Women's Jeans Buying Guide

by Staff Writer

Jeans are a clothing staple for many women, but even women who love wearing jeans may have trouble finding flattering women's jeans. If you don't know what to look for when you're online shopping for women's jeans, the pages of denim can look like an intimidating sea of blue. If you're not sure how to buy women's jeans that will look great on you, then this women's jeans buying guide is for you.

Differences in Denim:

Women's Jeans Buying Guide

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  • Weave:

    All denim is cotton twill -- a weave that has a slight diagonal to it -- but that's where the similarities end. Some denim is a left-hand twill (the diagonal on the dark side runs from lower right to the upper left), which has a very soft feel. A few types of denim have broken twill (the diagonal line changes directions). All other denim is a right-hand twill (the diagonal on the dark side runs from the lower left to the upper right), which is the most common and has a durable feel.

  • Cotton:

    The quality of the cotton the denim is made of will affect the look and feel of the jeans. Fine cotton fabric is made from longer stands of the fiber, giving the jean fabric a softer feeling and a smoother look. High-quality cotton also lasts longer because there are fewer small fibers to rub off -- this is often what you are paying for when you buy premium jeans.

  • Dyes and finishes:

    Most jeans are made of denim that was dyed before it was woven into cloth (this is also called "yarn-dyed"); other jeans are dyed after they have been constructed into jeans. Jeans dyed after construction may have a more saturated color, but it may also fade faster. Blue jeans are dyed with the familiar indigo blue, but there are new innovations in denim dyes all the time. For example, some manufacturers layer the indigo dye with a yellow sulphur dye to create distressed jeans with an aged, dirty-on-purpose look

Women's Jean Washes

  • Stonewashed:

    Jeans are washed with chemicals or actual stones -- usually pumice stones -- to lighten and soften the denim. Occasionally, you may even find a few small pumice stones in the pockets when you first put on your new stonewashed jeans.

  • Sandblasted:

    To give new jeans a broken-in appearance, the jeans are blasted with sand in areas where wear would occur naturally. This can sometimes lighten the denim, and lighter areas will draw attention to that body part. If you buy distressed jeans, make sure the light area is on a part you want to emphasize.

  • Whiskered:

    Crease lines, called whiskers, are created across the lap to look like the jeans have been sat in many times. Whiskers are printed on, sanded on or created with lasers. They are horizontal lines, so if you are worried about your legs looking too heavy, choose jeans with subtle whiskers or none at all.

  • Stretch:

    Many people love stretch jeans, and for women with more curves, stretch denim can be very flattering. Women with flat rear ends will want to avoid stretch jeans, however, because the stretch will just emphasize the lack of curves.

Women's Jean Fits:

More than just about any other type of women's clothing, finding the correct size is critical with jeans. For jeans, you need to measure your waist, hips and inseam. Then, find your measurements on the Overstock.com Clothing Sizing Chart to find your size.

Other than the size, the details of the jeans affect the way they fit. There's only one way to buy jeans online without thinking carefully about those details: buying duplicate pairs of jeans you already own. If you want something different or the brand and style you've worn before isn't available, you'll want to evaluate all the details that make jeans fit differently: the cut of the legs, the length of the rise and the shape of the seat.


  • Boot-cut:

    Boot-cut jeans flare slightly at the bottom, which is flattering on many women. The slight flare -- not a bell-bottom flare -- balances out large hips and heavy derrières. Boot-cut jeans look great with a wide variety of shoes, from clogs to sandals.

  • Wide-leg:

    With a fitted waist, wide-leg jeans can be a stylish alternative to your other jeans, especially on curvy women and tall women. Remember to balance your wide-leg jeans with a fitted top and heels or wedges with a round toe.

  • Straight-leg:

    Straight-leg jeans are not as baggy as wide leg jeans, but they share the same stovepipe shape that lacks any flare at the ankle. The straight line of straight-leg jeans gives a long, lean look to your legs.

  • Skinny:

    Skinny jeans are slim-fitting jeans that are narrow all the way to the ankle, although many women give this name to the jeans they fit into when they have lost weight. You don't have to be rail-thin to wear skinny jeans, though. These are the perfect jeans to wear tucked into a pair of boots because they don't have extra fabric around the ankles.

  • Boy cut:

    With slim hips that sit a little higher and with straight legs, boyfriend jeans are like borrowing a pair from your boyfriend's closet. Because of the relaxed fit, boyfriend jeans can be the perfect casual jeans, or you can cuff them to your calf and wear them with heels for a more playful feeling. These pants look especially good on a woman with an athletic figure.


The rise is the length from the crotch to the waistband. A standard rise is about 30 inches, while low-rise jeans -- also called hipsters, hip-huggers or low-cut jeans -- have about a 20-inch rise. Low-rise jeans can elongate a short torso, but on a long torso, they can be a bit too revealing in the back. Women who have a bit of a tummy won't want jeans with very low rise -- this can cause what is known as "muffin tops," where a soft belly pops over the top of the waistband like the top of a muffin pops out of the pan. These women will want to stick with jeans with a more traditional rise. Remember that if you do choose to wear low riders, you'll also want to pick up some low-rise underwear to wear underneath.


  • No pockets or slash pockets:

    These jeans can flatten out curves. If you want to avoid that look, make sure the jeans have a yoke -- a section of fabric that goes across the back just below the waistband -- to add shape.

  • Large pockets:

    Large, centered pockets are flattering on almost every woman, because they don't draw attention to the rear end.

  • Small pockets:

    Small pockets and high-set pockets can make a rear look bigger and are perfect for women who need to add curves.