From the original Levi jeans in 1873, jeans are now available in a dazzling array of choices. Different fits, cuts and denim washes mean that choosing a pair of traditional blue jeans can be quite a minefield, especially if you are buying jeans online.
The fit or cut of a pair of jeans (many people use the terms interchangeably) refers to how the denim is tailored. Some styles, such as bell-bottoms come in and out of fashion but certain cuts, such as the traditional straight cut are eternal classics.
This is the original cut of jeans. As its name suggests, the leg of the jeans does not taper in any way. It’s perfect for people with shorter legs as the cut accentuates the length of the lower leg. It is a timeless style which never goes out of fashion and so is available in almost every store.
Flares and bell bottoms
Also known as loon cut, this style of jeans was popularized in the 1960s and 70s. However, bell bottoms originated in the Royal Navy in the late nineteenth century. Bell bottoms become wider from the calf down – with the bottoms often being as wide as 18 inches. Flares widen from the knee downwards and so the bottom can be anything up to 26 inches wide. Although not in fashion today, an original pair of flares or bell bottom jeans can be found in many vintage stores.
Probably the most popular cut of jean today. Boot cuts are similar to flares, with the denim widening from the knee down. However the flare is much narrower than in jeans from the 60s and 70s. Men’s boot cut jeans tend to be baggier around the thighs than women’s jeans. Boot cut jeans suit any body type and are of course ideal for wearing with boots.
Extremely tight and skin hugging, only those with perfect legs look good in this style of jeans. Fortunately for the majority of us, skinny jeans seem to fall out of fashion quickly.
Low rise jeans
This fit of jeans sits slightly lower on the waist than a standard fit. Ultra low rise jeans are a more extreme version with the waist slung low on the hips. Less-athletic body types should avoid this style of jeans so as to avoid the dreaded ‘muffin top’ look.
Traditionally jeans were only available in blue using an indigo dye. As jeans became more popular as casual wear, wearers soon wanted to buy jeans with a fashionable ready worn look. Processes such as stonewashing (where the jeans are washed with heavy stones after being made) and even sandblasting were developed to give jeans a distressed look. It is even possible to buy jeans with holes and patches ready applied.
Pre-shrunk jeans are now the norm but it is still possible to buy jeans which require the wearer to immerse themselves in a bath whilst wearing their jeans to obtain a snug shrink to fit style.
Amanda Revie writes regularly for various fashion blogs and her favorite Jeans are Jack Jones