Perfect Jeans: What a size 12 looks like in seven high street stores
Vicki Notaro scoured the shops to find that elusive fashion must-have: the jeans you can't live without
Like many women, I absolutely loathe shopping for jeans.
When you find the right pair, it's like a match made in heaven, but it's so incredibly rare. Plus, our bodies fluctuate so much that the style that suited you in 2013 could be hideous on you now. I've gone up a size from a 10 to a 12 over the past year, and am yet to find a new pair that won't exaggerate my muffin top or give me camel toe. I'm so afraid of buying jeans that I've started avoiding proper constructed denim pairs and just purchasing jeggings, which are basically stretchy glorified leggings in jean colours - a sorry excuse for the real thing. I'm sure many of you out there do what I do - buy the ones that look like they'll fit when you hold them up in front of you. And when they don't, you'll hide them until you lose those 10lbs you've been meaning to shift. That's three pairs lurking in my chest of drawers now.
I'm not alone in my jean-fearing - this week actress Eva Mendes told the blog WhoWhatWear that she's not a fan of denim trews. "I mean, I think jeans are really uncomfortable actually-aren't they? They're so restrictive! If you see me in jeans it's probably because all my skirts are at the dry cleaners or just dirty."
I hear you, Eva, although you'll normally see me in jeans because I'm too lazy to wax and tan my legs on a weekly basis. Oh, and this is Ireland, not LA. Thus, I must face my foe on a regular basis.
Jeans are supposed to be measured in inches, and thus fairly standardised, but any woman who's ever tried a pair in a high street store will know that's not always the case. Why am I a size 10 in some shops and closer to a 14 in others? It's so frustrating.
That's why I decided to conduct an experiment on the high street to find out whose jeans actually fit like they're supposed to.
-l I would choose proper, stitched denim jeans (no jeggings allowed).
- Each pair would be a skinny cut, which means slim and tight all the way down the leg from hip to ankle.
- Each pair would be the store's size 12.
- I would try jeans from across the high street, from bargain to high end.
- I would judge them on comfort and how nice they felt, ability to sit down and bend my legs wearing them, and how well I thought I looked in each pair.
-l They had to close to be considered.
AT THE FIRST HURDLE...
Three pairs didn't close - and they just happened to be the first three pairs I tried on. Despair struck instantly.
- I tried Victoria Beckham's Ankle Slim style, €285 in a 12 (size 30) on first, and didn't have a hope. They were very low rise, and wouldn't stretch to close across my hips. I couldn't even do up the fly. I didn't expect much in terms of coping with curves from VB, but even I was disappointed. Especially considering the sales assistant told me that a 29 was a 12 in the other designer brands I had selected .
- Another BT2 option, 5 Units Scarlett Slim Fit in a 12 (29). These fit better than VB's, but instantly seemed too tight in the calf. They gave a bit more in the thighs but there was no way they were going to close around my hips.
- A pair of Penneys jeggings somehow found their way in to my bag with the other samples, so I tried them on in an attempt to feel better about myself after these first two failures. But no, they didn't cover my bum. Thankfully, things got better.
Topshop: Moto Jamie Skinny Ankle Grazer, €64, size 12 (30W 30L)
Topshop make good jeans, it has to be said. However, I know from experience that my size is different in their different styles - I'd get away with a 10 in Joni. Jamie is their standard skinny, and is nice and comfy. I could bend my legs freely, even squat a little, but I did rip the stylish tears a little more. That's par for the course though. I liked these a lot, and found them to be a standard fit.
Penneys: Super Stretch Skinny, €15, size 12
These were really comfortable and very trendy. They didn't 100pc contain my muffin top and were sort of baggy around the hips - I kept having to pull up as the day wore on. That's all due to the quality of the material though - they're not expensive enough to have magic, sucky-in powers. I would buy these on a budget and just make do. After all, my muffin top is entirely my own fault.
H&M: Skinny, €19.99, size 12 (The label also said European 38, which is a 10 - odd)
These were tight, but manageable, and were stretchy enough that I felt they'd loosen over time. They weren't uncomfortable, but I did feel like they acted like some kind of lower abdomen corset, shunting my fat up my body to my normally slim waist. However they definitely didn't feel like they cost less than €20 - nice and soft, and I didn't feel like I would bust out of them despite the tightness.
A GOLD E (BT2): Colette Skinny, €173, size 12 (29)
Oh dear. These closed, so they made it to the final round, but the muffin top was ghastly. I would be so self-conscious wearing these, and I don't even think a 30 would have made any difference - they were simply cut for tiny hips and love handles need not apply. Shame, because they felt lovely and soft, and I liked the wash.
Marks & Spencer: Limited Edition Skinny Ankle Grazer, €49, size 12
I was delighted with this pair because they were too big - I could have easily fit in a 10. I don't know if M&S uses vanity sizing or is simply aware that their clientele are actual women and not teenage nymphs. Bear in mind though, I did go for their very stylish range and of course, I was trying on skinny jeans. Still, a lovely pair of jeans in a nice wash and a great price point - these are great value for money.
River Island: Amelie Skinny, €50, size 12
I normally gravitate towards River Island on my jeans quest because their denim is really good. However I usually buy the aforementioned Molly Jeggings, Tube Pants (even more legging like, with a high waist) or their super high-waisted Lana muffin-top containing skinnies. All of that would be cheating, so I went for Amelie. She was a little stiff, but I got the feeling I could wear her in and she'd be lovely. Amelie is mid-rise, but coped with my muffin top admirably.
AND THE WINNER IS...
J Brand at BT2: Maria Skinny, €285, Size 12 (29)
I had often heard J Brand dubbed the Holy Grail of jeans but I'd never even tried a pair on, mostly due to the price. After my other designer experiences, I was terrified to try these on. I persevered though, and aren't I glad! They're magnificent. Soft and comfortable but durable - I forgot I was even wearing them at one point, which is pretty much unheard of when it comes to me and jeans. Love at first fly zip.