I know I'm not the only one ecstatic to see denim return to the forefront of fashion--not that I ever abandoned my trusty blues to begin with. I'm not sure if it was my recent affinity (OK, borderline obsession) for trouser jeans (am currently living in my Paige Mulholland Drive pair), but something prompted me to embark on a retail excursion that rivaled swimsuit shopping in both pain and frustration; the only difference being that I was wrestling with ring-spun cotton instead of nylon. I am now officially off the wagon.
First off, let's just say that lucky for us denimphiles, there's a staggering number of lines from which to choose. In fact, one could grow quite dizzy from all of the options. Compound that with washes, stretch or no stretch, lengths and styles within each line, and becoming just dizzy would be generous. Always up for a spree, I grabbed one of my partners in crime (I needed a non-sales opinion and another body type for research) and set out to become one with denim. My research lasted several hours and led me to the Triangle's favorite retail spots, and finally, after numerous fits of laughter in several dressing rooms, I can honestly say that I am bringing you the real denim guide.
Here goes: My first stop was denim powerhouse Uniquities (425 Daniels St., Raleigh, 832-1234), which stocks over 1,000 pairs. Hard-to-find and highly sought-after designers such as Earnest Sewn and Farmers are among the mix. And, as if a plethora of hot denim wasn't enough, they're expanding and adding more. Shopping there will be an exercise in restraint.
For the long and lean crowd are the Laurel Canyons by Paige Premium Denim (Uniquities). This style has everything: inches of denim (34 to be exact), celebrities (Jen Aniston owns this exact style, and now so does StyleMaven) and a convenient back pocket for your plastic. And the fashionable genius behind this line (Paige Adams-Geller) was a fit model for just about every denim house there is. A flattering fit is pretty much ensured.
For the sophisticate, Joe's Socialite Jeans (Nordstrom, Southpoint Mall, Durham, 806-3700) are a no-brainer. There is some stretch in them, which makes this classic flare-leg fit a comfortable option. Those looking for a high or mid-rise, steer clear; the Socialites are a true low-rise style, good for those with curves.
Small waist and curves? Anywhere but the denim section, this pairing would be a gift. Girls looking to get rid of the aggravating gap in the back of the waistband should try Citizens of Humanity's Faye (I live for this style) jeans (Uniquities). Their tailored waistband, which sits pretty low on the hips, eliminates any chance for gapping. I have to say that it is my observation that these trouser-like jeans look good on just about everyone. Must be the slanted pockets.
And speaking of pockets, you really can't argue the power of the back pocket. It's the reason designer denim sky-rocketed in the first place. Well, that and there really is a difference in fit. So, if it's pocket detail you're after, True Religion doesn't disappoint. Or there's the ubiquitous Seven swoosh/swirl thing. For the curvy fashionista, Paper Denim and Cloth's Low 5 Flare is the perfect fit to accent your natural curves without spotlighting the ones we all want to hide. They sit low on the hips, which helps to redirect some of the attention, and the flare actually elongates the leg. The broken-in wash is super comfortable. PD&Cs are known for their long inseams, so shorter girls beware. I wouldn't recommend a hem job. Then there's the purist--you like your denim to fit a little looser, in the original boyish style. Seven For All Mankind's Boycut Stretch Jeans (Saks Fifth Avenue, Triangle Town Center, Raleigh, 792-9100) may just be what you've been after, therefore eliminating any reason for you to shop in the guys' department ever again. They're perfectly bootcut with a mid-rise, which means more coverage in the back (I can just hear the collective sighs of relief) and the end of the peep show.
The Levi's Premium City Boot-Cut is a new take on an old classic and is as chic as ever. Though I was slightly disappointed that I wasn't immediately transplanted into Melania Trump's body, they were flattering in all the necessary places (i.e. elongating, slimming through the hip) and would work on pretty much every body type.
For the fashionably conscious budget shopper (and who isn't?), The Gap stretch boot-cut jeans are the way to go. I've been sold on these since last year and they don't disappoint. They are a generous fit and we all know how forgiving stretch can be! To help alleviate some of our frustration, Gap has added new denim sizing--Curvy and Straight.
There are a few rules of engagement to maximize your effort and ensure finding a great-fitting pair of jeans. Always take several styles and sizes into the dressing room with you (no sense in going through all that trouble for one or even two pairs, and it's doubtful you'll score the pair on your first try). Beware of major clinging in unsightly places (i.e. behind the thigh) that results in sausagesque legs (a major denim don't). Contrary to your initial thoughts, denim does stretch and the jeans with "a little room to grow" will do just that. I'm also here to dispel the myth that you can hem your blues without incident. Not so, I'm afraid. You can do it, but people will notice and they'll never look quite right again.
And there you have it. A few tried-on-and-true suggestions straight from a real girl's mouth. Jean shopping can be a totally daunting task (and I hope I made a slight dent in it), but no wardrobe is truly complete without a few denim options.