Mystery of the Missing Jeans

Today’s post is from StyleBlueprint Memphis Editor Christian Owen:

The master sleuth stared pensively at the X on her calendar pinned to the wall of her small, yet chic office. Thirty-five years old, her tastefully highlighted ash-blonde hair and understated makeup, complete with lips in this year’s favorite nude color, send a message of style and efficiency. The day had come to assume her new identity. As a teenager, trendy behavior had landed her in the most fashion-forward of circles. But that X on the calendar was looming. All of the arrangements had been made—cropped tops eliminated, hemlines slightly lowered, and debatable tight clothing removed from her wardrobe. But the Mystery of the Missing Jeans, had yet to be solved.

The date for upgrading your wardrobe to age-appropriate status is not exact. What is certain, however, is that the time will come. For women in a professional role, this change in identity may even begin in the early 20s. Shape, composition and proportion are your key words, especially when it comes to the daunting task of selecting perfect jeans. Stylist Augusta Campbell’s advice for buying jeans is simple: “Try on as many different styles as possible to feel what’s right for you.”



Skinny versus Straight
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s sound advice that many people should “say no to spandex” is wise. But I believe it is more accurate to say no to too much spandex. A dash of spandex may be the key ingredient for making sure your pants are still the same size at noon as they were when you put them on that morning.

Skinny jeans, an extreme case of spandex, are not off-limits for ages 35 and up, but (and this should go without saying) make sure the top is really long. For most “mature” women, a straight leg style is the better choice. Continuing on the shaky ground of wearing skinny jeans, they are an ideal choice for tucking into your boots because, unlike other styles, they will not bunch at the knee. But reserve flats for straight jeans to avoid the inverted triangle shape from head-to-toe. Shapely women should avoid super tapered styles proportion-wise. Balance curves with jeans that feature a flat front and wider leg.

Checking in with our expert, Augusta points out that everyday jeans can be straight or skinny, but should also be comfortable and have a good stretch in them, while jeans for special occasions might be a little more fitted for a sophisticated, dramatic look.

Ladies who happen to be super skinny may want to wear a tight-fitting or pencil-leg jean for the illusion of a curvier shape, but proceed with caution and pair with the right coverage in a top. A good maxim to keep in mind here: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

(Click on images that follow for source information.)

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of two pairs from AG. The light gray on the left are skinny. The dark gray on the right are straight. You do the math, and proceed with caution if you go the skinny route if you’re +35.

If you have a pear-shaped dilemma, you have no doubt learned that a lower rise is flattering to shapely hips. But a good detective knows that she must look beneath the surface. Dig past the facade of endless low-rise styles to find the mid-rise. Also, a higher rise jean is a good choice for covering one potential nemesis, the muffin top.

The extreme low-rise styles really have no place in the post-teenager closet for many reasons. They are uncomfortable anyway, and you cannot sit anywhere in restaurants but in a booth. I know we have all been there before. Fool me once, shame on the person who sold me those jeans. Fool me twice, shame on me for even taking a low-rise jean into the dressing room.

Augusta agrees that women age 35 and up should avoid anything that is too low on the hips “because that’s just not comfy.”

This is a straight leg, mid-rise version from Joe’s Jeans called Icon. Good choice.


This is Dakota Fanning and the jeans she’s about to lose. Bad choice, even for an 18 year old. (Source: Huffington Post)

Boot and Trouser Cuts Cropped and Capri
Think streamlined. While petite women enjoy the same options as their taller friends, they may want to avoid too many stopping points from head to toe. Just as a person who interrupts the conversation is distracting, a jean that is cropped too short can disrupt the proportion of your figure. While the capri or cropped jean may fall under a current trend, be sure that you interpret that trend for your body type.

The most likely solution to this perfect-jeans caper: Choose a boot or trouser cut. These are one-style-fits-most sizes. A mid-rise with slight flare at the base will lend curve to a less shapely figure. Both of these styles are straight and form-fitting in the right places for a wide range of body types. But do not wear a tunic with a boot cut jean. This will cut you off twice and create a two-bell effect, making you look wider in two places.

Color and pattern may also influence your final decision. If you want a more slimming effect, always choose a darker rinse. Lots of fun denim trends continue to show colors, and there are more patterns for spring on the way with florals, polka dots and animal prints, Augusta adds.

This mid-rise, slim boot cut 818 jean from J Brand is touted as “the every woman jean.”

Joe’s have a style for every body type. Boot cut, straight, mid-rise, curvy, high-rise and more are available. All styles of Joe’s Jeans are made with a higher inseam and rise than other brands. 7 for all mankind Kimmie jeans are a good choice for ladies who are tall. J Brand and Vizcaino are two more good starting points for curvier ladies. Both offer styles with a higher waist. I have also had luck with a few versions by Paige.

Investigate the brand websites for an overview of the many cuts available from your favorite designers. Most jean companies have detailed descriptions of their newest styles according to multiple body types. Take these initial clues with you when it is time to shop, thus avoiding a confusing menagerie of stuff to try on in the dressing room. Better yet, seek out a store where the sales associates are knowledgeable and honest.

Thank you to the following experts for helping me solve the Mystery of the Missing Jeans:


And for Atlanta SB readers, one of your editor Katherine Snell’s favorite places to find a pair of jeans is Luna. They have a great selection of all different brands. And, if you are searching specifically for Joe’s Jeans, there is a Joe’s Jeans at Phipps.