Our guide to finding the perfect pair of jeans

Possibly the most worn item in any woman’s wardrobe and yet not easy to buy



Do you struggle when shopping for jeans? Turns out you’re not alone, as our study showed that 9 in 10 women find it difficult to find the ‘perfect’ pair of jeans.

The foundation of any wardrobe, a truly great pair of jeans can make you feel fabulous. Personal shopper at Net-a-Porter, Annabel Kirman believes: “If there’s one item I urge people to get right in their wardrobe, it’s jeans. From day to evening and in some cases even in the office, jeans will work hard in your wardrobe and the right pair will elevate top half garments.”

With the vast array of shapes, styles, washes and rises available across both designer and high street brands it can make anyone feel overwhelmed with choice. So we’ve done the hard work for you by compiling everything we think you should know before going jean shopping…


Jeans are personal

First and foremost, buying jeans is about making you feel good, not about going for the latest on trend styles. Consider and understand your body shape, what works for you? High rise styles are inherently flattering and whilst jeans are a unanimous wardrobe staple, the style is up to you. Perhaps you don’t feel comfortable in super skinny but still want some sculpt? Then experiment with straight leg styles.


High street Vs Designer

Jeans have long been heralded by fashion editors as the one item of clothing worth investing in, much as a result of the assumption that high street denim is cheap-looking, poor quality and lose their shape quickly (not to mention the sustainability aspect but that’s a whole other, more pressing issue). However, as of late, high street denim quality has vastly improved and should not be so quickly discounted from your denim hunt. Whilst no one can argue that you can’t go far wrong from Frame’s ‘Le Garcon’ style it could be worth considering a mixture of both high street and designer denim in your personal haul.

“I may be yet to find a match for J Brand ‘Selena’ (cropped, slightly kick flare, flattering like no other) style on the high street, I’m not sure any pair will ever come close. But, if you’re considering a straight leg then the high street has offerings aplenty and I personally don’t think its worth investing in this style when the high street is doing it so well.” Kirman says. Each to there own and budget dependent, of course, but do remember that ultimately denim is denim. It’s not a case of silk v polyester; it will still be the same fabric whether made by M.i.h or Mango.


Leg lengths and sizing

Another minefield in the complex world that is jean shopping is finding a flattering leg length. Cropped at the ankle, otherwise known as ‘ankle grazing’ tick all the right boxes by cutting off at the right point to elongate the leg, whilst also being versatile enough to work with your footwear of choice, whether that be boots, trainers, heels or sandals. Sizing is also important to consider, especially with high street denim. The material is known to stretch and ‘give’ the more you wear so if you are between sizes and unsure – size down.

The key areas to look at when trying on jeans to see how they flatter is the bum area, thighs and where they finish on the leg. Kirman advises: “Bear in mind that shopping for jeans is often not completely hassle free. Find a wash and fit you love but the leg length isn’t right? Do some DIY and chop the hems off at home, just ensure you have the correct fabric scissors or take them to your local Tailor and spend £10 getting the length perfect.”


Which style to go for?


Skinny –

Almost everyone needs a pair of skinny jeans in their wardrobe and whilst the classic shape is often overlooked in favour of ‘trendier’ styles, we refer back to the point that a jean purchase should never be trend led – go for what suits you. The skinny jean is skin tight on the leg through thigh to ankle, for the perfect proportions we recommend for this style to finish just above the ankle. As well as traditional blue, grey, washed or jet black colours really suit this style of jean.


Zara Premium Skinny Jeans, £30


Straight leg –

The style that is slowly but surely giving the skinny a run for its money ­– high rise, fitted through hip and thigh with a tapered ‘straight’ leg that is immensely flattering. Slightly more relaxed than a skinny and look just as good with a t-shirt half tucked and sandals in summer as they do with chunky knits and boots in winter. You’ll wonder how you were ever without a pair. It’s worth noting that this style looks best when it’s at ankle grazing leg length in mid-blue denim ­– nothing too light or dark, look to Marks & Spencer ‘Sienna’ or Re/Done’s high rise ankle crop style for the perfect spring jean.


Re/Done High Rise Straight Jeans, £256


Boyfriend –

A comfortable, slouchy style that gives you a ‘borrowed from the boys’ look which Stylist, Patricia Dowling says, “is incredibly hard to carry off unless you possess a super model body.” The loose, low rise element can make these jeans very hard to look good. However, she adds, “if you get the proportions right, worn with a more fitted style top for example, they can work.” These are not the jeans to buy if you are looking for a wardrobe staple pair that you can throw on with anything and still look good. Dowling believes that boyfriend jeans, “look significantly better when wearing heels as opposed to trainers, which can look frumpy.” Belted at the waist and paired with a knit and simple court shoes helps with proportions and makes this style more wearable.


Zara Premium Slim Boyfriend Jeans, £40


Kick flare –

As Kirman mentioned, you’ll go far to find a better jean than J Brand’s ‘Selena’ style – ultra flattering, cropped kick flare in jet black are the ultimate evening jean and the same style in blue – the ultimate daytime jean. This style may seem daunting, but if you live in skinny or straight leg styles and want to experiment these are the ones for you. They can be worn with everything from a simple black tee to a dressy blouse, heels or trainers and this style will stand up amongst your jean collection. “Just ensure, they are nicely fitted until the kick flare starts, and when it does, ensure it is only slightly or you’ll be more in to the bell-bottom category, which is not something to be recommended.” Dowling says.


J Brand Selena Jeans, £200


Which wash to go for?

Now you’ve decided what style you’re going to try, it’s time to decipher which washes work best. You would not believe the shade range of denim many stores offer until you are confronted with it. Who knew there could be so many pale shades of blue? If you’re going for a slightly more relaxed fit style (anything from a straight leg to kick flare) opt for mid-wash blue, mid-wash stone, or slightly lighter blue, (not bleach wash). For skinny jeans – jet black, washed black, grey and indigo blue are the best shades.

Still not sure which wash, style, rise to go for or what will suit you best? Don’t worry, the best way to find out is to head to the shops and try on. Better yet, book yourself in for a personal shopping appointment – many flagship stores offer this service and it’s a great way to try on multiple options whilst also getting help with how to style. John Lewis have a particularly good range of designer and high street denim and offer personal shopping appointments free of charge for advice and guidance.

Nothing beats that ‘I just found the perfect pair of jeans’ feeling so whether you order online, try on in store, or simply get an old favourite pair tailored, we hope you find them and feel great.