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Denim 101

What's the difference between a skinny jean and a straight leg? How do I know what kind of rise looks best with my body type? And what on earth is "whiskering"? These are all questions we've asked ourselves at some point when venturing into the world of premium denim. Add to that the constantly shifting denim trends and the changes that our bodies naturally experience over a lifetime, and you may feel hopelessly lost when trying to figure out what type of jean looks best on you. Don't worry -- we've got you covered (literally, if you get your jeans at Josephine): consider this your official denim glossary.



"Rise" refers to where the jean hits your torso, usually above, at, or below your waist.


A low rise jean hits somewhere near the base of the hipbone--think Britney Spears circa 2000. While this jean can indeed be flattering on the right body type, it can be difficult to pull off if you're not comfortable showcasing your tummy or if you're worried about having to hoist up your pants every few minutes to avoid flaunting your underwear.


Leave Britney (and her metallic jeans) alone!

A mid-rise jean hits right at the top of your hip bone. If you're not sure what kind of rise to pick, this one is a great choice. While holding in the lower part of the abdomen, it's also comfortable, stylistically versatile, and can be paired with all sorts of tops.

A high-rise jean comes up to or even above the belly button. They are a great choice for curvy women who want to show off the best parts of their figures while hiding areas they may feel self-conscious about. At the same time, they can also create the illusion of flattering curves on a not-so-curvy body. (Basically, they're magic.)



"Fit" refers to the way the jean is cut, either to remain close to the body or to skim over it.


A skinny jean is exactly what it sounds like--fitted all the way down. Now, let's correct one common misconception: you do not have to be super skinny to wear a skinny jean! All you need is the right cut and rise for your body. If you'd like to try a skinny jean but are feeling self-conscious and don't know where to start, give us a call -- one of our stylists would be happy to help you!


A straight leg jean is a somewhat misleading name. Jeans of this type are fitted through the hip and thigh, but relax slightly around the knee/calf/ankle area. There are many different reasons why you might prefer a straight leg: to allow for different shoe types (think booties), to balance out proportions, or just because they're more comfortable on your body.


A boyfriend jean is for those of us who love the relaxed look of a woman in men's jeans. A charming idea, but somewhat difficult to execute if your hips are wider than that of the average man (as most of ours are). Boyfriend jeans are cut for women's bodies, but with that slouchy-but-tailored vibe. A girlfriend or slim jean is similar, but cut slightly closer to the body.


A bootcut jean is fitted through the hip and thigh, but flares out around the calf and ankle. This is a great choice if you've got shorter, wider legs and want to lengthen them, or if you're planning on wearing your jeans draped over your boots (hence the name). A cropped bootcut jean is a great look for warmer weather!


Now for the fun stuff: colors, details, and more!


Wash is the color and intensity of the dye on the jean. In traditional blue denim, dark wash might be more navy-indigo, while a light wash is probably closer to sky-blue--or your jeans from the 80's. Different washes may carry different price tags, even within the same brand and style, because of the labor and materials involved to get just the right shade.


Novelty jeans are jeans that incorporate the latest trends: ruffles, side stripes, embroidery, raw hems, and more. The hottest style for summer? Cropped boot cut jeans in a summery white.


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