Mackenzie’s Ultimate Denim Guide

October 30, 2012

Three years ago if you asked me the to explain the cuts of denim and how they should be worn I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. However, after two years of training I think its fair to consider my denim knowledge “advanced”. The jeans you wear and how you wear them can make or break your outfit and credibility as a fashionista. While I understand not everyone is privileged enough to own designer denim; if you’re ready to make the investment I am happy to advise you (National Jean Company 218 Newbury Street). I have created a denim guide to help you put together outfits and avoid fashion mishaps! Here are the basics!

How to Wear Flare:

For some of you its probably been YEARS since you’ve considered the option of wearing flared jeans (I’m guessing since your mom stopped taking you to American Eagle to purchase your denim). Ever since skinny jeans became the “only option” you’ve kicked flare to the curb. I’m here to tell you now that you were right to do so. After all, flared jeans take a certain amount of sophistication to pull off; sophistication up until NOW you didn’t possess! But since now we’re older and wiser, its time to learn how to pull it off.

Here are the basics.

  1. Should be worn with Heels, Wedges or booties. You’re making a statement; stand up tall.
  2. Should never be worn with flats, sneakers, etc. Not only are they not visible, but flared jeans WILL shorten your body if worn incorrectly!
  3. During the day, flares are best worn with a tucked in shirt and belt.
  4. Fitted tops are a necessity! Otherwise you WILL look 10 pounds heavier! (unless following the trend above ^^)
  5. Unless you plan on taking a time machine back to the 70’s or you’re a Free People model, PLEASE stick to mid to dark washed denim.
  6. To avoid looking like you spend your Friday nights at the local mall food court and shop strictly at Hot Topic, avoid BLACK flared jeans. While it IS possible to pull the look off, its a trend best left to fashion experts.

Here are some ways to wear flared jeans, the outfit on the left is a nighttime look and the outfit on the right its a daytime look. Make sure you tuck the blouse in to show off your curves!

Personal Favorite Flare: JBRAND Martini (Skinny Flare)

Honorable Mentions:

  • Henry and Belle (pictured/famous for their flare)
  • DL1961 “Joy” (high-rise)

How to Wear Boot-cut:

The name “boot-cut” is incredibly deceiving. The name originated when jeans were only worn by cowboys and coal minors. Therefore, were initially meant to be worn with cowboy boots and whatever the 1800’s equivalent to Timberlands was. Boot-cut jeans aren’t meant to be worn with your tall UGGs. The main difference between boot-cut and flare is where the leg begins to widen. Boot-cut jeans are tight at the knee and flare at the bottom, flared jeans begin to widen mid-thigh.

The Basics

  1. Boot-cut jeans are incredibly flattering on women with a lot of curves, the width at the bottom “evens out” the body.
  2. Boot-cut jeans look best paired with heels and booties
  3. However, they are a better alternative to flair when it comes to wearing ballet flats or sneakers.
  4. Boot-cut jeans look better with fitted tops.
  5. However, unlike flare, boot-cut jeans don’t look BAD dressed down a little more!
  6. NOT a good look: Peplum tops (too many flares) and anything over-sized!
  7. Try a cropped sweater and converse for a daytime look.
  8. Wanna make it sexy? Try a high-rise boot and wear a fitted, cropped top; you’ll only be showing a few inches of skin and it will be the thinnest point of your waist <3

Personal Favorite Boot-cut: Paige “Hidden Hills” Highrise boot-cut (pictured)

Honorable Mentions:

  • Lucky’s “Lola” Boot (Just $99)
  • Paige “Skyline” Petite Bootcut (for the under 5’5s like myself)
  • Joe’s “Honey” Curvey Bootcut (for the girl with a booty)

How to wear Straight-legged jeans:

Straight-legged jeans serve a purpose that skinny jeans cant always fulfill. They cover a little more foot cleavage in the winter, and can often be rolled up into a boyfriend jean or capri when the spring comes a long. For the curvier girl; straight-legged jeans are often a good alternative to skinny jeans. Why? You’re less likely to look like a pear and more apt to look proportional. The difference between “skinny” and straight legged jeans are that straight legged jeans are fitted straight down from the knee, as opposed to skinny jeans which progressively become tighter towards the ankle. As opposed to boot and flare, you can wear over-sized sweaters and tops with more volume. However its important to know a few things about the straight-leg before making a purchase.

