Denim jeans are a real wardrobe staple for men, women, and children; they’re a daily essential that you can dress down or up subject to your needs. Denim initially rose to prominence during the development of teenage culture in the 50s, and it has remained a staple in every closet since.
Each decade has had its denim jean trend: the 1970s were all about ultra-wide bell-bottoms, while the 1980s were about high-waisted mom jean cuts and acid washes. The rise of grunge in the 1990s saw baggy, skater-style jeans take popular, while the noughties were marked by stark comparison, with skin-tight skinny jeans becoming the norm.
Denim shopping presents its own set of issues; it’s a garment that’s famously difficult to get precisely right in terms of fit. This comprehensive reference to denim covers everything from the numerous varieties of denim jeans, the nuances of denim wash, and the fabric’s history to the more practical questions like how to care for, soften, wash, shrink, and store your everyday heroes.
The Make of Denim and How It’s Made
Denim is a sturdy cotton twill textile with unique diagonal ribbing created by horizontal weft threads passing underneath two (or more) vertical warp threads.
Weavers in Nîmes, France, utilized the tough material known as Serge de Nîmes (a combination of wool and silk) to duplicate a corduroy trouser that had become renowned in Italy but by chance created denim. All-cotton denim was invented in England and developed in American mills before being introduced to the general public by Levi Strauss.
With remarkable success, Levi Strauss promoted denim with the inclusion of strengthening metal rivulets to manual laborers. Jeans were known as “waist overalls” until the 1960s because they were closely associated with hard labor.
Raw Denim vs. Selvedge Denim
Denim was woven on shuttle looms before the 1950s, generating tightly woven strips of heavy cloth with tightly woven bands traveling down either side. Denim made on shuttle looms has a self-edge (thus the portmanteau of selvedge), eliminating curling and fraying with denim made on the less expensive projectile loom.
Even though most selvedge denim is raw, there is no link between the two phrases. The term “raw” refers to denim that has not been pre-washed.
Types of Jeans
Bell-bottom jeans are slim across the thigh and flare out to the leg opening.
Bootcut jeans flare out somewhat at the ankle. Ankle boots look great with this style of jeans.
Low-rise jeans hit your hips a few inches below your belly button. In the 2000s, this type of jeans was extremely fashionable.
High-rise jeans also referred to as high-waist jeans, sit around your belly button and sit at your natural waist. In the 1980s and 1990s, high-rise, straight-leg jeans were popular, earning them the moniker “mom jeans” in the 2000s. The once-retro trend has come back in style since high-rise jeans go well with a tucked-in T-shirt or crop tops.
Mid-rise jeans sit between your hips and waist and about an inch below the navel.
Straight-cut jeans have a consistent up-and-down fit throughout the leg. Straight jeans can be slim-fit or baggy-fit, as in boyfriend jeans or relaxed-fit jeans.
Skinny jeans (also called cigarette jeans) have a tight fit down the leg, from thigh to ankle. They’re frequently made of stretch denim to make them easy to put on and take off. They are usually skin-tight, similar to leggings.
Broad leg jeans have a wide cut down the leg, starting at the mid-thigh and extending down to a wide leg opening. The difference between bell-bottom and wide-leg jeans is that bell-bottom jeans have a more hourglass form due to the tightness around the thighs and knees, and wide-leg jeans have a more triangle shape due to the progressive flare.
Getting Rid of the Smell of New Denim
They will have a foul odor attributable to formaldehyde, a highly dangerous chemical sprayed to your denim at the manufacturer.
Rather than using a washing machine, soak the denim in warm water with baking powder. The baking powder absorbs chemical odors naturally while preserving the color of the denim wash.
Explaining Denim Washes
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Dark Wash (Also Known As Rinse Wash)
The washing process improves the wearability of raw denim. The jean’s residual dye is removed to help prevent the color from bleeding and make the denim feel softer while preserving a clean appearance.
Also known as Snow or Marble/Moon wash. Acid wash denim achieves dramatic color contrasts by dipping pumice stones into chlorine and incorporating them into the wash process.
