Home Fashion A Guide to the Best Jeans for Petite Women

A Guide to the Best Jeans for Petite Women

by Gale Felberbaum

As someone who is 4’11” shopping for jeans is a constant struggle. Finding clothes that fit can be a challenge, especially if the brands you like don’t make specialty petite sizing. When it comes to jeans, the biggest problem is usually length, but it doesn’t end there. Some petite woman also struggle with waist sizing due to the proportions of the jeans being created for a different body type.

If having every single pair of jeans you own hemmed to a proper length sounds a little to exhausting to imagine—we’re here for you. No more considering shopping in the kids section, no more chopping off the ends of your jeans and hoping that the frayed look never goes out of style.

I have vivid memories of my mum wearing classic Levi’s jeans (501s, specifically) – stonewashed, high-waisted with a button-fly and loose tapered legs in signature thick denim – throughout my childhood to do the gardening or take the dog on a muddy walk. These were the ‘mom jeans’ before mom jeans became a thing.

As I hit adolescence, when replicating Kate Moss and Sienna Miller in their super-skinny Sass & Bide ‘Misfits’ (remember those?) became my ultimate goal, I would tease her about how ‘dated’ her pale Levi’s jeans were. ‘They’ll come back around one day,’ she’d say, like all mums do.

She was right: they have. Now her single pair of life-worn Levi’s make me look like the dated one. I own 24 pairs of jeans – and every single one of them is skinny.

After years of riding high, this style is now the bedridden former rock star of denim, clinging on for dear life as it watches its younger, peppier counterparts steal the limelight. Sure, Kate Moss is still wearing them, but she’s Kate Moss and I, sadly, am not.

What used to be my fail-safe outfit, the staple that formed the basis of every single look I wore, now makes me feel lumpy and overexposed. No matter what I pair them with, the proportions somehow feel all wrong.

I’m not the only one who feels this way, either. ‘As I get older, it’s not about showing off skinny legs, or figure-hugging clothing – feeling comfortable in my clothes and in myself is more important,’ says fashion editor and The Frugality blogger Alexandra Stedman, 33. ‘Plus, the denim styles at the moment are moving away from slick silhouettes to more relaxed and voluminous – and I love that.’

Parisian writer and creative consultant Camille Charrière, 28, agrees. ‘It was very hard to get out of skinnies, especially being French, but now I find it hard to get back into them. I think it comes with being a certain age – you look more rock’n’roll in skinny jeans, but more elegant in boyfriend jeans,’ she says, adding that she finds the best jeans courtesy of Levi’s, Monki and H&M.

But where did it all go wrong for skinny jeans? ‘Jeggings ruined them,’ says Donna Wallace, ELLE’s former Accessories Editor, who favours a pair of Lee straight-leg men’s jeans that she’s cut off at the hems. ‘As soon as they started bastardising the denim and putting in too much stretch, it became trashy.’

You may also like