How to look great in jeans

Jeans – a curvy gal’s dilemma

A few years ago when the designer jeans trend was at it’s height, I went to Nordstroms with a few gift cards in the hopes of finding a cute skirt to add to my Spring wardrobe. As I rode up the escalator I was shocked to see myself surrounded by a sea of jeans.  I am not exaggerating. The store was selling nothing but denim pants along with a few colorful tops to wear with them.  There was not a dress nor a skirt to be found on the whole floor. This was a big problem Jeans are an ongoing dilemma for me. It doesn’t matter how trendy they are, or how many there are in a store, the probability of finding a pair that even fit me is low and finding a pair that look great is nearly impossible. Until recently I really didn’t know how to look great in jeans. Then one day, that all changed…

Finding A great Pair of Jeans

The stars must have been aligned correctly the other day when I happened upon a great pair of jeans while shopping with a girlfriend.  I had found a cute jacket and wondered how it would look over jeans, so I asked the salesperson to bring me a pair.  Imagine my surprise when they looked like this:

Not only did they look cute, they were actually comfortable. I’ve spent much of my shopping life searching for jean nirvana.  If I can do it so can you! Here are a few tips on how to look great in jeans, starting with the shopping.

Shopping for jeans – tips for curvy gals

The number on the tag is a guideline, nothing more. For years I would cry when I had to pass on a 12 and go up to a 14.  I now realize the number is really irrelevant.  Sizes vary from brand to brand, sometimes even within the same line.  (When I purchased the J-Brand jeans above, I tried on a few other styles in the same size,  but the other options didn’t even make it over my hips.) European sizes are different from American sizes. If the number really upsets me I go home and cut it out.  What’s important is how the garment looks on you!

Try lots of different styles, colors and brands. I’d been thinking about a pair of skinny jeans for years when I finally decided to try on a pair at Target.  I was pleasantly surprised at the results, but they were about the 10th pair I dragged with me to the fitting room. Often one cut will fit well and look good, but others won’t. The only way you’ll know is to try them on.

- Shop with a friend.  Not only is shopping more fun with a girlfriend, they can also tell you how the pants look from behind.  Thankfully not all stores offer those horrifying surround mirrors that show you every angle under glaring, harsh, dressing room lighting. It’s much nicer to have a friend’s opinion.

One of the reasons I rarely wear pants is because of the the back view.  My girlfriend assured me this pair looked great, which gave me the confidence to buy them.

Sit down, bend over, and walk around.  If the jeans aren’t comfortable you won’t wear them.  One of my biggest problems with jeans (pants in general actually) is they often are too tight in the crotch.  If they are I won’t wear them – ever.  It doesn’t matter how nice they look.

Check the length. Less expensive jeans tend to have shorter inseams.  They also tend to vary a bit in cut within the same style.  Look at all the same jeans in your size and check to see if one is longer than the others.  The skinny black jeans I found at Target last year were about 3/4″ longer than the others hanging with them.

- Dark Jeans are slimming. Yes, I know – yawn – but dark jeans are also versatile.  You can wear them during the day or dress them up at night. As much as I would love, love, love a pair of white jeans, I’ve yet to find a pair that look as good as I want them to.

- If it doesn’t look good on you, don’t buy it. I know there are some people who feel we should wear a trend even if it isn’t flattering on our figures. I am not one of those people. My experience tells me that there are times when the current trends all look awful on me, but I know if I’m patient a new trend will come along that will look good.  For instance, skinny jeans have been the thing for a while, but they are a challenge to a woman with my kind of figure. Now I hear that flared jeans are back “in”. Yea for me!

-You win some and you loose some. There have been times in my life when I’m itching for something new and nothing looks good.  I have purchased things I don’t love just because it was so much work trying everything on, but I always wish I hadn’t in the end. Leave the store and try again another day.

Wearing your jeans – tips for curvy gals


Wear your jeans with the right shoes.  Heels make your legs look longer and long legs are sexy. Ballerina flats can be cute with skinny jeans.  I’m on the fence about the Converse sneakers with skinny jeans look.  It’s the uniform of the local teenagers.  I find it looks really cute on the less curvy girls, and really unflattering on curvy girls.

Let your shoes be the guide to the length of the jeans.  The hallmark of designer jeans is their length. My new flared jeans had a 35 1/2″ inseam.  That’s long, even on my 5’9″ frame.  In my highest heels they still draped on the floor. Still, their long length is one of the reasons they looks so slimming. Since I plan on wearing them only with high heels and platforms I took off about two inches, just so they break on my toes and cover a bit of my heels.  I won’t be able to wear them with flats but  I have other jeans for that. (Warning, if you take your jeans to be hemmed, and you want to wear said jeans with high heels, wear your heels to the tailor, otherwise they might hem them too short.)

Camouflage the dreaded muffin top! I have fat on my hips that spills over the tops of my jeans.  Not pretty.  That’s where a loose knit top like the one I’m wearing in these photos comes in so handy.  Other options are woven shirts that skim the area rather than cling to it.  As cute as my regular tight t-shirts look when I’m standing in the mirror, after about a minute of moving around they’ve scooched up and the results are really unappealing.

