Let’s talk about skinny jeans. Specifically, how I used to find shopping for them about as enjoyable as scrubbing shower grout, trying on bikinis in florescent-lit fitting rooms, filing taxes, running for fun… you get the idea.
Even though I pretty much live in skinnies because they’re the most comfortable and practical basic for my job, I absolutely loathed the process of finding the perfect pair. My list of skinny jean frustrations is long, but my top gripes are:
- Length — at 5’4″, even short and “ankle length” skinnies can be too long for me. I like them to hit an inch or so above my ankle for flat sandals and ballet flats, and I end up hacking most of my hems off with scissors, #DIY style.
- Stretch — there’s nothing worse than skinnies that lose their shape throughout the day and leave you with a saggy butt or thighs… except maybe skinnies that don’t have any stretch and feel too tight and restrictive. It’s a Goldilocks situation, and I need ’em just right.
- Rise — two words: muffin top. Also, I hate tugging my jeans up all day when they’re too low and constantly slide down my hips.
- Gaps — speaking of hips, mine are wider than my waist, so I have a problem with jeans that fit through my hips and thighs but leave a big gap in the back at the waistband.
Through lots of trial and error — and wasted money on jeans that ended up in the donation pile after just a few disappointing wears — I finally found the recipe for my perfect skinny jeans. Now I know what to look for when I shop in-store or online, and can narrow down the brands and styles that should work for me pretty easily.
For example, I bought these Hudson ‘Nico’ skinny ankle jeans on Hautelook for 60% off after studying the product details to make sure they lined up with my checklist (and consulting my designer-denim-loving girlfriends in a group chat) and they were a spot-on fit when they arrived. I’ve basically lived in them since they came in the mail, and nailing a denim purchase sight-unseen felt like such a victory!
So here’s the gist:
Pay attention to fit keywords.
If a description mentions curves, curvy, or curve-hugging I’m in. Conversely, descriptors like “narrow/slim fit,” “straight through the hips/thighs,” or “super-skinny” let me know I probably need to click away and find something else.
If you’re tall and slender, the opposite may be true for you. Get to know the fits that work best for your body type, and hunt down those keywords on tags or in product descriptions when you shop online.
When I’m shopping brands I’m unfamiliar with and the fit description is vague, I read through the product reviews and/or do a little googling to try to find reviews by women with a body shape similar to mine. There’s a wealth of helpful information out there thanks to style bloggers, and denim review posts with photos are especially helpful. (I’ve spent many a night falling down a rabbit hole of “best skinny jeans for curvy women” searches.)
Go for the high rise.
I love a high rise jean that sits on my waist right at my belly button. A great pair of high rise skinny jeans hugs my body in a really flattering way that evens out my proportions, makes my petite legs look longer, and defines my waist for a slimmer silhouette. Plus, no back gaps!
A 9-10″ front rise is perfect for me; anything higher and I’m in dangerous torso-disappearing territory.
Find the right blend.
I like my skinnies with a good dose of stretch. For jeans that hold their shape comfortably without baggin’ or saggin’, I look for denim blends that combine cotton with at least 3-4% of a synthetic stretch fiber like polyester, viscose, modal or elastane (which may be listed as trade names LYCRA and Spandex on the label).
98/2 blends — that’s 98% cotton and 2% of a synthetic stretch fiber — will still give you a little flex, but they’re prone to stretching out and losing their shape with extended wear.
I pretty much avoid 100% cotton denim altogether. (Sorry denim purists!)
4-way stretch denim is the best.
It stretches in four directions and snaps right back so it never gets baggy or loses its shape; think your favorite yoga pants and jeans had a super-stretchy, ultra-comfy baby. These are often branded as jeggings, but fear not, the latest iterations have a more substantial fabric weight so they look and feel like jeans (these ain’t your informercial pajama jeans of yore). They’re my top pick for comfort and fit. Look for “4-way stretch” on the tag or in the product description if you’re shopping online.
American Eagle’s x4 styles all feature 4-way stretch, and are an awesome budget pick at around $50 a pair. They’re often on BOGO 50% off, too! I always keep at least two pairs of their black x4 hi-rise jeggings in rotation in my closet; I literally wear them to death, until they fade to gray and need replacing.
I hope this is helpful for some of you!
What are your favorite skinny jean brands and styles? Any petite curvy ladies in the house with great recommendations? And do you have any similar shopping rules to save time and frustration when you’re on the hunt for closet staples? I’d love to hear them!