Compared to most adults my age, I’m a tinier version of the real thing. I weigh about 84 lbs, and am just under 4’11”, so finding jeans that are appropriate for my body (I’m a 00 to a 1, depending on the brand) and more importantly, my age (26), can be a real challenge. However, by just making a few shopping choices it’s easy to find jeans that compliment my body and are age appropriate without having to take them to the tailor first.
The best jeans for a small or short frame are definitely a darker wash. The darker the jean, the better, as they look more sophisticated and elongate the leg. Even if your jeans are inches too long on the bottom, cuffing a darker denim looks more attractive and stylish than a lighter wash.
Avoid a wider leg at the bottom. Go for a boot-cut jean so your legs aren’t drowning in material. I avoid a skinny jean at all costs because my legs look even tinier in them, and prefer a comfort fit jean that isn’t too tight. It balances out my frame, giving me more of a feminine figure than wearing a too-tight jean that looks good but is more suitable for a teenager to wear. Just because you have a smaller figure doesn’t mean that wearing your jeans like a second skin is going to look great on you. Rather, it may just exemplify how small you really are and make you look emaciated when you’re actually a healthy weight and just naturally slim.
I avoid decals or designs on the back pockets and rips and holes in the jeans I buy. I already look 15 so I don’t need the added style to increase the illusion. I also avoid whiskering, fading, and try to stick to a clean color on my jeans so even though I look younger, my pants are more adult, off-setting my youthful appearance.
Wearing a higher-waisted pant makes your legs look longer, particularly if you’re short and a bit heavier. Not so high as to reach your belly button and give you that “front butt” “mom jeans” appearance, but a regular rise will work wonders if you’re a bit stout. Especially if you are wearing a darker wash jean. This also decreases the “muffin top” appearance, that on a shorter person looks so much worse than a person of average height.
If you’re thin and short, I recommend a lower-rise jean. You can tell a rise by cupping the crotch of a jean before you buy it. The less material that bunches in your hand, the lower the rise. I love a 5 1/2″ to a 6″ inch rise. These rises work better because it doesn’t leave that ample material that bunches when you sit down, giving you that “mock penis” look. A lower rise also elongates your torso, making you appear taller and more proportionate, and a lower rise hugs your butt and hips better for a more appealing silhouette. Even if you have no shape at all (I have hips but just barely), a low-rise jean in a dark wash will give you that butt and hip curvature that helps balance you out.
When you shop, try to buy jeans according to your length and waist ratio, rather than size 0, 1, 2 etc to get a more custom fit. My favorite jeans are BKE that I get at the Buckle (ranging in costs from $60 to well over $100), because then I can get the perfect length (25″ x 29 1/2″) without having to hem or alter my jeans. A bit pricey, but the denim is sturdy and the designs are great and you can get them in a variety of rises and they’re not too wide. You just have to be careful about the design on these jeans, as they are aimed more for teenagers. But I love them, and BKEs are my only clothing splurge.
Hit thrift stores for great buys for jeans first before you go anywhere else. If you’re small, you’ll get hand-me-downs and you can save on major clothing purchases. A coworker of mine recently gave me a bag of clothes she outgrew before college, and lo and behold the bags were full of 11 pairs of BKEs just my size! It was like winning the lottery. I also get clothes from younger cousins. Don’t be shy about trading clothing with family members and friends your size- as they grow they will want to get rid of their things, and many clothing is just fine to wear as an adult, even if it comes from a 13 year old.
If you find a jean you love, buy a few pairs of the same one, in a darker wash and a lighter wash if you’d like. Since jeans for shorties are hard to come by, stock up when you hit a great score. Also, shop in the kids’ department for jeans. They’re usually cheaper and the rise is about right for finding jeans that are not too tight and still compliment the body.
And if you happen to be small-framed and small breasted like I am, shop in the girls’ section for bras. They’re very lightly padded and fit better and don’t give you that cone-boob shape that “adult” bras do. Why smaller bras always are packed with like 4 inches of padding is beyond me, but I easily battle this situation by shopping in the girls’ dept for bras. They are surprisingly mature looking, and very cheap, around $5.00, and you’ll get a great fit that looks natural rather than all boosted up and padded. Why a gal would try to enhance her lovely bitty size is beyond me anyhow.
Hope these tips work for you to get a great jean that compliments your small or short (or both) frame! Happy shopping!