Despite what The Sisterhood of Travelling Pants showed us, there is unfortunately no such thing as the one-size-fits-all jeans.
Finding the right pair takes practice. There are already way too many variables to shopping for jeans: their cut, their rise, their hems, their treatments, their washes, and their denim fabrics. In truth, all you really have to do is understand your body shape and personal style.
Are you a pear shape who needs flared pants to balance out the bottom half of your body? Are you toned with a rectangular figure that is best flaunted through a pair of straight-leg jeans? Or are you riding the Y2K revival and willing to venture into low-rise territory like your TikTok faves?
It’s worth figuring out the answers to those questions because jeans go with pretty much everything, and they’re not going out of fashion anytime soon. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you out. Read on to learn about the different cuts and rises in the world of denim, as well as how best to style your jeans to flatter your figure.
Look, we know that the whole Y2K revival has brought low-rise jeans back with a vengeance, but you don’t have to worry if you know how to wear them. Generally, the hip-hugging style looks best on those with a short torso who are looking to balance out their body. These jeans do exactly that by creating the illusion of a lower waistline. They’re are also perfect for those who want to show off their abs — just like Bella Hadid regularly does, while sporting a tank or a crop top. It’s no wonder that these jeans from Los Angeles label Grlfrnd are named after the model. Instead of going for a skinny silhouette that will date your look to the 2000s, try a pair like this one that features a very modern and comfy straight-leg cut. They’ll look especially great with a pair of sneakers too.
Sitting between the navel and hips, these are one of the most figure-friendly jeans you can find. The flattering style doesn’t just look good on various body types; it also pairs nicely with tops of any length, making for an incredibly versatile staple piece in your wardrobe. If you’re not blessed with long legs, or you’re especially petite, you might want to go for a cropped pair like this one from Los Angeles denim label Citizens of Humanity. Paired with heels (or some chunky slides), these jeans will certainly elongate your leg line.
High-waisted jeans hardly need an introduction; they’ve probably become your go-to style thanks to fashion’s growing infatuation with the ’70s over the last few years. Some might argue that they aren’t technically high-waisted, considering that they actually sit at the natural waist located above the belly button. But nobody will contest how well they work when you need a little tummy control or want to create the illusion of long legs. Typically fitted at the waist and hips, high-rise jeans also do wonders on accentuating curvy body shapes like the hourglass and the pear. If you fall under either of those categories, you’ll dig this pair by Russian fashion brand 12 Storeez. Be sure to balance the wide leg of the jeans with a tucked-in blouse, a bodysuit or a crop top.
If you’re not masochistic enough to pull on a pair of skinny jeans every time you head out, straight-leg jeans are your next best option. In terms of fit, they’re more comfortable and laid-back, which is great because jeans are made from sturdy, unforgiving denim. If you have a rectangular figure, this cut will help show it off. And if you’re pear- or hourglass-shaped, the jeans will nicely emphasise your curves while creating a long, straight line down the body. That’s especially true if you go for a darker wash — like these faded, indigo denim jeans from Californian brand Annie Bing.
Ever noticed how clothes that are borrowed from the boys look so much better on the rest of us? The boyfriend jeans are a prime example of that. They come with a relaxed and slouchy fit that adds a bit of bulk to your lower body. That’s especially useful for those with an inverted triangle body shape (i.e. your shoulders are broader than your hips) or if you’ve got some long legs that need balancing out. But you can also wear them if you’re deliberately going for that ’90s grungy look, which is why we’ve seen these jeans on everyone from Rihanna to Gigi Hadid. This pair from Gucci passes the vibe check with its loose fit, faded denim and distressed details.
The more subtle sister to wide-leg jeans, bootcuts are designed to be fitted at the waist and through the thighs, but loose from the knee. They get their name from the fact that they pair so well with low-heeled boots (think Dr Martens), but they also especially suit those with, ahem, a booty. While the top half hugs their hips, the bottom half balances out the fuller figures of pear-, apple- and hourglass body shapes. Italian fashion brand Pinko made their bootcuts above with a little stretch so that you can feel nice and snug in them.
Thankfully for those with pear and hourglass figures, the ’70s flares have survived the test of time and are now considered a classic. Valentino even offered a handful of them for its Spring/Summer 2021 collection. You don’t have to go crazy on the bell bottoms to appreciate how they balance out the volume in your hips and thighs. In fact, if you’re petite and have short legs, we recommend that you stick to a flared hem that isn’t wider than your hips — something like this one from Swedish label Jeanerica, which features a high-rise that will make your legs appear longer than they are.
Wide-leg jeans are great for those with rectangle or triangle body shapes; the exaggerated cut adds just a bit oomph to your straight, slim legs. And if you’re short, a cropped pair with a high-rise can (seemingly) give you a boost in height. Generally, though, the wider the jeans, the more flattering they can be on different body types, so don’t shy away from this wardrobe staple if you don’t fit those criteria. Instead, try this pair on for size. It’s made of non-stretch, super soft denim and comes with a grey wash that gives it a vintage look.
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