While it would be lovely if every pair of jeans we acquired had the perfect inseam length, it's hardly ever the case, as we know from experience. Most jeans made for women come in one inseam length, which adds to the unlikelihood that they'll work for bodies of any height, especially when we add different shoe styles into the equation. That said, there are different things we can keep in mind when shopping for denim and visiting the tailor, and we found just the professional to boil it all down for us.
Katya Torres is the owner of Denim Surgeon, the New York City-based denim-tailoring experts that distress, repair, and perfect the fit of any pair of jeans that come their way. We consulted Torres on the subject of the best length for both shorter women and taller women, and her tips are sure to clear up any questions you may have about denim inseams. While having an expert opinion is always a good idea, we do want to remind you that style is individual and should be tackled however you please. We are just here to guide you when you're craving some support.
"For shorter-than-average women such as myself (I'm 5'2"), avoid very baggy and boxy-cut jeans," Torres suggests. "Bell-bottoms are okay if you only plan on wearing them with (very) high heels or wedges that are completely covered by the jeans' hem. It's a great optical illusion. Slim-fitting (tapered) or straight-leg jeans are flattering for shorter women, whether they're cropped, ankle, or standard length. We recommend an inseam no less than 21 inches. Avoid jeans that are too long, as they create a huge break (also known as stacking) and look sloppy. A proper hem on jeans is crucial to a shorter or petite woman. Raw-edge hems also look great, but always keep in mind that proper length is key."
For taller women, Torres says, "Anything goes, really. High-waisted jeans look great, whether they're slim and long or relaxed and cropped. From personal experience fitting tall women, jean length is typically a matter of personal preference and varies on the type of footwear that you plan to wear. But the rule of thumb is we go with the longest possible inseam if the client seeks a longer-looking leg. A shorter inseam (e.g., cropped or ankle length) will break up the vertical-denim flow and legs won't appear to be as long."