With so many cuts, washes and styles, knowing what’s what with jeans can be a little bit tricky, so we thought we’d go back to basics and break down everything you need to know. Before we get into the different styles, it’s important to understand a few key elements that apply to all jeans…
Understanding the rise of jeans will help determine which jeans are for you, as the rise refers to where the waistband of the jeans will sit on your body. A traditional high-rise means the jeans are designed to sit higher up, on your waist, the smallest part of your torso. A mid-rise is designed to sit in between your hips and waist, usually somewhere around or just below your belly button while a low-rise refers to styles that will sit low on your hips, generally where your hip bones are.
If you’re unsure, a good way to identify the rise of any jean is to look at the length between the top of the jeans and the crotch, the space where the fly is, as a low-rise style will have a shorter length than say a high rise, which will be much longer in that section. Try all three to find out which rise is best for you!
The second thing to know about denim is the wash – the colour or the way the denim has been dyed and treated. The reason this is something to know is that denim in its natural (undyed) state will wear differently to dyed and treated denim. Black dyes for example tend to tighten denim making it sometimes feel more rigid than a regular blue denim, and this can impact the way the denim will fit on the body.
Washes also play a big part in how jeans can enhance your shape. As a general rule of thumb, lighter or more washed out areas will draw attention to those sections while darker areas and washes will have a more slimming effect. Keep this in mind, especially when choosing skinny jeans with strong washed our areas on the thighs and derriere.
HUDSON Nicole crop skinny jean | AG Adriano Goldschmied Prima mid rise cigarette jean | WRANGLER Newton girlfriend jean | MAISON SCOTCH women’s Le Voyage jean, available in selected stores | TRUE RELIGION Women’s Halle skinny baseball stitch jean, available early March 2015
The skinny jean is a popular style that skims tightly over the body, from top to bottom, with the leg cut to taper in tight on the ankle. When trying on a skinny jean, it should feel nice and firm all over, especially around the waistband and backside as denim does stretch and give with wear. This style usually also has a slightly higher elastane content, allowing the jeans to give naturally where they need to (usually around the knees and waist) while also being comfortable.
Also known as a relaxed fit, this style can vary a little in leg width from brand to brand, and generally speaking is the most traditional cut of denim. It features a straight-cut leg line that doesn’t taper in at the ankle and skims the leg as opposed to clinging tightly all over like the skinny does. While still firm around the waist, backside and thighs, the straight leg should feel a little looser in the lower leg than the skinny jean.
The boyfriend jean is an oversized style that should be worn low slung on the hips and very loose through the legs. It should feature a dropped crotch and look oversized around the back, and should drop off the hips without clinging anywhere. The simple explanation of this style is that it should look as though you have literally borrowed your boyfriend’s jeans (cut for a man and a few sizes too big). Roll up the cuffs to give shape through the leg, but be sure to keep the cuff rolled and messy, not flat and neat.
AG Adriano Goldschmied absolute legging – super skinny jean | HUDSON Tilda mid rise straight jean | MAISON SCOTCH Mademoiselle jean in blue edition available at selected stores
Shop our Denim Edit online here.