A Stylist's Best Tips For Finding And Caring For Your Dream Denim

It's time to relearn the denim essentials.

1.2 billion pairs of denim jeans are bought each and every year, and there’s a reason for this:  denim acts as the foundational piece for the rest of our wardrobe.  It also screams versatility in terms of how we pair it and for which occasion we wear it. Now, when it comes to our favourite wardrobe staple, we might think we have it all figured out.  But today, we’re asking you to forget everything you thought you knew. Too many of us are getting it wrong, so it’s time to relearn the denim essentials.

There are 4 main things you should be considering when looking for your ideal denim: shape, size, fabrication, and care. A lot of us are only considering 1 or 2 of these elements when purchasing.  In order to ensure we have the perfect pair of denim, a quest we’ve all been on at one time or another, we have to hit each and every one of these pressing points.


The first stop on our journey to denim superstardom is shape. You have to decide which is best for your particular body type, however there are a few universal truths:

  • Always choose a mid to high rise, the 90s low-riser is never appropriate. 
    • A mid, or even better, a high, ensures we’re elongating the legs and torso.
    • It also helps suck in and cinch the waist.
    • This accentuates your natural curves, or adds in curves for the skinnier among us.
  • As we increase in height, consider widening the leg, simultaneously.
    • The taller we are, the more styles we have our our disposal, but that doesn’t mean shorter people are out of the picture.
    • While straight leg jeans are the most overall flattering style, short, curvier people might do well with black or indigo skinny jeans.
    • Another great tip is to elevate the silhouette with a heel of some sort.
  • Be aware of your inseam.
    • The inseam is the distance from the base of your zipper to the bottom of your leg opening. 
    • It’s imperative that we’re aware of our individual height and are then customizing our inseam length to complement. This can mean a trip to the tailor’s.
    • If you’re on the shorter side (5’4″ or under), avoid very baggy and boxy jeans, as well as inseams greater than 21 inches in length.
    • If you’re on the average to taller side, the rule of thumb is to go with the longest possible inseam.  A shorter inseam will break up the vertical denim flow.


Finding the right size is everything! Too often, both men and women opt for the incorrect size! We want our denim to last, which means knowing our individual size, just like bras!  It’s a science, and there are a few rules to follow:

  • Once your denims are on, ensure the fabric lays evenly and flatly over the under-butt.  If you can grab – or see – any excess material in this region, go down a size.  Keep going until you can’t grab any denim excess!
  • The two-finger test. Once your denims are on, at the highest part of the rise – top of the waistband – ensure you can get only two fingers, side by side, in the crevice of the crack.  Any more than 2, and you know the size is incorrect. Keep going until you’re at 2 or less.
  • If you don’t have time to try a pair of jeans on, take the waistband and wrap it around your neck. It sounds crazy, but if the waistband touches comfortably, it will fit you in the waist. If it doesn’t reach, it will be too tight, and if it overlaps it will be too loose.
  • Back pockets are the secret weapon in your denim arsenal. They’re a sure fire way of accentuating the butt, and ensuring your booty is pert and standing at full attention. If you want to create a rounder, more fully-formed silhouette opt for smaller back pockets that sit higher on the seat. This pulls attention upward.  You never want the back pockets to sit lower than the bottom curve of your butt.
  • For anyone trying to create an illusion of a smaller, more compact booty, you want opt for wider pockets that are more closely positioned together, creating the visual illusion of a narrower behind.


It’s important to take note of clothing composition in order to assess both longevity and levels of comfort. Here’s a rundown on what you can expect from your fabrics:

  • Elastane: You might better know this as Spandex or Lycra. The inclusion of elastane in your jeans means the ultimate in comfort, but be aware of its ratio to cotton or other synthetics.  No more than 3 percent of the jean should be elastane, otherwise the abundance of stretch will ultimately cause a droop effect, particularly in the waistband. If you’re trying on denim that do contain a high percentage of stretch, ensure that once the jeans are off, the fabric has popped back, easily and quickly, into its original shape. If you notice the a lag, do not purchase! 
  • Polyester: Our old friend! While cotton in our denim also means instant comfort against the skin, this doesn’t always translate to longevity of use.  Cotton, once washed, has a tendency to shrink, which means opting for a synthetic blend is always a smart option. Polyester is extremely durable and abrasion-resistant – it lasts! The fibre is heat related, cooled then stretched, meaning it can withstand more impact than other fabrics.  If you see even 10 percent polyester included with cottons and elastane, this is a keeper! 
  • Raw or Rigid: Who doesn’t love the effect of a raw denim? That rich indigo instantly adds an element of quiet sophistication that we flock too. However, the rawer the denim, the more cognizant of size we need to be! The rule of thumb is to go down at least, half a size from what you typically buy. Raw denim means the jean has not been washed or treated prior, meaning the fabric is super susceptible to change! You want your denim to fit uncomfortably tight at first, considering these jeans will give up to a full size! As long as you can get the top button up, even if you’re turning purple, it’s a keeper!
  • Pre-treated denim : This is anything with fading, overt dye work, or super stretchy tendencies. You can be harder on these sorts of denim, they’re much more resilient. 


This final point might seem, on the surface, not as pressing as the preceding ones, but we promise you that it is! Times are tough, and we want ensure our denim lasts, especially after we’ve put in all the work in getting our denim selection right! Here are the rules:

  • Don’t over-wash! Only wash your jeans if you stain them! If your denim is raw, don’t wash at all. The colour will instantly bleed out, and the shape will disappear.
  • If you do wash, never go above 30 degrees, always turn them inside out, and never tumble dry. 
  • If you have a particularly expensive pair of denim, or love a raw denim, consider dry cleaning! It might seem like an unnecessary cost, but dry cleaning ensures longevity, which means you might spend more now, but you’ll end up minimizing your spending over time. 
  • Washing any denim ultimately works to break down the fibres and decrease shelf life. If your jeans start to smell – as they naturally will with wear – but there are no stains, consider placing your denim in the freezer over night. The extreme cold will kill off any odour-producing bacteria. Smell is gone, and jeans are safe!

Nick’s Denim Recommendations: