How to find the perfect style to flatter every shape

How to be a jeans genius: No more squeezing yourself into ultra-tight denim…here’s how to find the perfect style to flatter every shape

  • Prue White has been devoted to skinny jeans since buying Topshop’s ‘The Baxter’
  • However, denim trends are moving away from the skinny silhouette for 2021
  • UK-based style expert shares advice for embracing the wide legs jeans trend  

For many of us, skinny jeans have been a wardrobe staple for the past decade. What to wear to brunch (when cafes reopen)? Skinny jeans and a jumper. On a muddy walk (another one)? Wellies, a duvet coat and skinny jeans.

I’ve been devoted to my skinny jeans since buying a pair of Topshop’s ‘The Baxter’ ones in 2005. They proved so popular that at their peak, 18,000 pairs were sold a week.

But they were also uncomfortable and, on certain body shapes, rather unflattering.

Thankfully, denim trends are moving away from the skinny silhouette for 2021 and instead it’s all about wide legs, flares and even the bootcut is making a return.

To find the right style for your proportions, think balance and an aesthetically pleasing silhouette.

Skinny jeans make balance virtually impossible, but these styles work with short legs and long torsos, or small busts and large hips. Here are the pairs to wear to make the most of your frame . . .


Sometimes referred to as the pear shape, you are a triangle if your hips are larger than your bust and shoulders.

Remembering that styling is about balance: you’re looking for a bootcut or a flare to even out your hips, such as the authentic flared jean from Whistles (left).

I especially love the mid-blue shade for that 1970s vibe. Styles should be free from any detail in the hip area (no distressing, zips or sailor pockets). A good rule of thumb is that the curvier you are, the wider the hem on your jeans should be. 


If you’re straighter through the torso with square shoulders and hips that mirror your waist, you’re what’s called a column shape. You want to introduce softness and fluidity (a.k.a. the opposite of the skinny). Boyfriend styles look great on athletic figures as they sit low on the hips and hang loosely over the legs.

Gap’s mid-rise distressed boyfriend jeans (£29.97, available in sizes 2-20, have a softness to the cropped wide-leg style. 


Ribcage straight ankle jeans, £100,

This is an easy one: highwaisted. You want to create the illusion that your legs start higher than they actually do, and the easiest way to do that is to embrace the high waist. Thankfully, they’re plentiful at the moment. I’m a huge fan of Levi’s ribcage straight ankle jeans (I own three pairs — one cropped pair in black and two full-length styles in indigo and ecru). Leaving an inch of skin on show at the ankle is the easiest trompe l’oeil for creating length in the leg. They also do them in plus sizes, up to a 24M (46in waist).


Treasure-cut cropped jeans, £65,

If you’ve got broad shoulders and narrow hips, you’re looking to build out your hips,

When we’re constantly fed the idea that small is best, making something bigger can go against the grain. But building out your hips will balance them with your shoulders, meaning your shoulders won’t feel so broad.

If you’re slim, you can pull off tapered or ‘mom’ jeans. But a safer bet, and much easier to wear, is a cropped wide-leg style such as the treasure-cut cropped jeans from & Other Stories. 


If you’re an hourglass, you’re already in proportion, with your bust and hips equal, so you want to maintain that balance.

Bootcut styles are going to be great on you. But if the idea of the 1990s version makes you shudder, relax — the new styles sit higher on the waist, which is great for showcasing your narrowest point. They are also cropped, and a pair in a mid-blue will feel modern. Darker denim does tend to be more flattering though, so if you’re an hourglass, consider J Brand’s Franky cropped boot-cut in ‘concept’. 


You’re after anything mid-rise — thankfully the low-rise waistline is nowhere to be seen in the style stakes right now — meaning our muffin-tops have little chance of escaping.

A mid-rise style will also help lengthen your torso by stealing an inch or two from your legs.

Uniqlo’s denim range is reliable and their mid-rise relaxed fit tapered jeans are made with 26 per cent Lyocell, a man-made fabric that is super-soft.

uniqlo. com 


Straight styles will look great if you have a fuller waist as they reduce your leg-to-waist ratio. A cropped straight leg will lengthen the look of your legs and mid-rise will ensure you won’t be cut off at your widest point. Arket do brilliant jeans for £59, made from organic cotton with just 2 per cent elastane — enough to hold you in all the right places.


Slim straight jeans, £60,

For skinny aficionados, if a complete departure is too much to contemplate right now, try easing away gently with a slim, straight leg.

Avoid anything tight around the ankle, but something that alludes to the shape of your leg is a winner. 

If you have slim legs, the mid – rise cropped straight-leg style from Totême, £210, matches, is perfect but if your legs are slightly chunkier, Arket’s straight cropped jeans are an easy win, £59, 

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