The wash process is extended, eliminating more of the original indigo dye and resulting in a lighter, mid-level blue fabric.
A longer process than the mid-wash, light wash produces denim that is even softer and lighter.
How to Make New Denim Softer
Wearing new raw denim might be uncomfortable and time-consuming, but there are shortcuts, just like breaking in your new leather shoes.
1. Add fabric softener (or white vinegar) in your washing machine or lukewarm/cold bath wash. Wash inside-out with other denim or by itself. Dry on the lowest heat setting, or leave to dry naturally in the sun (still inside-out).
2. You can put tennis balls in the dryer to massage the denim.
3. To help stretch the denim, roll it up tightly right after it comes out of the washing machine.
You can also use these softening procedures on normal denim for extra softness.
How to Shrink Denim
Always check if the textile has been pre-shrunk or “sanforized” when buying raw denim. If you don’t, they’ll shrink by about two inches in length and around the waist the first time you wash them.
If your denim isn’t “sanforized,” soak it before wearing it. Two to three inches of hot water is needed in the bath. Turn your denim inside-out and leave it flat in the water for two hours with anything heavy weighing them down.
You should avoid moving because this will encourage more indigo to bleed out. To reduce shrinkage, dry the denim upside down as you get out of the water.
How to Clean Denim
The secret to denim care is to wash them every two years or so. However, certain stains will not be removed by simply drying them out. Here’s how you can get rid of them:
- Turn the denim inside out for a distinctive look.
- To avoid pigment bleeding, wash alone or with clothes of a similar color.
- Use an enzyme-free denim detergent and wash at a lukewarm/cold temperature.
- If you can’t get to a washing machine, fill your bathtub with a few centimeters of lukewarm/cold water, put the inside-out denim flat in the water, and soak for 45 minutes.
- To remove the detergent, rinse with cold water.
- Do not use bleach.
- Never tumble dry; instead, hang to air-dry upside down, preferably in the sun.
How to Store Your Denim
Hanging your denim is the best method to store it. Denim can be hung on the back belt loop. Hang multiple pairs of jeans on the same coat hanger to allow them to air and take on a worn-in appearance.
Which Jeans Are the Most Appropriate for Which Body Type?
Hourglass and Curvy Body Shapes
Those with this body type are in luck since they can get away with almost anything and still look terrific. It’s all about style and keeping your proportions balanced when you have a 50/50 hip-to-bust ratio and a tiny waist. Here are some terrific denim options to consider:
Flares. If you have a much more curvaceous hourglass figure than the model above and a lot of weight on your hips, flared jeans will help you balance it out.
Higher rises. The waistband of a higher rise sits at the narrowest portion of your waist and will provide the appearance of a thinner midsection.
Medium size back pockets. Don’t go too big or too little; it’s all about enhancing your butt!
Skinny flare. Choose a pair of flared jeans that are snug and slender up to the knee, then flare out slightly. This is a lot more appealing.
Skinny Jeans. On hourglass figures, skinny jeans are undoubtedly the most flattering. Your chest and hips are already proportioned, so flaunting your legs in skinnies emphasizes that point. Bootcut jeans can conceal your frame and overwhelm you.
Pear and Triangular Body Shapes
It might be difficult to find jeans that flatter your proportions instead of odd when you have more curves around the hips and buttocks and a smaller upper half. Look for jeans that have these fits to accentuate your shape and give respect to your booty:
Bootcut or wider flares. The extra fabric around the calves will help balance out your hips and keep your legs in proportion.
Boots. If you insist on wearing thin jeans, tuck them into boots to help balance out your hips and give you a better shape.
Higher rises. Higher-rise jeans are more balanced to your figure, and they can disguise a lot of issues if you have muffin top troubles.
Jeans with a smaller fitting waist. Most people with wider hips have trouble finding pants that don’t create a space at the rear of their buttocks. Try jeans that are tailored to your body type and have a smaller waist than hips.
Larger pockets. Because you’ve been gifted with a massive booty, it’s crucial to highlight it; therefore, search for larger rear pockets, as small ones can make it appear smaller.
