No one knows this better than Alison Barnard. Her shop in-jean-ius opened in 2005 and has quickly become known as the place to buy jeans in Boston. With more than 30 denim designers at her fingertips, Alison Barnard always knows exactly which pair to fit to which customer. Her number one tip for jean shopping? “Know your body! Flaunt your assets and minimize your flaws. Don’t get caught up in trends or what looks good on a model or your best friend. Just because you like the way jeans look on someone else does not mean that they will suit your shape.”
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Pocket placement is everything.
“Pockets should sit in the center of your butt and be proportionate to the length, width and curve of your behind,” advises Barnard. “For example, you might have a flat butt, but also flat with wide hips. Therefore you need a larger pocket, perhaps a flap pocket to give more shape. The key is to make sure the pocket sits in the middle and is angled to give you the most ideal results!”
This is one reason why shopping in stores can trump shopping online as far as jeans go. Looking at an image on the computer might not give you the best information about where those pockets will fall on your particular body shape. This is also why it pays to bring an honest friend jean shopping with you. They can probably get the full backside view you can’t and can let you know how those pockets are enhancing your assets.
Find a tailor.
There’s nothing like a pair of custom fitted jeans. Of course, there is also nothing like the price tag on custom clothing either. Luckily, there is something in between that can give you a great fit at a palatable price. Yes, even jeans should be brought to your favorite tailor.
“Because we come in all shapes and sizes, it is hard for denim designers to get it right for everyone,” says Barnard. “The most common issue is length, but this is an easy fix. Before you bring your jeans to the tailor, be sure to wash them (jeans generally come up about 1/4″ after the first wash). A lot of women get gaps in the waist band on the jeans. A belt is a quick fix, but a better option is having the tailor take in the waist. This will not alter the look of your jeans and you will be so much happier with the fit.”
Buy them tight.
Protest all you want. You think you’re not young enough, skinny enough or daring enough for tight jeans. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy them that way.
“You will thank me later,” Barnard goes on to explain. “Jeans with any stretch fabric will stretch a full size. Try on one size up and this is what your jeans will stretch out to fit like. I recommend buying them tight because there is nothing worse than extra fabric in the derriere!”
Ask for help.
“At in-jean-ius, we aim to make it a pain-free, seamless jean shopping experience,” says Barnard. “The sales staff knows the inventory and the fits and is there to guide you through the process. Sometimes you have try 10+ pairs to find the right fit. Don’t get discouraged, just keep trying and ASK for help.”
The sales staff at any store knows its product and can give you great advice as to fit, wear and durability of the jeans in stock. There’s no shame in asking for help from the experts. People who fit jeans know the ins and outs of body types and styles and can help you from trying on a lot of products that they know won’t do anything for you.
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Protect your purchase.
Once you find that perfect pair of denim, get them hemmed and perfectly tailored. Make sure you do everything you can to extend the life of the jeans.
“There are experts who recommend extreme techniques to ensure the life of your denim,” advises Barnard “I, for one, think you should keep it simple. Do not wash your jeans after every wear, but you certainly don’t have to wait six months (the person sitting next to you will be thankful). Wash them inside out in cold water with a liquid detergent safe for darks and hang dry. You can use the dryer on low, but know that it will shorten the life of your jeans by breaking down the denim and stretch fibers.”
She goes on to add, “when shimmying into your jeans, do not pull them up by the belt loops as they are prone to ripping. Instead grip the waistband as you pull up.”
Renee Mallett is the author of several books about art, culture, and New England. She was the owner and director of an art gallery and has written about arts and entertainment on a national level for several print and online journals. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.