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Video: Finding the right jeans

TODAY
updated 9/14/2006 4:29:32 PM ET 2006-09-14T20:29:32

Who's not overwhelmed in the jean department? They're a staple in most of our closets, but with all the different brands, sizes, washes and fits, finding a great pair of jeans takes some work. Stacy London, “Today” fashion expert and co-host of TLC's “What Not To Wear,” shares some tips on choosing the right jean for your shape.

Denim rules
1. Consider jeans the way you would a pair of work trousers — they are alterable. Custom jeans are becoming more and more popular.

2. They are a great blank canvas. You can try out trends by paring them with jeans rather than trying to do a whole trend “look.”

3. If you find a great-fitting pair, always buy two: one to wear with flats and one to wear with heels.

4. Jeans can work on all women, no matter what age, size, etc. — but not all styles work for all women. Wear a style because it's flattering, not just because it's trendy.

Jeans for the office
Obviously, you need to know whether jeans are allowed in your workplace. One of the best parts of business casual is that the slight boot-cut, trouser-looking jean has come out of the concept. In a dark wash, it doubles more as a trouser, and with a front crease it creates a polished, completely work-appropriate silhouette. Boot-cut styles really do look best with a pointy toe, it lengthens the leg line and makes you taller and slimmer.
Coat: J.Crew, $298; sweater vest: H&M, $24.90; shirt: Ted Baker @ Filene's Basement, $89; jeans: Citizens of Humanity, $198; other great brands include Earnest Sewn and Nomad Tribe.

Finding fashion-forward jeans
When you are petite, you are always fighting the “little girl” look. One way to do that in denim is to go more fashion-forward. Try the skinny jean of the season, not only to call more attention to womanly curves but to “age” yourself the right way. Brown is a very edgy denim color this season, as is black and, more importantly, gray. (You'll look too young in a faded blue jean with rips at the knee.) This edgier style works to lengthen the leg line and make you look taller, and the new color ages you appropriately. Jacket: Banana Republic, $298; top: H&M, $24.90; Jeans: J Brand, $158; other great brands: Tsubi, Superfine, Siwi

Finding larger-size jeans
The most universally flattering shape is a medium rise, medium width, straight or slightly boot cut leg jean. For the best fit, consider the shape of the jean first, then the wash. For a jean that could do double duty between work and play, try a cut that flatters your hip and thigh in a more casual, less formal wash — rather than a super dark or bleached denim. Darker even washes (meaning no bleaching, whiskering) tend to slim the leg, but also tend to look more formal. Top: Karen Kane, $72; camisole: Only Hearts, $58; jeans: Lucky Brand, $98; other great brands: Gap Curvy, DKNY, Red Engine

Finding age-appropriate jeans
Women in their 20s, 30s or 40s should try a straight leg jean with no bells or whistles. Jeans need to look and feel age appropriate; you don't want to look like you're trying too hard in a trendy jean. Choose a lighter wash; some of the darker washes will hide your great shape completely, while light washes call more attention to the legs and give your bottom half more presence. I love this style for a mature woman on the weekend: tweed jacket, turtleneck sweater, good jean, good boot. It's a great easy uniform. Blazer: J.Crew, $235; shirt: Lord & Taylor, $89.99; jeans: Seven for all Mankind $143; great jean brands: Theory, Tahari, Levi's

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