Gen Xer’s may recall the pre-spandex days, where the going out ritual consisted of lying down on the bed, hoping that gravity would help zip up those skin tight Vanderbilt jeans. Modern jeans may be more gentle thanks to the advent of stretch-friendly fibers, but recently, the quest for the skinniest fit raised health concerns; a warning that too much constriction could be hazardous to organs being squeezed by an unforgiving waistband. Be it by trend or by innovation, denim styles have evolved but the approach to finding the right fit doesn’t change whether it’s a stovepipe or a slouchy boyfriend that you seek.
The most important mantra to heed when searching for the right fit: size is just a number. Premium denim brands usually offer a fit guide that outlines sizes according to measurements across waist, hip, rise and inseam. At Bluer Denim, we go so far as to include measurements for thigh, knee and leg as well. However, remember that it’s just a guide, and not everybody is built with the same proportions as a fit model. Another rule of thumb is to let go of the idea that just because those high-rise matchstick jeans look great on your best friend doesn’t mean they’ll look as good on you. Blame your genes, not the jeans; a long torso, short waist, athletic quads or robust bum will all impact fit. But rest assured, just like artisanal ice cream, the perfect flavor is out there, you just have to be willing to try a few. To make the process less painful, keep a few of these fit tips below in your back pocket-- which, as you’ll soon learn, should fall in just the right spot.
Check Sag and Swag
Wrinkles in denim jeans are formed from two opposing fit issues: too much sag or not enough give. Excess material will cause wrinkles that poke outward, usually on the back of the legs or around the crotch. Jeans that are too tight produce wrinkles that appear to go inward, like welts on the back of the leg. The ideal fit is smooth all around, no pulling around the fly and no pooling of fabric under the rear pockets or back of the knees. Speaking of the fly, whether zipper or button, you should be able to easily navigate closing and opening the fly and when the top button is closed, it should cover the fly. If the zipper or a button from the fly is peeking out, chances are you could use an extra ½”- 1” in the waist or hips, which means going up a size.
Nothing shows the half-life of quality denim like a well-used pocket. Aside from the benefit of being able to stash a few bucks, ticket stub and phone, the right back pockets will ensure your first impression looks as good as the one in the rearview. For one, they should be the right size, i.e. in proportion to the size of the wearer and placed fairly centered across the fullest part of the rear. The bottom of the back pockets should sit just above or at the bottom curve of your bum (where your bum meets your legs) and never below or you’ll risk looking flattened out. The easiest way to check is to turn to the side to see where the pockets fall. If those pockets have embellishments or have been bedazzled, then move on, regardless of fit.
Pop a Squat
The popularity of denim lies in both its versatility and comfort, but you shouldn’t sacrifice substance for style. Proper-fitting jeans should move with your body without having to contort to tie your shoes. When trying a new pair on, take the squat test: when you bend down do the jeans stretch with you? Now check your sideview: is there a gap in the back? Quality jeans like those from Bluer denim will have a contoured waistband (Bluer features a two-piece contoured waistband) for a better fit that eliminates gapping. When you come back up do you have to adjust or tug at the waistband? If so, consider going up a size or trying a higher rise. Lastly, denim with stretch should snap back into place without the dreaded booty droop. If you’ve conquered the squat, wear them around the house for a bit to make sure the fit stays crisp and sag-free.
Go to Great Lengths
The inseam of a pair of jeans is typically listed in the fit guide, but some people just fall short. Alterations may not be necessary if the jeans come cropped or ankle-length or are skinny enough to tuck into tall boots. However, if your lifestyle or shoe preferences require something else, don’t give up on a pair of well-fitting jeans because they’re too long. A simple hem is one of the easiest alterations and can be done while maintaining the original hem. Bring your jeans and the shoes you plan to wear with them the most to any local tailor and they will measure to your specifications. Keep in mind a good tailor will suggest the right hem length based on the style of the jean: straight leg and skinnies are hemmed shorter, whereas flares and bootcut are left longer.
A pair of well-fitting jeans is an effortless way to look polished no matter the occasion. What’s more, unlike other fabrics, denim has unique characteristics that over time, start to conform to the wearer’s body, creating a truly custom fit. No matter if your jeans are off the rack or Savile Row, take the time to find the right fit and you’ll get a lifetime of wear in return.