  1. They will look silly if they shrink up! So if you’re going to hem them do so after they have been washed and dried
  2. If you wear them with boots, make sure your jeans are tight enough and fitted enough that they wont get overly baggy in the knee when you zip your boots up. To avoid this, go shopping with tall boots and try them on inside the boot!
  3. If you’re a ballet flat lover, these are perfect! But they rarely look good with booties, heels, or sneakers (except occasionally converse). Unless, that is, they are practically a skinny (like the Citizen’s of Humanity “Elson”)

Personal Favorite Straight: Paige “Skyline” Straight

Honorable Mentions:

  • Citizen’s of Humanity “Elson” (mid-rise)
  • Citizen’s of Humanity “Ava” (low-rise)
  • DL1961 Grace (high-rise)
  • Lucky’s “Sweet and Straight” (mid-rise favorite of both my mom and myself)

How to wear Skinny Jeans:

In the 1950’s icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Sandra Dee were the first to wear the slimming silhouette known as the “skinny jean”. However, by the 70’s slim fit jeans were most commonly associated with a ‘bad boy’ rocker image. The concept stuck until the 90’s when hip-hop and grunge music popularized a baggy-er look. This was probably for the better; otherwise to this day the only people wearing skinny jeans would be the grandpa rockers of our parent’s youth. In the year 2000 supermodel Kate Moss brought them back, and fashionistas around the world rejoiced. You probably think you’ve already mastered the skinny jean trend and while you may be right, I have a feeling you can do it a little better. I used to think jean shopping was just a matter of fitting your legs and waist but I’ve realized that GREAT jeans can make a huge difference in your overall look!

  1. For casual-wear try and wear clothing that is lose-fitting and on the longer end. Think about it, your jeans are practically morphed to your body; cropped tops aren’t a good look.
  2. Consider styles that are outside of your comfort zone! I know low-rise jeans have been in style since the lovely ladies of Destiny’s Child used to wear em’ to show off their thongs but other rises may be more flattering! J-Brand makes a high-rise skinny called the “Maria” that I wear at LEAST twice a week. I know when you think “high-rise” you immediately imagine trying on Nana’s “dungarees”, but let me tell you; this jean is SEXY!
  3. Buy a size down! If you can button them, and the sales associate says they stretch, BUY THE SMALLER SIZE! Jeans DO stretch, and unless you want to look like you have a saggy butt you better listen up!
  4. For a curvy YET PROPORTIONAL look; try pairing with a “peplum” top!
  5. Every women should own a pair of skinny jeans to wear tucked into boots.
  6. However, skinny jeans look good with heels (especially cropped ones!), booties, ballet flats and even those new Ash sneaker-heels (which I think I’ve finally decided I like)

Best Skinny Jeans:

For the Short Girl:

  • The AG (Adriano Goldschmied) “Stilt”
  • Any of J-Brand’s 11 inch selection
  • DL1962 “Angel”

For the Tall Girl:

  • Hudson’s “Nico”
  • Joe’s “The Skinny”
  • Genetic Denim “Shya”
  • Current/Elliot selections

For the “Curvy” Girl (and no I don’t mean plus sized!!):

  • Joe’s “The Skinny”
  • J-Brand “Maria” (high-rise skinny)
  • Citizen’s of Humanity “Avedon”

For the really skinny girl:

  • DL1961 “Emma” Jegging
  • Blank NYC

Personal Favorites:

  • Paige “Skyline” (mid-rise) Skinny
  • J-Brand “Maria” (high-rise) Skinny

Addressing the Issues of:

1.) Light-Washed Jeans in the fall

While I would love to categorize “light-wash” with white jeans, I have to be realistic to my audience. As someone who is surrounded by denim on a regular basis; I personally wouldn’t wear light-wash jeans after September. However, for the rest of the world I wouldn’t suggest bringing them out after November 1st. Light-wash jeans get dirty and stained easily and only look good paired with darker shoes and tops, except in the middle of the summer.


At first, the term “jegging” was limited to leggings that were made of denim material. When they first came on the market in 2009 I owned a pair of Betsey Johnson denim leggings and I thought I was the greatest thing that has ever happened to the world. Shortly after, everyone started making jeggings that resembled jeans much more appropriately. However, there are still some rules that should be upheld when it comes to the denim imposters.

  1. Address and style them as you would a pair of leggings.
  2. You should cover MOST of your butt!
  3. You should lean towards wearing them with looser fitting apparel.

Best Jeggings:

  • DL 1961 “Emma”
  • Citizens of Humanity “Avedon”
  • Abercrombie’s “Jegging” (biggest surprise on this guide!)

In my next blog I will address wax/coated & pattern jeans! xo'
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