Dear Kathi,

It is difficult to find jeans that flatter or even simply fit properly. Do you have any rules or guidelines for finding the right jeans for a middle-aged woman with a fairly normal body shape? I am a size 8 regular.

Sophia > Carmel Valley


You are not alone in your quest. Jeans with the perfect fit are the hardest wardrobe item to find. It often takes trying on twenty to fifty pairs before you hit gold. It is well worth the chase once you discover the perfect fit.

Here is some jeans-fitting advice that works well for all ages and sizes.

To begin with, do not rely on size. Sizes are all over the chart right now. As a perfect 8, you could wear as small as a 4 or as large as a 12, depending on the manufacturer.

The perfect jean size will follow your natural body curves, flatter the spots that are not so perfect and highlight your positive body parts. ‘Skimming’ and ‘never clinging’.

Think about the lines you are creating around your body shape and don’t add dimension that emphasizes areas that you wish were smaller. This goes for slacks that are loose or baggy over your legs, as well as for extra embellishments on or around the hips, butt and belly.

Hip huggers should be reserved for those with super flat bellies and no unseemly bulges at their waistlines.

You do not want to sport bulges of any type, choose jeans that don’t cling to your rounder areas. If your waist bulges above the waistband, this is an indication that the jeans are either a bit tight or hitting you in the wrong place.

High waist jeans are not flattering for any body shape. Posteriors tend to look round and wide or flat and wide. These days, high waists are considered ‘mom’ jeans. Thank goodness they are also no longer in style.

Waistbands that hit at the largest part of your belly (generally right below the waist) will work wonders for controlling a belly bulge.

Patch pockets on the backside should only be worn by women who need to add dimension there, not by full or well-rounded women. The most flattering back pockets are small with little to no ornamentation. A back yoke with a strong ‘V’ will also make your bottom appear smaller.

If you need to balance out a large top half, consider wearing boot cut or flared legs. Many of my clients object to flares because they are too reminiscent of the old bell-bottom days. I say if the cut works for the lines on your particular body, go for it. It is truly all about the lines.

It is great that all shapes of pant legs are in style right now from peg legs, to straight, to boot cut, to full flares. The width of the leg style should complement your thighs. Peg legs will make your legs look shorter, bell bottoms will generally curve in and emphasize your thighs. Straight cut jeans are the most universally flattering. Flares and boot cuts will balance a larger upper torso.

Dark indigo jeans are the best choice. Choose a dark solid blue without the washed effect. You can dress up a pair of dark indigo jeans with a suit coat and fly out the door dressed and ready for most events, formal or informal.

If you like washed effect, make sure the light color is not over an area that you are trying to de-emphasize. Have fun shopping and eat your Wheaties before you head to the mall. Do not hesitate to pay a little more for the perfect jeans. You will wear them for years and wonder why you didn’t buy two when you finally found them. Thanks for writing and don’t hesitate to write with any other specific questions.

Please submit your questions to: [email protected]

San Diego Professional Organizer