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HOW TO CHOOSE DENIM: JEANS BUYING GUIDE

by Lani Kim


Denim has been having a big moment in fashion in the past few years.  With tailored and detailed denim becoming work wardrobe mainstays, jeans are no longer a fashion afterthought for lazy Sundays, or something you can “get away with” on a casual Friday in the office. Quite the contrary—a fantastic pair of jeans will elevate your entire look. Pair with a blazer and a dressy heel and you’re ready to close the deal at work; slip into a silky atelier top and all eyes are on you at happy hour.

And great jeans go beyond upgrading your fashion—a good pair of sculpted denim will accentuate your curves, contouring them to your best advantage, so you’ll feel beautiful every time you wear them.  And we all know how feeling confident can make everything we have on fall into place.

With so many different types of jeans, though—soft denim, sculpted denim, straight leg, flare, mom jeans, boyfriend jeans and more—the options can be overwhelming. And we all know that while wearing a great pair of jeans can be empowering, choosing ones that don’t feel quite like “you” can put a damper on your whole day. (We’d even argue that a bad jeans day is worse than a bad hair day!)

The good news is that there isn’t just one single pair of jeans that will look great on you—many options will be a perfect fit! So, if you want to fill your closet with blues in every shade (and black and white rinses, too), the sky is the limit! Here’s how to choose the right denim for your shape, and the main differences between the most popular kinds of denim: soft and sculpted.

What are the best jeans for your body type?

We've got denim down to a science. Just ask @katie_lavieri.

Whether you’re curvy or narrow-hipped, petite or tall–or somewhere in between–you’ve probably been told at some point that there’s just one kind of jean that will look good on you. This isn’t the case. At White House Black Market, we’ve seen with our own eyes how high-quality fabric and meticulous denim details can make nearly any type of jean flatter all sorts of body types—as long as you’re choosing the right size.

That being said, there are a few guidelines for finding jeans based on your body type that should be safe bets. If you’ve got a narrow waist and curvy hips that are in proportion with your shoulder width—sometimes called an “hourglass” shape—a higher-rise skinny jean likely will be the best denim for your body type. Tiny on top with a curvy hip (aka the “pear” shape)? A flare jean can balance out your silhouette; this look also looks great on plus-sized bodies.

If your curves are more subtle—sometimes called a “boyish” or athletic figure—the trending straight leg denim style likely will be a win, and you can also rock a slim jean like nobody’s business. Cropped jeans, meanwhile, flatter women at both extremes of the height spectrum, but the key is choosing them in the right size and length so that they hit you at the ankle, whether you’re a tall size or a petite.

These guidelines aside, however, we recommend that you try on a variety of different leg shapes and lengths! Thoughtfully designed jeans will flatter all kinds of body types—whether that means a pear-shaped body in skinny jeans, flares on a woman with more narrow hips, or a curvy body in straight legs.

Feel empowered to break the fashion magazine rules and try on anything and everything that strikes your fancy! Odds are, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Soft or sculpted: which denim fabric to choose?

sculpted denim is figure flattering

Traditionally, denim has been made from cotton, so perhaps you’ve never thought much about what fabric your jeans are made from. But as jean styles have evolved, so, too, have the materials used to construct them. You’ll now find jeans that have both stretch and softness, as well as jeans that make you look like you just got back from a one-week fitness retreat, thanks to sculpting techniques that streamline your thighs and hips and flatten your tummy, while enhancing your curves.

So which of these denim fabric types should you choose? That really depends upon the occasion! Jeans do have a long history as leisure wear, dating back to the days before yoga pants existed. Soft jeans that have some flattering stretch are exactly what you want to pull on when you want to feel comfortable.

That doesn’t mean they are sloppy or look as casual as an athletic legging, though—you can find soft denim that pairs well with a tee or a blazer alike! White House Black Market’s Everyday Soft is made from a luxurious high-stretch fabrication that includes both silky-soft cotton and figure-flattering spandex. Designer details like tie belts, piping trim and embroidery elevate the styling, without sacrificing comfort.

When you really want to take your style to the next level, though, a sculpted jean is a notch more dressy. With the right blazer and heel, it’s work-friendly any day of the week, not just on a Friday.  

The trend of revenge fashion—where you dress like you look like a million bucks so everyone in the room takes notice–seems like it was custom-made for a great pair of White House Black Market Ultimate Sculpt jeans. This style uses the same technology as shapewear to contour your curves to their best advantage….so you can walk in the room like you own the place.

How to choose denim color

WHBM everlasting black denim is dressy enough for work

Colorful denim is one of the biggest fashion trends of 2021—with brights, pastels and neutrals all getting some time in the limelight this year. You will find soft and sculpted denim in a variety of rinses, so which do you choose?

Black rinse denim that’s carefully constructed is particularly versatile—you can even wear black jeans the same way you would work trousers. White House Black Market’s Everlasting Black line has an especially polished feel, and was designed to resist fading. A dark blue rinse with minimal or no deconstruction also has a dressier feel.

Lighter washes, on the other hand, exude a more relaxed look. As for bright and pastel color denim—anything goes! Style with a simple tee or blouse and let your colorful denim steal the show.

Denim: You Do You

When it comes down to it, there really isn’t any clothing choice more personal that your jeans. They express your identity and flatter your curves like no other piece of clothing.

So have fun assembling the ultimate denim wardrobe—and don’t be afraid to choose multiple styles, fabrics, washes and cuts, depending on your mood, the occasion, and what else you’re wearing. The only limit is your imagination!

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