12 Signs Your Jeans Fit Wrong (& You Should Probably Get Rid Of Them)

The search for the perfect pair continues...

by Annie Crawford
Originally Published: 
A woman wearing a bra and jeans.
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Ill-fitting jeans can be tortuous: think red marks, gaping zippers, torn seams, and the dreaded camel toe. Finding the perfect pair of jeans might seem elusive, but there are plenty of options out there for all different body types. The secret is knowing what to look for when searching for the perfect pair.

Ultimately, jeans should make you feel comfortable and confident, and anything less is unacceptable (read that again). A pair that fits well makes all the difference in your day-to-day. “They possess the ability to be super chic or super casual, depending upon how you style them,” personal and sustainable stylist Thalia Castro-Vega told Bustle. “They're an effortless staple item.”

However, when it comes to shopping for jeans, what’s considered “on trend” is constantly changing. This can be especially annoying, because not everyone feels comfortable in the latest fit (ex: low-rise jeans). Each body requires different design elements for a comfortable fit. As personal stylist Bee Stuart puts it: if a trend doesn’t suit you, then skip it.

“Trends are an incredible way to keep your wardrobe feeling fresh, but if the trendy item doesn’t fit you well and make you feel good, then it defeats the purpose of indulging in the trend,” Stuart said. “It’s more important to have your clothing fit your body than to be trendy.”

Whether you feel best in straight-leg styles, high-waist, or baggy cuts, figuring out how jeans should fit isn’t a one-answer kind of thing. Luckily, there are some universal signs that your jeans fit wrong. Consider this your fashion education.

1. They’re Too Short

Cropped jeans can be super chic (when paired with a statement shoe, specifically), but that’s completely different from jeans that are just too short. According to Stuart, too much ankle exposure is a signal that the jeans likely need to be sized up. True cropped jeans should hit around 2 inches from the ankle.

2. They’re Gaping At The Waist

A classic sign that a pair of jeans is too big is if they gap at the waist — and the gap widens even more when you sit. Unless the buzzy exposed undies trend is what you’re going for, you also risk serving an accidental whale tail.

The solution here, Stuart tells Bustle, is to have the waist taken in by a tailor — or just find another pair that better fits your proportions. Curvy denim lines, for example, cater specifically to wearers with more drastic waist-to-hip ratios to help end the gap.

3. They’re Too Big & Baggy

Let me make one thing clear: we stan a comfy (and trendy) pair of lose-fit jeans. But if you constantly have to wear belts or pull your jeans up, try finding a pair that’s a size smaller and requires less maintenance.

4. You Have Crotch Creases

You know those diagonal tension marks that radiate from the crotch of your tightest jeans? Those are called “whiskers” and are a prominent sign indicating the jeans in question simply don’t fit right. (And it gets even worse when you sit down.)

“If you put on jeans where it’s really tight right across the front part of your crotch and across your hips, it will feel like there's a lot of pulling and tugging,” says Castro-Vega. “When you sit down, it's going to tighten up even more [because] there's going to be more tension there, and it's going to be uncomfortable.”

When whiskers appear, it’s best to size up. Trust me, your crotch will thank you.

5. You Adjust & Wiggle All The Time

Different from pulling up the pants because they’re too loose, constantly pulling up the waistband because it’s too low is a denim deal-breaker. It means either the inseam is too short or the waist is a tad too small. “I always tell my clients, if you need to constantly fix, fidget, and fuss with any clothing item, it doesn't fit and it's time to get newer options,” says Stuart.

6. The Waistband Keeps Rolling

If you find that your tummy is spilling over the top of your jeans, it’s worth investing in a new pair. According to Stuart, this means they’re way too tight. You’re not going to want to wear the offending jeans very often anyway, so start shopping for a pair with a more comfortable waistline.

7. They Have A Saggy Crotch

This is a common problem in the land of baggy jeans and slim-fit jeans alike. The thighs might fit, but the waistband and bum areas are a bit too large. Even if they make your legs look a mile long, you don't want it to look like you have room for a baby kangaroo inside the pouch of your jeans. A sagging crotch is an indication that you should size down.

8. They’re Super Tight In The Thighs

If you find yourself asking, “Why do my jeans have ripples?” you’re already not in a great spot fit-wise. Visible lines and wrinkles on your jeans — particularly in the thigh area — are a sign that the fit is too small, Stuart explains.

9. The Zipper Won't Stay Up On Its Own

You can get the jeans on and they zip (with some effort), but no matter what you do, the zipper just keeps dropping back down. Sorry, but it’s time to break up with that pair. This means they’re too tight overall, so the zipper can’t hold them up. Ultimately, they just don’t fit.

10. You Can’t Sit Down

OK, this should be a big giveaway: if a pair of jeans is too tight in the stomach area, making it impossible to sit down — please let them go. In a well-fitting pair of jeans, you won’t feel prohibited from doing any of the activities in your normal life. “If you can't do simple activities like sitting, walking, [or] dancing because your jeans are too tight, then you need to let them go,” Stuart says.

11. They Give You Red Marks

Contrary to what 2000s movies might suggest, fashion should absolutely not involve pain (even heels can be made comfortable). If your jeans are causing red marks and indentation marks at the waist, they are “way too tight and causing slow circulation in the area,” Stuart explains. No pair of jeans is worth that.

12. They Don’t Make You Feel Good

“It's time to part ways with a pair of jeans when you get anxiety or [feel] frustrated when you have to put them on,” says Stuart. “If you are not looking forward to wearing the jeans because they cause you any sort of discomfort or pain, it is time to let those jeans go.” Like Marie Kondo says, if it ain’t sparking joy, toss.

Once you do find the brand, style, and size that works for you, care for them as you would a precious jewel and wear them as much as your heart desires. (And order several pairs in different washes!)

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