Wear a belt. The materials used in today’s denim often includes lycra, a strechy fiber that allows our modern jeans to be tight and still move with our bodies.  But it tends to strech out when we move.  A belt will keep the pants from sagging in the back.

Wear undergarments that don’t show through. Wear thong-style panties with your jeans to avoid pantyline.

And finally, my most important piece of advice for looking great while wearing jeans:

SMILE!

Wearing:

  • Flared Jeans – J Brand “Martini” 
  • Black knit top – Barney’s Co-Op

Shop J-Brand Jeans!

J-Brand are my personal favorite denim brand for the fit and overall quality. Here are some of my favorite styles. Click on an image to check out the jeans at the online store. Disclosure: There are affiliate links in the images. If you click on one I will receive a small commission. Thank you for your support!

What do you think of jeans? Love them?  Hate them?  Do you have any other tips for looking great in jeans?

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49 Responses to How to look great in jeans

  1. Alexis of NorthOnHarper May 2, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    Heather! Those are some great jeans and also great tips. I am a pretty small girl, but I still struggle when it comes to purchasing jeans. It can be insanely frustrating. BUT when a pair works, it is AWESOME!
    Alexis of NorthOnHarper recently posted..Timeless TurquoiseMy Profile

  2. SACRAMENTO May 2, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    You look absolutely fantastic, my dear Heather.I can see for your smile that they have made you feel happy, and that is enough for me.
    Superb post, my friend.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
    SACRAMENTO recently posted..Old Postcards – Berlín &amp Who´s Next Blog in ParisMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca May 3, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

      Thank you my dear Sacramento! They have made me happy. You just live in LA and not have a great pair of jeans – it’s like the local uniform.

  3. citizen rosebud
    Twitter:
    May 2, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    What perfect timing for this most EXCELLENT post! I don’t wear jeans much- I dislike them especially since my weight gain and the dreaded muffin top. Affordable jeans only seem to come in “lo-rise,” and I can’t afford the 150-200 jeans that actually come in a chub-hiding anti-muffin waist line. Ok, I have one pair of those- a pair of Joe’s Jeans from 2 years ago. So your tips are going to come in handy, and I hope to see this post in IFB’s links ala mode.
    citizen rosebud recently posted..Mei-MeiMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca May 3, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

      Honestly I had kind of given up until I stumbled upon this pair. Now I’m all excited about jeans, but it’s not always easy to find ones that fit great and are affordable.

  4. anne
    Twitter:
    May 2, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    Enjoyed your post!

    I guess I’m entrenched in my high school habits of the 70s: I wear mens levis 501-style. and only in the dark months.
    I didn’t like 70s bootcut jeans and I still won’t wear them (even if they might be flattering). I can be very stubborn. For decades.
    I did like Trash & Vaudeville skinny jeans in the 80s, when I could fit in them. Those days are many many cupcakes ago.
    anne recently posted..4-30 hommage à LeslieMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca May 3, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

      I don’t remember Trash & Vaudeville – I was more of a Guess girl. Remember the little zippers on the ankle?

  5. GRIT & GLAMOUR
    Twitter:
    May 2, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    Excellent tips! As a curvy girl, I have some challenges with jeans myself. I’ve found Citizens of Humanity is my go-to brand because styles are small in the waist and larger through the rear and hips to accommodate Greek booty like mine!

    I always buy jeans cut for heels, unless they are skinnies. Flares and the most flattering, I think.

    Lookin’ good! And I’m loving the honesty of this blog!
    GRIT & GLAMOUR recently posted..WVW- May Day Martinis My SanctuaryMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca May 3, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

      Thank you Vahni! I’m so glad you like the post, and I’ll have to check out Citizens of Humanity jeans next.

  6. Michelle of Chellbellz May 2, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    Those are come hot jeans!! I’m still having a hard time finding jeans. I would love to wear a cute pair of flare jeans!

    • Heather Fonseca May 3, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

      Just keep looking. They’re out there, but they’re not always easy to find. As you can see from the other comments you aren’t alone in your quest.

  7. Pretty, Polished, Perfect. May 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    You’re right! These jeans are fabulous on you. I’m just relieved to hear someone else admit that not all trends are meant for everyone. In my latest post, I mention how disappointing the denim at the Gap was. Lots of cute wide-leg, but total high-waist – and it does nothing for my bum but make people laugh, lol!

    • Heather Fonseca May 3, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

      I saw your white on white post. Now I have to go back and find your denim post!

  8. Andrea Howe May 2, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    Yeow! Those jeans make your butt look good!
    Andrea Howe recently posted..Red Fruit LoveMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca May 3, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

      Thanks Andrea! It’s very strange seeing photos of one’s own behind. It’s not something I look at very often so it was a bit of a shock.

