How to buy jeans that fit? Get your denim dilemma answered here by reading ilovejeans.com denim expert answers to FAQs for jeans shopping.

FAQs From ilovejeans.com readers

I hear you screaming “Just tell me how to buy jeans that fit?” I totally get it as jean shopping can be like climbing a mountain (the struggle is often mental and physical) but once you are at the peak it can be enlightening! Let’s get you to Base Camp!

Recently I asked my email audience the question ” What issues do you have with jeans?” It’s a simple question but boy it was like opening a can of worms! Read these FAQs about jean shopping and my answers.

So here it is all your denim dilemmas in one place, answered in the FAQs on this page but if it’s not, tell me what you’re struggling with in the comments below!

FAQs ANSWERED

My problem is that jeans are too tight on the waist. If I buy a size to fit my waist the legs and hips are too big, I have no bottom thin legs and short legs, so buying jeans is a nightmare, I can’t tell you how much money I have wasted on jeans, it`s terrible.

You want your jeans to flatter your body shape not drown you in fabric. When buying jeans look at the fabric content to see if the style has a good amount of stretch ( 1-2+% Lycra or Elastane) and snapback (Polyester) for the jean to recover their shape when stretched. ‘Pull-on jeans by Liverpool Jeans have an elasticated waist & functioning pockets. Often because of the stretch, you can go down a size too. There are quite a few ‘Figure fixing’ denim brands that have Ab Solution, Smoothing pockets, or  Lift Tuck® Technology. New denim technology is evolving all the time and a handful of brands offer collections that span over 3 sizes in one, which is perfect if your waist is a bigger size vs your legs and bottom.

jeans too tight for waist

Jeans that are advertised as mid-rise often are not, rather closer to low rise and not comfortable at all.

All retailers and denim brands tend to work to their own size ratio, this is why jean shopping is so confusing! Turn jean shopping on its head, instead of trying to fit into a denim brand sizing look at your own rise measurement. For example, if your rise (crotch seam to belly button) measures 9 inches then only look for styles with this measurement. Often online retailers will give the measurement of the rise (if not email or ask in the chat for the rise measurements of the style). This is key to buying jeans that fit online. If you’re shopping in-store take a tape measure or cut a ribbon to the length of your rise to use as a guide. This way you can quickly sort through styles that are right for you before you go into the changing room, helping you buy the right size jeans.

jeans too tight on waist

Struggling with the satisfaction of my appearance in bootcut jeans.

Bootcut jeans are a classic style and should look good on all body shapes. However not all boot cuts are the same. Take a good look in a full-length mirror and try and pinpoint which area is not pleasing you. Try your jeans on with different shoes, sneakers, boots, and high heels as this can really change the look by elongating the leg. If you still are not happy then try a skinny flare style as this is one step away from a bootcut you may prefer.

I prefer a very soft, lightweight feel to denim rather than sturdier fabrics. 

The lightest weight denim is between 5 – 12 oz. Chambray is a light cotton fabric that usually comes in light blue similar to denim, which is soft and airy, worn in the Summer. Denim is versatile and can be mixed with linen, hemp, Lyocell, and Modal–all materials that keep cool in summer, are environmentally friendly, easy to wear, and easy to care for. Always look at the fabric content label to see what denim clothing is made from.

Help with jeans that fit both waist and hips, that don’t ride down on wearing throughout the day which is an issue I seem to experience with all jeans. 

Curvy body shapes often find it difficult to get the balance right of waist vs hip ratio. To eliminate the gape you need to shop specifically for ‘curvy styles of jeans, where the waist is smaller and the hips & bottom bigger. Good American has paved the way for inclusive curvy denim styles and lots of other brands are following suit. So don’t make do with jeans that are not cut for your body shape.

I’m a typical apple shape with a size 14 waist and short thin legs and a flat bum. So to get the waist comfortable there is too much material on the leg width, length, and on the bottom. Left with unflattering baggie trousers or too tight waist and better everywhere else

Ok, stretch denim is your friend! Look for jeans with 2%+ Lycra or Elastane content and a Polyester mix to give the jean the snapback after stretching. If you are 5ft 2″ or under you should consider looking at retailers Petite Collections as the inseam will be shorter and the style scaled down. ASOS and White House Black Market offer a ‘shop by fit section’ making it easier to shop for your proportions. MAC dream jeans have tummy control panels and a hidden elasticated waistband and a high lycra content making these jeans extremely soft to wear. They come in lots of colors too!

Struggle with finding jeans that are comfortable/I feel happy wearing/do anything for me! Please help!

Start with identifying your body shape. You can take this quiz that will help you ID your shape and show you the latest denim styles for that shape. Then go on to measure your Unique Rise Measurement which is the key to finding the best fit for you. If you are still in need of help book a Virtual Styling Session we have helped many women find perfect-fitting jeans! We really think this is the best way to shop for jeans.

What should I be measuring to work out my jeans size?

Inseam – Measure your inseam first, this is the length of your leg from the inside from your crotch to where your foot starts.
Waist – The waist measurement is taken from the smallest part of your waist, under your ribcage, or where you bend ( bending to the side).
Lower waist measurement is where the waistband of the jeans sit – this is not a common measurement when shopping for jeans.
Hips– Stand with your feet together take the tape measure around your bottom and measure the fullest part of your hips at the top of your legs, approx 9 inches lower than your waistline.
Rise – Front rise measurement – with your jeans on take the tape measure from the crotch seam up to the top of the waistband.
The leg opening – This is the measurement that will tell you how wide the opening of the leg of your new jeans will be. Measure the circumference of the bottom of the hem.

Check out the measuring guide for visual guidance.

jeans too tight on waist

I feel like I’m in a rut wearing the same skinny jeans, it’s so boring!

You’d be surprised at how many times I hear this as it’s one of the reasons women book a styling session with me. There are lots of different styles of jeans available but not every style will suit your body shape. The way to get out of the rut is by trying on ‘key styles’, I have chosen Levis as an example as they have an extensive collection of styles & sizes for all. Moving away from your skinny try the following styles, remember to try on with heels as well as flats. Keep an open mind as you may be pleasantly surprised.
Slim jeans >> Straight jeans >> Tapered jeans >> Bootcut jeans >> Loose Jeans.

I can NEVER get the sizing right, it’s so frustrating!

Sizing is a bugbear for most as you may be a size 14 in one brand and a size 18 in another! Yes, the difference can be that big. The thing to know is it’s not you, it’s the retailer/brand sizing ratio that is different. Jeans are notoriously difficult as you have to take into consideration the stretch in the denim which may mean you could go down a size!
The first thing to do is to measure yourself especially if you’re buying jeans online. Look at the retailer’s size chart for the style and pinpoint where your measurements fit it. If you spread over two sizes then purchase both sizes, and return the one that doesn’t fit. Another tip I use a lot is to read other women’s reviews which will guide you if the style is coming up large or smaller. Women are great at telling you how it is! For more insight on sizing read – Are we buying the right size jeans.

finding the right size jeans


Why do all Petite jeans have a high rise? I’m looking for a mid-rise approx 8.5″?

I’m not going to lie to you, it’s difficult to find a style of jean that has both a short inseam as well as a mid-rise ( under 9″ rise). The reason why is the higher rise elongates the body especially when the leg is shorter. So brands/retailers tend to think the majority of petite women want this look. Buckle is an online website that has lesser-known denim brands that offer lower-rise jeans with a shorter inseam. Also, check out the ilovejeans.com petite jeans edit.

How do I buy jeans that fit online?


This is really down to the online retailer to help the customer get the right size jean. Some do and some don’t. Denim brands such as 1822 Denim offer a Find My Size tool to use your phone to scan your body to find the best size/ style for you. But not all brands are that forward-thinking so you need to take charge and have your measurements handy when shopping online for jeans. Go to the sizing chart on the website and see if your waist measurement and hip measurement fall into the sizing of their jeans. If your spread over 3 sizes then the brand is not for your shape. However, if you fall into 2 sizes buy both sizes, and send the one back that doesn’t fit.

Should I buy a size up or down in jeans?

When buying jeans online it’s important to look at the fabric contents to see if the jean has a lot of Lycra or Elastane = Stretch! Let this be your guide to sizing down. If the style is 100% Cotton it will stretch naturally but err on the side of caution as going down a size may be too small. Often you will find fit notes in the review section of the jeans/ product that will tell you how the jeans fit and what size the customer bought.

Should jeans be tight at first?

Jeans should be comfortably tight at first. If the jeans your trying on are really uncomfortably tight then they will probably only stretch a few inches. The best way to see if the jeans are going to be good for you is to do the sitting test. Sit down as you would in a car, and see how it feels. It’s a good idea to wear new jeans around the house for approx an hour to see if the denim gives. Be sure to keep the tags on in case you need to return them.

The problem I have is finding jeans that have a 13″ rise. Any recommendations?

I can see why you’re struggling to find jeans that fit a 13″ rise as some denim brands go as high as 12″. It really depends what your size is as the rise of jeans gets higher as the size gets bigger. So if you were a plus size you may find this easier than if you are petite. Check out these jeans for a 13″ rise or near enough – Levis High Loose Super high rise: 13.125″. Levis 720 high rise super skinny plus size High rise: 12.5″. Everlane way high jean Rise: 12 1/8”. I hope this helps, let me know how you get on.


I’d love to hear what issues you are having finding jeans that fit, if I haven’t answered them above, put your comment below and I will reply!

sam remer
Love Sam xxx

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