Suffolk style: The jean genie

Style expert and Ipswich fashion store owner Emma Lloyd talks about getting those vital great-fitting jeans

Style expert and Ipswich fashion store owner Emma Lloyd talks about getting those vital great-fitting jeans

In my day to day business, whether it’s consulting or retailing, I am always being asked how to successfully buy great fitting jeans, a staple of every woman’s wardrobe.

I am a firm believer that everyone can have great fitting jeans regardless of size and shape but the key is to remain true to your body shape. It is easy to be swayed by the latest denim trend and indeed I almost fell victim to this with the massively popular ‘Houlihan’ by the jean geniuses J Brand. Last year. I adored the soft Japanese twill of the Houlihan but the patch pockets on the thighs were monumentally unflattering for anyone larger than a size 12. I tried them on time and time again until I resigned myself to the fact that I must reluctantly walk away from them. 

However, as it turned out I was glad I did. They next “must have” style is never far behind and the new season J Brand called ‘Agnes’ simply replaced the ‘Houlihans’ patch pocket with a streamline zip on the thigh. Perfect!

By following my simple style advice it is likely your denim nightmares will become a thing of the past and you’ll end up with the jeans you have been searching for all your life. You may have to try on a fair few pairs till you get it right, but it will be well worth the effort.

The number one rule when searching for jeans is to get a superb fit. Knowing your body shape is essential and will determine which style of leg suits you. This is the starting point for great fitting jeans and everything else follows on from here. So start off by considering which body shape you are:

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Apple – you hold much of your weight in your upper body and tummy. Your bottom is flat with slim legs. Hourglass/Pear – your hips are slightly wider than your shoulders and you have a slim upper body Long and leggy – your upper and lower body are in proportion to each other Fuller figure – you have a voluptuous figure and tend to gain weight all over. Petite – you are under 5ft 3” with a small frame or curvaceous figure.

Once you know your body shape you can then choose a leg style that will suit you. This is where proportions come into play as it’s all about giving balance to your body shape.

Apple – straight leg, cropped Hourglass – boot cut, wide leg, flare leg, boyfriend Fuller figure – boot cut, wide leg Petite – skinny, below left, straight leg, cropped Long & Leggy – lucky you, you have choices and can wear all leg shapes!

You may hear the term “rise” when buying jeans and this is simply the distance between the crotch and the waist. Again, knowing which body type you are will be your guide to the correct rise for you.

A Low Rise measures 7.5” or under and can be worn well by long & leggy and petite. The waist band usually sits two or more inches lower than the navel. A Mid Rise measures 8” to 9” and the waistband sits just below the navel. Hourglass, fuller figure, long & leggy and apple body shapes can all wear a mid rise jean. A High Rise measures 9.5” up to 12” and can be carried off by an hourglass and long & leggy.  The waistband sits either on or above the navel.

If you already have a favourite pair of jeans and want the same rise again, lay the jean flat and measure from the crotch seam to the top of the waistband to get the measurement.

The waistband is always an important factor when shopping for your shape. Many hourglass or pear shape women find it terribly hard to find jeans to fit around their hips so they go up a size and end up with a gape at the back of the waist. There are a number of ways to avoid this either by going for a wider waistband which sits on your hips with a higher back rise or by buying a higher waist jean to give a streamline silhouette to your shape.  Alternatively you could try figure fixing jeans specifically created for women who have a smaller middle versus a bigger hip and thigh area. Levis Curve Id offer four fits depending on how curvy you are and Little in the Middle jeans fit on the waist and are one size up on the hips.

The same pair of jeans can rarely be worn with both heels and flats so always take a selection of shoes with different heels to determine which ones you will wear when buying your new jeans. High heels elongate the leg and give confidence when wearing great fitting jeans but look terrible if the jeans are too short.

Some brands have a selection of leg lengths but don’t rule out a style just because they are too long as it may be they are a great fit and easy to shorten. If you’re going to the trouble of having a pair of jeans shortened then ask for an original hem. It’s a great way to keep the original look of the jean if the bottoms are faded or frayed. This can be an expensive alteration (around �15 to �25) as it takes longer than standard hemming (�10).

Sizing of denim brands can be tricky as they tend to work to their own sizing. Some brands work on vanity sizing to make the customer feel great about buying a smaller size. If you’re trying on jeans in a boutique or department store, be sure to ask if the brand runs true to size. I always encourage my customers to try on the same style in two sizes to check the fit. Also, by checking the Lycra content on the label inside the jean you will get a good idea if the jean will stretch when worn. A higher Lycra content will stretch at least one size bigger, so take the smaller size. Nothing is worse than parting with your hard earned cash on a jean that goes baggy after one wear. Rigid denim (100% cotton) runs small, but will eventually conform to your body and last longer than stretch varieties.

Don’t be embarrassed to move around the fitting room and do some denim aerobics to ensure a close fit. Always sit down in the jeans to make sure your backside isn’t revealed too much. If both sizes of your chosen jeans don’t fit well it is likely the style may not suit your body shape. Often we blame our size when it’s simply the wrong style for our body shape.

As a stylist I recommend the Trilogy stores in London who understand the needs of different body shapes and have great knowledge of the brands they are selling. More locally Mike who owns Aura in St Nicholas Street in Ipswich is the king of denim and will find the perfect pair for you. And of course there’s me at Marianna boutique in St Peters Street who will always guide you through the tricky waters of jeans until we find the right ones for you.

Finally, here are a few denim absolute no-no’s:

Muffin Top – this is when low waisted jeans are too tight for your figure. Choose a mid or high rise style instead to combat this. Bubble Gum Jeans – just because you can squeeze your body into them doesn’t mean they fit so avoid cheap stretch denim. Distressing – streaks, whiskers and obvious bleaching draws attention to wide hips or a bulging thigh so much better to go for a flattering, darker denim. Builder’s Bum – yes, you know exactly what this is and how unattractive it looks!

Good luck in your search and have faith – the perfect pair of jeans is out there waiting for you.

Emma Lloyd

Marianna, 33a St Peters Street,

Ipswich IP1 1XF

Tel 01473 225666

Facebook – Marianna boutique

Twitter – @MariannaIpswich

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