Denim clinic: We find the perfect pair of denims for you

The high waisted skinny, Levis, €100

Jeans don’t lie, so make sure you find the best pair for you, writes Annmarie O’Connor.   

Most women have a love-hate affair with jeans.

Finding the perfect pair is not dissimilar to the pursuit of The Holy Grail — a legendary yet lethal quest — and with good reason. Here’s why.

Jeans, when successfully sought and purchased, have alchemical powers, bestowing comfort, confidence and a sense of youthful vigour on the purveyor; not to mention total bragging rights.

And therein lies the rub. The search is as elusive as it is compulsive. It can be hard to keep up which is precisely what’s so alluring.

Just when you’ve found a pair that fits, the fashion gods smite you with a series of new cryptic trends, requiring a PhD in denimology.

This season? Straight has replaced the skinny leg, hems are cropped and raw, flares are still a goer (provided they are cropped and raw), culottes remain cool (once they hit the calf — not the knee), medium waists rival higher counterparts; while fabric is as stiff as a corpse.

1950s 701 Jeans, Levis, €180
1950s 701 Jeans, Levis, €180

The Holy Grail? A pair of mid-waist, rigid, straight leg jeans cropped at the calf with a raw hem. You see?

That’s where I come in. I’ve completed a dossier on four coveted jean styles for spring summer 16 with tips on how they fit, how to style them, where to buy them; and, most of all, how they make you feel.

There’s no point in embarking on a the mother-of-all-missions if it leaves you with a wedgie and a similar dent in your wallet.

The secret? The feeling comes first; it doesn’t follow which is what makes a victim of us all from time to time. Jeans don’t lie.

So prepare to heed the honest truth and choose a pair that looks best — on you. That’s the only crusade worth signing up for.

RIGID STRAIGHT LEG

Straight leg jeans have, for some time, been overlooked. That’s all changed.

This segue between skinny and wider styles now combines with sturdier selvedge denim for an ‘anti-fit’ (no stretch, no give, no dice).

The result? A loud and proud, two fingers up to the skinny establishment vintage throwback.

Think rock-n-roll muses like Debby Harry, Joan Jett and rebel roadsters Thelma and Louise. Got it? 

Raw hem straight leg jeans, New Look, €29.99
Raw hem straight leg jeans, New Look, €29.99

Factor in a distressed step hem and, ladies, you’ve got the money shot. The sell? Break ‘em in and you’ll receive a shapely bottom in return.

The fine print? Time x body shape = slight problem. 

Although one may appreciate their dude ranch appeal, the real question remains: Who has the patience to break the back of this beast? 

Those of independent means may opt for a ‘broken’ pair by sell-out denim brand Vetements (they’ll also set you back approximately €1,200 and a lengthy waiting list); those of independent thinking may opt for a so-small-its-not-cheating modicum of stretch to help accommodate curves and general womanliness.

Everyone wins.

Petite straight leg jeans, Topshop, €60
Petite straight leg jeans, Topshop, €60

Best bet: Levi’s lead the charge with their 701s (€180), the first five-pocket jeans for women originally introduced in 1939. The 2.0 version boasts a high-waisted fit, curved top block and wide straight leg. 

The rigid, heavyweight denim (12 ounces and up!) make them less accommodating for curves. 

Commitment-shy? Raw hem styles with less heft (both in fabric and price point) and thus more give are available from New Look (€29.99) and Topshop (€60).

THE HIGH-WAISTED SKINNY

So skinnies are dead, are they? Someone’s got the wrong morgue.

Lest you cast yours off into the black sack of shame, consider the following hacks.

Rise to the occasion with a higher waist. Scary as it sounds, this silhouette can prove a boon for bigger bellies and apple shapes. 

The trick? Premium denim (see: Best bet). The stronger the twill, the better the thrill. That said, Topshop’s cult maternity MOTO dark vintage ‘Baxter’ jeans (€55) come a close second (even if you’re not pregnant) and don’t mind committing to long shorts that disguise their clever elastic waistband. They’ve been a secret weapon of mine for a while now. 

