It’s been a while–a long while–since I enjoyed wearing jeans. Nothing fit. Nothing looked any good. And then I met Sarah Barlow, owner of the Cedar Chest, in Wimberley, Texas.
I stumbled upon the store on a meandering weekend in the Hill Country. I wasn’t intending to to try on anything, let alone a pair of jeans, but I was seduced by Sarah’s extensive inventory. Maybe, I allowed myself to hope, there’s a style here for me . . .
Sarah was relentless. She kept draping the jeans over the try-on room door, and I kept telling her what was wrong with them. With each new bit of feedback, she honed in on what would work best. She finally convinced me to go a little tighter through the thigh, and I discovered Joe’s Jeans.
I love my Joe’s Jeans. Both the fancy sleek pair, and the wide-legged, schlep-around-town pair.
Sarah is nothing less than a magician. I cajoled her into revealing a few of her tricks.
Which brands are generally best for which body types?
We find that our customers age 18 to 35 can look really good in a 7 for All Mankind Jean or Citizens of Humanity. They are typically good for what we call the “booty” fit. We find these ladies have some difficulty with a very round, curvy figure that causes a gap at the back of the waist. These two brands take this into account and design the jeans for a nice fit.
Joe’s Jeans and David Kahn are great choices for the figure that needs a slightly higher rise and whose curves are not as pronounced. Still, these jeans are not meant to be worn all the way up to the waist.
The jean of choice for women who want a high-rise-to-the-waist is Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, also known as the Tummy Tuck Jeans. These jeans are perfect for the fuller-figured woman who wants a pair of jeans to be comfortable no matter what and still look good.
What are the most common mistakes we make when choosing jeans?
Number one, not buying your jeans tight enough. Premium denim fabrics have 2% stretch. Some, like like Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, have 4% stretch. So most of the time when your jeans fit just perfect when you try them on, that means they’re probably going to be one size bigger with about two hours of wear.
Number two, assuming that all jeans fit the same. Even within a single brand, the styles can be different. So always try them on.
Number three, trying to fit into a petite size to avoid a longer length and the need for hemming. There is a big difference between the overall fit of a regular versus a petite jean. Manufacturers now make jeans at a standard length to fit a person 5′ 9″ person. If you’re not that tall, then buy for the fit and plan to get the jeans hemmed.
How did you learn so much about jeans?
By ordering and testing more than 25 brands! We have fit enough customers now that we understand the fit of the jeans and what works for which body type. Typically, a customer will try on ten pairs of jeans before she finds the right one.
Any final tips?
Consider the weight of the fabric. The heavier fabrics are great for winter months but too hot for summer. Always look for a lighter wash in the spring, as well as lighter weight fabrics. Save the darker fabrics and colors for fall and winter.
Also consider the length of your torso. If you have a longer torso, look for “high rise” jeans. The high rise is not really that high–it will sit 1-inch below your normal waistline. If you have a short torso, then look for the “mid-rise” jeans.