'I’m plus-size and afraid of denim. So I asked an expert for help.'

Denim jeans have never sat right on me.

They've always been far too tight, or way too big, and have never really made me feel as good as I'd like them to. 

It's not like I haven't tried. I love the way denim jeans look on plenty of slim and fat women. But I've never thought I had the right proportions for it. Even now, at the ripe ol' age of 25, I only own a single pair of jeans, which I wear on the odd occasion. 

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They're straight leg, medium-wash blue and high-waisted. The first time I wore them, my friends exclaimed. They couldn't believe I'd actually made the plunge into the world of denim — I couldn't either. I felt confident in them, beautiful even.

But over time, and I can't really pinpoint when or why, I stopped wearing them at all. Every time I'd go to reach for the only pair of jeans I had in my wardrobe, my hand couldn't ever quite finish the job. 

And then I told myself I couldn't wear them. They hugged my belly wrong. My butt looked saggy. I just couldn't do it. 

I've owned that same pair for more than two years now, and I've worn them less than a dozen times. Which is disappointing because I take pride in wearing everything I own.


Alas, I'm officially terrified of denim jeans.

Melbourne-based stylist and founder of Styled By Sally, Sally Mackinnon, tells me that since starting her own brand 17 years ago, she's heard the same story.

"Denim has certainly evolved and there is so much to choose from now when you go shopping," Mackinnon says, adding that the way we think about ourselves in jeans can definitely influence our feelings towards them for the long haul.

"You could be terrified because you might believe you look frumpy, or that they don't fit right, but I also think there has always been this element of belief that jeans are uncomfortable as well."


Fortunately, says Mackinnon, women don't need to wear jeans to look good or feel confident. Having started her business in 2007, she knows all about how the industry has changed to become more inclusive — someething she's championed herself.

"We've always been inclusive in our services because women above a size 16 deserve to feel good. So do teenagers. All young girls and women do," she explains. "So it was natural to be inclusive to all sizes and for our clients to be a reflection of everyday society — because people come in all shapes in sizes."

So for plus-size women who are hoping to explore fashion and perhaps find their perfect pair of jeans, there are plenty of options.

"There really is a great pair of jeans for everybody and it is just about trying them on and being open to giving them a go," she says.

Here are her top tips for finding the perfect pair of jeans.

1. Ask yourself, 'How do I feel in this?'

Look, this is a tip that could perfectly apply to any woman, in any body, wanting to buy any piece of clothing. And I love it.

But it's especially important that when shopping for a good pair of denim, we make sure that we feel good when trying them on. 

"Whatever you try on and put on your body, it's about feeling. So great pair of jeans that hugs you in all the right places is going to make you feel confident, and that's regardless of size," Mackinnon explains. "Luckily for all of us, there's just so much variety. There are so many options."

From boot-cut to skinny and dark wash to white, the options available to plus-size women have increased a lot since the early 2000s. Mackinnon's favourite brands for plus-size denim wear include:


2. Don't set yourself up for failure. 

Unfortunately, not every brand has a curve or plus-size range and even when they do, they might not cater to a specific body type or size.

"When you go shopping, ensure the store you go to caters to your size," Mackinnon says. "Even when I'm shopping with a client, it's the first thing I do."

For the stylist, it's about maintaining that confidence, and that happens when we know that a store or online shop is making clothes for a bigger body.

"Whether you like the way the denim looks on you or not, when you know that it fits, you can feel that confidence growing."

3. Follow content creators whose outfits you want to replicate. 

Mackinnon follows all sorts of content creators in the fashion world online. It's the best way to find what you like and would want to wear, she says.

It doesn't matter if they're smaller, bigger, taller or shorter than you — inspiration comes in many forms. 

"I don't like comments on Instagram from people who ask beneath fashion posts, 'I'm this size and this height. I can't wear that. What do I do?'" she says. "You can go to anyone of any size for outfit inspiration and you look at how they put an outfit together and you study it. 

"That's what it's all about. Taking inspiration and applying it to yourself. It's not all about size. So don't narrow down your choices when you're looking for inspo online. Yes, it's about finding stores that cater for your size but it's also about looking at someone whose style you really admire, too."

Feature Image: Supplied.

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