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What jeans are good for short legs?

Jeans are one of the few pieces of fashion that are just everywhere. You can find them in just about any type of clothing store, you can see them being worn by all celebrities and famous persons, you’ve probably worn and owned more than a couple pairs of them in your life. But just because jeans are everywhere, it doesn’t mean they’re made to fit everybody (or every body) the same way. If your legs are a little shorter than what clothing manufacturers consider “average,” you’re going to have trouble finding jeans that fit just right. Make it easier on yourself by looking for the specific features and the different jeans styles that are going to be most flattering on you. What jeans are good for short legs? It’s time to find that out.

Women’s Jeans in History

The story of how a tailor and a store owner came together to create the world’s first pair of blue jeans is pretty iconic, always more than a footnote in the pages of fashion history. But of course, these early jeans were made for men. Their jeans history begins back in 1871, when the patent was officially taken out by Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis. 

Three people wearing jeans

The history of women’s jeans is a bit newer than that. 

The year was 1934. Movies starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are a hit at the box office and Clark Gable shined on screen in “It Happened One Night.” The comic book “Flash Gordon” was first published this year. And for the first time, jeans made just for women hit the market. This was the year that Lady Levi’s debuted and began to really change the fashion game.

Women had been wearing men’s jeans up to this point, rolling up the cuffs and tightening belts as needed to get them to fit. But Lot 701, the official name for Lady Levi’s, were made for the female shape. They had a Western style and they became instantly popular. This exact style appeared in the pages of Vogue and later, Marilyn Monroe herself wore a pair of them in 1952’s “River of No Return.” 

Stack of jeans

Women’s jeans were in fashion to stay. But every woman’s body is different. Women come in lots of shapes and sizes and all different proportions. So finding the pair that’s going to work just right for your particular shape and size and proportions isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t fit into one of those common cookie-cutter sizes that supposedly fit so many other women. If you’ve got short legs, you’ve got a little bit of extra work to do to find the right jeans for you.

The good news? There are jeans for you, no matter what your shape is like. Forget about cuffing and rolling and bunching your jeans. When you know what to look for and how to find the right jeans style for your body, you don’t have to do anything else but enjoy wearing your jeans.

Wearing Jeans with Short Legs

Having short legs and dressing well at the same time is a bit of a challenge where pants are concerned. You probably don’t want to walk around with everything cuffed up or bunched all day. That means you need to look at certain features, fits and styles of jeans to make sure you get a pair that’s going to actually fit your body and work well with your shorter leg length. Different style features work much better on bodies with short legs than others. 

Rise

When you’re dressing short legs, avoid low-rise waistlines. Even mid-rise waistlines aren’t that flattering on your body. This will make legs look even shorter. The best rise for shorter legs is actually high-style styles that sit at the natural waist. This means the jeans should fit around the narrowest point of the waist. This adds more fabric and more length to the jeans. 

Levi's Women's 721 High Rise Skinny Jeans, Blue Story, 29 (US 8) M

Because they start high up, the jeans make your legs look like they are longer. This works especially well when you’re wearing jeans styles that don’t strongly emphasize your hips, as this also creates the impression of longer legs. High-waisted styles have the added advantage of making your legs look leaner. 

Color

You can choose a light wash or a dark wash for jeans, or any color shade you like. But whatever you do, choose jeans that have a solid color all the way down. Faded or gradient styles are going to have a shortening effect on the legs and that’s no good. You want legs to appear longer, not shorter. You should also opt for very small prints, if you plan on wearing prints. Larger prints are going to make your legs look shorter. 

Wrangler womens Retro Mae Mid Rise Wide Leg Trouser Jeans, Dark Blue, 1-Nov US

The solid, uniform color throughout gives legs the look of length. Anything that breaks up the color of the jeans is going to visually cut your legs into sections and that’s just going to make them look shorter. 

Cuff

Wide leg and flare styles don’t look great on shorter legs. These styles have a way of shortening the legs optically. Close-fitting skinny styles and straight leg styles that don’t flare will make legs look longer and they are more flattering to shorter legs. You want leg cuffs that fit close to the ankles, styles that don’t flare out. 

Lee womens Legendary Regular Fit Straight Leg Jeans, Rinse, 16 US

You will see the difference yourself if you choose two pairs of jeans in the same size, one in a flared leg style and one in a straight leg style. Try both pairs on while wearing the same top, shoes and hairstyle. Change nothing but the pants and take a look at yourself. You will notice that visually, you look shorter in the flared leg style. Jeans that fit your legs closely all the way down create the illusion that your legs are long. This is just the natural way the human eye sees things. Straight lines tend to look longer than they are. Use little visual tricks of the mind to make your legs look longer, leaner and sexier. Because after all, isn’t all fashion just an optical illusion of one kind or another? 

