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The skinny on rough, tough and loved denim

Jeans are a hard one to get right, mostly because of the sheer choice on offer: skinny, low-rise, medium wash, straight leg, wide leg, distressed - the list is endless.

Jeans are a hard one to get right, mostly because of the sheer choice on offer: skinny, low-rise, medium wash, straight leg, wide leg, distressed - the list is endless. That is not to say we don't give them all a whirl. In fact, the average woman is said to own seven pairs of jeans - only actually wearing three of them on rotation. So why are we buying the wrong ones?

You see, denim is a sneaky old one; the correct shape and styles can serve us well by hiding a multitude of perceived flaws yet, often, because of not knowing what to buy to suit our shape, we end up being pushed by the trends rather than what actually works for us. It's a process that takes effort, diligence, and good old fashion endurance. With jeans, always remember the less gimmicky, the better. It's most important to find a pair that fits, so make your choices modern and subtle rather than what you think is in fashion.

A pear-shaped body type tends to carry weight in the lower half - the hips, rear and legs - so a mid-rise will elongate the legs. Be sure to stay away from high-waisted jeans as it only accentuates roundness. Anyone with an apple-shape will need their denim to provide a little more "give", especially around the waistline, so choose a brand with a slight stretch. A straight leg will help to balance things out, but stay clear of anything with a skinny fit.

If you want to minimise your middle, go for mid-waisted jean. While it sounds counter-intuitive, mid-waisted jeans will draw the eye to the waist rather than the hips. Avoid any decoration or embellishment around the pockets as they will draw the eye outwards.

For a curvy body and a small waist, the high-waisted trouser can be a great option, although be sure to go for a darker wash of denim to create a slimming effect. Remember that anything with a bleached or faded wash at the thighs will make them appear larger. If you want to create curves (lucky you) look for denim with zippers or other details at the hips and upper thighs, again to trick the eye outwards. Ladies with hips tend to have larger limbs, so a straight-leg jean will help give the leg a more uniform shape. A petite shape should look for a cut that lengthens the legs. A long, skinny cut with a high waist will both flatter and create the illusion of length. Some brands come with shorter inseams, but you shouldn't be afraid to hem a longer pair that fits better. They can be shortened and re-hemmed with the same gold stitching by any good tailor without destroying the overall shape.

When it comes to taking care of jeans, the best way to wash them is by turning them inside out in cold water and rinsing them first - mainly to lessen the amount of transferable indigo dye and remove the majority of starch.

With dark jeans, most of the colour goes in the dryer, so set them on a low, short wash cycle and dry them flat to keep the colour from dripping, as the dye can "marble" when it's wet and uneven. Try to wait as long as you can for the first wash as this is when most of the colour is lost. A good rule of thumb is once the back of the knees loses a little colour it is the right time for the first wash.

In short, it is well worth investing in denim - both in time and cost. A good pair of jeans, if cared for well, should last years and, considering most of us wear denim more than anything else, it's worth doing the homework, both in taste and authority.

ktrotter@thenational.ae

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