Shopping for Jeans Sucks: Which Jeans to Buy If You’re Short and Round

Shopping for jeans sucks. I like to think it’s because I’m short and round and a terrible shopper with mediocre-to-bad fashion sense, but I keep hearing from my tall friends and my skinny friends and my friends who love to shop and my friends who look great all the time, and they all say the same thing. Shopping for jeans sucks. 

This news, like all of life, is both good and bad. Good because we jeans shoppers are not alone. NOT ALONE in the suckage! Hooray! But it’s also bad because shopping for jeans takes TIME and angst and ugghhh and pffttt and GAH!

I turned to you on Facebook the other night when my jeans meltdown reached critical mass, and I discovered, like usual, things are less bleak when we face them together. Even silly first world problems like jeans. OH MY GOSH, the JEANS. 

OK, I need help. For real. If you’re a shopper or a fashionista or a short girl with hips and a butt and a favorite brand/style of jeans, I NEED YOU. 

Here’s the sitch:

MyAssMy two favorite pairs of jeans are shot.

One went down to inner thigh holes and the other to the world’s biggest butt tear.

My 3rd string jeans are in the wash because I accidentally laughed at dinner the other night. Laughed HARD, man. And repeatedly. And – fine – I wet my pants, OK? (Promise you’ll still talk to me after this.)

So I’ve been wearing my 4th string jeans around town, which thrills them because they, like, never get any playing time and they’ve been begging the coach to put them in FOREVER, and I’ve tried to cheer them on and be a team player and believe in their ability to succeed, I swear I have, but they keep fumbling the plays. I’ve found my zipper down at least 7 times the past 2 days, and YES, I did consider it might be user error, considering the user, but 7 times is excessive, even for me.

I just think, I don’t know, my 4th string jeans need to find another passion besides being pants.

Maybe they could be potholders.

Or a really scratchy, nonabsorbent towel or something.

Which will leave me, once I do the laundry, with 1 pair of jeans.

And, well, I’m grateful for 1 pair — I am — but I’m an Oregonian and we’re headed into winter, and jeans are kind of the uniform around here, so I’d like another pair. My problems, though, are as follows: 

  1. I have no real fashion sense. 
  2. I hate to shop. 
  3. I have big hips and a big butt. 
  4. I have a comparatively small waist.
  5. I’m short. 5’2″. 

If you have any tips, friends, like links to places to buy the perfect jeans online, or a favorite go-to brand/style that always comes through for you, or suggestions that I abandon jeans forever and stay in pajamas and invite you over for guacamole night so we can talk about how much we HATE jeans shopping, I’m all ears. 

Help. You’re my only hope.

And then you helped! In my hour of jeans need, you were there for me.

Just in case there are other short, round women out there who need help like I needed help, I went through all 200+ comments and made a spreadsheet, counting all the comments and all the likes, so we know where to buy our stupid jeans.

Here are the results. I’m sharing every brand, store and recommendation that received more than 20 comments/likes, in order from most recommended to least.

Which Jeans to Buy If You’re Short and Round and Where to Get Them

  1. Thrift Stores. True story. The overwhelming majority of you get your jeans from places like Goodwill and Value Village. Bethany writes, There are lots of different options all in one place and, if you bribe a fitting room attendant to keep a room open for you, you can try on all the cute jeans in your size, marvel at the odd inconsistencies of U.S. women’s sizing, and come away with a pair or two in less than an hour for less than $20. Until then, yoga pants all the way, baby.” 
  2. Speaking of Yoga Pants, the next most popular answer to the jeans question was “SCREW JEANS. Wear yoga pants.” You know, in essence. You really are my people! And then we get into the specific recommendations, as follows:
  3. Demi Curve, Bold Curve or Supreme Curve from Levi’s
  4. Diva or Sweetheart from Old Navy
  5. Julie jeans from LOFT
  6. Long and Lean from the GAP
  7. Not Your Daughter’s Jeans from Nordstrom or NYDJ 
  8. Other popular places to shop for unspecified or various brands of jeans — places with lots of selections for multiple body types — are Maurice’s, Kohl’s, The Buckle, Torrid, and Lane Bryant.
But I gotta tell you… I just ordered a pair of jeans from a place recommended by only one of you. Jessika’s suggestion intrigued me so much, I had to try it. She wrote, “Beth, I’m not sure if anyone here has mentioned this yet, but I had good luck with MakeYourOwnJeans.com. They have lots of fabrics, finishes, and price levels, and you can either enter your measurements when you order or they also have a clone-your-jeans service where you can send a pair of jeans that fit well and they will use them as a pattern and return them with your new pair (I think they also store the pattern in case you want to order again, but not sure). I bought a custom made pair for $80 including international shipping. The ordering process is kind of irritating, but worth it for what I got.” 