Rigid straight leg, Maternity Moto, Dark Vintage Baxter Jeans, Topshop, €55
Rigid straight leg, Maternity Moto, Dark Vintage Baxter Jeans, Topshop, €55

To finish it all off? Hack ‘em off. The hem that is. The preferred length is 7/8ths which is fashion speak for ‘show some ankle’. Cuffed, cropped or frayed.

Best bet: Levi’s Mile High Super Skinny (€100) is remarkably flattering (I own a pair) and do magical things to ones tummy, bum and thighs.

Stretchy but not so much to cause ripples; stiff like Spanx but not enough to restrict blood supply, these beauties are well-cut and suitable for wider derrieres.

Result.

THE CROPPED FLARE

It all started with Rachel Comey — the American designer whose ‘Legion’ jeans (Matchesfashion.com, €445) — recently inspired legions of loyal fans. 

Add in the equally well-named ‘Revolution’ pair by Alexa Chung for AG and, by golly, we’ve got a trend on our hands!

Lou cropped flare jeans, M.i.H jeans, €250
Lou cropped flare jeans, M.i.H jeans, €250

It’s as if last summer’s hippie homage (see: floor-skimming bell bottoms) shrunk in the wash but, damn it, they look cool.

So, how does one go about wearing this wonderfully wonky style? Work it Jane Birkin-style with a 60s ankle boot and polo neck for era-appropriate style cred. 

The cropped flare, Mozik jeans, Monki, €45
The cropped flare, Mozik jeans, Monki, €45

Wear one inch too high (beware long-limbed ladies) or one cream cake too tight and all bets are off.

Fickle as they are fabulous, this trend mania is best approached with a healthy dose of humour. What looks great on Instagram can translate into IRL fits of giggles.

Try them on for the craic, if for no other reason. 

Still yearning for a pair? Get an alterations clinic to look at doctoring a pre-loved pair of flares in your wardrobe. They’ll know where to draw the (hem) line.

Rachel Comey, Legion highrise, Matches Fashion, €445
Rachel Comey, Legion highrise, Matches Fashion, €445

Best bet: Pricier brands like Paige and M.i.H. demand more in the way of shekels but also deliver more bang for your denim buck.

Try the M.i.H. ‘Lou’ jean (€250) which offers a democratic medium stretch. 

For more bijou budgets, Monki’s ‘Mozik’ jeans (€45) deliver less volume all round.

CULOTTES

Neither a skirt; nor a trouser be. Culottes have become the unsung bard of the bottom half. And here we were thinking these hybrids would die a death after their 2011 retail redux. Not a chance. 

Culottes, Massimo Dutti, €79.95
Culottes, Massimo Dutti, €79.95

That said, the abbreviated hem and A-line shape don’t always jam with this season’s stiffer denim, so take these tips on board.

Avoid pleat fronts and side pockets (try a patch or jet pocket instead), unless you like the feeling of a fabric pooch nestling against your midsection.

Adopt an equally vigilant approach to silhouettes. 

Blue denim dip dye raw hem culottes, River Island, €50.
Blue denim dip dye raw hem culottes, River Island, €50.

Retro denim styles may be trending but they are body bullies in the presence of awkward lengths. 

Don’t be intimidated by these Mean Girls. Instead, adopt a more defensive approach with a 70s-inspired ‘flat finish’ – clean-cut and anti-treated; the shape is simple and purist with a Scandi kick. 

Tip? Ensure the hem hits slightly below the knee and always pair with a proportionate shoe. 

Weekday, €55, Extend neat blue culottes.
Weekday, €55, Extend neat blue culottes.

Taller gals can go for a Stan Smith; less leggy compatriots might choose a Swedish Hasbeen clog or comparable chunky heel. No stilettos here. None at all.

Best bet: Brands like Weekday (€50) and Massimo Dutti (€79.95) nail fuss-free silhouettes with affordable prices; while Citizens of Humanity’s less voluminous ‘Melanie’ wide-leg crop ( www.Nosupply.com , approximately €215.81) is perfect for petites.


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