  9. Stacey - Total City Girl
    Twitter:
    May 2, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    So surprised to see you in jeans but they look great! I’m a total jeans girl! I wear them all the time. I have to say though, I feel the same way about shopping for them. I dread it!! I find it really hard to find ones that look good on me. I’m 5’7” and curvy also. My problem is always I need a bigger size for my butt but then the waist is always too big. I’m way too afraid to get skinny jeans and have found that boot cut look best on me. In the past I’ve had luck at The Limited but I’m in desperate need of new jeans now.
    Stacey – Total City Girl recently posted..Events Wolfie’s 4th Birthday PartyMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca May 3, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

      Good luck with your quest for new ones. I can’t buy pants at the limited because they only go up to a size 12 – too small these days. (They sell 14’s on line but not at the stores. Now how is that helpful? Makes me never want to shop there again.)

  10. A Brit Greek
    Twitter:
    May 2, 2011 at 11:38 pm #

    Well, here’s looking at you, kid! I love those bootcut jeans on you and what a brilliant post! Great tips. Can’t wait to see more!

    Also loving the style confessions blog!

    x.o.x.o
    A Brit Greek recently posted..Blushing Brides- Fiction- Celebs &amp Red Carpet InspirationMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca May 3, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

      Thank you! I’m so glad you’re liking my new blog. I’m loving writing it.

  11. Madison
    Twitter:
    May 3, 2011 at 12:11 am #

    Wonderful! I’m a bit short waisted & tall, it always takes me a very long time to shop for denim. I used to love Joe’s, but have really loved wearing Rock&Republik, Hudson & Citizens! I’ve also found a new love for Cheap Monday & Nudie. Nice tips…you look amazing!

    • Heather Fonseca May 3, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

      Oh my gosh – so many brands to try! Thanks for the tip.

  12. Paula May 3, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    Those jeans look great on you! Its soooo good when you find a pair that works, no?
    I have a few pairs that are great–but I don’t like to have too many in my wardrobe–just not a big pants person. My fave’s right now are high waisted skinny jeans I got at Alloy!
    Paula recently posted..Fishnets and Cherry BlossomsMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca May 3, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

      I’d love to see those pants on you! New outfit post maybe?

  13. Boheme Noir May 4, 2011 at 2:30 am #

    *SIGH*

    How to look good in jeans? Simple answer: weigh less than 99 pounds…

    …Pff…I know why I`m NOT wearing jeans…

    *GRR*

    • Heather Fonseca May 4, 2011 at 9:14 am #

      Don’t be silly! I’ve seen photos of you and you’re adorable. (And I weigh a heck of a lot more than 99 pounds, I promise.)

  14. empress
    Twitter:
    May 4, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    Thanks for the tips! I always wear a belt to tuck in the gut!
    empress recently posted..Tribute to Black Beauties for Vogue Italia May 2011My Profile

    • Heather Fonseca May 6, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

      My pants always slide down on me, that’s why I wear one, but it does keep things tucked in!

  15. Couture Carrie May 5, 2011 at 4:56 am #

    Great tips, darling!
    You look amazing!

    xoxox,
    CC

  16. Lee Oliveira May 5, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    They do look fabulous on you.
    Work it girl.. work it.. hahaha
    lee x
    Lee Oliveira recently posted..Rosemount Australia Fashion Week…Day 4My Profile

  17. herCatwalk May 5, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    GREAT post. And AMEN that the size is just a guideline. Too many women get caught up with the number. So, if they’ll buy the tight 8 rather than get the 10 that feels and fits that much better because they’d rather be an 8 than a 10. However, people don’t know what size you’re wearing. They do notice when something doesn’t fit… or when something looks awesome on you.
    herCatwalk recently posted..Reuse- Reduce- RestyleMy Profile

  18. Skinny Jeans For Curvy Women May 21, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    Very nice information here. You seems like a master when it comes to this this subject :)

  19. Tonya Renee July 6, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    A curvy girl myself, I stick to boot-cut or relaxed jeans. They fit the hip better and the slight flare at the bottom gives a great balance. You look good! I look good! I still have issues finding a pair that fits, even then. When I find them, I buy two and wear them until they can’t be. Then I go find two more. Buying them is such a rare occurrence, yes, that I know the brand I bought before won’t fit the next time, as the industry changes on a whim. The best pants I’ve found were St Johns Bay corduroys, about 4 years ago. I only wear them in Fall/Winter and they still look good.

    • Heather Fonseca July 8, 2011 at 7:31 am #

      You’re lucky to find a good pair once in a while. Like you I’m thinking about ordering some more of the same style. They’re comfortable and they look great, so I better hop on it before they change their sizing! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  20. Danielle July 25, 2011 at 1:30 am #

    Those jeans look great on you! If only jeans look great on me…I only owe two pairs….Meh I’m such a dress girl

    Danielle Xx

    • Heather Fonseca July 25, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

      I’m a dress girl too Danielle but I still love jeans too! Since I wrote the post I found two more that I love. I must be on a roll.

  21. Top world news October 12, 2011 at 1:06 am #

    wow … nice looking, you have a very beautiful back :)
    Top world news recently posted..Xbox live update october 2011 may pave way for tomorrowMy Profile

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