Jeans for Most of America.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.

The average woman’s size in America is a 12/14. It’s been a while since I’ve taken a statistics class, but I’m pretty sure that indicates that around half of the female population is above that mark. So it only makes sense that with every denim post that I’ve written, I’ve gotten hundreds of emails and comments requesting tips on how to find great jeans for those in plus sizes.

Sadly enough, most denim designers blatantly ignore any semblance of fashion in plus sizes. The pocket placement is typically wrong, the styles are insultingly dated, the material is often cheap.

So I set out on a two month research journey with the help of four fabulous volunteers.  We visited half a dozen stores and used my own denim stash, tried on every pair of jeans in every store, and photographed them all.  I spent approximately 30 hours gathering, analyzing, and summarizing our findings.

We discovered that it may take some digging and a lot of dressing room action, but there are a few good pairs to be found.  My hope is that this project will help many women feel great relief that their problem may be their jeans, not their body.

Here’s a sample of our results, with more details to follow:

Subject A is a size 18.  She is petite, and expressed to me that “If I found jeans that fit, I was thankful for that and bought them.  I never even looked at the back, because I didn’t really think I had earned a good-looking butt.”  I am happy to say that she now feels differently:

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.

Subject B is a size 24/26.  She shared with me that she struggles to find jeans that look right because she carries a lot of “junk in the trunk.”  By finding the right fit, we visually shrank her booty by at least three sizes:

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.

Subject C is a size 12/14 who thought she was a 16.  Her problem area is her belly, and so she would size up to fit it, and her tiny legs and butt would completely disappear.  By finding the right kind of jeans, we rediscovered and flaunted her adorable legs and butt, without making her stomach uncomfortable:

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.

(I realize that not everyone likes prominent stitching on the pockets.  We will discuss that later in the post.)

Subject D is a size 16/18.  She struggled to find jeans that fit her correctly, as they all had too much room in areas where she didn’t need extra room.  She could pull handfuls of extra fabric in the crotch, but would find her jeans uncomfortable in other areas.  She, too, found choices for comfortable, properly fit jeans:

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.

The following are the points that we discovered.  Although every body is different, you should be able to use these guidelines to find the perfect jean for you.

1.  Pocket Placement.

This is easily the biggest issue with all jeans, and the problem is only magnified in the plus-sized jean world.  It is critical to the health of all jeans.

Here are the keys to proper pocket placement:

a. Proportionally sized pockets
b. Correctly Placed Pockets – covering the bottom curvature of the butt
c. Width between pockets – minimize as much as possible.

Proportionally sized pockets are a must – if you have a larger butt, you need larger pockets achieve butt balance.  If you have a smaller butt, you need smaller pockets to prevent butt flattening.

Basically, you want the pocket to properly cover your butt, but not overcover your butt.

Your pockets should come down an inch or two PAST the bottom curvature of your butt to prevent Long Butt, cover to the sides of your butt to prevent Elbow Butt, and have as little room as possible between the pockets to prevent Wide Butt.

The left pair in this photo doesn’t cover enough of the sides or middle,

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject D

the left pair in this photo doesn’t cover enough of the top or bottom,

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject B

and the left pair in this photo is just all-around too small.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject A

As already stated, pockets should never end before the bottom curvature of your butt.

If they do, they will make your butt look wider, longer, bigger, and older.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject A

(Also, try to find pockets that are completely vertical, not curving out to the sides, which also creates Elbow Butt.)

Although you need to check your full-butt visual (which is hard to do without a camera or a trusted friend), checking from the side can also help:

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.

Subject A

And finally, minimize the width between your pockets to have the smallest, most streamlined butt footprint (buttprint?)

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject D

The exception to this rule is if you have a very small butt.  A wide pocket, even paired with non-centered stitching, can assist in making your butt look more curvy.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject C

So let’s talk about stitching.

On my last post, I got questioned many times about the use of stitching on pockets.  Many people feel that stitching is a young look, or a cheap look, or a trend they simply don’t prefer.

