Where to buy jeans that fit in London
Expert advice to take the pain out of shopping for new jeans, plus the new season styles editors love
And yet, denim is an integral part of a modern woman's wardrobe. In fact, most of us now have a wardrobe of jeans, with old faithful skinnies, more fashion-forward straight legs and even denim that can be worn to work in heavy rotation. So how do you stock up on new jeans without crying in the changing room?
'I do think a brave attitude and a couple of hours spent somewhere that holds multiple brands will be the most fruitful,' says Amy Bannerman fashion director of Cosmopolitan and founder of the @Jeanius. 'I love Atika in east London for vintage jeans as they have a major selection. I also like going to the Denim Studio at Selfridges or Trilogy in west London so I can try on loads of different brands at once. The staff are also super knowledgeable so you can make sure you’re getting exactly what you need.'
Atelier Notify at Selfridges London
On a pre-lockdown trip to Selfridges, I walked the Denim Studio floor with Lucy who works in the denim Fit Studio offering advice to customers across all the brands carried (this service is complimentary, you just need to make an appointment). After I'd briefed her on the shapes, washes and length I was looking for, the range of sizes I usually wear and some favourite brands, we were off picking up styles from Paige, AG, Frame and Rag & Bone. Thanks to her expert knowledge and the advice of sales assistants on each section, I found out how true to size each style was or whether a denim's stretch properties would affect the size I needed, meaning I didn't waste time in the changing room or feel like a sausage trying to squeeze into its skin.
Most women's clothing sizes vary from brand to brand, but with jeans the issue is further exacerbated by the amount of choice that is now on offer thanks to an ever-increasing choice of shapes, fits, rises, fabrics and fly options. Even if you already own jeans you love from a certain brand, it really does pay to get advice on how true to size a certain pair is, as well as how they'll wash and wear.
'I have some black Frame skinny jeans which I have worn to death and they’ve never bagged or sagged in any place,' says Amy. 'I also find non-stretch is good for holding its shape – because if you get the right fit, then they hold everything in the right place and while the denim will give slightly and soften up, it is pretty much going to stay the same as when you bought it, fit wise. My Citizen’s of Humanity Estelle and Liya are like this – they’re like my most reliable friends, consistent and look great with literally everything. The waist doesn’t dig in at all and the zip kind of pushes everything flat so they give a great silhouette if you have something shorter or tucked in.'
Citizens of Humanity Liya High Rise Faded Boyfriend Jeans, buy here for £300
On the subject of stomachs, it's wise to avoid shopping for jeans around your period, as it's just not going to be a particularly comfortable or enjoyable experience and, worse, could lead to a pair that doesn't fit properly for most of the month. If you want a style that's a bit more comfortable for this time of the month, Amy advises to opt for more low-slung styles, or size up in order to wear your jeans lower on the hips: 'MiH's Phoebe are great for this kind of fit, or the Levi's Ribcage worn a few sizes up won't press anywhere and the denim is super soft.'
MiH Jeans Phoebe jeans, buy here for £240
Sizing-up and wearing low is actually a strategy many women adopt when it comes to maternity jeans too, a category that is woefully under-served although Good American label is quickly making in-roads in that department. The brand co-founded by Khloe Kardashian in 2016 is renowned for its championing of the different shapes of women's bodies, gaining plaudits for its 'gap-proof waistband' and broad range of sizing across every style.
Good American Good Curve High Rise Straight Leg Jeans, buy here for £165
Trends in denim are quite slow-moving – case-in-point, the impossible to kill skinny – but the current style on every fashion editor's lips (and hips) is the Ribcage by Levi's, which has the highest rise of any jeans the brand has produced and is loved for the extremely flattering silhouette it creates, as well as the of-the-moment straight leg. Other brands loved by the experts include Current Elliott which leads the way when it comes to new trends and Re/Done, which specializes in altering vintage Levi's into perfectly modern shapes.
Levi's Ribcage Straight Ankle Jeans in You Only Live Once, buy here for £85
Alterations are an often overlooked way of finding a pair of jeans you're really happy with. Whether it's tailoring the amazing vintage pair you found at Attick or Portobello Market (Amy has turned to Matt @thejeantailor to slim down the legs on her vintage French Levi's 901s) or simply getting a new pair hemmed so it hits your ankle just so. Selfridges recently launched Atelier Notify in its Denim Studio, which offers alterations and tailoring on purchases as well as customisation including embroidery, laser-etching and patches. Levi's Regent Street store has a Tailor Shop too, which can repair holes and rips in old Levi's or make them in new ones, as well as offering customisation with patches and fabric turn-ups, or even tapering or shortening legs for the perfect fit. On the high street, Uniqlo offers same day alterations on all its trousers.
Jeans might be one of the most hardworking items in our wardrobes, but they're also recognised as one of the least earth-friendly with production of a single pair using on average 2,000 gallons of water, a scary stat which increases to 3,781 for the full lifecycle of a pair of Levi's 501s.
One of the most sustainable denim models we've seen comes from Swedish jeans giant Nudie Jeans Co, which uses high quality organic cotton for its denim, and offers free repairs for life at its special tailoring stores in Soho and Shoreditch. Here well-loved jeans that are beyond redemption are recycled and remade into new products or patching material, extending the lifecycle as long as possible. Last year the brand repaired 55,173 pairs of jeans and collected over 10,000 pairs for reuse, saving 386,000,000 litres of water and 44,000 kg of clothing being thrown away. While the brand markets its styles as unisex, certain fits such as Breezy Britt and Hightop Tilde are specifically designed for a female body, while the brand's website boasts a virtual size guide which allows users to compare measurements of each style and size to a pair of their own trousers, taking the guess work out of finding the right size. It might seem more like homework than retail therapy, but being able to buy denim that fits online might just be worth the effort.