans in dark colors and avoid back pocket embellishments and skinny jeans.
- Hourglass - Women with an hourglass shape can get away with wearing just about any style but we recommend skinny jeans and low rise styles that will help show off their shape.
- Petites - Shorter women look best is straight cut styles that elongate the legs. Steer clear of skinny jeans as they can tend to make you look frumpy.