Style Guide: Denim Do's and Don'ts

It's a worldwide wardrobe staple. But there are rules to giving good denim. Here’s your failsafe guide to wearing this perennially popular fabric oh so right.

“Denim is the ultimate blank canvas,” states Sarah Gilsenan, Head women's designer for Rolla’s jeans

“It is timeless, classic and an item that can still look individual depending on how you style it. It can be dressed up or down, is comfortable yet flattering and also durable,” she enthuses.

“I think the image of Brooke Shields in her Calvin’s really took denim to a new place. It made it sexier and dressier, whereas before denim had been more of a functional item. This was the beginning of 'designer' denim and what I think was a more fun approach to wearing jeans.”

Which Wash?
There is a definite lean towards classic, mid blue denim tones, says Sarah. These are universally easy to dress up – with a jacket and heel – or dress down, with a classic T-shirt and trainers.

Which Fit?
Baulk at the Super Skinny fit? You’re not alone. Although they don’t fit everyone, the slim-line style is here to stay as a wardrobe staple, but coming into spring, there is a move towards more relaxed shapes.  “We have seen it with the boyfriend looks – baggier oversized cut - already being popular and this is opening up for more relaxed silhouettes across the board in high waists all the way through to low slung looks,” says Sarah.

Which Piece?
There are some essentials that transcend times and trends, like the black slim jean and the slim-fit style. A relaxed worn in pair is always comfortable for weekends and cut-off denim shorts or a dress are du jour for those with the legs to carry them off!

What Works With What?

o The Denim Jacket: “A shrunken shape works great over a long slim shirt and skinny jeans ­ a classic but it works,” says Sarah.
o Ripped and faded favourite pair of jeans: Keep the styling with this minimal and classic to avoid looking too ragamuffin. “Let the jeans be the statement and pair with a soft tee and leather jacket for a look that's hard to get wrong!”
o Dark, dressier denim jeans:  These are a great canvas for a statement heel and top which works for the workday or weekend, but keep hair and accessories relaxed to balance out the look, notes Sarah.
o Denim dress: “This is an outfit unto itself, so keep the styling minimal with a great pair of perfectly worn vintage ankle boots and a jacket to throw on top for a great everyday outfit,” Sarah says.

Which Price Point?
“Denim price generally comes down to fabric and so the main
difference will be in longevity,” Sarah says, adding that anything under $100 can generally be lacking in quality, and therefore lose its stretch and shape before the season is out.  “High quality denims should have excellent hold and stretch retention and look even better with wear,” she adds. Generally these cost a little more but Sarah does warn that if you are paying anywhere over $200 for a pair of jeans, you are more than likely paying for the brand on the back pocket than the pair themselves!

Who Wears It Best?
“Nicole Richie is always on trend but more importantly wears it her way to flatter her body type,” says Sarah. Kate Moss also knows what works for her and sticks with it. "She always looks great in denim but doesn't blindly follow trends," notes Sarah. Jennifer Aniston has a handle on exactly how to create a classic, tailored look with a favourite pair of denim duds and can get away with a looser fit and some boots for downtime.

For day or night, fancy or carefree, choose your own denim adventure and rest assured, you are sure to get it right!

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