How to buy skinny jeans (and some tricks to fit into them, too)

How to buy skinny jeans (and some tricks to fit into them, too)Forget the trauma of trying on bathing suits. Real women know that nothing surpasses the misery of trying to find a pair of skinny jeans. And just for the record, they are unfortunately still the "must-have" item in today's wardrobe, right up there with a black boyfriend jacket and boots that make your feet cry.

As a card-carrying member of the "can't find a pair of skinny jeans that look good" club, I can report that there is even some science behind the new "I hate to try on jeans" phenomenon.

A recent survey found that many women simply forgo wearing jeans altogether because they just can't find a pair that fit. The survey by the independent California research firm eSearch found that while 77% of the women surveyed said they wore jeans regularly, the percentage decreased as the size they were forced to wear went up. Yes, we are growing, but the jeans on the rack are shrinking too. And not everyone has the flat stomach needed to pull off the low-rise look.

Why is it so hard to find jeans that look good and feel comfortable? Forget affordability. Even the Gap has jumped on the high-end skinny jean bandwagon and recently announced plans to open a 5,400-square-foot creative design office in Los Angeles with the goal of expanding the 1969 Premium Jeans line it launched last year. The company overhauled its jeans selection and replaced its tried-and-true line with sexier and trendier fits that the company hoped would improve its image among shoppers.

Here are what some of the top jean designers in the country suggest if you are still on a quest to find jeans:

Joie Rucker, designer of CJ by Cookie Johnson -- the jeans that Oprah wears and recommends -- says:
  • Keep your shape in mind. Those with pear-shaped figures should look for a traditional skinny jean without too many details or pockets. They should stay away from skinny cargos. Those with boy-shaped figures can get away with more detail, colors and pockets. Skinny cargos may give the appearance of a more shapely silhouette. Boot cuts balance out the hip area, just don't go getting all Popeye-like with bell bottoms.
  • Avoid large back pockets. If you have wide hips or have a bit more booty, large back pockets will appear to increase the size of your back side. (You know, the part where you ask your loved ones whether something makes your behind look fat ... ) Ideally, back pockets should be strategically placed and fall no lower than the crease where your thigh and booty meet.
  • Avoid a muffin top. Make sure the waist of your denim isn't too tight. Not only will this be uncomfortable, it will draw attention to the wrong place. (In some circles, this is known as re-positioning belly fat -- a situation not unlike the re-positioning of back fat that occurs when you buy a bra that is a size too small.)
  • Darker washes are more flattering and slimming. The old rule of thumb about you can never go wrong with black still applies.
  • Make sure the inseam isn't too long. Skinny jeans shouldn't be baggy at the ankle. Be sure the jean breaks at your ankle and isn't loose. Helpful hint: Nordstrom's will hem your jeans for free.

And from Jerome Dahan, founder and creative director of Citizens of Humanity jeans line:
  • Consider buying denim leggings. Citizens of Humanity has a a line with 35% stretchability, which means the jeans will hug your body, never lose their shape and always feel comfortable.
  • Try on different washes. Dark washes flatter some body types while lighter, more distressed washes flatter others.
  • The perfect pair of skinny jeans should hit just below the ankle so it can be work with heels, flats, sandals or tucked into boots without the fabric bunching around the ankle. Aim for a smooth silhouette for an overall lean look.
  • Skinny cargos are the current "on-trend" look.

Sofi Hernandez, 21, a communications studies major at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles with an eye for fashion, added the perspective of a young'en -- especially for those who don't want to wind up on Dr. Phil with their daughters on a show called "Moms Who Dress Too Young."

First, she suggests looking at the height of the rise. A slightly dipped rise just below your belly button makes you look more long-waisted (a good thing). And if you're under 5'4, try the petites department. She also suggests not shopping alone; after all, some one's got to be there to remind you that you're not as young or thin as you once were. This may be a job for teenager in the family.
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