Interesting, right?

So I went to MakeYourOwnJeans.com yesterday, armed with a measuring tape and my credit card. I entered my body measurements, double checked my numbers against my former favorite pair of jeans, chose the fabric, wash, length, design, pocket embroidery, etc. They’ll be made to my measurements (and the heavens opened and the angels sang), as in already hemmed to length which is a MIRACLE to us short girls, and I should receive them in 3-4 weeks.

The total cost was $87 including shipping, but would’ve been $15 less if I hadn’t picked extra fancy back pocket embroidery. That’s expensive for my pocketbook, but comparable for nicer jeans, and, since my previous Goodwill finds have all gone down in flames, I thought I ought to try something different.

I’ll update you when they arrive to let you know how it works out. In the meantime, soldier on, friends. Soldier on. And DO let us know in the comments which brands work for you, which don’t, and what this post is missing. It take a Village, I tell you. A sometimes bare-assed, jeansless Village, but a Village nonetheless. 

xoxo,
B

 

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
36 comments
  1. I may have to try that site. I have the opposite problem – short (5’2″) and decidedly not round, as in my hips and waist are the same measurement, but not in a cute waifish, teenagerish way. 😉 Most jeans are too big in the butt/too small in the waist. Can’t wait to see your new jeans!

  2. I ran into the splitting jeans issue myself recently, so I feel for you. I just patched up three pairs using some interfacing and I’m dreading the day when my patch jobs no longer work. I HATE buying jeans. I have a short waist, long legs, and wide(ish) thighs. Obnoxious to find jeans that fit right in the thighs, but aren’t too short and don’t sag on my behind. I’m looking forward to seeing how these custom made ones work for you.

  3. My current favorite pair of jeans is from Eddie Bauer. Their Curvy Fit, Straight Leg, Stayshape jean in a Short length is the closest I will ever get to skinny jeans.

  4. Beth, first of all I have been reading your column for some time now and I absolutely love it! Although I am not a coffee drinker, your column is like my cup of coffee each morning. It gets me through the day! For what it is worth, I love Eddie Bauer jeans.

  5. for probably the last 30 of my 52 years, I have looked for and worn exclusively Lee Rider’s. Not just their jeans, but they also for a while had a line of “business casual” slacks called “Lee at the Waist” which I really loved. and I also tend to shop primarily at Goodwills, which once you figure out their sale color codes can be very affordable. I’ve found brand new still tagged jeans and slacks and walked out the door with them for $2.50!

  6. The secret I discovered at age 18 (more than half my lifetime ago–eek!), which has served big-hipped, skinny-waisted me over the years is:

    Go to the men’s section and buy “loose fit” jeans, which fit like a glove. And you even get to use real measurements, rather than weird “what’s my size” nonsense.

    Those made-to-order jeans sound great, but the men’s section might be cheaper. 🙂

  7. LandsEnd.com is a mail-order company, so they have good sizing data on their web site (when my mama used to order her jeans from their catalog, the paper catalog came with a size tape, seriously).

    My lovely wife, who is almost 5′ tall and has a 26″ inseam, size 16/18, orders all her pants from them. Lots of choices in styles, etc, good fit, they wear so well I have to convert them to rags when she’s not looking & replace with a similar item, and…are you sitting down?…the Lands End default design includes POCKETS.

    That is all.

    Except if they don’t fit, take them back to Sears at the mall. Beat that, eBay.

  8. Sounds fascinating! So far I’ve managed to get by the last year or so post twins with my Old Navy jeans and a belt, but honestly, in the last 10 years I’ve found the best jeans in the weirdest places. Hand me downs from my slightly longer legged sister in law when they shrunk up, Ross, a pair from a clothing exchange with my other sister-in-law. Random I tell you! But that of course just makes it all the harder when you need new ones.

  9. My husband swears that there is a consignor at our local thrift shop that is my perfect fit and I should just find her and shop from her closet. I have gotten $10 Gap jeans, $19 White House Black Market jeans (love them) and two pairs of Levi’s (pre hemmed for shorties) and they all fit this short round person perfectly. I did recently try on Old Navy Sweetheart jeans and they fit fantastic. I didn’t buy them because more than $30 was too steep for this thrift store shopper (but dropping $11 at Burgerville is no problem, am I right?).

  10. So I’m average height (5’5″) and have no hips or butt, only a thick waist (yes, yes, I know the heart attack will get me eventually) and hated jeans my whole life. Then someone gave me a pair of hand-me-down citizens of humanity jeans and I, after 3 decades of jeans hell, found my zen pair. Now, I’m not paying that kind of money for jeans bc then my 5 kids would have no shoes …but I’ve found my exact jeans hemmed to my length on eBay TWICE. Once, for $27 and I had a gift card for $25 so my favorite pair of designers jeans cost $2. Now I stalk eBay regularly.

  11. I don’t know if you have a Maurice’s in your area… If you do… RUN there and try on their “silver” brand! When I’m a size 12.. They fit and make me feel nice… When I’m a size 20.. They fit and make me feel nice.. Which is where I’m at now.. Anyhoo.. They also have a website:) good luck!

  12. Make your own jeans?! What is this brilliant madness?! I am 4’11”, a size 20, and apple shaped. Jeans shopping is worse than bathing suit shopping. Do you know how many jeans are made for very short, very round, no butted girls? Exactly zero. Incase anyone with my shape reads this, the closest I have come is Old Navy Rockstar. Beth, I think this recommendation has made my winter. And every winter.

    1. I know, right?? I told Jessika, the rad reader who recommended MakeYourOwnJeans.com that if this works, I’m never buying pants from a store ever again. Granted, I’ll have far fewer pairs of pants because I won’t be able to afford more than, like, TWO, but they’ll be pants that FIT, gosh darn it, and won’t THAT be a pleasant change??

  13. I need a bookmark option just for your site. There are so many posts, this included that I need to refer back to!

  14. I like the Land’s End jeans in the relaxed fit. And they come in petite length!

  15. I gave up on jeans a couple years ago. I have 2 pairs – one normal bootcut (that NEVER get worn) and one pair of skinny for the rare occasions I want to look semi put together. I’m tall but curvy – big butt/hips small waist so I know at least half of your struggle.

    I’ve LIVED in Banana Republic cords for the past 2 years. I have 3 pairs and wear them all the time during the fall/winter/spring. I try to catch them at the end of the season so they’re $40 instead of $80.

  16. thank you!! I feel like you just did all my leg work (pun thoroughly intended) for me! Now here I have this handy dandy spreadsheet o options and you’re even testing out the obscure but potentially awesome option for me! You’re my butt’s hero!

    1. My butt is high-fiving your butt.

  17. My mom gave me some of her sweetheart jeans and I LOVE THEM. I have capris and regular (really ankle, but regular lengths on me) ones. I also like Ann Taylor Loft jeans.. I have the skinny ones and the modern straight ones..

  18. I have been buying Liz Claiborne Ashley jeans. I usually get them at Costco for about $15, but I recently bought a pair at Kohls for a little more. I love their sizing because I buy a smaller size than I think I wear! 🙂

    1. Actually, they are Gloria Vanderbilt Ashley jeans!

  19. I’m usually all about the thrift stores — my wife works in one and gets a monthly stipend of store credit, so we rarely have to pay for everyday clothing — but when my ONLY Favorite Comfy Jeans (originally from a thrift store, and I had no idea what style they were) started succumbing to inner thigh wear, I bit the bullet and bought the same brand at full retail. Two pairs. They’re pretty much the only jeans I wear now.

    (Lee’s Relaxed Fit, btw. Flat front, no stretch. High waistband for my tummy to feel safe and happy.)

  20. Never found anything at Old Navy that worked for this short round body even when it was less round…I have lately bought new at Walmart. I hope that at $87, they are inner-leg-seam-fabric reinforced! That’s what I want…

  21. You know the head of Levi’s says you are NOT supposed to machine wash jeans.
    http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/22/living/dont-wash-jeans-levis-ceo/

    1. OK, I totally thought I was going to hate this article, Myrna, and ultimately have to boycott Levi’s, because I thought the alternative to NOT machine washing was going to be painstaking hand washing… and, honestly, I’ll just go pantsless before I have time to handwash! But it turns out he’s saying it’s OK to just spot-clean and otherwise NOT CLEAN jeans at all, so I’m back on board the Support Levi’s train! Great read.

      1. Yeah, but spot cleaning the entire pair is basically like hand washing… and that’s pretty much what happens when you have little kids. I’m pretty sure no one would want to come near me if I only washed them once a year. Or maybe these people just have that many pairs of jeans.

        And, I use washing to get back their tight fit. I know they say that jeans should fit well and you won’t have to do that, but I’ve never had a pair that didn’t stretch out after 3 or 4 days of wear…

        Who knows!

  22. I recently bought “Wanna Betta Butt” jeans from Bluenotes, and I LOVE them!

    Though as a fellow short girl, I would be amazed to have a pair of jeans that I didn’t have to hem myself.

  23. I didn’t see this in the recommendations, but JMS jeans from Walmart work well in my experience and come in short versions that work for me at 5’2″. A bonus is that they are usually under $20 a pair. Super comfortable and they wear well.

  24. I second Sweetheart Jeans from old Navy. And cheap!! Worth it just to try a pair.

  25. Oh.my.god. That is amazing and I definitely have to try that site! (Feeling the short person pain.)

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