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HOW TO FIGURE OUT YOUR JEANS SIZE

by Lani Kim


The hunt for a perfect pair of women’s jeans has taken on almost mythological proportions. Great-fitting denim has the power to transform any outfit from plain to posh. Even that old faded T-shirt you love looks fabulous with the right jeans. 

So why is it so difficult to get a good fit? It’s not you—honestly!  It’s the pants. Sizing varies from brand to brand and even within styles of the same brand. 

Don’t let these challenges get the best of you. With a little effort, you can take the guesswork out of sizing and stop wasting money on ill-fitting jeans. 

The right style and rise can do wonders. Have an hourglass figure? A pair of bootleg jeans will be your favorite of all time. If you’re more pear-shaped, you’ll look great in a pair of skinny jeans or straight jeans.  

See all the options for yourself using our official Jean Guide

MEASURE YOUR FAVORITE PAIR

If you’ve already got a pair of jeans you love, using it as a jeans measurement guide is a brilliant solution. Lay the pants on a hard, flat surface with all zippers and buttons fastened. Measure straight across the top of the waist and double the number. This is the waist measurement for this style of rise (more on rise later). 

Measure from the end of the crotch to the end of the hem. This is the inseam measurement. 

Measure the thigh width by placing the tape measure two inches below the crotch and laying it straight across the material. Double the number for an accurate measurement. 

To measure the rise, pull the waist so it’s snug and flat. Measure from the bottom of the crotch up the fly to the top of the back waistband. In most styles, the front waistband has a natural downward curve and should not be used for measuring rise.  

Store these measurements in a convenient place—the notes app on your phone is a great place to keep these all-important stats handy. When you’re shopping online, you can compare your measurements to a manufacturer’s size chart to ensure a great fit or take a mini-measuring tape with you to the store. Looking for jeans that fit your measurements instead of a “size” will save time and heartbreak of getting your longed pair only to find they don’t fit. 

Pro Tip: If you love the rise of one pair of jeans and the thigh-fit of another, mix and match the measurements to create your own ultimate sizing guide. Just remember that waist measurements vary according to rise type! 

NO FAVORITE JEANS? NO PROBLEM

You can take all of the required measurements directly from your body following the directions above, but you may need the help of a friend. It can be difficult to get exact measurements alone. 

Remember to measure your waist at your preferred rise height, not necessarily at your natural waistline. Wear a snug, thin pair of leggings or your underwear for the most accurate results. 

CHOOSING THE BEST RISE

The rise (distance between the crotch seam and waistband) can make or break the way a pair of jeans fits and looks. Not every rise is right for every body. There are three basic types: 

  • Mid-rise jeans have a 9.25-inch rise to fit around or just below the navel (or natural waist). These are the most popular. 
  • High-rise jeans have a 10-inch rise meant to come up to or above the navel or natural waist.  
  • Extra-high rise jeans have an 11-inch rise that sits slightly above the natural waist. 

Rise fit is a very personal choice. What’s mid-rise for one shopper might be high-rise for another. One of the biggest mistakes a woman can make is selecting a style of jeans that is trendy instead of the one that looks and feels best for them. 

Generally speaking, a high rise will make your legs look longer, drawing attention away from your mid-section. A low rise is ideal for accentuating your hips. 

White House Black Market even offers longer inseams and curvy cuts to flatter any figure! 

PUTTING IT TOGETHER

The most important tip for finding a perfect pair of jeans is to not get hung up on the size listed on the label. Think of it as an estimate and nothing more. Focus on your measurements and always consult a brand’s size guide when available. There are so many gorgeous pairs of jeans waiting for you once you find the right fit!   

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