The 5 Helpful Tips to Know When Shopping for Plus Size Jeans.
Plus Size Jeans are that one closet staple that transcends time and trends.
But plus jeans are also one of the hardest pieces for women to shop for.
Not only do we all carry weight in different places, but sizing is so inconsistent across brands that it’s a challenge to find that perfect denim fit.
Plus jeans are sized differently than straight-sized denim, where the size is basically your waist measurement. With plus-size apparel, jeans are sized by your clothing size and not your waist. So a size 28 in straight sizes and in plus sizes are VERY different.
While some of us are on a budget and want to score some jeans on the cheap, denim should be considered an investment piece, especially if you find that pair that fits like a glove.
Here’s why jeans should be regarded as an investment item… If you wear jeans regularly, you are going to get tons of wear from a pair. Typically, a pair of jeans should last at least five years. So it’s truly worth paying a little extra to keep your jeans around longer.
If you’re still perplexed on shopping for plus size jeans, here are 5 key tips to help you shop with ease:
Tip #1: Know your inseam and rise measurements.
Knowing your inseam and rise measurements will make a huge difference in overall fit and comfort when trying to find an amazing pair of plus size jeans.
The inseam, which is the measured length between your crotch and ankle, will not only ensure that the length of your jeans are perfect but will also help in that dreaded “camel toe” situation.
Your rise measurement simply is where you would like your jeans to sit on your waist. For those who like to wear their jeans high (like myself), if you end up pulling your jeans higher, that means the rise is too short.
The opposite happens when the rise is too high and you want to wear your jeans lower (around your belly button). You will then end up with a baggy crotch area.
And that’s not a good look.
Your inseam and rise work together to ensure that your crotch and butt area look amazing while your inseam also makes sure your leg length is perfect.
The shocker is that height and body type do not determine these measurements at all. Some women have long torsos and short legs and others vice versa.
Two people can be the same height and size but have different length legs and rise.
Those with a hanging belly will have a different rise measurement than those with a flat tummy. Also, it’s up to you to decide where you want your jeans to sit at (high, low or at your natural waist).
This is where you get your tape measure out and start measuring!
Special note: You can buy a 100-inch tape measure at Michael’s for around $2. Just check the sewing section. Standard tape measures only go up to 50/60 inches.
The easiest way to measure your inseam and rise is to get the best fitting pair of plus size jeans you love, lay them out on a table, bed or floor, and measure them first from the crotch to your ankle (your inseam) and then from the crotch area up to where you’d like them to sit at (above or below your belly button).
Typically, a 32 to 34-inch inseam is usually ideal for longer legs. If your legs are an average length, a 30-inch inseam fits most and can be cuffed if it’s too long for your liking. A 27-inch “crop” inseam works best for those who are petite or have short legs. They’re also great for average and tall leg lengths, if you want to show off a little ankle.
Therefore, if you have a long torso and short legs, you may have to wear petite inseam length and just choose your desired rise accordingly.
With rises, mid-rise is usually the most popular chosen. It’s typically at least eight inches and provides more coverage because it hits higher on the waist. If you want to avoid having a “muffin top”, a higher rise will help.
Don’t try to size up if the rise is too low. That will affect the overall fit. Instead, look for a different style that fits your body and comfort level with a higher rise.
This is where trial and error comes in. It’s important to try on jeans and see which brands, styles and rises work for you.
Tip #2: Know your waist and hip measurements, as well as other key areas.
Inseam and rise are just the beginning of your denim fit journey.
Waist and hip are also important measurements to know but with plus size women, some of us have wider calves and ankles as well, so calf and ankle circumference measurements are also useful to have. Always measure around the widest part of your calves.
Once you know those key measurements, take a look at a jean’s size chart and shop by your measurements, not size. Remember, a size is just a number on a tag and does not define you or the beauty of your body.
For instance, I wear a size 28 in Lane Bryant plus size jeans, a 26 in Eloquii and a 24 in Catherines. I recently tried NYDJ’s jeans and found that the 26W fit me best.
When you focus more on shopping by your measurements versus your size, you will see how much easier it is to shop for your body.
Tip #3: Get familiar with different cuts/styles and which one works for your body.
Now that you know what inseam, rise and size you are in a particular brand, it’s time to choose which style of plus size jeans you’d like. It’s definitely not just a preference, but also what style enhances your shape and makes you feel great.
For many years, I wore straight leg jeans but realized that they did nothing for my curvy legs. They were always very long in terms of length and baggy in the calves. I thought a skinny jean would not look good on my short, thick legs but I was so wrong!
It looked much better than I thought! I also love how the boyfriend style offers more room in the hips with a slight baggy fit while still showing off my curves.
There’s also super skinny, trouser (which is very office-friendly), boot cut, flare and jeggings, to name a few.
Many websites and stores also offer sections dedicated to different styles, informing you of the style’s silhouette. Again, this is where trying a few different silhouettes will help you in seeing which plus size jeans work for you.
Stitch Fix does a great job explaining the different styles and fits here.
Tip #4: It’s all in the details.
With the plus-size apparel industry growing, many brands have now incorporated little details within their jeans to accommodate different body shapes and “issues”.
The #1 issue that many women encounter with jeans and bottoms, in general, is that dreaded gap at the back of the waist. Not only does it leave you exposed but most times, you have to wear a belt to keep your pants up! This happens when you have wider hips and butt, smaller than your waist.
Elastic waist plus size jeans may not sound stylish but a little side elastic can do wonders in getting rid of that back gap.
Good American uses a four-piece gap-proof waistband that contours to the body, which eliminates the back gap. And we hear it also lifts the booty, too!
Tip #5: Read labels/descriptions for fabric content.
Ever notice some plus size jeans have more stretch than others?
This is why it’s important to check fabric content to determine not only the stretch factor but also the recovery. Stretch fibers in most skinny jeans tend to not recover back to its original state and will end up getting baggy with wear.
It’s particularly important to check the amount of Elastane/Spandex/Lycra that a pair of jeans has, as it will dictate the stretch in the fit.
Super stretch is usually the most comfortable as it has the highest amount of stretch but it might not hold its structure over time. Comfort-stretch has some structure and will not stretch out as quickly.
A great pair of jeans should have great recovery after one wear, relaxing back to its original shape.
Also, opt to line dry your jeans versus putting them in the dryer. A hot dryer cycle will break down fabric fibers and affect the recovery of the stretch.
Most jeans have 98% cotton and 2% Elastane but will still stretch out and get baggy. However, a jean that has a Cotton/Polyester blend with 2% Spandex, Lycra or Elastane will retain its shape much better than just a Cotton/Elastane fabrication.
Just keep in mind, jeans that have this fabric combo are not always going to be cheap. There are some jeans under $50 that do have this tri-blend of fabric, such as Old Navy, Levi’s and American Eagle. However, jeans are an investment piece that’s worth the money, if you know you will wear them often over time.