Shopping for Denim and the Best Seventeen Article Ever


I can’t believe I found an image of this article, the greatest article ever published by Seventeen magazine, on the Google machine.
If you’re anything like me, finding a pair of accurately-fitting jeans is perhaps the most difficult quest in all of shopping- excepting those searches for items that somehow exist only in your head. And finding a pair of jeans that fits like the proverbial glove is something of a holy grail.

Until 7th grade, I think all of the jeans I owned and wore were hand-me-downs from my older cousin (Hi Megan!).  I have no idea how that worked, because we are not the same body type. When the last pair of flared/bootcut Mudd jeans was worn in past the point of no return, I had to jump into the breach. The breach being the denigrating and unrewarding process of shopping for denim.

I ended up finding I think two pairs of very stretchy dark wash flare jeans (I don’t remember the brand but I do remember that they were a size 6). As the hems got eaten away by the New England winter street salt over the next year or two, I started getting to clothes/consumerism/style/magazines. And that was how Seventeen made my life so much easier when it came time to purchase jeans again.

I think everyone has a different jeans struggle. Mine is the problem of my waist to hip ratio. Proportionally, I have a very delicate and thin waist (alternatively, an average waist coupled with generous child-bearing hips, Rubenesque thighs, and Shetland-pony reminiscent calves). I exaggerate, but with a 24-25/33-34 waist/hip ratio, finding jeans that feel secure on my waist but don’t constrict my legs takes a little doing.

Thanks to Seventeen, I spent the last few years of middle school and the first few years of high school wearing Hermosa Super Skinny jeans from PacSun.

Toward the end of high school I needed replacements- and due to a variety of circumstances (a limited range of cuts and washes, as well as my growing preference for second hand shopping) PacSun was no longer doing it for me.
So it was back to the drawing board to figure out my fit and size (which, because of anorexia-related weight fluctuations, had gone from the 6 of early middle school to to 0 of late middle school/early high school to my current size 2, where it’s currently holding steady). Here’s what I’ve got:

  • Frame, size 25: I love the feeling of Frame denim. It’s super comfortable and you can generally find a few reasonably priced pairs on eBay. I discovered a pair of cropped flares when I was in NYC a few weeks ago and then ordered a pair of Le Flare de Francoise in indigo and Le High Straight Leg jeans in white. In love with all of them.
  • Anthropologie Level 99, size 25: I bought a pair of dark blue Skinny Straights in a consignment store in late high school or early college and I’m still completely in love with them. They’re stretchy (I’ve even done ballroom practices in them) but don’t look or feel like sausage casing. I love them to the extent that I asked Mom to darn them after sitting on a nail ripped a tiny hole in the bum (Yale, fix your upholstery! It’s not like you don’t have the money!). When they eventually give up the ghost, I’m pretty confident I’ll be repurchasing.
  • 7 For All Mankind, size 25/26: 7FAM is on the edge for me. A size 25 fits my waist and fits a bit more tightly on my legs, while a size 26 is a bit looser on my waist with a more natural fit on the legs. I have a size 25 pair of cropped bootcut, where I really like the leg-focused silhouette, and a pair of size 26 Josefina skinny boyfriends, where the looser and more casual fit feels more appropriate. (And a lot better than the excess fabric of the size 6 Calvin Klein boyfriend jeans I had been wearing forever).
  • Paige, size 25: I owe Paige jeans to Lily’s mum, who gifted me a pair of cut off shorts. I cut them shorter and have proceeded to wear them all day every day for the past two summers. When I saw a pair of Paige jeans in perhaps my size in a consignment shop, I grabbed them to try on. And they fit like a dream, which is how I got my black Paige Verdugo Ultra Skinny jeans. Kind of rock star. (As rock star as I get 😛 )
  • Joe’s Jeans, size 26: This is a weirder one, because I don’t own a pair of Joe’s Jeans. But having tried them on, I can tell you that I am a size 26.

I’m pretty sure that’s all of the denim I won (or don’t own, as the case may be). I’ve been finding that when I want/need new (to me) jeans, it makes it so much easier to have a catalogue of what I know works for me. Then just so a little searching for the cut I want, limited buy these brands and sizes, and I’m good to go.

I do wish there were a more exhaustive and current version of that old Seventeen article. Or someone to say, “Oh, these jeans fit you well? Then try [insert brand here] in [insert size here].” Is there an app for that?

Or if brands would actually have sizing guides on their websites, so that I could compare. That would be helpful and user-friendly, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be a thing that most retailers do.

In terms of other denim, looking at that Seventeen fold out I’m suddenly wanting to try Levi’s, which I’ve never worn but should apparently fit me.

How do you handle denim shopping? Do you handle it or do you throw things after three pairs?


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