Finding Jeans that Fit and Flatter

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

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on September 14, 2006
5 min read

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

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

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

If you haven't already figured it out, we're talking JEANS, and how findinga 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'sJeans (NYDJ). "While there are so many styles to choose from, it's hard toknow 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 upthe 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 alifetime in the dressing room and still not get the look you want," saysRudes-Sandel.

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

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

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

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

Style Recommendations: Tummy Tuck Jeans; 7 For AllMankind's Boot Cut, New York Dark; AG Jeans’ "The Club" Well FittedStretch Flare Jeans; Joe’s Jeans.

Your Shape: Thick at the waist, with a high waistline and love handles thatspill 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 tuckedinside a high-waisted jean. But experts say the opposite is true. "Addingdefinition in the form of a medium-rise waistline will not only avoid thefashion faux pas muffin top, but also detract from the focus on a highwaistline," says Madhok. Go for a boot cut or slight bell-bottom to balanceyour thicker middle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look For: "You [can] create the illusion of curves bybringing attention downward to your ankles with either a taper or a slim,straight leg," says Madhok. Also important: Styles that hit at the waistwill bring attention to even a slight curve. Cargo pockets and otherembellishments will add attention to your body and further detract from astraight, "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 byNewport-News in slim fit.

Quick Fashion Fixes for a Great Fit

To help iron out a few extra little style wrinkles, our experts offer thesequick 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 straightleg to balance the body, says Rudes-Sandel.

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

Problem: Long Legs
Quick Fix: Can legs really be too long? We don't think so! Butif you're self-conscious about yours, avoid styles that are too short in therise 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 andbottom.

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

Problem: Large Thighs
Quick Fix: Stay away from striated coloring that highlightsyour thighs. Also avoid high-waisted and tapered jeans, which make thighs looklarger. Instead, go for styles that offer a "relaxed fit," and with acut 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 looksmaller; no pockets make hips look wider; embroidered or detailed pockets makeevery bottom look curvier.