Finding Jeans That Fit and Flatter

3 top fashion experts spill the secrets of finding the best jeans for your body.

By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

You can pull them up over your hips, but the gap at the waist is big enough to pack lunch for two into.

You find the waist size that matches yours, but they won't come up past your thighs.

The fit is perfect -- until you sit down. That's when half of what you own spills out onto the back of your chair.

If you haven't already figured it out, we're talking JEANS, and how finding a pair that truly fits and flatters is the Holy Grail of women everywhere.

"Shopping for jeans can definitely be a frustrating experience," says Lisa Rudes-Sandel, creator of the Tummy Tuck jean from Not Your Daughter's Jeans (NYDJ). "While there are so many styles to choose from, it's hard to know which ones are going to work best for your body type."

And, she says, while many jeans styles are made to fit the bodies of, say, Kate Moss or Angelina Jolie, it's "real women with real curves who make up the bulk of the 450 million pairs of jeans sold yearly in America.

"If you don't know specifically what to look for, you could spend a lifetime in the dressing room and still not get the look you want," says Rudes-Sandel.

To help make your search considerably shorter, WebMD asked for help from Rudes-Sandel, along with Michelle Madhok, editor of the online shopping site, and Amy Cafazzo, a jeans style expert from Marshalls department store. They came up with recommendations to suit most every body type, from bootylicious to boy-shaped.

1. Body Type: Curvier Than Thou!

Your Shape: Rounded and well-endowed, with a booty worth shakin'!

Look for: "Boot-cuts and flare legs are a must for this figure type," says Madhok, as the extra width helps balance a wider bottom half. Back pockets should be big, to balance the size of your booty. To highlight curves, Cafazzo says, opt for a jean with lots of stretch, in a mid-rise just below your natural waist.

Avoid: The "hipster" low-rise jean should not enter your dressing room! Also, leave behind baggy jeans, which will only make you look larger. Cafazzo advises avoiding light washes, particularly striated colorations that put lots of light color on the thighs.

Style Recommendations: Tummy Tuck Jeans; 7 For All Mankind's Boot Cut, New York Dark; AG Jeans' "The Club" Well Fitted Stretch Flare Jeans; Joe's Jeans.

2. Body Type: Muffin Top

Your Shape: Thick at the waist, with a high waistline and love handles that spill out over the top of your pants, creating the dreaded "muffin top" effect.

Look for: You might think that all that extra waist-weight belongs tucked inside a high-waisted jean. But experts say the opposite is true. "Adding definition in the form of a medium-rise waistline will not only avoid the fashion faux pas muffin top, but also detract from the focus on a high waistline," says Madhok. Go for a boot cut or slight bell-bottom to balance your thicker middle.

Avoid: Jeans that hit at the waist will bring attention to your largest part. Also stay away from super low-cut jeans, super-skinny leg jeans, and jeans with a light-colored wash.

Style Recommendations: Tummy Tuck Jeans by NYDJ; DKNY East Village Jeans; Levis Red Slouch Straight Jeans; Jeanology by

3. Body Type: The Pear

Your Shape: Your bottom is larger than your top, and it's likely you carry most of your weight in your hips and thighs. Your waist may be much smaller than your hips.

Look For: The trick here is to cut the width of your hip area. The best way to do that, says Rudes-Sandel, is by wearing a mid-rise jean with some pocket detail. "If you have no pockets, then you have this wide expanse of fabric with nothing to distract the eye - it just goes from one side to the other," she says. Also important: A wider bottom leg to balance your hips.

Avoid: Stay away from high waisted jeans ("They just give the eye too much to view at once," Rudes-Sandel says). Also avoid jeans with no back interest, super-skinny-legged jeans, and jeans that bunch up at the ankles.

Style Recommendations: Paper, Denim and Cloth; Kasil; Citizens of Humanity.

4. Body Type: The Stalk

Your Shape: You may be overweight, underweight, or normal weight -- but if your body is devoid of curves, you might be thinking men's jeans are the only answer. They're not. Fashionistas say that if your body is a straight road from head to toe, it's up to you to throw in a few curves -- and the right jeans can do that.

Look For: "You [can] create the illusion of curves by bringing attention downward to your ankles with either a taper or a slim, straight leg," says Madhok. Also important: Styles that hit at the waist will bring attention to even a slight curve. Cargo pockets and other embellishments will add attention to your body and further detract from a straight, "boyish" figure, Cafazzo says.

Avoid: Baggy jeans, legs that flare too much at the ankle, and wide straight legs.

Style Recommendations: Levis Red Slouch Straight Jeans; American Eagle Straight 77 Stretch Jean; Tag Jeans; Hudson Jeans; Jeanology by Newport-News in slim fit.

Quick Fashion Fixes for a Great Fit

To help iron out a few extra little style wrinkles, our experts offer these quick fixes to help you hone in on the jeans of your dreams:

Problem: Short Waist
Quick Fix: Look for a trouser-style jean with a flat front, slash pockets and a low waist to elongate your look, Cafazzo says.

Problem: Long Waist
Quick Fix: Look for regular to high-rise jeans with a straight leg to balance the body, says Rudes-Sandel.

Problem: Short Legs
Quick Fix: Seek narrow legs and a low rise - and wear your jeans to the top of the instep, but no longer. Avoid long lengths that bunch at the ankles, and the "pencil leg" which tapers in at the foot. "And always wear your jeans with high heels for a long, lean look," says Madhok.

Problem: Long Legs
Quick Fix: Can legs really be too long? We don't think so! But if you're self-conscious about yours, avoid styles that are too short in the rise as well as cropped pants and very wide legs. Instead, Rudes-Sandel says, seek out a narrow leg with a mid rise to create proportion between your top and bottom.

Problem: Bulging Tummy
Quick Fix: Look for a jean with a 4% Lycra stretch to help hold in anything that jiggles, including your tummy. Rudes-Sandel says she engineered her Tummy Tuck jeans to have less stretch in the front and more in the back, so the pants act like a girdle with a fabric panel - holding you in but not pushing you up and out.

Problem: Large Thighs
Quick Fix: Stay away from striated coloring that highlights your thighs. Also avoid high-waisted and tapered jeans, which make thighs look larger. Instead, go for styles that offer a "relaxed fit," and with a cut that sits slightly below your natural waist, Rudes-Sandel says.

Problem: Booty Issues
Quick Fix: It's all in the pockets! Remember these rules: Small pockets make any backside look larger; big pockets make any backside look smaller; no pockets make hips look wider; embroidered or detailed pockets make every bottom look curvier.

Published September 15, 2006.

SOURCES: Lisa Rudes-Rudes-Sandel, creator, Tummy Tuck Jeans; director, NYDJ. Michelle Madhok, editor, Amy Cafazzo, jeans style expert, Marshalls Department Stores.

©2006 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.


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