Find the Right Jeans for Back to School
Everywhere you look, people are wearing jeans. So it's no surprise that they're a back-to-school necessity. But do you know how to find the right fit and style for your teen – and even you?
Fits Like a Glove
One of the most misunderstood aspects of buying jeans is determining the right fit. Determining fit is different for boys than it is for girls – it's easier. "Boys generally know what size they wear," says Cheryl Claiborne, a merchandise manager for Wrangler Hero Boy's Jeans. "Since boys wear jeans that are not fitted, they are more interested in where it hits them on their bodies, what the details are and overall look of the jean. We also have information called out on billboards and size strips to make it easier to shop for the right size and product/style."
For girls, a bit more thought goes into the process. Girl's jeans are made to fit in five places: the waist, the hip, the seat, the thigh and the length of the leg. "A girl may be one size at her waist, but another in her seat or length," says Kyle Breanner, a consultant for Wal-Mart Marketing. "This means that she will need to be more picky about finding the right fit for her. A perfect – and common – example: a girl is a size 12 at her waist, seat and thighs, but is only 5 feet tall. She would wear a 12 petite. But if she was taller – say 5 feet, 8 inches – she may wear a 12 tall. For the best fit, it's important to find a jean that fits in all the places, not just one or two. You'll look – and feel – better."
Types of Fit
The variety of fits available offer more of a choice for teens to express their personal style and to find the best overall fit for their body. Some of the styles of jeans available over the years include:
- Straight-leg: Cut to fit more snuggly to the leg from hip to ankle. No flaring.
- Boot cut: Wider at the bottom quarter of the leg to allow for the pant to fit over boots. A good pick for girls with larger hips, as it makes you look more proportioned.
- Low rise: Offers a lower waist. A good pick for those with a short torso, as it offers the illusion of a longer midsection.
- Hipsters: Jeans rest on the hips instead of the waist. Good pick for those with smaller waists but larger thighs, as it prevents the open gape at the waistline.
- Carpenter: A style of jean that has many pockets and flared legs from hip to ankle. A good pick for those wanting to make a statement or show their style.
- Cargo: Similar to the Carpenter style without the widely-flared legs. A good pick for those wanting to hide or add a little shape to skinny legs.
- Loose Fit: Roomier in the seat and thigh to keep jeans from having the painted on look. Good pick for those with a smaller waist but larger bottom half.
- Relaxed: A looser fit all over. These jeans offer a "relaxed" fit for casual days or for when more room is needed for activity. Good pick for those who don't like tight-fitting jeans but still want a good, flattering fit.
- Flared: Wider and longer at the bottom quarter of the leg. A good pick for shorter girls who want to give the illusion of a little more height.
Pleasing the Masses
What you actually find on the racks when you're teen is heading back to school depends on the current trends. "Trends in the marketplace dictate a style for a certain season," says Glenda Strickbine, a merchandise manager for Riders Girl's and Junior's Jeans. "It's a matter of striking a balance between the trend and what's acceptable in school, because it needs to be appropriate in the classroom. We want the girls to think it's cool – and we gather such feedback by conducting focus groups – but we also want Mom to be comfortable with the look and the product itself."
According to Rice, even when following the trends and staying in style, it is still important to be yourself. "Students have a lot of flexibility this school year given the wide range of popular fashions available this season," she says. "Remember, the key to looking great is not copying what everyone else is wearing, but finding clothes that match your personal style."
Advice to Parents
A parent has to find a happy medium between what their teen wants, what they want to get their teen and what their budget will allow. "Teens want to be current with what friends and trends are wearing," says Joyce Markwell, senior merchandise manager for Wrangler Hero Men's Jeans. "The Wrangler [and other known] brands offer many fashion styles at great values in the mass channel. By choosing one of the popular brands with their many styles, both can be satisfied."
Back to school does not have to cause a headache when it comes to choosing jeans. Do your homework – but be flexible, too – and you'll be able to find just the look you want. "Teens have more input into what they will wear," Claiborne says. "The new fashion styles usually sell first. But once teens see what other teens are wearing, they will want to adopt, change and/or alter to other styles, fits and treatments as well. Just have fun with it."