I love that fashion has trended toward the more casual, and we can now get away with wearing jeans a lot more places. Depending on your career, you may even be able to wear jeans to work.
However, there is a perceived downside to having jeans be so common these days. Specifically, the agony of shopping for jeans. I think many of us put shopping for jeans in the same category as shopping for bathing suits, as generally terrifying as that nightmare when you show up for a formal event dressed only in your undergarments.
Be encouraged, though, there is hope. If you approach jean shopping in the right way, it does not need to be that scary or painful. Here are a few things to consider to make your jean shopping experience as painless and successful as possible.
1. Do not begin by shopping on-line. There are too many washes, cuts, and size variations available, and you will not be able to narrow down and order the best styles to try. If you try to save time by starting on-line, you will actually end up spending far more time and getting frustrated in the process.
2. Take the time to go to a store where you can have an experienced salesperson help you, or better yet, have a personal stylist go with you. You need someone who understands how each pair of jeans fit and which styles will be the best options for you. The advantage of a personal stylist is that they know your wardrobe, taste and style so they can really guide you in the right direction. I’ve been known to show up to a client’s house for an appointment with a bunch of jeans ready for her to try on, so that we can find the perfect pair in short order!
3. If you wear jeans on a regular basis, you will want to make sure you have at least a pair or two in a dark wash. The truth is that a dark wash jean can be dressed up much more easily than a light or medium wash jean. Even though we are seeing jeans in lots of dressier occasions, the fact is that lighter wash jeans often won't look appropriate in those situations. Dark washes tend to be more versatile in this regard. Of course, there are other washes you can add along the way, but this is how I encourage my clients to start out.
4. You will also need to decide what leg opening you want your jeans to have (boot cut, slim boot cut, straight, slim, and skinny are some examples). My suggestion is to start with either a straight cut jean or a slim boot cut. These are both classic styles that will look good for a long time. You can add some of the trend driven cuts after you have already laid this foundation for your wardrobe.
5. In addition, you will need to figure out the best rise (length of seam from crotch to waist band) for your figure. For most people a medium rise works just fine. However, if you are short-waisted, you will want a lower rise jean because it will hit the correct place on your body and not even look "low". (See, there are a lot of details, and it’s difficult and frustrating to navigate them all on your own!)
6. Expect to need to have your new jeans hemmed. I know! I know! My husband always complains that jeans and t-shirts should never need to be altered. But the truth is, jeans are like any other pants, no one person is going to be the exact same measurements as the fit models. Being willing to spend a few bucks to have your jeans hemmed is going to give you a lot more options on which jeans you can buy and is going to ultimately make the jeans you buy fit you perfectly. Even my husband has seen the light on this one. (But don't tell him I let his secret out.)
7. Bring the height of shoes with you that you will most likely wear with your jeans. If you want to be able to wear flats and heels with your jeans, you will need to have a seamstress pin it with both shoes. If you find a pair of jeans you love and are able to do it, I suggest buying two pairs and hemming to each shoe so you can designate one pair as your “heel jeans” and the other as your “flat jeans.” If it just isn't practical for you to have two pairs of the same jeans in your closet, then you will have to compromise just a bit. If that is the case, you will want to have the jeans hemmed so they don’t look too short with your heels or too long with your flats.
8. When deciding how much to spend on your jeans, think about how often you wear them. If you wear jeans numerous times a week, invest more in them. When you calculate your cost per wear, you will see that spending a little extra money on a nice pair of jeans is one of the best investments you can make in your wardrobe. (I discussed this topic more fully in my cost per wear blog on August 25, 2014.)
Good luck on your jean quest! I promise if you follow these tips it will be a lot less painful than your last shopping trip and you, too, will never feel the terror again (except in your nightmares about formal events).