Fit

Jeans sizes can actually get pretty confusing. Men’s sizes have two double-digit numbers, women’s sizes have just one number that is single or double digits. Yet sometimes, sizes also have letters. And sometimes, sizes also have measurements. Anyone would get confused. So in order to get jeans that are sized properly to fit shorter legs, you have to become a  bit of an expert on how jean sizes are determined.

Close up of person wearing jeans

What makes it even worse is that sizes aren’t particularly standardized. Manufacturers have slight variations, so that a size 14 from one brand doesn’t fit the exact same way as a size 14 from another. Also, there’s a difference in U.S. and UK sizes. How is anyone supposed to find clothing that fits properly with all this different stuff going on?

Start with your measurements. If you know your measurements, it will be easier to find jeans that fit your body properly, even when you have short legs. Measure your waist by placing the tape measure around the most narrow part of your waist. Measure the full circumference, all the way around and write this down. The inseam measurement goes from the top of the inner thigh to the top of your ankle. On people with shorter legs, the inseam will probably be around 26 inches or less.

Use size charts to match your measurements against jean sizes. In men’s jeans, it’s all pretty straightforward. These measurements correspond exactly to the size of the jeans. Women’s jeans, however, use a different sizing method that turns these two numbers into a single number. 

Person wearing jeans outside

Often, however, you will find that these sizes leave your legs too short to fit the full length of the jeans. This is why some women’s jeans brands offer additional sizing options. You may find jeans that also have a letter, in addition to the number that shows the size of the jeans. A size 14T, for example, is made for Tall sizes. This means that the length of the jeans is even longer than a plain size 14.

So when you’re shopping for jeans with shorter legs in women’s styles, look for a size with an “S.” This means Short, which means the length is somewhat shorter than in regular sizes. You may also see jeans that are marked as “P.” This means Petite. These size jeans are shorter in length, yes, but they are also smaller all over than other jeans sizes because they’re made for more petite frames. That means women with smaller hips and thighs, so the jeans will be smaller in the hips and thighs, for example. Having short legs doesn’t mean that you’re small all over, so petite sizes may fit the length of your legs but they won’t fit everywhere else. 

Shorter Leg Jean Styles

Once, all jeans were pretty much made the same way but in different sizes to accommodate different-sized people. But now, there are all kinds of different styles of jeans made to fit all sorts of ways. Jeans sit at different spots on the waist and may have a loose or very tight fit. The leg openings differ. There’s a lot going on, which means that shopping for jeans definitely isn’t simple…especially if you’re trying on multiple different styles of jeans in all different sizes. Simplify the process by sticking to jeans that are going to be more flattering overall to body types that have shorter legs. Look for the styles that are going to naturally look better on your body and you’ll find it much easier to find jeans that you enjoy wearing.

Mom Jeans

Levi's Women's High Waisted Mom Jeans, (New) No Joke-Medium Indigo, 30

Mom jeans are suddenly a sexy style now that all the hottest celebs are wearing them. Just because jeans are comfortable doesn’t mean they aren’t also stylish. Mom jeans are made to sit at the natural waist and they have a somewhat loose fit that makes them very easy to wear. The comfortable cut and high rise waistline make mom jeans a great choice for women who have shorter legs. Just be mindful of the length, as some mom jeans are made to be worn in shorter, cropped styles that aren’t always super flattering on shorter legs.

Skinny

Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. Gold Label Women's Modern Skinny Jean, Immaculate-Waterless, 10

You don’t have to be skinny to wear skinny jean styles. The “skinny” simply means that this style is meant to fit very close to the body, hugging and conforming to every curve and line. Skinny jeans are made to stretchy, however, so they can fit a variety of different shapes. Shorter skinny jeans will work well for women with shorter legs. The close-fitting cuffs at the bottom help maintain the long lines that will lengthen your legs.                                                                                        

Straight Leg

Lee Women's Missy Classic Fit Monroe Straight-Leg Jean, Seattle, 12

Straight leg jean styles come straight down the body from the hips in a clean, long line. This has a lengthening effect on the legs and an overall flattering look on the body. Straight leg styles are very popular because they fit well and they feel good. The straight fit works very well on shorter leg body types. 

Wearing Jeans That are Good for Short Legs

Finding jeans for short legs can be pretty tricky but once you find a pair that really works for you, all the extra time you put in shopping will be worth it. A great-fitting pair of jeans looks good and just feels right. And when they don’t fit well, you know it! So learn more about the jeans that are designed for shorter legs and learn how to find the perfect pair for your body. Because you should get to wear great looking jeans just like anybody else. 

 

Sources:

Fashionista – Fashion History Lesson: The Bond Between Ladies and Levi’s

PureWow  – The 25 Best Jeans for Short Women, According to the Petite People Who Wear Them

Revelle Blog – Discover The Fascinating History Of Women’s Jeans In The U.S.

Stitch Fix – I have a long torso and short legs, what should I look for in jeans?

The Strategist – What Are the Best Jeans for Petite Women?