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Skinny Jeans for the Curvy Girl


Update! Check out the sequel to this post in which I wax poetic on my favorite boyfriend jeans, bootcuts, and leggings!

On Friday night as we were driving around town after having a dinner with just the two of us, I found myself surveying myself in my jeans.

Simon (unaware): “Whatcha thinkin’?”

Me (pause): “Um, well, frankly, I’m thinking about my thighs.”

Pause. “Oh really. Ooookay. I don’t know if should ask, but what about them?”

Me (offhandedly): “I think about my thighs on a daily basis. And how they are my biggest problem area. I would kill for skinny thighs.”

S: ::befuddled::  “Uhhh… ”

Me: “Yeah, I’ve always had issues with them. See, if I had big boobs, I wouldn’t hesitate to get a boob reduction. But it’s not like you can go out and get a legitimate thigh reduction. Why do you think that is? And if they DID offer it, I would be first in line to sign up!”  (Aside: yes, I’m perfectly aware of liposuction.)

S: “Wait, so, you’re saying you don’t like your thighs?”

Me: ::befuddled:: “Wait, are you not aware of their insane hugeness?”


In case you didn’t gather from that little exchange, my thighs are my (perceived) problem area. As a classic pear shape (small on the top, bigger on the bottom), I carry my excess weight in my booty, hips, and the much-maligned thighs. Remember the great Shorts Revival of Summer 2012? That was such a  big deal to me because I’ve always struggled with how to clothe the lower half of my body.  And apparently a lot of you do too, judging by the response I’ve had both on the blog and in real life to that particular post.

There are two things I can take from this entire exchange I had with Simon (and with others of you on this same topic):

  1. Our perceived problem areas are problems only to us. Nobody else.
  2. Everyone has body insecurities.

So I thought I’d do a little post on some of my favorite skinny jeans for the curvy girl. Being the Pear, I groaned and lamented the rise of the skinny jean a few years back. But it’s safe to say that several years later, it’s a trend that is not going away anytime soon. And to be honest, I feel 10x more confident in my skinnies than I ever did in my bootcuts.  On my size 12-14 body, it’s best to keep things streamlined. I need simple, well-cut clothes, especially on the bottom. And it always felt that bootcuts or flares were adding too much bulk to my overall appearance.  Disclaimer: I am going to talk about a few different styles of jeans including straight, denim leggings, cigarette, and others. These can all be classified under “skinny jeans.”  These are, however, different than the dreaded Mom Jean. Need some help in how to avoid the Mom Jeans look? I love this post here about Mom Jeans & the Dreaded “Long Butt.”

What to wear with the skinny jeans is a whole other post of its own, so I’m not going to touch on that right now. I’m just going to talk strictly about fit and my favorites.  Let’s get started!

I call these the Gateway Skinnies because they were the first ones I ever bought. J.Crew’s Matchstick jean is a lovely dark wash (universally flattering, as are most of these that I’ll show you), and they have just enough stretch. To be fair, they could be stretchier – I don’t believe in a rigid jean anymore with all the deliciously comfy options available now.

These can be termed a straight style – they’re not skintight and are great if you’re easing into skinnies from, say, bootcut or flare styles. I personally think these are more flattering on curvy girls than bootcuts or flares. In my opinion, these are perfect with heels. If you are going to wear them with flats, hem them appropriately.

These CJ by Cookie Johnson “Joy” Leggings (different wash here) are my all-time faves because she cuts them to be skinny jeans for the curvy body. I almost always size down in her stuff, but they are so soft, stretchy, and extremely flattering. Plus I respect that she doesn’t stop at a size 32; she puts her money where her mouth is and makes jeans for curvy girls up to size 38.  Keep in mind that you want the legging jean to be snug. It shouldn’t pinch or be sausage-casing, but it does need to be very snug to get the look. Again, I choose these because they’re stretchy and comfy. They’re perfect for tucking into my boots in the fall. Oh, and if you loved colored jeans, she does a great variety of gorgeous hues.

You’ve heard me singing the praises of the AG Prima jean, and now a week later, I’m still convinced that they are my go-tos for comfy and easiness. The dark wash keeps it sophisticated, but easy enough that I can toss on a plain tee shirt and still look pulled together. Plus, the midrise is comfier around my midsection; it’s not so low that I feel uncomfortable leaning over in public.  I almost wish I’d sized down on these; they do stretch after a day or so of wear.  But who doesn’t love getting to size DOWN, you know?  These hit right at my ankle and are great with heels or flats.