(In fairness, there were many more people who loved the stitching.)

The popularity of stitching varies with geographical location, and it is completely a matter of taste.

If you don’t like stitching, don’t do it.

I’m not here to push a fashion choice or to share what is “on trend” – my goal is to show the most flattering fits, and stitching can be very flattering.  It can break up space, add visual interest, and actually minimize butts.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject B

However, excessive fading and distressing combined with pocket stitching can be too much.  Don’t buy jeans that make you look like you’ve been through a garbage disposal and back out the other side.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject D

Pocket flaps were something that several of my models were skeptical of, simply because they were afraid that they would add bulk.

The pocket flap does not add bulk, but when done correctly, offers proper and nice curves.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject A

Look for flaps that have a modern, pointed flap, and never, ever, EVER have a flap without a pocket.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject B

 

2.  Leg Width.

Many people assume that the bigger the leg opening, the smaller the body will appear.  This is definitely not the case.  Although I hardly ever recommend a stick-to-your-ankle skinny jean for anyone, a narrower leg tends to slim, where a bulky leg can weigh you down and shorten your legs.

Also, it should be noted that the term “Skinny Jean” has come encompass a vast range of leg opening widths, from a jegging that clings to every curve and dimple, to what used to be called a straight cut or barely boot.

I adore the Barely Boot version of Skinny, so even though in stores it’s called a skinny, for the purposes of differentiation, we’re going to refer to it as a Barely Boot.

Subject D shows the typical Bootcut/Flare as compared to a Barely Boot,

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.

And Subject A shows the narrowing effect of the Barely Boot as compared to the Trouser Jean.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.

(Forgive the ridiculous length on the trouser.  We were so exhausted by the time we got to that store that we didn’t even bother hiking it up.  But trust me: narrower is better, whether your jeans have a Princess-Wedding-Length Train or not.)

(Extra Note: Be willing to get jeans hemmed.  Lengths are rarely perfect off the rack, it usually costs $10 or less, and it is totally worth it to get great jeans.)

If you carry your weight almost entirely in your stomach, and therefore always find your jeans ridiculously too large on your butt and your legs, go for an all out Skinny Jean – because skinny jeans tend to have a stretchier waist, allowing you to size down to fit your legs.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject C

Note: The unattractive upside-down triangle effect that skinny jeans can sometimes create is caused by hip width, not stomach width.   Skinny jeans minimize stomachs, but maximize hips.  See this post for more illustrations.

 

 

3.  Fabric Color and Fading

As a rule, darker jeans are almost always more flattering.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject B

They minimize, streamline, and cover over a multitude of cellulite.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject A

However, this is just a rule.  If a light pair happens to look really good, go with it.

Also, don’t be afraid of color.  I personally was very frightened by it for a long time, but have recently come around.  And my models agreed: color was fun, surprisingly flattering, and added a lot of character to their outfits.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject A

(I’m still scared of prints, though.  Check back with me next year.)

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.

Fading is a tricky art, because it can either be slimming OR widening.  As a rule, when in the front, you want it to leave some darkness on each side of your leg, thereby adding contour.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject B

In the back, avoid the below-the-pocket fade, unless it is very subtle.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject D

 

4. Fit

Jeans should be fitted but not clinging.  I use the back of the thigh and the butt to determine all good fits.

Don’t have a saggy butt, but definitely don’t have The Upside-Down Heart Crack Cling.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject A

Make sure that your thighs are fitted to the point that the denim wrinkles finely and horizontally, but are not so tight that your leg is squishing out from between the wrinkles.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.Subject D

And finally, I urge you to find an honest friend to shop with you.  Because you literally cannot see all of your own butt.  Trust me: I almost broke my ankle trying to see mine last week.

If you can’t find an honest friend to shop with, then take cell phone pictures of your butt and text or email them to an honest friend.  If you can’t find an honest friend to accept your butt texts, then feel free to email your butt to me (graspingforobjectivity at gmail dot com) – I get several butts a day in my inbox and don’t mind adding yours to the stack.

