True Religion. Rich and Skinny. Rock and Republic. 7 For All Mankind. Citizens of Humanity. Their names range from plain to hip, and their mission is to make you look and feel great. Sounds simple, right?
Not so simple.
I’ve traveled the designer jeans world for 20 years and still haven’t perfected it.
When I was in high school, I saw a few girls look chic in their Calvins and Jordache jeans (Heidi Klum has recently resurrected the name), so I visited a local boutique and tried to take the designer plunge. The price tag worried me—I was using money I made from a part-time job. But hope sprang eternal that they would do magical things for my body.
They didn’t. Do anything magical for my body, that is.
For starters, they were super long on my 5-foot, 2-inch frame, too tight and too big in the wrong places. I didn’t spend my hard-earned money that day. And to this day, I still crave a great pair of jeans.
About two years ago, at a casual Chicago Christmas party, I met the wife of a man who used to play softball with my husband. She was stunning in a pair of jeans and a fancy tunic top; I had to know what kind of jeans she was wearing. She graciously revealed her secret: “Oh, I have my Luckys on—I wouldn’t wear anything else”.
With two weeks left before Christmas, I didn’t have time to shop for Lucky Brand Jeans myself, so my husband offered to do the shopping and give them to me as a gift. Dangerous, but kind.
Just like 20 years earlier, they didn’t fit. Too long, too big. And did he think I really was that size? But returning them got me into the store.
I spent about an hour trying different cuts and lengths—Lil’Maggie with their low-rise fit, Sundown with a more generous leg, and Lola- each fit my body differently. There was really a science to all of this!
That day, Lolas fit the best. They came in a short length, made my butt look, well, a little less obtrusive, did some magical slimming to my legs and had an oh-so-comfortable stretch. They didn’t make my muffin-top stomach disappear though, a problem I had with my Gap boot cut jeans, too; a problem I continue to encounter, since low-rise is so low, but so freeing.
I still like and wear my Lolas, but I keep myself educated on denim trends.
Nina Garcia, author of The Little Black Book of Style and former editor-at-large for “Elle Magazine”, says: “There is something about jeans that gives a girl an aura of instant style. The most alluring part about denim is that it can dress anything down and make even the most uptight items look relaxed.”
What was once designed to be a sturdy material for gold miners (think Levi’s) has now become something that can be paired with a Chanel Jacket. I don’t have to have the most expensive and newest pair of jeans: even more reasonable-priced jeans like Old Navy have petite, tall and plus sizes; different shapes and cuts; and are always updating their styles.
Yet, some of the higher-priced jeans are doing some pretty amazing things: Paige Premium pulls your butt up and makes it look smaller (especially the ones that have back flap pockets). Joe’s Jeans has a great a capri that keeps its stretch. True Religion, I’ve read, has a stitching down the leg that elongates the body.
And Rich and Skinny? Well, they look captivating on a model, so maybe someday…