News, Culture & Society

Denim Special: We can ALL have good jeans 

We know buying jeans is a nightmare, which is why we tried on 1,000 styles and got six different-sized women to road-test the best. The result? A perfect pair for every shape, height and age…

From left to right: OLESYA, 29 The relaxed slim-fit Jeans (waist 34in), £55, JANE, 62,  The mom Jeans (size 8), £35, SABINE, 26 The slim-fit Jeans (waist 23in), £210, FELICITY, 31 The skinny Jeans (size 22), £24, ARIISH, 22 The straight crop Jeans (waist 31in), £90, DENE, 54 The loose-fit Jeans (waist 27in), £34.90,

Ariish 5ft 9in, waist 31in, hips 41in, leg 29in 

‘I look for styles that lift my bottom and show off my waist. I like a V-shape yolke [the area below the waistband and above your bottom] as it flatters my shape. The flared hem of these jeans contrasts with the tight fit on the thighs and waist, making my middle look smaller and my legs longer.’ 

– Back pockets that sit high and tilt slightly outward will lift your bottom. Avoid any       that sit below the curve of your bottom as these will flatten. 

–  Size is just a number – go with fit and feel. These size 16 jeans are perfect on Ariish    even though she’s usually a 14

– Don’ t underestimate the power of a bootleg – the flare balances wider hips

– A zip and button combo allows stretch around the tummy and firm support at the   waist 

– A wide leg is chic and, cut with a high waist, will elongate your figure.   

 Ariish’s Picks (Top right to bottom left) 

Skinny, £25.99,  High-rise straight, £180,  High-rise skinny, £210, Straight, £90, High-rise wide, £69, Girlfriend, £200, 

Jane 5ft 7in, waist 29in, hips 36in, leg 33in

‘I go for jeans with a high waist and a button-up fly. I also want ones that will last (I’ve got Levi’s that are 30 years old!) and are sustainably made. This pair is perfect – they are expensive but I can feel the quality, plus they hold me in in all the right places.’

 – For denim that lasts go for less elastic content. Also wash on a cold cycle, inside out and only when needed – not after each wear. Never tumble dry!

–  Jeans with a tie-belt are a great way of cinching in your waist and creating an A-line silhouette

– A statement turn-up will make your waist look smaller.  

– ‘Mom’ jeans – featuring a high waist and a tapered leg – create an hourglass shape

Jane’s Picks (Top right to bottom left)  

High-rise wide-leg, £265, Slim mid-rise, £29.99, High-rise slim-fit, £220, Mom, £19.99,

OLESYA ‘I’m tall. i need brands that size by leg and waist.’ Olesya wears high-rise straight jeans (waist 34in, leg 32in), £40, Bodysuit, £130, Group shot: jacket £40,

OLESYA ‘I’m tall. i need brands that size by leg and waist.’ Olesya wears high-rise straight jeans (waist 34in, leg 32in), £40, Bodysuit, £130, Group shot: jacket £40,

Olesya 5ft 11in, waist 34in, hips 45in, leg 31in

‘I like to celebrate my height, but I can be disappointed by “tall” ranges as they don’t always have enough choice. I prefer full-length rather than cropped styles as they make my legs look longer – for that reason I also like a high waist. These jeans tick both those boxes, plus the slightly tapered leg skims my curves without being too tight.’

– If you are tall try Weekday and Urban Outfitters – their jeans go up to a 35-inch leg – and also Topshop which goes up to 36 inches. All have separately-sized waists so you can find your perfect fit

– Boyfriend jeans have a slouchy relaced fit. This slimmer, more tapered version skims the curves without clinging.  

–  In jeans speak, straight doesn’t always mean straight – these taper in at the ankle and give a more shapely fit.  

Olesya’s Picks (top to bottom) 

Boyfriend jeans, £99, Straight jeans, £90, Slim jeans, £10,

Dene ‘I hate jeans that cling’. Dene wears wide-leg crop jeans (waist 29in), £155, Shirt, £40, Shoes, £50, Group shot: shirt, £89, Vest, £40,

Dene ‘I hate jeans that cling’. Dene wears wide-leg crop jeans (waist 29in), £155, Shirt, £40, Shoes, £50, Group shot: shirt, £89, Vest, £40,

DENE 5ft 8in, waist 29in, hips 39in, leg 31in 

‘For me, skinny jeans are a no-no – a cropped wide leg is my idea of chic. I’m in love with this pair: the snug waist and hips and full leg give me an hourglass shape.’

