Vol.1, No.10

Plus size jean type and brand reviews

This article gives information on sizes, brands and fits as well as places to start looking for plus-size jeans.

Three jean-wearing women
Photo Credit: Justin Horrocks
The first thing I learned about plus size jeans is that there are as many different shapes of "plus size" women as there are among those in smaller sizes. Working in retail, I've seen just about every body type. Tall woman with short legs, short women with long legs. Medium sized women with tiny waists and, as some of them like to put it, "junk in the trunk." Everyone comes in to a store thinking there are no jeans that will fit them and make them look like the models in fashion magazines.

They're right and they're wrong. Designers and sales people cannot magically turn a size 16 into a size 6. The good news is there's no need. Whatever your size, there's a pair of jeans out there that can enhance what you've got going.

I was especially excited to see that this is true in the plus-size world of fashion. Let's face it, as a society, we're getting bigger and while I don't want to promote obesity, I firmly believe in accepting and loving ourselves for who we are. Fashion should reflect that. Happily, it's beginning to. Now, I'll be the first to admit that it's more than likely happening primarily because there's a buck to be made. Whatever the reason, though, the world of couture is opening to women of all sizes.

For the purposes of this article, I checked out several brands and stores. The first thing anyone should consider when shopping for plus size jeans is how they want them to fit. There are "misses" cuts and "junior" cuts. These two cuts are defined in the plus sizes the same way they are in smaller sizes. "Misses" is going to sit higher on the waist, be wider through the hips, with a more relaxed fit in the leg. "Junior" will be cut narrower in the hips, sit lower on the waist than Misses and be snugger in the leg. You'll find variations, depending on the brand, but this information can be a starting point. The next important factor is size itself. While many retail stores such as Gap carry larger sizes on line, the in-store sizes usually stop at 16. And remember, a "regular" size 16 is not the same as a 16 in a plus size store. Most plus size stores start at a 12 or 14. That plus size 12 or 14 will probably equal a regular 16. Confused? Don't be. Below is information that should start you on the road to finding your new favorite fit.

Lane Bryant, a nation wide plus size shop, carries its Venezia brand of jeans in four different styles, in sizes 14 to 28. Their basic boot-cut was judged best fitting by plus-size models for Glamour magazine. It's a basic jean that comes in several washes and is made, like most of today's jeans, with a bit of spandex for comfort. It sits at the waist and is curved through the hip and thigh and thigh areas. The Venezia Classic and Flare styles fit roughly the same, differing primarily in the width of the leg opening. Classic, being narrower and the flare, of course, wider. The easy fit jean sits higher on the waist, has a relaxed fit and straight leg with no stretch in the material.

Lane Bryant carries its own "designer" fit, "Supreme" Jeans and the higher end couture "Seven" Jeans cut exclusively for the plus size customer. These styles are cut lower and employ trendier washes for an updated look, geared toward the younger shopper.

Other brands familiar to young consumers such as L.E.I., Paris Blues, Dickie, Jalate and Hot Kiss are featured at Torrid, a shop geared toward a much trendier consumer. These jeans, made exclusively for the shop are a junior cut, both narrower through the hip and lower on the waist. The washes feature "crosshatch" and "whiskers," two techniques used to make each pair more individualized. Indeed, it's hard to find any two exactly alike, and these appeals greatly to teens and twenty-something’s.

Levis brand also carries plus size jeans, available at most department stores throughout the country. The styles and sizes are, however, more limited than those of specialty stores, though what they do offer covers some of the latest trends in rises and rinses as well as the stand-the-test-of-time classic fits.

There's more out there, much more, but this information can get you started. Happy shopping!