The Best Jeans for Your Body

Trying to find the best jeans to fit your body type used to mean an exasperating tour of dressing rooms at the shopping mall. Thankfully, denim manufacturers are finally getting hip to our hips … and other body parts. Today, they’re designing jeans to flatter curvy figures, long torsos, petite proportions and everything in between. Major fashion brands such as Gap, Banana Republic and Victoria’s Secret offer petite and tall sizes. Online fit guides, such as Levi’s Curve ID, direct shoppers to the cuts most suited to distinct shapes.

The new attention to fit means that shoppers can select jeans not only by style, but also by inseam, rise and leg opening. There’s a lot to know, so here’s a handy guide to finding the right jeans for your figure.

If You’re Apple-shaped
You have a larger waist and upper body with slimmer hips and thighs.

  • Choose midrise jeans, ideally with 1-2 percent spandex to avoid muffin top and spillover.
  • Avoid pleats and gathers; a flat front minimizes the waist.
  • Select boot-cut or flared jeans to balance a heavier upper body, says Jill Roberts, owner of three eponymous boutiques in Southern California.
  • Don’t despair: Upcoming fall styles feature wider flare-leg jeans that are better proportioned for the apple shape, says Hollywood stylist Tod Hallman.

If You’re Pear-shaped
You have curvy hips, bottom and thighs; a defined waist; and proportionately narrower shoulders and bust.

  • Chose moderately low-rise jeans, preferably with a boot cut or slight flares to balance proportions, says Roberts. She suggests Rag & Bone’s fit for customers with the pear’s typically shorter torso.
  • Look for new stretch blends (Lucky Brand has a 4 percent spandex blend) and shape-enhancing engineered fits -- such as those from Not Your Daughter’s Jeans or Yummie Denim by Heather Thomson -- to help visually contour the hips and thighs and prevent gaps in the waistband.
  • Opt for dark washes; they’re more slimming than light hues.
  • Choose patch back pockets with simpler stitching designs.

If You’re Rectangular
You have a flatter rear, an undefined waist, and shoulders and hips that are in equal proportion to your bottom half.

  • Select a higher rise (10-12 inches) that sits at or above the waist and balances a long torso.
  • Try the skinny and pencil jeans from J Brand, which tend to fit the typically longer rise of the rectangular figure, says Hallman.
  • Trouser-style jeans that are fuller through the thighs and sit higher on the hips can add elegant shape to a rectangular figure.
  • To add a curvaceous boost to thin legs, look for washes that are lighter in the seat and along the front of the thighs.

If You’re Petite
You’re less than 5 feet 4 inches with a small overall frame.

  • Investigate brands that cut small sizes, such as 7 For All Mankind’s size 23 waist, and CURRENT/ELLIOT’s size 22 waist. True Religion, Gap, Levi’s and Not Your Daughter’s Jeans offer petite sizes that are specifically proportioned for shorter women.
  • Beware of back pockets with elaborate embroidery or flaps that can overwhelm petite figures.
  • Find a good tailor who can hem jeans that would otherwise drag or crumple on top of your foot, says Hallman.
  • Flaunt it! This spring’s colorful skinny jeans look great on petite physiques.
  • A final note of advice from Hallman: “No body type looks great in all jeans. When you find a brand that works for you, stick with it!”