The one item of clothing that you can gaurantee every woman in this country owns (bar knickers) is a pair of jeans. No matter if they're flaired, boot-legged, skinny, straight, cool, comfortable, snug or baggy, they're a phenonemon we're not getting away from anytime soon.
Yet, ironically (since we all own jeans), when you ask most women what her least favourite kind of shopping is, the answer is almost always JEAN SHOPPING. There is something about squeezing into denim, getting the right length, knowing your inch size rather than your size size, choosing between low and high rise, between skinny and straight, there is the changing room light and of course on occasion we've all heard that all too familiar ripping sound.
So Frankie and I, after an enourmous fry-up we'd like to add, headed to Westfield on Saturday Morning to put the high street stores, and more specifically, their jean departments to the test. We were shocked at how many women had said to us how confusing jean shopping could be and we ourselves were frustrated at being different sizes in every store.
So, before we arrived, we declared our sizes: Em a 28"30 (Size 10) and Frankie a 30"30 (Size 12), and vowed to do our very best to squeeze our assets into this size and this size only in every high-street store we visited.
This is what happened next:
So we set Topshop as our bench mark as we both owned jeans from here. Both jeans fit well (helped by the fact that they are very stretchy). Em was wearing the Jamie and Frankie the Leigh...
Em: It's taken me years to come to terms with this, but now I know, high-waisted jeans do NOT look good on me. My torso is too short and it's incredibly unflattering on the derriere. I was (until my discovery that high-waisted was not a look meant for me) a long standing Leigh customer, this was my first time in a pair of Jamie's, and the proof is in the pudding. They don't suit me. Although these jeans fit I will NEVER be wearing them again.
Frankie: As a long time lover of Jamie jeans (pretty much the only thing I ever buy from Topshop) I felt pretty confident starting here (starting on a high and all that). As a possessor of that super sexy combo of short legs and a long torso, I've long thought they were the only jeans to come up high enough on the waist and not scrunch at the bottom. I've been a pretty constant size 12 in these bad boys but that's probably due to the high amount of elastic. Great for big, boozy suppers, I don't have to shamefully undo a button….
Em: I would not consider myself a small size 10, if anything i'd put myself happily on the boarder of a 10/12 and so I was really surprised to find that these jeans were a little too big for me. Perhaps to do with the stretch count but it does make you wonder where all those very long and lean size 10s are supposed to go!
Frankie: Another surprising outcome – as normally I'm terrified of any European shop (ahhhh to have the long legs and tiny boobs of a Scandi…) - Mango jeans actually fitted pretty well, despite a bit of length issue (no surprise there) these actually fitted well around the waist and came up high enough to ensure minimal bum cleavage.
Em: I actually really surprised myself by LOVING these jeans. Not only did they fit (something Frankie had assured me they wouldn't), they were more flattering than any other high-street jeans I'd tried. Well done H&M. I broke our only rule and actually ended up buying them... I'm wearing them today.
Frankie: This is where it gets interesting. After an admittedly successful start, I thought Em deserved a giggle and we headed off to H&M. There's a reason I've never owned a pair of H&M jeans and these photos are why. Too long, FAR too tight on the waist and a fight with a zipper that frankly, resulted in me looking like a sausage that was struggling a little too much with it's casing. Despite doubling over with laughter, Em's jeans are gorgeous on her and the perfect example of why you HAVE to try everything, even with grumbling scrooges like myself telling cautionary tales of changing room horrors.
Em: I don't know if it was because of how hungry I was a this point but I have very little recollection of these jeans. Looking back on these pictures they look nice enough (apart from that weird gash?) and I am actually impressed that the same jeans look just as good on both of us, considering how different our figures are.
Frankie: Despite not liking the colour or rips (I'm very mumsy when it comes to jeans), River Island's jeans actually fit surprisingly well, if a little loose. Past years have seen some shockers come out for me but these weren't half-bad. Three cheers for River Island!
Em: For me this was the shock of the day. Gap are famed for their denim and after an admittedly sucessful trip thus far we were searching for trouble. (We'd just finished an enormous lunch and were a little bigger than we had been in previous shops). We asked the shop assistant for the most denimy jeans they had (assuming there would be less elastic) and bugger me. Not only did these jeans give both of us horrible arses, they were enormous. Tut tut Gap. I'm disappointed.
Frankie: With the elastic content of the high street shops reaching stretchy new heights, we thought denim-lovers Gap may be able to help out with a bit of benchmarking for real denim. No such luck; even with their highest denim content jeans, both pairs were actually TOO BIG for both Em and myself. Gaping waistbands, although handy for bloating situations, aren't the best look.
So what did we learn?
For as long as we can remember, jean shopping has been the WORST kind of shopping, something that we have always dreaded. And so actually, we were incredibly surprised and relieved when we left Westfield on Saturday afternoon actually feeling happy. Previous trips have resulted in Niagra Falls-esque tears and hatred that even the Marmite Marketing team would be proud of.
We don't know when all this elastic started sneaking into our jeans but it isn't something that we want to complain about too loudly. In years past, if a pair of jeans was too tight, you were risking a slicing by denim type senerio that could have ended in a hospital trip.
And so, whilst still being totally mad and non-sensical, we can't help but think that jean shopping is getting easier. You're very much going to have to try jeans on but please, take this from us, it's not worth getting stressed over.
Some of these jeans looked fab on Em and rubbish on Frankie (H&M) and some looked ridiculous on Em and wonderful on Franks (Topshop), it all depends on your body. But the good news is, everything is getting stretchier and so it seems the days of wrestling your way into a skinny jean with the help of three friends, crying as you go, are behind us. Hurrah.