 – Straight and wide-leg styles have little or no elastic and are made with a more rigid denim, meaning they will last longer and keep their shape.  

– This style may look casual ( it works perfectly with trainers) but can be easily smartened up with block heels or sleek ankle boots (preferably with a pointed toe)

Dene’s Picks (Top right to bottom left) 

High rise straight, £80, Mom, £60, Boyfriend, £89, Wide leg, £85, Straight, £49.95, 

Sabine 5ft 4in, waist 24in, hips 35in, leg 31½in 

‘I live in skinny jeans and to get the right leg length for my height I shop in the petite ranges. I also size down to ensure they are a good fit on my waist. These jeans are the perfect skinny: enough stretch for a flattering fit but not so much give you end up with baggy knees.’

– Our top petite brands (catering for up to 5ft 3in ) include River Island, Topshop, Levi’s and Weekday

– A mid-rise waist will elongate a short torso but sit high enough to make your legs look longer

– A dark wash is not only slimming but a smarter option, too 

Sabine’s Picks (Top left to bottom right) 

Straight, £40, . Skinny, £13, Primark stores. Skinny mid rise, £95, Skinny, £240, Skinny mid rise, £95, High rise straight, £89,

Felicity ‘Supermarket brands are great for a fuller figure’. Felicity wears girlfriend jeans (size 20), £16, Top, £12 for three, and (group shot), shirt, £24,

Felicity ‘Supermarket brands are great for a fuller figure’. Felicity wears girlfriend jeans (size 20), £16, Top, £12 for three, and (group shot), shirt, £24,

Felicity 5ft 9in, waist 38in, hips 52in, leg 32in

‘Finding jeans that fit my waist and bum is a nightmare, plus the high-street’s  inconsistent sizing plays on your emotions. For me the supermarket brands are the most reliable with their sizing, which is why I chose this girlfriend pair from Tu at Sainsbury’s. They fit my waist well and the slightly looser style around the leg is  really flattering.’

– Girlfriend jeans are more feminine than the baggier boyfriend cut. Sitting tighter and higher on the hip, they feature a tapered straight leg

– If the waist gapes at the back, go down a size

– Bootcut styles that are slimmer at the knee even out thighs

Felicity’s Picks (Top left to bottom right)   

Skinny, £15, Wide leg, £32, Bootcut, £40, Straight, £25,

From dad to mom jeans, the YOU fashion team find their favourite styles

From dad to mom jeans, the YOU fashion team find their favourite styles

Stephanie Sofokleous – Fashion Assistant (far left)

Being 5ft 2in with a big bum and hips makes shopping for jeans a miserable experience – anything that fits those areas is too big around my waist, and anything that would fit my waist, I can’t get above my knees. Adding insult to injury is the huge disparity in sizing across brands, meaning that despite averaging at a size 14, I’m too big for some stores. Being on my own in a fashion cupboard full of jeans in all sizes was a unique experience, and one that taught me to focus on fit rather than the size on the label. Once I’d put that into practice, I found my perfect pair. These boyfriend jeans are just the right amount of snug around the waist and the straight-leg cut and hem detailing take attention away from my hips and tummy. They’re also a style that can be dressed up or down easily.

Boyfriend jeans, £265, T-shirt, £16.95, Shoes, £62,

 Joanne Toolan – Senior Fashion Assistant (second left)

My go-to style is a crop flare or straight leg with a high waist. I chose the dad jeans I’m wearing for their loose, more comfy look – my legs can breathe – and they still fit well giving me shape. My problem is that jeans with a zip that fit my waist often won’t go over my bum. So a button-up fly works best for me as it gives me a better fit at my waist. Topshop does a perfect button-up straight leg jean (with fabric on the buttons) and these dad jeans have that detail, too. Although buttons can sometimes be a bit fiddly, if you need the fit at the waist but more room for your hips, I couldn’t recommend this style enough. 

Dad jeans, £42, and T-shirt, £19,  Sandals, £55, Birkenstock,

Shelly Vella – Fashion Director (third left)  

Like most women, I find jeans a challenge to shop for. I have to be feeling good about myself and in a changing room with decent lighting, plenty of space and air-conditioning, otherwise I find myself leaving the store feeling hot, grumpy and full of self-loathing. I’ve also been the victim of erratic high-street sizing and walked out of stores because where normally I’m a 12, suddenly a 14 doesn’t fit. I love a vintage-style 70s cut and a flare as I don’t have long legs and I’m no skinny minnie. Trying on jeans for this denim special was quite the revelation – yes, it was a luxury walking into a fashion cupboard full of jeans but I ended up buying two of the pairs I tried simply because I got to put them on in a comfortable space with the right shoes and attitude. The bottom line is that a great pair of well-fitting jeans makes you feel amazing and are definitely worth the investment.