Remember: you can’t see all of your own butt, and if you buy based on what you can see, you’ll end up with something like this:

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.

 Subject D

The right jeans can be a miracle for your body.  So take notes, find a friend, and go shopping to discover a better butt!


Appendix: Frequently Asked Questions.

Where can I find the jeans pictured in this post?

I do not recommend buying jeans online without first trying them on, but for reference, here were the jeans that looked best on some or all of the models:

  1. Code Denim Skinny (Barely Boot) Dark Washes – (Discontinued)
  2. Silver Suki Surplus, Available at Maurices, $90; Amazon, $95; Torrid, $95
  3. Emerson Edwards with pocket Dark Washes,  (Discontinued)
  4. Torrid Isabella Bootleg (also referred to as Source of Wisdom Slim Boot), Available at Torrid, $58.50; Amazon, $58.50
  5. Emerson Edwards Colored Jeans (Discontinued)
  6. Torrid Sophia Skinny, Available at Torrid, $58.50; Amazon, $58.50
  7. Miss Chic and LA Idol Jeans, Available through Amazon, $50 – 70

Once you know what fits you, HauteLook is a fantastic resource to find designer jeans at half the price – I buy all of my jeans there, and they often feature Plus-Sized Jeans.

Surely the before and after photos aren’t the same model.  Some of their shirts are even different!

All photo pairings are of the same woman, even if the shirt colors aren’t the same. Because of the time commitment needed, we conducted our research over several weeks.

I noticed that you are a Vault Denim rep.  Did you just write this post to sell jeans?

Nope. Update: I’m not affiliated anymore, and due to the fact that they are selling significantly lower quality jeans, I no longer recommend them in any way.  I was a blogger first, and have been writing posts about how to find great jeans for years.  I became affiliated with Vault last year because I needed easier access to great denim to help people that wanted my consultation – and their prices were up to half off retail prices (Updated To Note: they no longer carry those great brands.)  I often recommend other brands (as can be seen in this post), and I gave away almost all of my referrals to other reps across the country because I highly discourage buying without trying on, and unfortunately, not everyone lives in Alabama.

My goal is to help women achieve better looking butts and better self-images in the process, whatever that takes.

I am a total jerk and left a comment saying cruel things about your models, but now my comment isn’t showing up.  What happened to it?

The purpose of this post is to help plus-sized women find great jeans. My models were brave, enduring, open, and infinitely helpful in helping me understand their needs. Feel free to disagree with my conclusions or even mock me if you feel the need, but please do not insult my models. Any degrading comments will be deleted.

Why do you show so many butt views and so few front views?

For one, butts have always been my specialty.  Also, I focus more on the rear views of jeans because we all tend to focus on the front of pants because that’s what we can easily see. My assumption is that you know what to look for in the front, therefore, I tend to guide on the areas to which most may not pay as careful attention.

I’m your friend and I’m Plus-Sized.  Why didn’t you ask me to be a model?

I didn’t ask anyone – I only took volunteers.  It would only be completely awkward to walk up to you and say, “Hey – you’re plus sized!! Can I photograph your butt a few thousand times?”

How do you feel about Gap and Old Navy Jeans?

You can read my thoughts here.

What did you do while your models were trying on jeans?

Stooped to photograph their butts so much that my legs ached for days, ran back and forth getting new sizes and styles, and allowed them to pile their discarded jeans upon my lap so that I could make copious notes about each pair.

Jeans for Most of America: A detailed guide on buying great, flattering jeans for the plus-sized woman.

How can I get a private denim fitting with you?

Come to Birmingham, Alabama.  But email first – I don’t prefer stalkers.

What if I’m not Plus-Sized?  And/Or where can I find your other posts?

If you’re afraid you might have Long Butt, click here.
If you’re over 50 years old, click here.
If you want more specific tips and tricks to pick out the perfect jeans, click here.
If you are wearing Gap or Old Navy jeans, click here.
If you want a list of every post I’ve ever written about denim, click here.

