Plus size jeans shopping is a tricky thing… this is one of the most challenging and scariest things to shop for. Constantly topping the polls, charts, and reports, denim is the hardest thing to shop for! Coming up second to only bathing suits, they are the most frustrating and scariest things to shop for regardless of size!
Many times, you will find yourself shopping 10-20 pairs of jeans that never fit quite right and it is pure insanity! Where do you begin? Which plus size designers do you check for? What cuts are on trend?
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There is hope and there are designers and retailers who have it locked on the denim market. It all depends on your personal style, budget, and looks desired!
Looking for a high rise? Care for a specific wash? Want fashion forward cuts? Looking for denim that won’t sag?
However, equipping yourself with the right tools when shopping will only ease the angst and at times instill confidence, allowing you to feel more confident in shopping your shape and personal style!
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No Worries! I am here to help. Keep on reading for all of your denim needs…
Your Plus Size Jeans Guide
Let’s first start with the anatomy of the Jean:
- ACTUAL WAIST – As the labeled waist size usually differs from the actual size. This will give you the idea of general sizing.
- INSEAM – This is the distance from the crotch to the bottom of the leg at the inside.
- OUTSEAM – This measurement is the measurement from the bottom of the leg to the waistband.
- LEG OPENING – This is the base measurement from one side of the leg to the other. This measurement can give an idea of tapering, the literal opening, or the style differentiator of style.
- FRONT RISE – How low do you want your jeans to sit? This is a measurement from the top of the waistband, to the crossing seams at the crotch.
- BACK RISE – Want to know how covered your bum will be? This is the measurement from the top of the waistband at the back, straight down to the crossing seams at the crotch.
Cuts of Plus Size Jeans
Denim featured here from Embody Denim
Learn the different shaped of denim. Overall, there are generally five styles, with variances to those, depending on what is trending at the moment. They are:
Boot Cut– this universal cut skims the thigh, with a slight opening, breaking at the knee
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Skinny– this fashion forward denim skims the thigh, and remains fitted through the calf and ankle
Straight Leg- Similar to a boot cut and a skinny, this style is wider than a skinny leg opening and relaxed yet not as flared as a boot cut.
Wide leg– oftentimes referred to as a trouser jean, this denim is fitted at the waist and through the seat, and starts to flare at the top of your thigh, and continues to flare throughout
Flare leg– this denim usually is extremely fitted through the thigh and significantly flared out, more so than a boot cut.
This refers to where the denim hits on your waist. This is the length of the fabric from the crotch seam to the top of the waistband. Knowing the rise of your plus size jeans will help deter plumbers crack or muffin top, can elongate the legs, and enhance the rear.
High Rise– At over eleven inches these jeans traditionally cover the belly button. You will find this at or above the waistline.
Natural Rise– Regular rise jeans sit between nine to eleven inches. The waistband sits right at or below the belly button.
Low Rise– Can vary around eight inches, but vary an inch up or down. Expect this jean to sit around two-three inches below the belly button.
Super Low Rise– No more than a seven inch rise and varies from there. The rise can go as low as three inches above the crotch
The wash of denim refers to the texture and color of the jeans, affecting the look of them. Washes can affect the wear, fabrication, and lifespan of the denim, in addition to completing an overall look. My Textile Notes shares the four main processes in the Denim washing process:
- Stone or Enzyme Wash- To adjust the surface effect
- Bleaching- To adjust the color
- Finishing- To adjust the hand and feel of the garment
Here are the basic washes as shared by Sears:
Spandex and Lycra
The magic of plus size denim and its ability to hug to your curves is the blending of both Spandex and Lycra. The use of either one of these is what gives the denim its stretch.
- The optimal level of spandex should range 1 to 4 percent
- 100% cotton denim takes less time to wear in than stretch denim
- The higher the percentage of spandex or Lycra, the more likely the denim will lose its shape
- Regular denim lasts much longer as the elastic fibers are more prone to breakage
Plus Size Denim Designers and Brands Selling IT!
- Addition Elle
- Ashley Stewart
- AVA + VIV
- Embody Denim
- Jag Jeans
- James Jeans
- Lane Bryant
- Lucky Brand Jeans
- Not Your Daughter’s Jeans
- Silver Jeans
- Simply Be
There are more than a few plus size denim options to play in. Knowing these elements will hopefully help you make a confident choice with your plus size jeans!
Did I miss anything? Does this help you? Let me know!!!
I have a few pairs of PZI Jeans which are my favorites, by far. Big selection, usually a sale going on, and their curvy style really does come back in at my waist – no gaps!
They are great, but they stop at an 18, and I didnt think it would be right to share… 🙂 But yes, they are amazing!
very handy…though the “whisker wash” name makes me giggle. 🙂 xoxo
Heheheh I completely understand!
Svobodas are a fav of mine, makes the tushy look awesome.
I want them to come back… 🙁
I never got a chance to try them =(
Jeans are the bane of my existence! I always feel like I have to compromise in at least one area!
I wanted to add that Lands End makes the perfect jeans for me, but their regular length fit my short body perfectly, so taller curvy fashionistas might not fare as well.
I do have a pair of chinos from them… you know you are onto something here… I will have to check this out.
I have two major problems: 1. Inseam never seems to reach my crotch. and 2. If it does my jeans seem to fit too loose… Jeans are a horror story for me. Buying them too tight with not enough spandex and lycra means that I’m going to have a super muffin top and buying them with tons of stretch means that by the end of the day, I’m going to be pulling them up every couple of seconds. =(
Make sure you check out the spandex content and the cut! Different designers cut based on different silhouettes, it may take a little bit, but you will find one. 🙂
I love NYDJs!
