Women's Style Inspiration  / Denim & Jeans  / Women’s Jeans: Everything You Need to Know About Styles and Fit

Women’s Jeans: Everything You Need to Know About Styles and Fit

From measuring yourself to finally knowing which back pockets look best.

A women trying on a pair of dark denim jeans
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We can't remember a week—or heck, a day—that went by where we didn't reach for a trusty pair of jeans. They're versatile, sure, but they're also probably the most mood-boosting thing in your wardrobe. When they fit well, you feel good. Like, really good. Like, post a cute selfie that you definitely won't delete later good.

So in the interest of everyone's Instagram feeds, we're sharing everything you need to know about finding picture-perfect denim, from fit and color to which cuts are best for your figure.

4 Tricks to Finding Your Perfect Fit

Whether you're shopping online or in-store, finding jeans that accentuate your figure is easier said than done. Here's how to button (or zip) yourself into your best pair ever:

1. Know your hip and waist sizes in inches

Grab some measuring tape, strip down to your undies, and record those numbers. Your waist is the narrowest part of your torso, located above your navel and below your rib cage. Conversely, your hips are the fullest part of your bottom, generally in line with the base of your fly. By having these in inches, you can convert across any brand, whether they measure in standard sizes (4, 6, 8) or trouser sizes (29, 30, 31). Which brings us to our next point...

2. Check the size chart

We can't stress this one enough: Do not take sizes at face value. One brand's 30 may be another brand's 29 or 31—which means it may not even measure out to 30 inches. Always check a brand's specific size chart to compare it with your measurements.

3. Measure your favorite jeans

Take a pair that fits you perfectly and lay them out on a hard, flat surface like an ironing board or countertop.

For the waist: Button and/or zip your jeans, then measure the waistband's circumference starting at a side seam.

For the hips: Measure flat across the base of your fly, then double that number.

Inseam: Starting at the base of the crotch, measure along the inner seam down to the edge of the hem.

Leg opening: Measure the opening's circumference at the hem, starting at a side seam. This one's optional depending on what style you're shopping for—the opening of your favorite skinny jeans wouldn't be relevant if you're shopping for straight- or wide-leg jeans, for instance.

4. Order multiple sizes

If you're still feeling unsure, order two or more sizes for comparison—but make sure you're familiar with the brand's return policy beforehand. Nordstrom Trunk Club stylists can curate an entire Trunk of jeans in multiple styles and sizes to help you find the right fit, cut, and brand.

Rises

This is the distance from mid-crotch to the top of the waistband. It's important because it either accentuates your actual waistline or creates a new one, thereby defining your overall proportions.

Women low rise denim jeans in a dark wash

Low
This hip-hugging style typically sits at least three inches below your navel. They're great for those with shorter torsos and/or longer legs who want to create more balanced proportions.

Distressed medium rise denim jeans

Mid
Also called a regular rise, it rests between the navel and hips and is universally flattering on all figures.

High rise denim jeans in a white wash

High
Sitting at or above the natural waist, high-rise jeans are great for tummy control, as well as for faking or showing off longer legs.

Cuts

There are countless jean fits, and each one has a unique effect on your proportions and body type.

Black skinny jeans

Skinny
This curve-hugging staple of the last decade-plus flatters nearly every figure. Look for fabrics that have some stretch to ensure they move with you and don't sag out.

Black straigh leg jeans

Straight
Comfy and laid back, straight-leg jeans have clean lines that show off rectangle frames, a fuller cut that balances inverted triangles, and roomy hips that flatter hourglass and pear shapes.

Boyfriend cut denim jeans

Boyfriend
This more relaxed style is usually a bit slouchier than straight-leg jeans, generally in a low- to mid-rise with cuffed hems. Comfy for days, and flattering for most.

Women's bootcut jeans in dark denim

Bootcut
Bootcut jeans have a subtly flared hem that look great with—you guessed it—booties. This fit balances out the fuller figures of apple and pear silhouettes.

Flar jeans for women in a dark wash

Flare
This boho style is still as classic as ever, as they create great balance for hourglass, rectangle, and inverted triangle frames.

Wide-leg jeans

Wide-Leg
This dramatic style adds volume to the lower half, which makes them great for the straighter legs of rectangle or inverted-triangle frames. In a cropped style, they can also visually lengthen the leg line of a petite figure.  

Washes

The finish on your denim can do just about anything, from elevating a look for work to accentuating your specific body shape. Here are the different types of washes:

White women's jeans

White
Contrary to popular belief, they aren't just for the summer. Opt for an all-white look to maximize style impact, or to experiment with cool patterns and prints any time of year.

Acid wash jeans

Acid
This finish involves adding sponges or pumice stones soaked in a chlorine solution to the washing process. It's trending recently as part of the '80s resurgence.

Light wash denim jeans

Light
This finish is achieved by a longer washing process than a mid wash, and lends a casual vibe. Reserve your light denim for the weekend and the warmer months.

Denim jeans in a medium wash

Medium
The true classic. Although they go with anything, we particularly love them for anchoring a denim-on-denim look with a light-wash top.

Jeans in a dark wash

Dark
The least processed denim, dark-wash jeans are versatile and have a smoothing effect. Be sure to wash the jeans by themselves a few times to prevent dye transfer.

Black wash denim jeans

Black
Classic and sleek. Always wash them inside-out in cold water with dark garments on a gentle cycle to keep their color from fading.


Fabric blends

Not all denim is created equal. Blending different fibers into cotton affects your jeans' lifespan and durability—and determines how comfortable they'll be.

Denim Fabric: Jeans contain spandex or lycra

Elastane
Also known as Spandex or Lycra, this material allows for a comfortable fit and greater range of movement. This is especially ideal for skinny and slim jeans.

Denim Jean Fabric: Polyester

Polyester
This synthetic is strong, wrinkle-resistant, and recovers well. When blended with cotton and elastane, the result is denim that's durable and feels soft against the skin.

Denim Jean Fabric: Rayon

Rayon or Nylon
The former is also known as viscose, while the matter may also be listed as polyamide. They both help with abrasion resistance and softness.

Tip: Stretch materials blended with cotton yields denim that's flexible and contours the body. One to four percent is the sweet spot—your jeans will not only have some give, but will spring back into shape after wearing them all day.

Hems

A unique hem puts a fresh spin on an otherwise basic pair of jeans to take your look up a notch.

Women's distressed denim jeans

Distressed
From raw wisps to destroyed seams, these give an ultra lived-in feel. Elevate this style with pointed-toe boots.

Women's cropped jeans

Cropped
Perfect for an off-duty look. Look for a pair that hits 1–2" above your ankle so they don’t look too short.

Light wash jeans with cuffed legs

Cuffed
Casual, cool, and relaxed. Wear them to show off anything from sneakers to strappy sandals to ankle booties.

Embellishments

The detailing on your jeans gives them a finished look and can even have an accentuating effect.

Black jeans with floral embroidery

Embroidery
Decorative stitching adds distinction to denim. Incorporate beads or faux pearls, and your jeans instantly become a statement piece.

Jeans with topstitiching

Topstitching
Typically seen in a golden yellow or tonal color, this continuous stitching adds interest to your jeans and reinforces seams.

Jeans with tuxedo stripes

Tuxedo stripes
Inspired by formalwear, jeans with grosgrain or colorful tuxedo stripes update the wardrobe classic with a refined appeal.