You didn’t answer my question.  Now what?

Leave it below in the comments!  If you ask a question, I will answer within a few days.

Leave your comment below!

Comments

  1. 201
    K. F. says:

    Hello!

    I have been trying to do research on jeans ever since I came across your post. I am “plus-sized” (around 10-12), and you’ve written awesome stuff for those like me. At the end of one of your other jeans posts, I saw you said you were going to work on men’s jeans in an upcoming post, but then I couldn’t find it.

    My husband is about 6’3″, and pretty much all leg. he has…one pair of jeans, I think. He hasn’t worn them in years because 1) they have major grass stains on them, but 2) even if the grass stains came out, it would still look like he’d just got off the bus from the farm. We live in the city. He is not a farmer. This will not fly. By day, he’s in sales, and by night, we’re business people. He needs something in between slacks and sweats that won’t wear out as fast, but that he can dress up/down based on occasion; i know that as jeans, but he has no idea.

    basically, do you have any tips for shopping for men’s jeans, in terms of what to look for?

  2. 202
    nancy says:

    First off, I would LOVE to come to Birmingham for your help but that’s not in the cards.

    I’ve been devouring your blog advice. I’ve always struggled with finding a pair of jeans that I feel good in. I’ve not found a favorite. I just today received my first pair of Grace in L.A jeans. I love the bling on the pockets and hope they’ll look good on me. I actually accidentely bought them because I’d tried on a pair of L.A
    Idol and thought they were the same brand.

    I’m 46 and a mother of 3 boys. I’m overweight but recently lost 25 pounds so they were a present to myself. I wear a 15 in the LA Idol. A size 15 in the Grace In LA is a bit snug but I’m still losing and have a size 15 of LA Idol on the way.

    Aside from not knowing if they look ok on me, I wondered….. am I too old or too fat to be wearing blingy jeans?

  3. 203
    Jamie says:

    Just stumbled upon your post via a Pin. WOW! Thanks so much for such diligence-from yourself and your models! I appreciate you being thorough and trying to help with a difficulty subject.

  4. 204
    Taylor says:

    Where can I find Miss Chic and Code Denim jeans? I can’t find anything online about where to buy them. Maurice’s at least has Silver Suki but that’s all I can find. Please help, I need better jeans!

  5. 205
    Mary Beth says:

    How about jeans for talls. I am 5’10” and my daughter is 6’0″. We have a terrible time finding jeans. I have relied on Old Navy jeans because they came in longs but thought i was the only person they stretched out on. My daughter has found American Eagle in extra tall but she has wanted colored jeans like her friends. Please some advice for us tall girls.

  6. 206
    Lorena says:

    Use two mirrors to check your butt. Stand with your back facing one mirror and use another,hand held or whatever, and look into the mirror at your back to see your butt. Easy! Its what I do and works great.

  7. 207
    RobinG says:

    These posts on buying jeans are great! I noticed that they are several years old now. Do the same rules apply?

    Thanks!

    • 207.1

      Mostly! Styles are different of course, but I think the rules can be applied to the new styles. As long as you don’t go with the PURPOSEFUL Mom Jean Style. Ick! :-)

  8. 208
    Melanie Watson says:

    I live in Birmingham…how could I reach u to do a jean consultation if I dared to? I’m between sizes and although I’ve never considered myself plus sized I guess I would be in the fashion industry. Very tall and very curvy. Think Marilyn Monroe only taller. I hate shopping especially jeans cause nothing looks right. :(

    • 208.1

      I don’t really do too many jean consultations anymore – my schedule just doesn’t allow it. But I can recommend some stores around here to try, if you’d like. What size are you currently, and how tall are you?

  9. 209
    Kim says:

    I am a 24-26 teacher who is in of jeans that are not huge in the waist and tight in the hips. I am 5’4″ tall and love color or dark jeans. Can you please tell me how to get some jeans on a budget.

  10. 210
    Somer says:

    Thank you thank you thank you!!!

Trackbacks

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