Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Best Jeans for Every Body Type

Expert picks the most flattering fits and styles for casual, dressy, and office wear

If You Have a Tummy ...
Select a moderate rise, which is about eight to nine inches from crotch to waist. "The waistband should hit just below your belly button, so that it will cover your stomach and rein in the problem area," says Carly Lundy, creative director for the National Jean Company (, a chain of premium denim boutiques. Also look for a wide waistband and a bit of stretch (roughly 2 percent); both will provide a subtle, girdlelike effect.

For Every Day: Boot Cut
Red Engine, $158,
Cut generously through the waist, this style also has slightly flared legs to help offset width around the middle.
Style: Garnet; sizes: 24 to 32; inseam: 33 inches.

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Slim-Cut Dressy Jeans
Paige Premium Denim, $179
The cotton-lined waistband "rests softly against the stomach without squeezing the skin," says Lundy.
Style: Blue Heights 12-inch; sizes: 24 to 32; inseam: 34 inches.

Office Wear
Divine Rights of Denim, $78
The double-button waistband of these trousers ensures a hold-you-in fit.
Style: Hope; sizes: 25 to 32; inseam: 34 inches.

If You Have an Hourglass Figure ...
"The curvier you are, the more you need jeans that are cut higher in the back to fit over your seat and keep you covered," says Blair Newell, vice president of product development for, an online jeans matchmaker. Also, since an hourglass shape is known for a small waist, look for a contoured waistband (you'll notice a seam that indicates the waistband was cut on a curve and sewn together instead of being one piece of fabric); this will help reduce gaping.

For Every Day: Boot Cut
Joe's Jeans, $187
It's now safe to sit down or bend over. This contoured cut hugs the waist where most styles would gape open.
Style: Honey Booty Fit; sizes: 24 to 32; inseam: 34½ inches.

Slim-Cut Dressy Jeans
Brand Blue Label, $158
To flatter hips best, choose a tapered leg instead of a skinny one, like this pair with roomier thighs and less narrow ankles.
Style: Curvy Fit Cigarette Leg (Nordstrom; 888-282-6060 for stores); sizes: 25 to 33; inseam: 34 inches.

Office Wear
Express, $69.50
Clever adjustable tabs on the sides of the waistband let you customize the fit at the waist.
Style: Dark Denim Trouser; sizes: 00 to 14; inseams: 30, 32, and 34 inches.

If You Have Full Hips and Thighs...
Look for a contoured waist and a higher rise in the back than in the front. And the front rise shouldn't be less than eight inches. "The waistband should hit at the hipbone or the belly button," says Gretta Monahan, a cohost of Tim Gunn's Guide to Style. "This way, it won't cut into the body at the widest spot." To hold in and slim the thighs, opt for a rigid fabric that has no more than 2 percent stretch.

For Every Day: Boot Cut
True Jeans, $129
These jeans are designed so that the hips are one size larger than the waist.
Style: Little in the Middle Jeans/Empowered; sizes: 0.1 to 20.1; inseam: 34 inches.

Slim-Cut Dressy Jeans
Old Navy, $19
The almost straight-not ankle-hugging-legs make for a more wearable version of the skinny trend.
Style: Diva Skinny; sizes: 0 to 20; inseams: 28½, 29, 31, 33, and 35 inches.

Office Wear
Liz Claiborne New York, $69
Fashionable wide legs offer a roomy fit in the thighs.
Style: LCMUB764 (800-555-9838 for stores); sizes: 4 to 16, 14W to 24W, and 2P to 16P; inseams: 31½, 32, and 34 inches.

If You Have a Straight Figure...
Anything goes in terms of rises and styles-this body type can get away with low-riders, high-waisted cuts, light washes, and heavily distressed treatments. But for jeans that flatter best, stick with a pair that has a slimmer, tighter fit and a waistband that runs (relatively) straight across the middle. "If the waistband is curved too much, it can create unflattering spillage," says Jessica Arredondo.

For Every Day: Boot Cut
Rock and Republic, $128
This fitted silhouette flares out below the knees to create the illusion of curves.
Style: Recession Collection Kasandra; sizes: 23 to 32; inseam: 36 inches.

Slim-Cut Dressy Jeans
Uniqlo, $49.50
A low rise emphasizes the hips, and the snug fit plays up the legs. Bonus: Uniqlo stores offer free tailoring.
Style: Tapered Skinny Jeans (877-486-4756); sizes: 0 to 12; inseam: 32 inches.

Office Wear
Level 99, $60
Sailor styling brings focus to the hips; flap pockets add oomph to the backside.
Style: Rapture Sailor Trousers; sizes: 24 to 32; inseam: 34 inches.

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