I thought it would be fun to include this on the blog. It’s Donna Ida’s top tips for buying denim. As you know I took a trip last year to her denim clinic in London to try on lots of jeans and it was a great experience. Having worked with denim so long myself, I really saw that Donna and her team know denim so well! Not to mention Donna is wonderful! She’s so sweet! Enjoy her top tips!
1.) Be open minded. Always visit a denim specialist and be open to the suggestions the assistant makes. Like any garment all jeans are essentially the same – two legs, five pockets, but the magic is in the individual fit.
2.) If they go on easily, go down a size. Kicking your way into the legs isn’t unusual.
3.) The waistband should be snug, if you can fit two fingers down the back that’s good, a whole hand is not.
4.) A curved, or pieced waistband, is ideal. This will be slightly higher at the back than the front and will curve into your waist rather than sit straight up.
5.) High waisted jeans without a yoke can make the bottom look longer. Look for styles with a yoke if this is a concern.
6.) There should be no ‘grab’ room at the crotch when trying. The jeans should be nice and firm when you buy them, and loosen with wear.
7.) When buying jeans with super stretch, look for good quality denim that has great memory. The ‘memory’ is how quickly the denim springs back after wear.
8.) When buying jeans with super stretch buy them firm but not overly tight. If you have ‘seam strain’ down the legs, they are possibly too tight and this could damage the stretch.
9.) Look for white jeans with faux front pockets. If the style you choose has front pockets you can ask the tailor to remove them for a neater look.
10.) ‘Whiskering’ adds interest and depth on jeans around the crotch area and is a flatting feature. Lighter styles with no whiskering can sometimes look a bit ‘blocky’.
11.) When having your jeans hemmed for flares take the shoes you want to wear with them to the fitting. You should decide on the shoes and stick with those shoes for your flares.
12.) When having your jeans hemmed make sure the tailor always measures them from the back of the leg, i.e. at your heel, otherwise they may come back too short.
13.) Alterations can give you the perfect jeans. Think about adjusting the waistband or slimming the legs – small adjustments are not unusual.
14.) Pear shaped or curvy ladies who like skinny jeans should look at high waisted styles – it elongates the leg and slims down the hip.
15.) Apple shaped girls should look for plenty of stretch in a straight leg in a dark wash as they are the most flattering.
16.) Boyish shapes can wear most styles. Add some shape and interest with zips and details on back pockets.
17.) Long legs look best in a mid to low rise to keep the waist at the right height, whereas petite girls look great in a high rise that accentuates the waist and elongates the legs.
18.) Don’t be afraid to hem cropped jeans. People often think that if cropped jeans aren’t the right length then they’re not the jeans for them, but cropped jeans should be hemmed to fit properly, just like a bootleg or straight leg.
19.) Read the care instructions. Most premium jeans are best washed COLD, that’s cold and not 30 degrees, Any warmer and you are damaging the fabric.
20.) Have fun with your denim…the traditional five pocket jeans now come in a myriad of colours, patterns and fabrics. Just wear them with a simple white tee.
Photo above: Lorna (left), Donna (middle) and Kim (right).
As you know I met up with Donna Ida from the famous Donna Ida boutiques in London to try out the denim clinic. You can see the previous denim clinic posts here. We thought it would be fun to do an interview with Donna, since she loves premium denim as much as we do, and find out some of her favourite trends, loves and experiences. Carry on reading below to find out more.
DB: What is your favourite cut in a pair of jeans?
Skinny then flare… and anything high waisted!
DB: What’s your most fondest memory since opening your boutiques?
There are so many – usually the funny ones though. I once ended up standing on the shop floor in just jeans and a bra because a customer had asked me to try a top on, then when she liked it on me she came into the fitting room, took it off me and threw me out! I always have a great time with Kim too, she’s our Managing Director and has worked with me for years. We had a lot of fun once driving through In n Out Burger in LA – a lot of my happy times tend to involve food. But the best memory of all has to be when I met my husband. He walked into the first boutique 2 weeks after we opened. A complete chance and very very lucky meeting. I got him at Donna Ida!
DB: You are really nice Donna, so what’s your secret to staying friendly and down to earth even though you are so successful?
Ah that is so nice of you to say! When people are nice to me, even if they just smile it makes me feel great, so if ever someone catches my eye on the street I smile at them and I’m sure it makes their day as much as it does mine. Nasty people don’t get anywhere, I firmly believe that.
DB: What trends are you loving right now and what is your favourite ever trend?
The high waisted flare that 18th Amendment did in 2006 were so me and I just loved them. They were completely new and fresh. One trend that I didn’t think I would love as much as I do is colour. It’s so easy to wear! Coloured jeans are a godsend, I just love them.
DB: Do you have a favourite food?
I have so many. I love Italian – I could eat pizza and pasta all day, but I also love Japanese, Greek, Lebanese…
DB: What sort of music and movies do you like?
I’ve loved the Rolling Stones and The Beatles for as long as I can remember, but my favourite song is Tiny Dancer by Elton John. My favourite movie is Moonstruck. The first birthday I had after I met Bobby Dazzler, he hired a private cinema and had it screened for me after dinner. He hadn’t quite worked out just how little I drink at that point and didn’t want to waste all the wine and champagne he had ordered so proceeded to drink the lot then snore through the entire movie. I still loved it though!
DB: Why did you decide to open Donna Ida?
Because I couldn’t find anywhere to buy jeans that I felt truly comfortable in. Department stores have a great selection but I couldn’t get the service I needed and I was paranoid I wouldn’t be able to get them up over my thighs and would have to get dressed and go out looking for more sizes myself. Which usually did happen.
DB: What shows do you attend?
I go to Coterie in New York and Tranoi in Paris. Sometimes I go to Project in LA and I do all the smaller shows in NY and Paris while I’m there, but really Coterie and Tranoi are the big ones for me. Trade shows are hell, but they have to be done.
DB: How do you decide what to buy?
I usually know what I’m looking for before I go, but mainly it’s just gut instinct and knowing what shapes sell at what time of year. I rarely dither, either I like it or I don’t, so I can make quick decisions.
DB: What new brands are you looking forward to this season?
Rag & Bone have been doing amazing skinnies so I’m looking to our January delivery of their legging which is gathering a huge fan base. Bleulab are a new brand who are doing reversible denim and they’re launching in the UK with Donna this December, and then there’s Rich & Skinny who have relaunched. Their fits have always been spot on – I’m looking forward to having them back.
DB: How many pairs of jeans do you own?
Not as many as you think – maybe 20 or 30? I have tended to turn them over in the past, which I now realise is a mistake. I’m not getting rid of anything from now on!
DB: Which is your favourite pair?
That is such a hard decision – there are so many I rely on but probably the one I wear the MOST is my Paige Verdugo skinnies. They’re fantastic.
I found this video on Donna Ida’s blog from when she went to LA to visit Paige. This video shows the process of what Paige jeans go through while being made in the Los Angeles factory. You can see them making the lap creases, sanding and stone washing etc. It’s a great video! I love seeing clips like these because it really gives you an insight into what goes into making a premium denim brand! You can see the original video post here.