The 7 Rules For Looking Great in Jeans

PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. All prices are accurate upon date of publish. You can learn more about the affiliate process here.

Let’s be real: Finding your ideal pair of jeans can feel like trying to find your soulmate 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 seven rules you should live by when finding, wearing and styling your denim.

The 6 Rules of Wearing Shorts in 2022

rules for looking great in jeans redone
Saks Fifth Avenue

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.)

Shop similar styles: Joe's ($178, $113); Mother ($258); Re/Done ($265)

rules for jeans express1

2. Follow The Law Of Proportions

Look, we think you’re perfect as is, but if there’s something about your body you’d like to draw attention to or away from, you can always play with proportions. If you don't love your thick thighs, reach for a bootcut pair that’ll elongate your figure. Self-conscious about wide hips? Go for straight or slightly flared 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 silhouette 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.

Shop similar styles: Denizen from Levi's ($30; $24); Express ($98); Agolde ($188)

rules for looking great in jeans everlane

3. Choose Pairs With A Little Stretch

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.

Shop similar styles: ASOS ($49); Good American ($119; $84); Everlane ($108)

rules for looking great in jeans multiple washes

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.

Shop similar styles: H&M ($30); Other Stories ($89); Levi’s Premium ($98)

rules for looking great in jeans jcrew1

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 indigo, charcoal or 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 those exact areas, which might not be your goal.

Shop similar styles: NYDJ ($99); J. Crew ($128); Pilcro ($138)

rules for looking great in jeans madewell heels

6. Add Heels…unless You're Wearing Skinnies

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 bootcut styles always look especially great with a heel. The one exception to the rule? Ankle-length skinnies typically look better with a flat or a boot.

Shop similar styles: GAP ($80; $47); Madewell ($128); Rag & Bone ($275; $192)

rules for looking great in jeans anthropologie

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. (Shout out to petite and plus-size jeans!) 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.

Shop similar styles: River Island ($84); Everlane ($108); Paige ($219)

Want to know which buzzy products are *really* worth buying? Sign up for our shopping newsletter to uncover our favorite finds.

purewow author
Dominique Hobdy

Senior Editor

From 2021-2021 Dominique Hobdy held the role of Senior Editor covering all things fashion, trends, sales and more.
read full bio

dana dickey
Dana Dickey

Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...
read full bio