Q. I have been very frustrated by my inability to find fashionable jeans that fit those of use who wear bigger -- but not “plus” -- sizes. I am generally an 8 or a 10 but I find that I can't fit into the biggest size made by most premium denim brands, generally a 32. If I can even get them over my admittedly large hips and thighs, the waist inevitably gaps by many inches, far too much to fix through alteration. No one who looks at me would say I'm obese, but I certainly felt that way after spending a good 2 hours in an upscale department store recently. Must I resign myself to Gap or Lee jeans from here on in? I'd really like to have a pair of sharp jeans that I can wear in a professional situation, and Wranglers just don't cut it.
- Jeans Disjointed
A. I feel your pain - jeans and swimsuits are THE HARDEST items to shop for and the most disappointing when you can’t find your dream purchase. I have left many dressing rooms feeling like a reject when I couldn’t find a pair that fit me.
First, make sure you are trying on the most flattering fit for your figure. Look for jeans with a slight flare to balance out your hips and thighs and avoid tapering or skinny jeans at all costs. Be sure the jeans have pockets. Also, think about denim with stretch— or Lycra—one of the greatest inventions put into women’s clothes. Don’t bring a girlfriend with you unless she is super stylishly savvy and honest. And don’t assume that expensive jeans are more worthy - I have jeans in my drawer from Old Navy for $20 to Citizens of Humanity for nearly $200 and plenty of price points in between. I love them all for different reasons, whether it's the fit, the length or the wash. It’s more important to find the right fit that looks good on your body than spending the big bucks for the latest “hot” jean.
As for designers to look for, there are so many brands out there, it’s hard to keep up with the claims. Before you become hardened towards jeans, go shopping at these stores: Lucky Brand Dungarees (they have claimed they can find you a great fitting pair in four try-ons) and Levi's, where you'll find a wealth of sizes and fits with knowledgeable salespeople. Or, head to a store that has a designated area just for the jeans with pros on staff that know all the styles. In New York we have Barneys with their Jeans Bar - I adore the guys at Barneys co-op, they are honest and can remember the difference between my first pair and my fifteenth.
Most importantly, be patient. Even if you have to try on 50 pairs to find the perfect one, it will be worth it!