The best jeans for your body type

Few things in life can evoke the sheer panic that I experience when it comes time to search for a new pair of jeans, and if that’s the case for me, chances are that many women out there feel the same way. Jeans are at once the simplest wardrobe staple and the most frustrating item to shop for – the item that can take me from confident to self-loathing in a matter of seconds. Scarred by years of flood-pants, protruding love handles and other similar style blunders, I tend to avoid this shopping experience like the plague. And while 30 Rock’s Jenna Maroney might make a killing off her Muffin Tops, this zaftig gal tends to prefer to keep hers under wraps.

Unless you happen to be blessed with a perfectly proportionate figure, there are a bevvy of issues you can experience when trying to find the best jeans for your body type. And even those with the seemingly perfect parts are unlikely to walk into a store and presto—perfect fit! There are pinches in unwanted places, hemming nightmares and an unholy amount of spandex.

Fear not, dear readers, all is not lost. The denim-gods were not so cruel as to prevent us all from joining in on casual Friday at the office. For every fail there is a fix and the perfect denim duds are out there for you. Our advice?

Step one: take a deep breath and jump in. Though the hot, un-flattering fitting room lights are capable of throwing even the calmest women into a tizzy, the key is to just relax. Know that you’re not the only one with this dilemma. Take the time to find the perfect jeans for your body. Consider fit before going for the trendiest pair. As much as I may have coveted these ridiculous Maison Martin Margiela for H&M boyfriend parachute pair, I had to accept that they just weren’t for my hourglass figure.

To help you out, we’ve scoured through the racks of pudge-pinching, ill-fitting nightmares to find seven essential jeans for every body, shape and size. But remember, these are simply intended as educated suggestions. If you love something and it makes you feel confident, then you rock those jeans like you’re on the runway – power to you, girl!

May this helpful guide put the final kibosh on your recurring shopping nightmares.

See more ways to wear denim in our ultimate denim guide »

The Skinny
Works for: All shapes and sizes

Do you recall the start of the skinny jean phase? I recall a collective loss of breath from those of us convinced there was no chance of fitting our thighs into a painted on patch of denim. Lo! It turns out this fit is universally flattering, polished and the perfect day-night transition piece. Be conscious of the rise—I prefer a mid-high rise of about 11” for a smooth fit sans roll-over. Best for: All SHAPES!! It’s like Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants with these babies.

Skinny cut sculpting jeans ($195,

The Boyfriend Jean
Works for: Petite, Athletic, Hourglass

Whether poaching your male counterpart’s denim or scouring the racks for a more feminine fit, this relaxed style can pull together a day outfit that is both chic and practical. The key is to look for a straight cut, with the slightest taper to keep the line of the leg long, while leaving some extra room for the thighs and butts that come with our XX chromosomes. These tips aside, this style works best on a tall or athletic build, adding some volume to a slender frame.

Current/Elliot boyfriend jeans ($229,

Works for: Hourglass, Curvy

No longer reserved for hippies and crust-punks, a high-waisted pair of wide leg jeans can be the ultimate in sophistication. There are a few things, however, that you’ll want to pay attention to with these babies. The rise is the most important, with a higher waist helping to elongate a curvier figure. For the petite gals, a low rise paired with a tucked in silk blouse and a killer pair of heels will help create the curves this cut is intended for.

Sponsored: Michael Michael Kors five pocket flared jean ($195,

Works for: All shapes and sizes

Oh dear god, the dreaded OG bootcut. The cut that sends me on a spiral of horrific style blunder memories from my youth—too long, too tight, too low, just…too, too. But the bootcut is making a comeback, with updates to the silhouette bringing a new element of sophistication to the classic cut. Much like any other style of denim, you want to pay close attention to the rise at the waist, opting for a slightly higher mid-rise (falls just below the belly button) to give the illusion of length, and pull attention away from the thighs. Similarly, the hem can make or break a pair of bootcuts –ideally, you want the hem to be a bit longer than the rest of the jeans in your closet, leaving a bit of length for a great pair of heels to keep your silhouette lengthened and streamlined.

315 shaping bootcut jean ($80,

The Crop
Works for: Petite, Hourglass

What’ so great about this style is the great variety of fits that fall under the category. Cropped boyfriend jeans! Cropped skinnies! Cropped flares! The options are endless. With spring on the horizon, it’s time to let those ankles shine, with hems that fall just below the calf, or above the ankle bone. Rocking an hourglass figure and want to try these out? Opt for a wide leg pair with a straight cut and high waist to elongate the thighs and hips, and pair with your favourite pair of sleek heels for a elevated contrast and added height. On the tall and athletic side? Opt for a daring pair of cropped flares that hug the thighs and fall mid-calf.

Medium wash Straight jean ($98,

The Baby Flare
Works for: Tall, Athletic

Right between a classic flare and a bootcut is the baby flare, a cut that was seen all over the spring runway. Best worn high-waisted, the cut is fitted through the leg with a subtle flare and a slightly cropped hem that sits just above the ankle. I’ll be perfectly honest, despite my many efforts, this cut is not ideal for those of us that carry weight in our inner thighs and bum. The slight crop and fitted leg is best suited to those blessed with a slim leg and a bit of height. Though this cut is great for a night out, I love to see the baby flare paired with a cuff-sleeved white tee and Stan Smith’s for a casual weekend look that’s laid back without sacrificing style.

Baby kick flare jeans with ripped knee detail ($25,

Works for: Hourglass, Pear Shaped

For those of us with a booty that just won’t quit, there’s a cut to help you show off your best ass…et. The high-waisted jean has saved me from many a self-deprecating moment in the fitting rooms. Accentuating your natural waist, the high-rise jean – whether flared, wide leg or skinny – draws the attention to all the right places, simultaneously highlighting the smallest point of your torso and your bodacious bum. When it comes to the rise, the higher the better! I like to find a fit that falls just above the belly-button, sitting directly across my waist, showing off the hourglass curves that my momma gave me. This fit pairs perfectly with a casually tucked oxford or silk blouse for a look that can take you from day to night with the slick of red lipstick and heels.

Highrise skinny jeans ($120,

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