Boyfriend jeans are definitely an acquired taste. But they’ve been around for several years running and in the mainstream of fashion for most of those, so if you haven’t acquired the taste for them yet … it could be because they’re a bear to fit.
Women generally seek jeans that fit to their curves and show off their figures, so a style that hangs off the hips and slouches around the thighs can be off-putting. Especially if you’ve got hips and a defined waist – both of which boyfriend jeans tend to mask – or a tendency toward muffin-top.
But there is hope! If you love the look but have been struggling to find a pair that works for you, you’ll find tips below to help you figure out this boyfriend jean puzzle. Let’s dig in.
Try a Size Up
The current wisdom in denim buying is to purchase pairs that feel snug and let them loosen up. But this wisdom is based on the advent of stretch fabrics and assumes that new pairs will break in bigger and conform to your curves over time.
Boyfriend jeans, on the other hand, are meant to be baggy from the start, and also don’t ever conform to your curves. So if you buy them tight, they’ll be tight forever.
Instead, consider trying a size up from your regular jeans size. Especially if you’re buying premium denim or loving styles with nearly no stretch. This will backfire in some cases, as certain companies know that boyfriend jeans are meant to fit big and cut them accordingly – I bought my regular size and a size up from ASOS once and both pairs were large enough for someone nearly twice my size. But in many cases, a size larger than your typical will have just the right amount of casual looseness.
Pay Attention to Inseam
Boyfriend jeans are generally worn a bit cropped so you can show the curve of your ankle. This is strategic, since seeing that generally slim bit of your leg can visually offset the volume of the style. So make sure you’re buying an inseam that’s short enough, or one that’s close to being short enough that you can lop off and cuff. But don’t go thinking you can buy any inseam length and tailor at home with your scissors. Oh no. You need to …
Look for Styles That Taper
The key to a pair that looks modern and fresh is a tapered leg. There are certainly straight-leg boyfriend jeans out there, but although they look great on slender, curve-free figures they are tougher for curvy shapes. Tapered styles, however, look natural cuffed and create great proportions on both curvy and straight frames. And that inseam issue? Important here because the taper will start toward the finished hem of the jean. That means if you buy a 34″ inseam but generally wear a 30″ in real life, you can chop and cuff, but you’ll likely be chopping off the tapered portion at the bottom of the pant leg.
Stick to Minimal Distressing
I actually think boyfriend jeans look better distressed, but there are many pairs out there that look like they’ve had a run-in with an angry piece of farm machinery. Blown-out kneecaps are a standby and a few roughed-up patches or frayed hems will work. But especially if you’re self-conscious about your hips or legs, look for a pair that’s a relatively dark was and features a subtle amount of distressing. They’ll be more versatile, and you’ll be more comfortable styling them.
Oh, I hate saying this. As a thrift-shopping advocate, I want to encourage everyone to buy everything used. But in many cases, beat-up thrift store jeans just don’t capture the perfect combination of slouchy, tapered, and fitted that brand new boyfriend jeans achieve. Especially if you’re plus sized (try Torrid or Old Navy), petite (try LOFT or J.Crew), or tall (try Gap online or Eddie Bauer), you’ll have better luck buying from the mall.