Finally, the most versatile award goes to the Kate Spade Broome Street jean.  These have a great weight and just the right amount of stretch. In fact, they almost never lose their shape. They also have a really cute rear view. I’d prefer they be a little bit higher rise, but there’s definitely no way these could be misconstrued for mom jeans. Plus there’s that adorable pink stitching on the inside of the seams that’s visible when you roll them up. These are the perfect dress-up jeans.


You’ll notice that none of these are exactly cheap and I’m going to tell you why. More expensive jeans are priced that way for a reason and it’s not just price gouging. The fabrics are better and the fits are always better.  Why do I spend money on jeans? Because my butt & thighs are my problem area and are the hardest part of my body to fit. Spend money on your problem areas – want your butt and legs to look better? Find pants that will make them look the best they can. Or, for example, if you have a really hard-to-fit bust, you want to buy a bra that will make it look amazing.  So I don’t have a problem spending money on jeans because I wear them nearly daily and I want to feel & look good in them. Do I pay full retail price? Sometimes, but if I can find them elsewhere such as Amazon, eBay, etc, I’m all for it. The CJ by Cookie Johnson jeans are always easy to find on sale; the others take a little bit of work, but it’s doable. And the result is worth it.

What are your thoughts on skinny jeans? Do you feel like you have a difficult-to-fit part of your body?  And don’t forget to check out  the sequel to this post !


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Dig a little deeper

  • Diana Blanco

    Thanks for this post. Im excited to have a few new styles to try out. And yes, its totally worth paying the high price for good jeans but ALSO you can totally find good deals. I recently got the Prima AG’s at Off Sacks for $40. Unreal!!

    • RachelShingleton

      Wow – that’s the best deal ever! Lucky you!

  • Jamie

    LOVE this post!! I completely agree that jeans are worth the money even if your bottom half isn’t your problem area! You can totally tell a good pair of jeans from a cheap pair!!

    • RachelShingleton

      Yay! So glad you agree!

  • Amy @ Forever 29

    Thanks for this post! I agree that after a few years of resisting skinny jeans I gave in and now they are my favorite cut! I need to invest in a good pair, so I will try a few of these!

  • scarletbegoniavintage

    I love J.Crew’s matchstick jeans! They are totally worth the money and last a long time…I’m on my 3rd season with one pair. Also, I just bought the matchstick cords and they fit just as well as the jeans. They are perfect for fall!

    • RachelShingleton

      They do last forever – I have a pair from several years ago that look as good (and dark) as they did when I bought them. No fading or anything.

  • Lili

    i am going to look for those AG jeans! thanks for the heads up!

    • RachelShingleton

      You will love them!

  • Lauren

    I am new to OKC from Seattle. Also a pear, size 12 and feeling bigger than the average native Oklahoman! Clearly I need to go shopping with you! Is there a place locally that you try on some of these jeans (aside from J. Crew) or do you just order on line and hope for the best?

    • RachelShingleton

      Welcome to OKC! Yes, there are some good local shops, although sometimes I prefer to shop online. Zappos in particular is a fave because of the free overnight shipping (Can’t beat that!). Locally, try On A Whim, Kokopelli, Balliet’s, Gil’s (for denim only), Isabella (in edmond), and Dillard’s (they have Joe’s jeans, which I forgot to mention in this post). Hope that helps! Are you on Twitter, by any chance?

      • Lauren Biard

        Thank you – I had no idea there were so many choices! No, not on twitter, should I be? ;)

        • RachelShingleton

          Re: Twitter. It’s a good place to meet local people and connect with small businesses in town. If you try it out, my username is @pencilshavings.

  • Gina Anderson

    Came here from Susan’s working closet. LOVE your dialogue at the beginning – how I feel about my thighs. Everything is always tight there (and a little in the butt too!) and I have such a hard time finding jeans. I’m a bootcut & flare cut girl all the way but tried some straight leg jeans last year and was miserable. I felt like a sausage. I’ll have to try some of these. Thanks for the review. I’ll have to find some of your other reviews. As for what to wear with them, I’m sick of the big on top and skinny bottom look – just screams ice cream cone to me and the best part of me is the top & waist so why do I want something big and blousy with no definition? Anyway, as I ramble, thanks again.

  • Rachel

    I just happened upon your blog after Googling “slim jeans if you’re curvy/don’t want the big bell at the bottom” – thrilled (for real) to say the least! I am the same size on the bottom and have always struggled to find jeans that were fitted without having a massive bell on the bottom to “balance out my hips and thighs.” I see so many girls walking around with super cute slim jeans and I want it, too! Planning to check out all these options when I get home – thanks!!