Wide-leg jeans, £180, Sandals, around £153,


Sophie Dearden – Senior Stylist (third right) 

My waist-to-thigh ratio is quite tricky when it comes to jeans as I have a smallish middle for my frame but larger legs. These River Island jeans fitted well on the waist and on the thigh and didn’t feel too stiff or clingy. The high waist and slightly  straighter ankle (as opposed to skinny) really elongated and complemented my shape. They were a reasonable price, too, and a really classic wash, which I find sometimes don’t go hand in hand. Another style I loved was the cropped kick-flare from the brand Boyish, as the way they fitted my legs and flicked out at the ankle was really flattering. They were more expensive but I think quality jeans are worth investing in as you wear them so much and they should last for ages.

Straight jeans, £40, Bodysuit, £12.99, Sandals, £49,

Lucy Coghlan – Bookings Director (second right) 

I chose these jeans as the high-waist and tapered leg of a mom fit is my preferred  style. I always size up on the waist for a more flattering fit around my stomach and hips and prefer thicker denims with a low elastic content. I often wear my moms cinchedwith a belt and always tuck my top in to make the most of the high-waist style. Length wise – it’s all about the sweet spot finishing just above the ankle. I am happy to roll up hems to get the length right for a more casual weekend look. 

Mom jeans, £130, T-shirt, £16.95, Shoes, £55,

Chloe Gallacher – Fashion Intern (far right) 

As I have a small waist but long legs, I buy jeans that work in inches rather than dress sizes. I don’t have a big budget so I have to stick to high-street brands, but  unfortunately a lot of stores don’t have much range within their sizes and if I try to find a pair of skinny jeans they often look quite baggy on me. However, this Mango pair were a star buy as they fitted both my waist and legs perfectly. They also came to just above my ankles, which is a struggle to find, and they actually fit how skinny jeans should.

Skinny jeans, £25.99, T-shirt, £35, Shoes,


YOUR DENIM DILEMMAS…and our genius solutions

 Q. I’m struggling to find smart, tailored cuts

A Stay away from light washes, rips and raw hems. Dark blue styles in straight or bootleg cuts can offer clean lines and look great with more formal tops and footwear. 

Q What are the best quality jeans for a budget of less than £30?

A A good pair needn’t break the bank. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality and range of styles on offer in supermarkets. Primark and Next denim is also highly rated.

Q I love to wear jeans that are a bit different. Give me some ideas!

A We think of jeans as a timeless wardrobe staple but details change from season to season. This autumn look out for tie-waists, statement piping, exaggerated turn-ups and side panelling.

 Q Which styles will draw attention away from my calves?

A Cropped flares are a great style for this. Available in a range of rises, they hug the waist and thigh then loosen from the knee down. If you’re not a fan of the flared look, Mom jeans will also work by tapering around the ankle but hanging loose around your calves.

Q After having surgery around my tummy area, I need a pair that will be comfy

A Denim waistbands can be tight or rub sensitive areas, so jeggings are a great alternative. A good pair can do a fantastic job of imitating jeans with maximum comfort. Look for designs with thick fabric and all the details you’d expect to find on a classic pair. We love the styles at M&S, Uniqlo, Boden, Dorothy Perkins, H&M and Gap.

Bottom jeggings, £24.99,

Bottom jeggings, £24.99,

 Q I’m a size 24 but it’s hard to find brands that cater for me 

A There are some great plus-size lines that don’t skimp on quality. River Island’s Plus goes up to size 28, Oasis’s Curve is up to size 26, Long Tall Sally has jeans up to size 24, Debenhams stocks up to a size 26 and Bon Prix goes up to size 28. 


Styling and shopping by Stephanie Sofokleous 

Fashion assistants: Chloe Gallacher, Mia Khan.

Make-up: Nicky Weir using Marc Jacobs Beauty.

Hair: Sven Bayerbach at Carol Hayes Management.

Models: Ariish, Felicity Hayward and Olesya at Milk; Dene at IMM; Sabine at Leni’s, and Jane S at Grey.

Production and casting: Lucy Coghlan