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5 steps to finding the best jeans for you


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When National Student Fashion Editor Ruby and I had the chance to hear from some of this year’s BAFTA nominees for costume design, we were surprised to find out what the hardest item of clothing to fit is. 

Despite the majority of the nominees having worked on intricate period dramas requiring more corsets and bespoke gowns than the Elizabethan period itself, it appears that it is, in fact, the humble jean which causes them the most trouble. 

Read on to find out how to make the process of finding your most loyal denim companion a bit less of a chore:


Think about the clothes and shoes you already own

Jeans are a staple part of any wardrobe, but only if they’re a good match for the clothes you already own. Most basic jeans come in a black or blue wash; if, for example, your current clothing collection contains a lot of navy then you’ll probably get more wear out of an indigo pair. Equally, for someone who wears a lot of bright colours black can be a great way to pull together a variety of different pieces.  

When it comes to fit, trainers often go nicely with an ankle grazer while for cold winter months a longer pair that can be tucked into boots are ideal.  With that said, it's probably best to wear your most versatile clothes - think plain, form-fitting tees, slip-on boots, and seamless underwear - to the fitting stage so you can really see how well a pair fits without any obstructions or distractions.

Image credit: Free-Photos on Pixabay

Have a look online for ideas but actually try them in store before you buy

The most longwinded part of this process is finding the cut and style that best suit your body type and that you feel most comfortable in. Despite all jeans being made of denim, different brands offer differing degrees of elasticity. If your jeans are mainly for downtime this may not be a huge consideration, but if you plan on wearing them to work or uni you’ll probably want them to have a bit more stretch. 

The terms “high rise” and “mid-rise” are useful, but their actual interpretation on clothes varies massively from brand to brand; Topshop’s Jamie jeans and ASOS’s Rivington jeans, for example, are both classed as “high rise” but whereas the former falls just atop my pelvis the latter rises well above my ribcage!  As a result, finding the right pair of jeans for you will likely be much easier (and quicker) if you take a day to go shopping IRL and not online; you won’t have to wait for delivery and you’ll be able to discount any non-contenders straight away.

Be willing to switch between sizes

In a dream world, we’d be able to walk from shop to shop knowing that if we wore a size 10 in Store A then we’d also need a size 10 in Store B. Unfortunately, this is not the case and sizes can vary hugely across retailers (and sometimes even within the same one * cough * H&M * cough *). When it comes to jeans, you’ve got both the length and waist measurements to take into account, so be prepared to try on multiple versions of the same style before discounting it. A 28/30 may be too short to tuck into your favourite winter boots but a 28/32 could be just the ticket, so always ask the sales assistants what measurements the jeans come in - sometimes particularly long or short measurements do exist, but either come in a limited supply or simply aren’t out on the shop floor.

Image credit: jarmoluk on Pixabay

Be willing to spend more than you normally would on clothes

Fast-fashion retailers have loads of options available for less than £20, but in my own experience it’s worth making jeans an investment.I’m not saying you need to stretch as far as Levi’s (student budgets rarely allow that!), but I’ve found (unsurprisingly) that anything particularly cheap just doesn’t last. Even if they fit perfectly in the fitting room, after a couple of washes the colour often changes and they become saggy in places they were tight before (and often vice versa!). You’re far better off buying well and buying once.  Another option would be going second-hand; because good quality jeans are such a durable item, the vintage market is flooded with them. Hit up a city like London, Brighton or Bristol to see if there are any pre-loved items and you could get a lot more for your money.

Work out what it is that’s wrong when you try them on

If you try a style on and you hate it, as tempting as it may be don’t just rip them off and never look at them again. Work out what exactly it is you don’t like and make a mental note to rule that out in future searching: are they too long? Too baggy? Too tight? Do you dislike where they sit on your hips? When it comes to finding something that you love and will enjoy wearing, being picky and knowing what you don’t like is equally important as understanding what you do like.

Image credit: Nietjuh on Pixabay

We hope this guide has helped you in your quest to find the ultimate jean.  For more style guides and fashion chat head over to our section!

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