Posted: Jan 13, 2014 10:00 AM
 
Denim used to be simple, but Lycra added another dimension to jeans and shopping for a flattering pair can seem futile. Understand the different jeans silhouettes and take the right pairs with you into the dressing room on your next shopping trip.

Try trouser jeans — but find the right fit

Trouser jeans are straight, wide-legged jeans tailored more like a pair of trousers than denim. Most styles have a wider, flat front and a mid to high rise. Pear shapes will find trouser jeans to be extremely flattering.

Pros:

  • In a dark rinse, trouser jeans can work for anything from Saturday shopping to business casual.
  • The trouser cut thins and lengthens with the structure and shape of the material.

Cons:

  • Despite their potential for a flattering fit, trouser jeans can be the most difficult to fit correctly. Tailoring is often needed, particularly in order to get the length just right — too long and they look messy, too short and they look clownish. You may need to try on several pairs to get the right fit.

allParenting trouser jean recommendations

7 for All Mankind offers the Dojo Original Trouser in a slightly washed rinse as a stylish way to try the trouser (Bloomingdale's, $169). For a pure dark wash, try the 678 Trouser Jeans, which are available in short, regular and tall lengths (The Limited, $75).

Skinny jeans can flatter all different body types

Skinny jeans are slim through the leg and taper toward the bottom, leaving a slim leg opening. Despite their name, skinnies aren't only for the most slim-legged of women. Choosing a dark, uniform wash makes them wearable for just about any figure, especially with the right styling.

Pros:

  • Skinnies don't add bulk, so they can be paired with comfortable, flowing shirts and sweaters.
  • They're the perfect jean for inclement weather. Your skinny jeans can be tucked into boots or simply worn with flats — the tapered fit means they'll never drag on the ground.
  • With less stretch than jeggings, the skinny jean has more of a "denim" feel, and that structure can help shape your butt and legs in flattering ways.

Cons:

  • For all their flattering qualities, they're still slim. An imperfect fit quickly results in tummy bulges or unflattering fabric pulling on the thighs.
  • Some shorter women feel that skinnies make their legs look even shorter, though a darker wash can help that.

allParenting skinny jean recommendations

Favored by Kate Middleton, J Brand Jeans come in a wide variety of shapes, but we love the Mid Rise 811 Rail in Dark Vintage (Bloomingdale's, $196). The Collin Mid-Rise Skinny has a wide, flattering waistband and back pockets that shape and flatter your rear (Hudson Jeans, $189).

Keep it classic with straight leg jeans

Straight leg jeans are slightly narrow, but not necessarily clingy, as they extend straight down the leg to a medium-width leg opening. They generally have a lower percentage of Lycra than skinnies or jeggings, so your favorite pair will hold its shape better than stretchier styles.

Pros:

  • Straight leg styles can easily be dressed up. They look polished and neat as they graze over your body without accentuating problem areas.
  • Cropped and ankle-length styles are most flattering in a straight leg. They highlight shoes without widening the look of your calf.
  • The non-tapered leg opening means they can be worn with any shoe but can also be tucked into many boots.
  • They visually lengthen the leg.

Cons:

  • The absolutely straight shape can make it difficult to find the right fit — curvier shapes might find the thigh area tight when the waist fits perfectly.
  • The leg opening can be problematic for women with shorter legs. They aren't tight enough to slouch around the ankles if they're too long, so they can get caught under your shoes or look sloppy.

allParenting straight leg jean recommendations

Current/Elliott is so certain you'll adore their take on the straight leg jeans that they've named it The Straight Leg - LOVED (Barneys, $228). The slightly faded black wash on the Straight Regular Jeans makes them look like they've been your favorite forever (H&M, $40).

Flatter your body with boot cut jeans

Boot cut jeans offer every body shape a flattering balance. With a straight leg that eases out to a wider leg opening, boot cut denim adds curves to straight figures and balances out pear-shaped or hourglass figures.

Pros:

  • Boot cut jeans may be the most universally flattering denim shape.
  • The style weathers trends and sticks around year after year. Finding a pair you love in a neutral wash can mean you always have a go-to pair of jeans.
  • Boot cuts can be dressed up or down easily.
  • Since the boot cut skims the top of your shoe, your legs are visually lengthened.

Cons: 

  • The wider leg opening is designed to fit over shoes and boots, not tucked into them. Length is crucial to boot cut styles: Shorter women need to make sure their jeans aren't dragging along the ground, while taller ones have to buy brands with enough length that their jeans won't flare out too far above their footwear.
  • Boot cuts vary so greatly between brands that finding your favorite pair will be a matter of dressing room trial and error.
  • The clothing industry doesn't have a standard "boot" design, so you will have to wade through everything from wide bell-bottoms and flares to the ultra-skinny boot cuts that fit more like denim leggings.

allParenting boot cut jean recommendations

Paige Denim Hidden Hills jeans have a higher rise that ensures you won't constantly be pulling up your pants (Nordstrom, $189). Be warned that the brand runs long — a plus for long-legged shoppers and a guaranteed trip to the tailor for petite women. Gap's 1969 Perfect Boot jeans come in three lengths and five washes, so you're sure to find something that works for you (Gap, $70).

How to wear jeggings

Body-hugging, stretchy denim can be intimidating to wear. The fit seems to highlight imperfections, but jeggings can be flattering when worn with the right tops — even without the perfect body.

Pros:

  • Designed to move, jeggings are actually a great choice for moms who are constantly chasing kids or playing games on the floor. Their spandex to cotton ratio makes them comfortable, flexible and bendable, which can be important for moms.
  • They pair beautifully with tunics and other forgiving, oversize tops.
  • Even boots without much room in the calf area will easily slide over the narrow, thin denim.
  • Black jeggings are ultra-versatile. Wear them with boots, a cozy sweater coat and a tunic during the day and dress them up with a slouchy blazer, sparkly top and your highest heels for an evening out.

Cons:

  • Wearing a denim legging with a shorter shirt is just as style-hazardous as wearing any legging as an actual pair of pants.
  • Their comfort offers the flip side — body hugging styles have the potential to be unflattering.
  • The added spandex and thin material means jeggings offer scant warmth on chilly days.

allParenting jegging recommendations

Take the denim legging plunge with Avedon Super Stretch Denim Leggings from Citizens of Humanity (Bloomingdale's, $178). For a more budget-friendly option, Old Navy carries the Rockstar Super Skinny Jean in a variety of washes, from the classic and flattering dark wash to trendy gray (Old Navy, $35).


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