Let’s be real: Finding your ideal pair of jeans can feel like trying to find your soul mate on a dating site—too many options and not enough quality picks. But just like in love, when you know what you’re looking for, it’s easier to find “the one”. Here, the rules you should live by when finding, wearing and styling your denim.

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Shopbop

Rule 1: Go For Thicker Materials and Heavy Stitching

When it comes to looking great in your jeans, finding a quality pair is half the battle. Look for heavy stitching around hems, pockets and side panels which indicate that seams won’t pull or split under stress. Also keep an eye out for heavier fabrics and well-constructed buttons and zippers, which are a sign that your baby blues will last and that they’ll fit you better. (Paper thin denim is often the first to bag around your crotch or knee area.)

Get The Look: Saks Fifth Avenue ($150), Shopbop ($258), Nordstrom ($215, $143)

Express

Rule 2: Follow the Law of Proportions

Look, we think you’re perfect as is, but there’s always a proportion game you can play if there’s something about your body you’d like to draw attention to, or away from. If your thick thighs make you cringe, reach for a boot-cut pair that’ll elongate your figure. Self-conscious about wide hips? Go for straight or slightly flare legs that’ll slim them down visually. On the shorter side? A fitted, cropped pair makes you look taller. Does your booty need a little lift? A high-waisted pair will give the illusion of just that. Bottom line: Think about the proportions you’re trying to achieve, and the cut or style that most quickly gets you there.

Get The Look: Urban Outfitters ($64), Revolve ($178), Express ($40)

Everlane

Rule 3: Get 2% Stretchy

Remember what we said about thicker materials? It’s still OK to get a little bit stretchy if you want a more form-fitting look that shows off your gorgeous curves. The one rule of thumb? Go for styles with no more than 2 percent of Lycra or Spandex to ensure they won’t break down in the wash…or be so tight they give you a visible panty line.

Get The Look: Everlane ($68), American Eagle ($30), ASOS ($27)

Levi's

Rule 4: Buy the Same Pair in Multiple Washes

If it works, it works. So don’t go nuts trying to search the globe for a praise-worthy pair when you’ve already found them. If there’s a specific brand and cut that suits you, get it in a few different washes and save yourself the stress! Stores like Levi’s offer the same cut in a plethora of hues, so you can take the guesswork off the table.

Get The Look: Levi’s ($79), Other Stories ($89), H&M ($30)

J.Crew

Rule 5: But When In Doubt, Go With a Darker Wash

When it comes to denim that delivers slimming effects, dark rinses are always going to save the day. Deep indigos, charcoals and black jeans instantly create a seamless look, and appear more professional to boot. On a related note, stay away from fading that only appears on the butt or thigh—this acts as a spotlight for that exact area, which might not be your goal.

Get The Look: Nordstrom ($129), Anthropologie ($128), J. Crew ($128)

Madewell

Rule 6: Add heels…Except in One Instance

Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, high heels always take things to a new (ahem) level. The right pair will not only elongate your legs, but help to punch up your entire look instantly. Cropped, wide leg and boot cut styles always look especially great with a heel. (Ankle length skinnies are better with a flat or a boot.) Top your outfit off with a structured button down or billowing top and you’re really in business.

Get The Look: Madewell ($128), GAP ($29), Nordstrom ($79)

Anthropologie

Rule 7: Tailor for Length, Not Fit

Enlisting an expert may seem like a big leap, but we promise the return is worth it. Your local tailor can make those too long but seriously flattering wide legs your new go-to. The one caveat? A good tailor can always help with length, but rarely with fit—meaning you should shop for something that fits through the hips and thighs, but don’t worry if it drags on the ground a little. One more tip: Bring whatever shoes you wear the most to the tailor with you. That way, he or she can adjust your jeans with them in mind.

Get The Look: ASOS ($46), Anthropologie ($128), Everlane ($78)

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