Style by Claire Lopez

Sweet Jeans: your guide to buying the perfect denim

Way back in the 1850s Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis invented the ubiquitous blue jean for a customer needing a pair of sturdy pants which could withstand hard work – hard work like knocking down and re-building houses. Which is exactly what is happening to mine at the moment. Currently it is a shell, a shadow of its former self – no floors, walls coming down, walls going up and dust everywhere. And we haven’t even really begun… But the jeans, those jeans are, over 150 years later, still there sported not only by my lovely builders but also by practically everyone else. It’s hard to think of another piece of clothing that has such universal appeal and which has stood the test of time to become the lynchpin of wardrobes across the globe.

And when spring is still AWOL there’s not much you can count on to come up with the goods time and time again. Here are the denim styles you need to have in your closet not just for spring, but full stop.

Skinny Minny

They aren’t going anywhere, but there are just more options to choose from other than the skinny leg jean. They definitely still have a place, but as ever it’s about how you wear them and it’s time to play with proportions. So if you are going skinny on the bottom, then think about an oversized shirt or knit so you don’t just end up creating a rectangular silhouette. You don’t want your skinnies to be too long so go for a style that sits on your ankle as this will work best with ankle boots, trainers, flats and heels alike.

I often get asked if you need to buy designer denim to get a good pair of jeans and I don’t think you necessarily do. You just need to find the retailer that fits you best – and that might not be a brand that charges £200 for the privilege. Here are my top picks:

Warehouse does a good skinny particularly if you are longer of leg and/or are long in the rise (the bit from waist to the crotch): Powerhold Skinny Cut Jeans £46. These come in various washes.


And if you want something higher then try the Powerhold High Rise Skinny Cut £46.

Oasis on the other hand has a very good ankle grazer skinny in its Lily Stiletto Skinny £45 style.

Or if you want something a little bit more distressed, then go for the Isabella £45 or the Isabella Rip and Repair £48 as here which has a nice ankle zip detail too. They also come in black.

If have long legs these two ankle grazers won’t be for you, in which case try either their Cherry Sculpting Slim Leg Jean £55

Or the Jade £32. For some reason they are £40 on the Oasis website but cheaper at House of Fraser.

If you want something that sits a bit higher and holds you in around the tummy then I would always recommend Next’s Lift Slim and Shape range £45. They come in various colours/washes and petite as well as tall.

If you find these aren’t quite right for you then try Fat Face’s Jeggings £45. 

At the other end of the price spectrum J Brand’s Maria and Paige’s Skyline are firm favourites and very soft too which you may like. They are worth looking at if the high street hasn’t come up with the goods. They are also good for longer legs…but they are over £200 a pop. Selfridges and Trilogy are great for finding the right designer among the seas of brands and to make the experience of jeans shopping less like pulling teeth.


If skinnies require a more relaxed top, then the opposite is true of a boyfriend jean which works better with something smaller on top. Often just doing a little front tuck is all that’s needed to tame the volume and create waist shaping. I much prefer this type of denim for an evening as it looks more effortless when paired with heels and a top/blazer.

Hush’s  Boyfriend Jeans £75 come in two different washes. This lighter one.

And this Dark Denim £75.

I also like these Frayed Star Jeans £79 which are a new addition this season.

Gap works for me and their Girlfriend Jeans £49.95 come in so many different washes and with varying levels of distressing. Plus they also come in Petite and Tall – although only on the website and the downside is that stories never stock the longer leg lengths. I like these because they are tighter over the bottom so less prone to giving the saggy bottom look that a boyfriend can do.

If you are going to go for a white jean this season then don’t go skinny. Instead try Gap’s Mid Rise Best Girlfriend £44.95 as this will be a lot more flattering. I’m not advocating black court shoes with a white jean however.

The photo does not do this justice as actually this is a boyfriend that works well for longer legs but somehow looks ridiculously short: Emmerson Slim Fit Boyfriend Mid Rise Jean £270.

Straight down the Line

An alternative to the skinny and the tapered legged styles is a straighter option and I have these Isabelle Straight High Rise Jeans £250 from AG which is my designer denim brand of choice. If you were long of leg then it probably wouldn’t be for you.

Or you can try Uniqlo’s High Rise Cigarette Jean £34.90.

Show Pony/Man Repelling

If you have all the standard bases covered and want something a bit frivolous and different then why not try Zara’s Jeans with Pearl Beads on the Sides £25.99.  They are not my husband’s favourites at all but for a bit of fun…

And while we are on the subject of man-repelling I still haven’t found, but nor have I ruled out dungarees. Try H&M’s Denim Dungarees £34

Or Hush’s Dungarees £90 in either black or blue denim. Whether I would look more like a Minion/toddler or one of the Mario brothers is holding me back currently.

Obviously there is a whole denim world out there in the form of culottes/wide legs, cropped kick flares, mom jeans… The list goes on but nine times out of ten I’ll bet you’re reaching for a pair of skinnies or a boyfriend type. Nail that and the rest is easy.




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