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Should You Buy Denim A Size Smaller?

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Jeans are about as pleasurable to shop for as bras. It's endless rounds of trying them on to find a flattering pair that fits your thighs, waist, hips, and butt. Then, when you find that Holy Grail of Denim, more decisions must be made, including the size, after all, what looks good today might not be a month from now if they stretch or shrink. So should you go up, down, or stay true to size?

Buying denim a size smaller is an individual choice. Consider the fabric content, as a size smaller in a pair with spandex is often wise, whereas one that is 100% cotton isn't if you use a dryer. The second is fit, as it depends on where the size down provides the extra squeeze. 

Jeans come inmany styles, rise, and materials. Consequently, universally flattering jean does not exist. Nor is there a one-size-fits-all advice when buying denim, including the "rule" of buying a size smaller. Moreover, people have different preferences. Some look forward to breaking into their jeans to achieve a relaxed fit. Others want their denim to continue to hug their curves. 

Should I Size Down My Jeans? 

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Sizing down a pair of jeans, such asThe Hustler Ankle Fray, depends on many factors, most crucially on your comfort. If you are a person who can't wait for your jeans to achieve that soft, worn, slouchy feel, then sizing down is not for you. But for fashionable, rigid denim, sizing down is often required to ensure they don't bag throughout the day.  

But because we're discussing jeans, the decision becomes further complicated by the material of the jeans, how you launder your denim, and how the jeans hug or squeeze your figure. 

Sizing Down Denim Depends On The Material

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Sizing down your denim depends on the material. Jeans used to be 100% cotton, but now many have spandex in them. 

Spandex loosens up over the course of the day, leaving belt-free souls yanking up the waistband if they've bought true-to-size, such as in the Roller Heel X Marks the Spot.. In addition, spandex "snaps back" after you wear it. The material is less likely to stretch out or shrink in the long run. 

So, if sizing down on a pair of jeans with spandexis often the right choice so long as it flatters your figure, and doesn't leave an uncomfortable squeeze in the waist, pinch the delicate area between the legs, or cause you to lose sensation in your lower limbs. 

100% cotton is a tricker decision, especially if you use a dryer. Cotton stretches easily a half to a full size bigger over time. There is no "snap back" either, but hot water washes and driers will cause the cotton to shrink. Thus, going a size down could lead to them being too tight in the wrong places with unflattering bags in others. 

In addition, if the size down is yanking too hard on the seams, 100% cotton threads are libel to break, creating holes in areas that are not fashionable, such as the upper inner thigh. Thus, be mindful of where the extra "hug" comes from in rigid denim. 

Lastly, the key to sizing down 100% cotton is ensuring you care for it in the gentlest way possible so it relaxes in a flattering and comfortable manner.  In short, if you use a dryer, sizing down 100% cotton is not for you.

How Your Washing Routine Impacts Denim

Sizing down denim works for people who carefully launder their jeans and avoid the dryer. Washing reduces their lifespan and impacts fit, so it needs to be done gently. Sadly, the advice "put them in your freezer" is a myth, as the odour-causing bacteria only hibernates in the chill and "wakes up" as your denim thaws. Nor does freezing your denim do anything about the dirt and oil the fabric has collected. 

However, jeans do not need to be washed that often. They only need laundering when they've developed a "scent" or have visible marks. When washing, do it on cold and ensure they are inside out, including when hung to dry. Use the gentlest cycle as possible and only spot treat marks rather than using harsher detergents. 

If you launder your denim this way, sizing down is often the right choice, and you'll achieve an excellent and flattering fit. However, if your washing routine could be described as "boil and blast," then sizing down will further reduce the lifespan of your jeans and probably leave you with an incredibly uncomfortable and unflattering fit. 

Sizing Down Denim Depends On The Fit

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Sizing down denim depends on the fit. Those hoping for a slim silhouette, such as in the
High Waisted Rider Ankle orThe Hustler, and avoiding baggy will probably need a size down. The stretch over time in a pair true-to-size will lose the look you were aiming for, such as when buying theTripper Ankle Ripe for the Squeeze.

Baggy or wide-legged jeans, such asSade BaggyorThe Undercover Cargo, are not immune from needing to be sized down, as the weight of the material can cause them to fall as they stretch in the hips, butt, and waist. 

However, we're all built differently. Sometimes going down a size turns the waistband into a vice that gives a "muffin top" effect. As the waistband is reinforced with extra stitching, this part of the denim won't stretch as much as the part directly below, across the gut. So even if the fabric below stretches, the waistband will still give your flesh an unflattering squeeze. 

The delicate area between the legs is another place where sizing down can be problematic. If it is pinching in a way that makes you feel like you're headed towards the worst gynecologist exam ever, stick to your true size. The stretching of the material doesn't typically resolve this uncomfortable (and potentially infection-causing) situation. 

Lastly, avoid sizing down if you're debating unscrewing your feet to slide into those skinny jeans. There isn't enough "stretch out" that is ever going to fix this, and breaking your ankle in the name of fashion is a step too far. 

The point of sizing down is to ensure a flattering look across the hips, butt, thighs, and, for some styles, the calves as the fabric relaxes. The size down should hug firmly, not make you feel like you're ready to pop. 

A slight suck-in to zip past the gut is fine, as this area will stretch, but you can't suck in the waistband. You are aiming for a size down that holds, so you could wear them without a belt after the material has relaxed. You are not looking for a size that makes you reach high notes you've never uttered. 

Sizing Down Denim Depends On You

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Again, sizing down denim depends on you and your comfort. There is no point in sizing down your jeans if it means you will avoid them. Fashion doesn't look good when shoved in the back of a drawer, never worn. 

On the flip side, buying true to size could mean throwing them out in a handful of months if you can't stand baggy or slouchy denim. That's expensive and hard on the environment. Plus, you have to go through the nightmare of finding a new pair all over again. Thus, sizing down is probably perfect for you. 

Buying denim doesn't come with a one-size-fits-all rulebook. While sizing down is frequently the correct choice when buying jeans, there are reasons to buy true-to-size. Ultimately, consider your comfort, style preferences, and washing routine.


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