Long inseams. You can wear heels beneath your flares and bootcut jeans because they’re longer. Of course, this will lengthen your legs and make them appear smaller.
Stretch denim. Always go for stretch denim to wrap your body better and give you a more streamlined silhouette. It’s also less confining than hard denim.
Rounded and Apple Body Shapes
There are solutions for those who carry your concerns surrounding your tummy area and constantly struggle to locate flattering pants or give you the form you want! Accept and work with your physical shape instead of against it.
Here are some things to keep an eye out for:
Rises. If you’re curvier and want to disguise your tummy, high-rise jeans are the way to go. They’ll keep everything in place. Lower rise jeans can offer you a more voluptuous image if you have a thinner apple shape.
Skinny Jeans. Skinny jeans look great when coupled with a floaty, gypsy-style blouse since it hides your problem area while keeping the skinnies fitting, providing a balanced aesthetic.
Trouser Jeans. If you want to keep things balanced, choose trouser-style jeans with a wider leg from hip to foot.
Square & Athletic Body Shapes
There are still a lot of jeans that can work for you if you’ve worked hard enough to achieve an athletic body shape. You could have an upside-down triangular form, with larger shoulders and biceps or powerful thighs. Look for the following possibilities:
Boyfriend Jeans. If you prefer a more laid-back look, boyfriend jeans are the solution. They’re exceptionally roomy in the buttocks and thighs, and they’ll be quite comfy.
Higher rises. If you have a lot of muscle in your buttocks and hips, go for a higher rise to avoid the dreaded builders or plumber’s butt problem.
Straighter hip fits. Opt for jeans with a higher waist than normal, as this will help them fit more comfortably against your hips’ square shape.
Stretch denim. Rigid denim won’t be comfortable on your muscular thighs, so choose a thicker, more stretchy fabric. Ensure the denim is fairly elastic, as you’ll want to keep your thighs and buttocks small. In stiffer denim, it’s not a good idea to size larger to fit your thighs because the butt will end up baggy.
Wide leg. Try trouser-type wide-leg jeans if you’re having problems finding jeans that fit your thighs and buttocks. They will be flattering and are loose enough to accommodate.
Boy and Rectangle Body Shapes
It can be difficult to locate jeans that fit in length and are flattering if you have a supermodel form with extra height, long legs, and a straighter hip area. But don’t be alarmed, there are plenty of options available to you. Keep an eye out for the following:
Boyfriend Jeans. Fortunately, you can get away with wearing boyfriend jeans and still look great! It will look amazing if you choose a slimmer-fitting boyfriend.
Inseams. Long inseams seem to be the way to go for a classy style because they make you look sleek and clean. If you wish to be more fashionable, go for cropped skinny and cuff your ankle boots. This will add depth to your shape and reduce your height slightly while still looking stylish.
Mom Jeans. Mom jeans will flatter your figure and will most likely be comfortable.
Rises. If you want to emphasize your height, choose a high rise. However, if you wish to make your legs appear more proportional, choose a low rise.
Skinny Flares. You can also wear skinny flares because you’re tall enough to pull them off. Don’t wear baggy flares since they will overpower you; instead, make sure the flare begins below the knee, and the fit above is snug.
Skinny Jeans. Skinnies are usually your best buddy because they flatter your figure. Choose the most flattering pair for your buttocks and thighs.
DOs and DON’Ts When Wearing Denim
- Hem denim to the proper length.
- Pin roll your jeans if you want to wear them with boots or in the summer.
- Think about when it’s appropriate to wear denim. If you think a little polish is appropriate for the occasion, opt with dressier pants like chinos.
- Think you need a lot of various denim styles and washes. Find a style that flatters your body shape, buy two washes, and wear them.
- Purchase or wear torn, ripped, extremely faded, or otherwise outrageously embellished jeans; these are fleeting trends that will require you to replace them shortly.
- Keep and wear your jeans forever. Because fashion trends fluctuate, a pair of deeply faded, worn-in jeans in an old cut can make you appear dated. Wear fresh pairs out and about, and store your old ones for yard labor and painting.