Style by Claire Lopez

Denim dilemmas

For many of us, buying denim is like trying to find ‘Mr Right’ – you quite simply have to kiss a few frogs before you find your Prince Charming. Most of us would rather stick pins in our eyes than go jean shopping because it can be such a painful and disappointing process.

Why do we put so much stall by finding the perfect jeans? Firstly, because denim is a uniform that many of us wear day in, day out. And secondly, because we all know that a perfectly fitting pair of jeans is worth its weight in gold but often seems like gold-dust. So that is why when we find a brand that fits us, we tend to stick to it like glue. I am a Gap and to a lesser extent, Zara, jean wearer. But they don’t work for everyone and that is the point, you need to find a style that works for you.

And there are so many different cuts out there to choose from now – relaxed skinnies, boyfriends, girlfriends, flares, the choice is bewildering and endless. How much easier life was a decade or so ago when we were all merrily prancing around in our boot-cut jeans, blissfully unaware that the skinny jean would be starting its process of world domination.

So to the skinny. They do have the tendency to vacuum pack our calves and ankles in a rather unattractive sausagey way. This is ok when the ankle is firmly encased in a boot but when it is isn’t, this can be rather unattractive so unless you have celery sticks for legs, better to opt for a style that kicks out a bit at the ankle and doesn’t cling onto it for dear life.  Another couple of rules which actually to apply to all styles:

  1. A dark indigo wash jean is the most flattering wash out there as it is the most slimming. If you add a line of lighter wash through the front of the leg, this will shed pounds.
  2. Go for a mid rise rather than a low rise as this will eliminate muffin top without making you look like your mum in the 80s.

The good news is you don’t have to spend a fortune as there are high street options which cater for the curvy. Next actually has some great jeans, in particular its Lift, Slim and Shape Skinny Jeans £45 are great and come in a number of washes including dark indigo and black.


M&S’s Roma Rise Perfect Sculpt Slim Leg Denim Jean £35 is another option not to be sniffed at. This has all the benefits of a sleeker leg without the pigs trotters for ankles as they are more relaxed on the lower leg. This outfit looks rather too M&Sy for my liking but with some skate shoes, sweater and a camel coat – much more modern.


Gap’s jeans tend to be very low on the rise which is not great for keeping pants out of sight so this 1969 Resolution True Skinny High Waisted Jean £49.95 is a better bet and doesn’t look too mumsy at all. Actually a mid or higher rise will have leg lengthening properties that a low slung jean cannot claim.


Their 1969 Resolution Slim Straight Jean £49.95 definitely doesn’t fall into the vacuum packing category as it is much more relaxed through the lower leg. It is a bit low on the rise though so best avoided if you are tummy conscious.


Alternatively, a style that ends on or just above the ankle removes the issue in the first place and Boden’s Zip Ankle Skimmer £49.50 to £59.50 (depending on colour) comes in a whole host of colours to tempt. The zip at the ankle balances out this part of the leg too.


The good news about all these styles is that they come in an array of lengths so you shouldn’t need to turn up or tailor them. My husband used to bemoan jean shopping and would only ever entertain the process whenever parts of his anatomy were practically on show. He used to complain that he could never buy jeans that fitted him. It transpired when we went shopping together that he was simply labouring under the incorrect assertion that his inseam was 34″. Wishful thinking when he is most definitely a 32″. The point is, forget the size on the ticket, and buy what fits you.

While on the subject of men, the same goes for them. Slimmer leg silhouettes are in. That is not to say I advocate skinny jeans on your averagely built man because the look is more Olly Murs with sausage leg (and sausage) on show for all to see. Not a pretty sight at all. Equally, boot cuts are a no-no. A good style is the Levi’s 511 Slim Fit – this is the Biology Rinse which is now £68 from £85. The styling here is pretty terrible and makes them look like a total Dad jean but trust me, they are a good jean.


Right back on to us ladies, the other style alternative to a skinny leg is a relaxed skinny. M&S has a Relaxed Skinny Denim £25 in black, grey and blue. This is, in theory, the most flattering cut for everyone because unlike a skinny leg, it will balance out your proportions. It does the job of a boyfriend without all the unflattering bottom issues.


If you are dead set on the Boyfriend look, then why not try a Girlfriend. Just know that these will be super comfortable but you will probably never win Rear of the Year in these. Gap has it’s 1969 Girlfriend Jeans £49.95 in a range of washes. You don’t need to wear these rolled up but it is a very nice look for spring and summer. Substitute the trainer for a boot now and you can still keep the rolled up look. And they definitely look great with heels for going out.


M&S also has it’s Autograph Girlfriend Jean £39.50 which looks brilliant styled like this.




Flares are tricky unless you have height – be that authentic or artificial. If you are blessed, then wear with a pair of trainers and blazer for a contemporary off-duty look. If you aren’t, then you need a heel. Go for a style that kicks out gently from above the knee rather than a dramatic flare (or for that matter a boot cut which has not quite made it back into fashion). Gap’s 1969 Curvy Boot Jeans in the sale at £17.99 look good. The good thing about flares is that they balance out the proportions on a curvier body, creating an hourglass silhouette.



If you are all about the label then here are a couple of options depending on your shape: Paige Denim is great for all you Pear shapes out there. There are a lot of different cuts to choose from including the Skyline Straight Leg Jean £165. Their pockets are also cut to give a Beyoncé-esque quality to the flattest of bottoms and they go up to a 34″ which not all brands do.



Vertically challenged should go for Frame and they have a boyfriend fit in Le Garcon £210.


Somewhere between high street and designer, is Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, an LA brand that is having huge success thanks to its slimming Lift Tuck Technology. They have a whole range of styles to choose from in denim and other fabrics. Their Samantha Slim in dark blue premium denim is £119.95. They also have skinny, super skinny and jeggings as well as boyfriends and boot-cuts to cater to your every need.



So to finish off with the latest catwalk offering: the cropped flare. This is the most trend led shape out there in the denim world. Hmmmm and this right here is evidence that the catwalks do not cater to the masses. Because unless you are tall and thin, this just isn’t going to work. Richmond Wide Crop Trouser £59.50. Boo hoo. Back on with the relaxed skinnies for me.






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