  • Renae R

    I am loving this post! I think I’ll start with the gateway drug…er, skinny jeans. I am a pear to the extreme and ALWAYS have trouble finding a good fit. I wanted to try the AG but they appear to have 30″ inseams only at Zappos (also my fave store). I will check around but greatly appreciate all of the time and effort you’ve put into this post. We curvy girls are grateful. You earned a new subscriber today!! Great blog…can’t wait to read more!

    • RachelShingleton

      Yay! So glad to hear it. I’m always happy to be of service. :)

  • Monique

    I love this post! I’m small, but too curvy in my lower half — I have to size up to get jeans around my huge calves and thighs, leaving the bum and waist loose and sloppy. I’m going to be investigation these brands of jeans ASAP.

  • Karen

    I am 5’0, curvy, and a 12 as well, and have been afraid to try skinny jeans as I have very muscular legs. They look so cute on other people, and I love the look with flats and a cute top. Good article, but I sure wish you’d posted pictures of yourself wearing some of these jeans, as obviously each image you’ve got here shows a slim silhouette.

  • MLD

    Just came upon your post today as spring is soon arriving and I am dying to wear coloured bright skinny jeans but I have the one major cloud stopping me….my big thighs and short legs. This problem has plagued me since I was a teenager, so much so that I went to speak to a plastic surgeon about liposuction….after he told me it would cost $12 000, and I still would have ‘kissing thighs’ I decided to opt out and try and cover them as I always do. I’m really excited to try these jeans….thank-you for this post. I’m Canadian and am hoping I can find your recommendations!!!

  • Sarah

    This is a lifesaver! I have such trouble finding skinny jeans that fit
    my thighs, and after trying on 10 disastrous pairs in a row, it’s hard
    not to feel defeated and just give up. Ann Taylor has a great curvy
    fit, but they don’t sell them year round. Thank you so much!!

  • Pingback: More Denim for the Curvy Girl | Pencil Shavings Studio()

  • daryl

    hi there, i’m EXTREMELY late coming to this blog post but as a “triangle” shape, which is the opposite of “pear”, i think you have it good. People initially see the top half of you, which is skinny. The hips are seen after the first initial impression is made. And it’s easier to hide big hips. You have a waist. You can wear a cute, flirty full skirt. As a triangle, the first impression is BIG. Wide shoulders, broad back, no waist. and….yes, slim hips. But no one ever sees them! And to balance out the top heavy shape, you need more fullness on the bottom, so you have to cover up your skinniest part. LOL- So, i thought I’d share to make you feel better!

    • Erin

      Anyone who thinks big hips are easy to hide knows nothing about having big hips.

  • Debb

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this!

  • Amanda Schaumburger

    This post was great! Whether a 4, 8, or 14, any size woman can have the dreaded ‘butt & thighs’ insecurities. Bookmarked for shopping use, for sure!

    • Rachel – Pencil Shavings Studi

      Thank you!

  • jess from chicago

    I think posting pictures of a model who is a size 0 on a blog talking about wearing a size 16 and how to dress it, is sending the wrong message on how to be plus size an pull of the skinny jean trend.

    • jess from asia

      Hear, hear.

  • PhantomFan1a .

    I have big calves and thighs and whenever I buy skinny jeans I can never get into them T_T Can never seem to get jeggings that fit my legs either T_T For some reason whenever I find jeggings they are never stretchy enough to fit my huge calves and thighs T_T

  • Emma

    I came to this blog looking for positive examples of shorter women with a curvy body type, but was instead met with pictures of what I can only say look like the mannequins I see in the Nordstrom window AKA nothing close to what I look like. I am sad that the first image I was met with was a tall, slender woman with no thighs wearing jeans that would most likely look good on anybody of that body type. Please either find different photos or don’t include any at all.

    • Rachel – Pencil Shavings Studi

      None of those women really look like me either. But take my reviews for what they’re worth –> real life reviews from someone who’s not a Nordstrom mannequin either.

  • Dora

    The best jeans i have tried on are from DSTLD

    They hug my curves in all the right places!

    • Jane

      Thanks for the advice – There’s a pop-up shop near me that I might check out. Good tip!

  • loosepages

    If they are skinny jeans who are supposed to fit curvy women, then for the love of god, USE CURVY WOMEN TO MODEL THEM.