Oftentimes, we're not 100 percent sure how to tell if our jeans fit properly until it's too late. Chances are in your friend group there’s someone who experienced a denim-caused mishap, from plumber’s butt, to a gap in the waistband, to — even worse — jeans ripping straight down the middle at the most inopportune time.
Wardrobe malfunctions aside, jeans that don't fit can just be unpleasant and can even lead to medical problems. Of course, the easiest way to tell whether your jeans fit is if you feel totally comfortable and confident wearing them. That means if you have to pull at the waistband or squat to stretch the fabric, it’s probably not the best-fitting pair you’ve ever tried.
But if you're trying a new trend or shopping at a store for the first time, you might need some extra assistance. Don’t be afraid to go the experts — whether in store or online — for tips. Some of the best denim shopping advice? Check the fly, examine the products, ignore the size (they vary!), and explore tailoring if needed.
1. Examine The Ankles & Crotch
Epstein says excessive bunching at the crotch is a clear sign that jeans do not fit properly. If you're still not sure, however, he says you can tell jeans are too tight if the back inseam is leaning in favor of the left or right cheek.
Another key place to look is the ankles. If your jeans are bunching near your feet, that's the first sign you need to re-evaluate your size.
2. Check The Fly
"If you feel like you want to unbutton your jeans every time you sit down because you’re uncomfortable, that’s not a good sign,” says Epstein. Jeans that are too tight tend to squash your rear and create an inseam pulling to one side. It's also annoying to have to check that your jeans are staying zipped.
You particularly want to pay attention to the tightness of the pants when it comes to fit. Aside from the discomfort, super tight pants can hinder circulation, which can lead to a mess of other issues.
3. Watch For Extra Sagging
While convenient to skip, Epstein says you should have to button and unbutton your pants in order to take them off if they fit properly. Being able to simply slip them on and off without messing with the zipper and button likely is a sign they're too big. Other signs, according to Epstein, include excessive bagginess, sagging, and bunching especially at the waist and crotch when you wear a belt.
4. Look At The Wrinkles
Wrinkles are a sneaky good factor in determining how your jeans fit. According to the designer, wrinkles facing inward mean the jeans are too tight. And wrinkles facing outward mean the jeans are too big.
5. Check Out The Pockets
Aside from depicting poor fit, Epstein encourages shoppers to check out the pockets of pants they're trying on because they can often depict poor construction.
The back pocket, Epstein says, should be centered around your cheeks and cover the "middle third of your backside," but not extend beyond your cheek's curve. In other words, your back pockets should not rest on your thighs.
6. Remember That It's The Pants, Not You
Of course fit depends on the type of jeans you wear, but overall Epstein believes pants should actually feel comfortable. You should be excited to wear a pair, not dreading pulling them on.
When you're in the dressing room shopping for new denim, try on several pairs before making your final decision. If a pair of jeans you love mostly fits, remember you can always get things altered if you're really infatuated. Epstein says an individual needs to find their personal line between needing a tailor or deciding a pair of jeans is too much work.
7. Use Your Confidence As An Indicator
"So many shoppers get tunnel vision, and will write off a product if it’s in their 'size' and it doesn’t look right or feel right," Epstein says. He asks shoppers to have patience and keep in mind that size varies across brands.
And it's "definitely not about the size you’re wearing, but how you feel when you’re wearing something that fits well. A well fitting garment is the best confidence booster," Epstein says. He encourages shoppers to not be afraid to go up a size if doing so will overall make you feel more comfortable and confident.
8. Don’t Follow Every Trend
Just as you should use your confidence as an indicator, don’t worry about following all of the changing trends, especially when it comes to this wardrobe staple. If the “it” thing one Summer is wide leg, but you prefer how you look and feel in skinnies, keep rocking those slim fits. Similarly, if everyone is looking for a more tapered leg, but you’re a huge fan of the flare, shop for what makes you happy.
9. Tailoring Is Key
Sure, you need to make sure that your jeans aren’t wildly too large or too small, but consider tailoring them, too. No two bodies are exactly the same, so don’t settle — even when it comes to your jeans — and treat them like you would any other pair of trousers. If your waist gaps a little but the thighs fit like a glove, bring the jeans to be taken in. Similarly, if everything is perfect but the length is inches too long, hem them up.
10. Try Everything
Even though you might think you know what brand or style you like best, it never hurts to try others. You might very well find your new favorite pair of perfect wear-everywhere jeans.
11. Don’t Focus On Size
Don’t get stuck on the number on the tag. Though this goes for every single item of apparel you own, it’s rarely more true than it is with jeans.
Depending on the wash, the cut, the material, and the brand, there are so many factors that go into the sizing of denim. Experiment with different sizes to see what style and wash fits you best.
12. Go Vintage
Sometimes the way to go is vintage. Denim truly stands the test of time and a vintage fit might just be the one for you. It will feel a little like Goldilocks when trying to find the perfect fitting pair, but if you keep the above tips in mind when searching, you’ll eventually find that one pair (or ten!) that you will wear on repeat.
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