It’s hard to imagine that jeans (or “waist overalls” as they were originally called) were once just workwear for cowboys and miners. Patenting the first riveted pair in 1873, Levi Strauss couldn’t have fathomed it would become a $56 billion dollar industry, with women owning an average of seven pairs. The search for a dream pair, or pairs, isn’t all that different from finding true love, and the chances of scoring a perfect fit on the first try are slimmer than, uh, skinny jeans. So we asked three Canadian retail experts for their advice and they came back with these six tips for making the most of your next date with denim.
Skinny Is Still In
Nope, they’re not dead yet—the skinny jean is alive and sticking around for another season. Same goes for the boyfriend jean. These wardrobe workhorses cover seven days a week. “Dark blue or black skinny jeans dress up and down, and slim boyfriend or destroyed look styles have become the go-to weekend or everyday casual jean,” says Over the Rainbow’s Joel Carman, who’s been putting Torontonians in pairs since 1975. Echoing that is Jenna Tuazon of Plenty, a Western Canada chain with its own in-house denim label. When it comes to the choice skinny pair, she advocates for sexy, but not jegging tight. “Think the AG Stilt, a perfect cigarette fit,” she says.
Straight Legs Are Back
Beyond those much-loved go-tos, two cuts are in contention for new fall favourite and they’re both old school. “The straight leg jean is making a strong comeback, because of its versatility,” says Debbie Patrick of Calgary’s Something2Wear, “It can fit into a tall boot and works well with a heel or flat—perfect for showing all the great shoes of the season.” According to Patrick, the most flattering iterations are higher waist styles that fall straight down from the hip for the longest leg line. The ‘70s vibe is strong too, with flares seeing a steady resurgence (if Gigi Hadid is wearing them, it’s a thing). If the wide width extreme scares you, a subtle boot cut is a safe place to start.
Go With Embellishment
Let out or cropped and left raw, undone hems are having a moment, both sold that way or buyer DIY. Embellishments such as patches and embroidery turn a standard jean into a palette of self-expression. There are other, less obvious ways to make them your own too. In the search for a perfect pair, the answer may be a near perfect pair with alterations. At Over the Rainbow, they will take-in loose waists and let-out tight ones, add maternity panels and taper legs.
Pay Attention to Pockets
Back pockets are a minor detail, but they can make a big impact. To create an illusion of assets, Patrick suggests looking for tilted or curved pockets—plain ones set straight have a flattening effect. When looking to balance out a narrower top half with a bigger behind, bigger pockets are the solution. “Pockets should begin halfway down the cheek and end at the top of thigh,” she says. Petite women, on the other hand, should look for smaller pockets that won’t overpower their frame.
Tighter Is Better
When Carman started in the denim business 40 years ago, it was strictly 100 per cent cotton jeans—now most of the pairs he sells have elastane. “The biggest mistake people make is buying them too big,” says Carman of stretch jeans. “They look in the mirror and think, ‘I’m trying too hard.’” His tip is to go as tight as can be tolerated, focusing on feel rather then initial look, because with minimal wear these jeans will stretch out half a size.
There Are Four Types of Fits
Women of all shapes and sizes rock any and every style, but Patrick has picks for power pairs, the ones voted most likely to treat a body right. A midrise boot cut, such as Fidelity’s Belladonna style, will elongate legs and complement curves on a pear shape. A straight leg look with a little give in the waist, such as MAC Dream, highlights the trim stems of an apple shape. All over curvy girls should consider a slim-fitting boyfriend style and opt for a dark wash, or play up a narrow waist with a high-waist trouser jean. Blessed are the straight up-and-down bodies for they look good in practically everything, but Patrick recommends showing some ankle by rolling up the cuffs of a slouchy boyfriend style such as Mavi’s Emma.