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Why Jean Shopping Is Hard and How To Make It Easier

A woman in a retail store smiling as she holds up a pair of slightly distressed blue jeans and examines them.

Jean shopping—it sounds easy enough, right? You walk into a store, pick a pair of jeans, try them on, and if they fit, out you go with your new favorite denim. But here’s the catch: if they fit. Anyone who has ever found the perfect pair has waded through hundreds of ill-fitting contenders because the sizing simply isn’t uniform. We want to make this process easier for you. Read on to learn more about why jean shopping is hard and how to make it easier.

The Main Problem: Endless Variation of Sizes

Do all of the jeans in your closet sport the same size? Probably not. That’s because sizes vary drastically between brands, and sometimes even between different styles within the same brand.

So if you’ve ever found yourself not fitting into what should be your size, then you’re not alone. That’s what makes jean shopping so hard; there’s no uniformity in sizing.

A Secondary Issue: Tight Fits

True denim isn’t a flexible fabric. Therefore, any deviations in fit are extremely noticeable and uncomfortable. Unless your jeans fit perfectly, they won’t feel like they fit at all, and that also contributes to the shopping dilemma.

A Third Problem: So Many Styles

If the sizing wasn’t confusing enough, the endless array of styles can bewilder even the most seasoned shopper. Skinny, straight, bootcut, boyfriend—the list goes on. Each style complements different body types and aesthetics, and knowing yours can be tricky.

How To Shop Smarter for Jeans

Hopefully, you feel better by now about your frustration with jean shopping. It’s not you—it’s the nature of the garment and the companies that make it. Though the process will remain complicated, you can make it easier on yourself with some basic know-how of denim dos and don’ts.

Know Your True Size

Most importantly, know your body type and your size in universal measurements (we mean in centimeters, not vague numbers like three or six). Most brands have online or in-store sizing charts you can use to find your exact fit. Keep in mind that this might mean you’re a seven in one store and a nine in another—that’s because, as we mentioned, sizing isn’t universal. Don’t box yourself into the arbitrary size; know your true fit.

Play Around

Once you have the basics down, your next step is to have a little fun. Yes, jeans naturally make it hard to find the perfect fit, but you might make it harder on yourself by not being willing to try new designs or washes. Consider designs with light and dark washes, try a little distressing here and there, and be open to some embroidery decals. Be true to your style, but be willing to be flexible.

Stretch the Limits

Next, though true denim isn’t all that flexible, you don’t have to stick to true denim. Look for jeans with a bit of stretch for comfort, but not so much that they lose their shape. Denim blends with a small percentage of elastane (1–2 percent) usually hit the sweet spot.

Now you know why jean shopping is hard and how to make it easier. Here’s our final piece of advice: be patient. It can be a tedious process, but finding the perfect pair of jeans is like discovering a hidden treasure. When you finally slip into that pair that fits just right, it makes all the effort worthwhile.

Any products featured are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Feel free to click on any image for product details.

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