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Just in case you’re wondering, you’re never too old for jeans. Unlike daringly low necklines and mini skirts, jeans continue to provide women with a body-positive way to confidently show off their shape. And there’s a jeans style, size, fit, length and color for every size and taste from classic to trendy. Choosing the right pair is the hard part. Not sure whether to stick with skinnies or update to wider legs? Go for a high- or medium-rise? Try cropped or full-length? Here’s all you need to know.
1. Flattery comes before trendiness
The right jeans will make you feel a lot cooler and a little sexier without trying too hard. They won’t cut off your circulation, leave seam dents in your thighs or look like back-of-the-closet relics from your past. They won’t be too distressed to wear to work or dinner or require years of laundering to get a soft broken feel. As a fashion editor, I’ve done hundreds of jeans photo shoots with grownup women of every size and shape. That’s why I’ll say up front if you buy one new pair of jeans, skip the skinnies and opt for an updated style that will give you and your wardrobe a lift. Check out Tracee Ellis Ross, Sofia Vergara, Brooke Shields, Cindy Crawford, Courteney Cox and Julianne Moore to see what I mean.
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2. Choose a rise that helps your torso
The right rise — specifically, the distance between the bottom of the crotch to the top of the waist — depends on how high up you like jeans to “sit” and where your torso could use extra inches or definition. Skip low-rises (no mid-body help there!) and go straight to medium- and high-rises. In general, medium-rises are 8 or 9 inches and sit at or just below the belly button. They’re comfier to wear for many women and elongate the torso, giving large busts extra space so they’re not crammed by the waistband. A high-rise of 9 to 11 inches sits above the belly button or slightly higher, which shortens the torso. It helps define a still trim waist, can tuck in midriff flab and solves waistband gap issues for those with a slim upper body and contrasting wider hips, butt and thighs (what used to be called a pear shape). Go with whatever rise gives your body a boost.
3. Stick with stretch
Not all jeans love curves, especially all-cotton denim without any elastane, Lycra or spandex. These stretch fibers all do the same thing, but the fabric blend and percentage of flex vary. Most jeans have either 1 percent stretch with just enough “give” to hug the body and keep the shape, or 2 percent stretch, which amps up softness and stretch. It sounds minimal, but it makes a real difference in fit at the hips, thighs and butt. Stretch jeans with built-in slimming by size-inclusive brands NYDJ, Spanx and Good American gently and strategically firm, thanks to stretch technology panels and design.
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