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Shopping for a pair of new jeans is a task that most women dread and do their best to avoid for as long as possible. Unfortunately, there’s no way to get around it when your favorite pair succumbs to one of various mishaps — your thighs constantly rubbing together which leads to a rip in the fabric or a belt loop breaks from repeatedly pulling them up — or they just simply don’t fit any longer.
If you have a curvy body, you’re probably all too familiar with some of these experiences, especially the first two. Shopping for anything from activewear to dresses can feel like an impossible mission, but jeans are an entirely different beast. To help alleviate some of the burden that comes with jean shopping, Shop TODAY spoke to a few stylists for their best tips to make it easier for you.
What to look for when shopping for jeans for curvy women
The first thing you'll want to look for is stretch, advised Los Angeles-based stylist Kat Eves; wardrobe stylist and costumer Timothy Snell; and fashion and wardrobe stylist Steffany Allen. “Good stretch is...a big factor as you want the jeans to move with you, but not lose their shape over time,” Allen said.
Eves echoed similar sentiments, adding that you don’t want jeans with too much stretch. “You really want something that is going to hold you in and make you feel like you’re going to be able to go throughout your day without ending up with a saggy butt,” she laughed.
Comfort and fit
Quality jeans aren’t cheap, so before shelling out the big bucks, you’ll want to make sure that you’re picking a pair that are both comfortable and fit like a glove. Cassandra Sethi, owner of Next Level Wardrobe, Eves and Allen recommend doing what Allen has dubbed the “Sit & Squat Test.”
“You want something that feels as good sitting down as it does when you’re standing up,” Eves explained.
By moving around in your desired pair of jeans, you'll know that they'll feel comfortable on you for a long period of time. And if it doesn’t feel good during both of those actions, don’t buy them, Sethi advised (no matter how cute they are).
Getting into more specifics, Sethi and Allen said to look at smaller details to help you determine if the jean is a quality pair. These details include fabric content, secure closing buttons and quality zippers and thread. Zippers were a sticking point for Allen and the main thing she emphasized. “There is nothing worse than a cheap zipper that gets stuck and doesn't work!” she told us.
Tips for shopping for jeans for curvy women
Pick the style that works best for you
Overall, each expert said there’s no one style that works best for all curvy bodies. Not only is every body shaped differently, but everyone has different personal styles and aesthetics, so just choose what’s best for you.
“I don’t style people based on flattering; I style people based on what makes them feel the most like themselves,” Eves told us. “Rather than chasing a trend or choosing something that somebody else told them is flattering, the question is: how does it make you feel? How does your body feel in this pair of jeans?”
Choosing a pair of jeans that fit properly is integral, so there are a few ways to help you commit to the perfect pick. If you’re shopping online, Snell recommends looking at the body type of the model. You’re likely to get a better idea of how it will look if the model has a similar body type. He also said to note the washes a pair of jeans come in. The wash will impact how any pair of jeans fit, so if you like a specific style, he suggests taking several pairs of it in different washes to determine which one fits best.
While everyone encourages finding styles that you like and fit well, Sethi reminded us that it’s important to buy a classic style that you’ll get several outfits out of. “That means no rips, distressing or trendy finishes. Opt for a pair in gray, classic blue or black to get the most out of your investment,” she said. And if you don’t know where to start, she called mid-rise jeans and a hem that hits at the ankle “universally flattering.”
Ultimately, though, no matter which style you choose, what’s most important is that you like what you see and how you feel when you put them on. “We should be shopping for what makes us feel good, not [for] what somebody else tells us makes us look good,” Eves mused.
Try on as many pairs as possible
Sethi and Allen recommend trying on as many pairs of jeans as possible; a process Sethi calls “casting the net wide.” Since most brands run differently in terms of sizing, they both recommend trying several pairs until you find something that fits well on your body. While tedious and time-consuming, it’s an activity that will help you come out with the best fit.
Buy more than one pair
Now that the part is done and you’ve finally found jeans that fit and make you feel good, Snell said to take advantage of your discovery and buy more than one pair. “You should always double it…you want to have another pair as a backup to wear in case they change the dye lot, change the cut, in case they discontinue it — you have the option,” he said.
Too big is better than too small
What do you do if you find a pair of jeans that you absolutely love but they don’t have it in your exact size? In this case, Eves recommends buying the next size up. “You never want to shop for any kind of clothing — whether it’s jeans or dresses or suits — with a smaller size in mind. It’s always better to size up and get things tailored than to try to make yourself fit into things,” she shared. “It’s not kind to yourself to shop that way and it makes it more stressful.”
See a tailor
Whether you buy jeans in your normal size or get a pair that’s slightly too large, Eves has one crucial piece of advice: “Let go of the idea that what you are pulling off the rack is a finished product.”
Both she and Allen mentioned seeing a tailor to truly achieve the perfect fit you desire. Regardless of where you buy your jeans, Eves recommends getting them altered to make the fit personal and comfortable to you. She calls it the “key to loving what you have and loving it for a long time.”
With so many tips from the experts in tow, here are a few brands they recommended to start your search.
Best brands for jeans for curvy women, according to stylists
Snell, Eves and Allen overwhelmingly recommended Good American for jeans. "They’re really good at understanding women’s bodies and they’ve clearly invested a lot of time and effort into fit," Eves said.
If you're new to the brand, you can use code TAKEOFF50 to save $50 off your first pair. While the code doesn't apply to every pair on the site, it does apply to the dozens of pairs listed on this page including styles like these.
Snell likes Levi's jeans and specifically called out their bootcut style. "They’re not talked about enough, but they’re really good," he said.
Sethi and Snell mentioned NYDJ as a brand that gets it right for curvy and plus size bodies.
Allen and Snell recommend plus-size brand Torrid for high-quality jeans for curvy women. Not only does the brand offer jeans in sizes 10-30, but they also have up to five different inseams to choose from.
"Torrid makes [some] of the best and they make a huge variety of selections from washes to fits to cuts. Every one of them has stretch, which is a win situation with that," Snell said.
Best known for its extensive activewear collections, Sethi recommends Athleta as a good brand to check out if you're looking for curvy-friendly jeans.
Allen suggests American Eagle as a brand that gets it right when it comes to jeans for curvy bodies. They offer a wide variety of styles and even have an entire section dedicated to curvy options.
Nic + Zoe
Sethi says this brand has some great options for curvy women and is one she dresses her own clients in, along with her other recommendations.
When asked about brands that get it right, Snell was quick to mention plus-size clothing brand Eloquii.
Warp + Weft
"They’re an ethical and sustainable brand that has made a commitment to continually expanding their sizes," Eves said of Warp + Weft, followed by the same reverence that she shared for Good American. The best part is they offer a plethora of styles under $100!
A classic brand for budget-friendly staple pieces, Allen likes Old Navy denim for curvy bodies.
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