Two pairs of jeans hanging on two wooden hangers, one light blue, one dark blue. On a white background

A Sustainable Guide to Buying Jeans

is that time of year when we put away our shorts and dig out the jeans. Finding the right shape can be difficult, especially when you’re 5’2” and size 16, with an ‘upside-down’ bum (my kind daughter’s words!!). It’s also a minefield out there, with endless style, fits, rises, and colours! But buying jeans doesn’t have to be a headache, here’s my guide to getting the perfect jean.

Style & Fit of Jeans

So, before I go into detail with my tips for buying, I thought I’d briefly describe some of the most common styles and fits on offer. This isn’t an exhaustive list and there are others available (the list seems endless), but here are the ones you’ve probably heard the most.


  • Hipster/low-rise – waistband sits on or just below the hips
  • Mid-rise – typically the waistband sits about halfway between the hips and belly button
  • High-rise – waistband sits just above the belly button
  • Super high-rise – sits a bit further above the belly button, usually an inch or two more than high-rise


  • Super-skinny – very tight jeans fitted all the way to the ankle, commonly accompanied with a super-high/high rise waistband.
  • Skinny – still fitted to the ankle but slightly looser than the super-skinny.
  • Slim – a straight cut that is slightly more fitted than the traditional straight. Fitted to the thigh, then straight to the ankle
  • Straight – fitted around the waist and hips, then straight down to the ankles
  • Tapered –  a slim fitting which tapers from hips to the ankle
  • Bootcut – a slim cut to the thighs, and a slight kick at the ankle
  • Mom – fitted at the waist (usually ‘high’) then tapered to the ankle. Not a full-length jean, normally finishing near the ankle bone
  • Flare – slim fitting to the knee, then a wide kick at the bottom.
  • Wide-leg – fitted at the waist then wide to the ankle

5 Tips for Choosing your next pair of Jeans

Choosing your jeans doesn’t have to be a daunting task, flitting between 10s of websites or shops. Here are my tips for easy jean shopping with fast fashion and the environment in mind.

Avoid ‘trendy’ styles

I always like to look for jeans that I can dig out, year after year, and they don’t look ‘out of fashion’. Ripped jeans are in fashion, and they have been many times in the past, so it is likely that they’ll be in again in the future. I have one pair and they will do me just fine, they can go into storage when I’m done, then dust them off when they make a return! Other styles such as embossed/bejeweled jeans have a much shorter shelf life and occasionally make a reappearance but not that often. Think about whether you are likely to wear them next year, or the year after. High fashion statements tend to look dated very quickly.

Choose a style to fit your shape

It might sound obvious but, in the past, I’ve bought jeans because they looked good on the model, then they haven’t suited me. But I’ve kept them, worn them once or twice, then abandoned them! Do some research, certain styles or rises will suit/fit you better than others. I have a ‘mum tum’ so hipster jeans no longer work for me, but I am also short so super-high rise also doesn’t work (jeans up to your ribcage isn’t a good look!).

Choose the right length

Getting this right can mean the difference between your jeans looking fabulous, or not! I always thought long jeans would make me look taller, and whilst this can be true depending on style and shoes, this isn’t always the case! I found the bottoms just ended up frayed, wet, and dirty. Plus it looking like I’d stolen them from a much taller person!! Depending on how you plan to wear your jeans, choose the right leg size for your height. If is want casual jeans for everyday wear (knowing I wear a lot of flats) then I’ll buy ‘short’ or 28” leg. If I’m buying flared or ‘going out’ jeans when I know I’ll be wearing heels, I’ll choose a longer length (Regular or 30” leg).

Vary colours

I personally love a pair of jeans, and I wear them for all kinds of occasions. I tend to buy slightly different shades of denim just so I’ve got variety in my wardrobe. I’m not a fan of having loads of jeans that look the same just for the sake of it. I also tend to avoid ‘coloured’ jeans as these tend to fade and look shabby quite quickly (especially black, and yes, I’ve tried expensive ones as well). If I do buy a black or coloured jean then I will buy cheaper options such as Primark because I know they don’t have much longevity.

Choose jeans based on use

As mentioned before, I have jeans I wear everyday, some for going out, and some for comfort. If you have in mind what you intend to use them for, this will help choose the style, fit, and colour. Buying jeans aimlessly can be a waste of money as you’ll never or rarely wear them, so you should also think about:

  • The rest of your wardrobe (what are you going to pair them with)
  • Shoes (flats, heels, boots…)
  • Accessories (belts, bags, other accessories)

Save money, save the environment

Having a new pair of jeans doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy them or spend a fortune. There are plenty of ways to get a ‘new’ pair of jeans without the high price tag.

Charity shops – I’ve had many jeans from charity shops, some brand new with tags still on. It’s a good way you help charities and save money on full-price clothing.

Second-hand sellers – such as EBay, Depop, and Blue Rinse Vintage. For more inspiration on secondhand clothes, see My secondhand September pledge

Upcycle old jeans – if you have a pair of jeans that you love, but are getting a bit worn or frayed, then turn them into different; shorts, cropped, or ripped jeans… You could even get creative and bejazzle your jeans! Then, if you like them all sparkly, you can invest in a new pair next time they hit the shops.

Hand me downs – don’t be afraid to accept/offer a pair of jeans amongst friends/family. If I gain weight and a good pair of jeans no longer fits, then I always offer to a friend or sister if I know they’ll fit. And I’ve had the same in return with sisters/friends handing me clothes they no longer fit or like but know I’ll like/fit them.

I hope you find this Guide to Jeans useful. What are your tips when choosing a pair of jeans? I’d love to hear your thoughts ❤


19 thoughts on “A Sustainable Guide to Buying Jeans

  1. bournemouthgirl says:

    This is a great guide to help you make more sustainable options. I am wanting to loose some weight and get healthier and until I have done that I will not be purchasing anymore clothing at the moment, but I will want to make better choices in the future. Thank you for sharing as this is super helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jenny in Neverland says:

    I’ve honestly never really considered sustainability when it comes to jeans because I find it SO HARD to get jeans that fit me well because I have a small waist but big hips / bum. It’s a nightmare! I’ve tried ordering Jean shorts on Vinted this year but they didn’t fit sadly! I’d definitely be willing to try charity shops, if they had changing rooms!

    Liked by 1 person

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