I cannot more highly recommend Eddie Bauer Outlet curvy jeans. It’s literally the only kind of jeans I own. For some reason it’s only the jeans at the outlet stores– love them.
I would have never thought of it! Thank you for the tip!
LA Idol jeans have become my favorite, no saggy butt and the legs are a little slimmer and long enough for heels 🙂
NICE!!! I will have to check them out!
As a size 14 (sometimes, and only in pants), 5’2″ girl with a waist over 10 inches smaller than my hips, jeans shopping is almost always a horrible and depressing experience, especially since I love skinny jeans but hemming them takes away the entire effect around the ankles. Any suggestions on *petite* plus size jeans that actually fit a tapered waist?
I get all my best fitting jeans from Old Navy — I usually wear the Sweetheart style, and they go up to a lot of sizes too.
Cookie Johnson jeans are fantastic! My faves thus far.
All I want are some old fashioned, straight legged and high waisted stonewashed jeans with that great solid denim fabric that has real heft. I’m VERY short (under 4’11) with a 20-22W size range. I thought I had found the perfect solution in the Land’s End “Fit 3” jean they carried, but of course, they discontinued it. I cannot STAND the fabric stores like Lane Bryant and Torrid carry–they’re cheap, thin, and offer absolutely no support. I have the same issue with spandex/lyrcra kind of fabrics. Can anyone recommend a brand that will actually hold up to wear and washings and are made along traditional lines that you can still find in regular sizes (Levis, Lees, etc.)? So far, other than the old Land’s End pair that is now dying a slow death, pockmarked as it is with multiple wear holes, I have been really unhappy with what I’ve found. Thanks so much for the help!
Have you happened to find any good ones?? Apparently we are the exact same size and I feel your pain lol. I think fashion bug had the best jeans and now they are out of business. I have had to resort to buying everyone else’s new jeans they didn’t wear in EBAY lol
I am in the same boat as you and apparently we are the same exact size. I was wondering if you’ve had any luck with the jeans??
So I got a pair of Se7en brand jeans at Lane Bryant that i adore! Honestly the best jeans I’ve bought in years. Somewhat pricey but worth it, plus I only bought them because the entire store was 50% off and it didnt hurt my wallet too badly! Now that I have discovered this brand in my size i dont want any other brand lol!
I really like Se7en plus size jeans too!
Try L.A.Idol jeans…SUPER cute and cheap, but you have to buy them online unless you can find a boutique that sells them by you (gliks.com is one of the least expensive, plus sizes are 15-21) I have a problem with jeans being too tight in the waist therefore unflattering my lower tummy area…and these jeans are perfect! And really cute too with all sorts of fun blinged out back pocket designs if you’re into that sort of Jean 🙂
TOO expensive. Where are the jeans for working women who can’t plop down $50+ per pair?
My problem is that I am plus size but I’m not really curvy. I’m bigger in the stomache, straight through the hip with not much booty. I think girls like me get left out, even in the plus size world. Can anyone recommend a brand or company that makes clothes that would fit me?
I have a similar shape to you. In a thrift shop I found Lee Comfort Waistband. The waist is bias cut and has an inside FLAT elastic. They look normal. I love these jeans. Now I have to find out if they are still being made. I think the model # . is 307-1782.
I’ve been in 12 stores in the past three weeks at least looking for jeans. I’ve tried on more than 50 pairs. I still have no jeans. I live on the country as a stay at home mom who spends her days push mowing grass, driving kids place to place, volunteering everywhere, etc. I just need a pair of jeans that do not stretch!!! I refuse to buy online because after trying on 50 pairs, I just know they won’t fit! I’m about an 18. Though I have capris that are 15s, and shorts that are 20’s. Every store -same thing- you get to the size 18’s on the rack and it magically changes from tons of jeans to each section, to one pair of dress pants and 3 pairs of sweat pants. No joke. Every store! You walk over to the plus size and find super stretch, skinny jeans. They are either navy or black. No offense to anyone but alot of big girls look horrible in skinny jeans and stretchy jeans. I’m one of them. I’m tired of leaving the store on a rage. Fat people need clothes, too. We don’t only wear sweat pants or black dress pants!!! Where can I walk in a store and buy non stretchy, non skinny, non ripped up, non black, non navy, plain regular jeans!?!? O and when I do find a pair (that I’ve settled on) I’ll buy 2. I get home and even though both are the same size, style, cut, and color, ones not going to fit. And the pair that does will have some kinda of “mistake” in them. It literally has happened the last 4 times. The last time there was a weird swirly line in a deeper blue that showed up after the first wash that ran from the thigh to the knee on one leg. (Thanks maurices)
Julie, I feel your pain! I’m way past caring about looking hot or sexy in jeans, I want to be COMFORTABLE. I don’t need my jeans suctioned onto my thighs, I like clothes that are loose and easy to move around in. I wore cheap Walmart jeans for years, but I think they’ve started importing everything from Taiwan or something, because the fit on everything is suddenly awful, even when I buy the exact same brand and style. Legs are too tight, crotches are sagging… I can’t even picture the shape of the woman they base these pants on. How I miss having a go-to, comfortable, easy fit pair of jeans. I’m still trying to wear out the jeans I have from years ago, but they’re about to sport holes soon, I’ve worn them so much.
Who makes the jeans in the picture?? I simply love them!
My absolute faves are Nine West jeans I purchased about two years ago. The denim is the perfect combination of comfort and style. I wish I can find another pair.
Thanks for the guide.