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Friday, March 18, 2011

The Jeans Genie: An Exclusive Interview with Denim Guru, Ariela Suster

7 for all mankind

Jeans are a pain in the a-s-* to buy. There are a million different cuts, washes, styles, brands…it has become a chore to pick out the perfect pair. Nothing puts a dark cloud over a carefree shopping trip like trying on jeans that look terrible on you. It makes you feel gross and ugly and you convince yourself that either the store has a fat mirror, or you are definitely skipping your next few meals. Neither of which inspire you to continue looking. Well, I am in desperate need of new jeans and help. Fortunately for me, I’ve got the hook-up; so I reached out to one of the most sought after Denim experts in fashion today. Ariela Suster has worked for some of the most high end fashion magazines in the world. Starting her career as an intern at Harper's Bazaar, followed by becoming the Assistant Accessories Director at Lucky, and then onto become the Fashion, Accessories, and Denim Market Editor at celebrity fashion bible, InStyle Magazine. She has styled for reality show hit “Shear Genius” on Bravo, as well as for celebrities Camila Alves and Matthew McConaughey. Über popular denim brands including Lucky Jeans, Genetic Denim, and 4 Stroke have all called on Ariela for her expertise. Clearly everyone, including established brands, are seeking her advice and I am definitely no exception. I tracked her down, asked her questions, and got to the bottom of the seemingly impossible task of finding the perfect pair of jeans.

JJ: What is the most important thing to remember when trying to select a perfect pair of jeans? 
AS: When shopping for the perfect pair of jeans always keep versatility and great fit in mind. You should first think about what role these jeans are going to play in your wardrobe. Then make sure that you focus on fit and flattering your shape.  It is overwhelming to walk into a department store to try and find your perfect jeans when you don’t know what you are looking for.  

JJ:  I have friends that wear a very broad range of sizes, starting as tiny as size 23’s and going up. What is the best brand or store to find the greatest assortment of sizes?  
AS: I like Barney’s New York denim department. They have a variety of denim brands that fit and flatter different body types. Before you step into a store take a few minutes to research what different denim brands offer to flatter your shape. Most denim brands have fit guides on their website and will clearly detail what jeans they make to specifically flatter each body type. So when you walk into the store you will know which specific style from each brand has been created with your silhouette in mind. Check out Seven Jeans fit guide, JBrand, Paige Denim, Siwy, Joe’s Jeans, and even Jeans.com… these are great examples of brands and websites that make different styles to flatter different body types and have created helpful tools to help you narrow down your choices. 

JJ:  Do certain denim fabrics and materials make for a better fit? 
AS: Yes, there are two important elements that determine better fit. Fabric content and the way the fabric is woven. Most brands offer lycra or elastane content of 2%, this helps hold the shape of the jeans and contour the body.  Also Genetic Denim is a brand that prides itself in having the softest fabrics and great fits. I personally like this brand because it does have the perfect combination of soft fabrics that feel great against your skin and flatter your shape. 

JJ: I am personally very curvy in the hips and have a smaller waist, so I tend to always get that weird gapping in the back of my pants. What silhouette or brand of jeans would you suggest for women with hourglass figures? 
AS: Embrace your curves and look for styles that flatter them. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
*Look for styles with a stretch fabric that will contour your hips, thighs and butt and will work with your curves not against them. 
*Avoid styles that fit too tight at the waist or styles that cut you off tight at the ankles, both of these styles will add volume to your thighs and hips. Look for styles that have extra room in the hips and thighs.
*Pay attention to how the jeans fit your waist, make sure they don’t gap between the waist and lower back. The waist should be fitted but should not pinch or be too tight.
A boot-cut or flared style will balance out your hips and create even proportions, creating a leaner longer look without enhancing areas were you carry more weight.  Joe’s Jeans has a great style called The Honey, booty fit, these are made specifically with curves in mind. Also Paige Denim has a style called the Lou Lou, a classic rise slim flare that pairs the figure flattering aspects of a flare with the body lengthening traits of a skinny.
JJ: I’ve heard that there are some jeans out there that actually have “butt lifters” built INTO the jeans. Is this true and do they really work? 
AS: Designers follow a multi step approach to creating the effect of a butt-lifting jean. With a combination of the right fabric and strategically placed pockets, seams and darts this can be accomplished. The use of high pocket placement, a tight woven fabric that does not sag and can hold its shape can help create the illusion of a toned derriere.  

JJ:  What is your take on high waisted jeans? I know they are back in a major way, especially with the whole 70’s vibe going on now. Who do they look best on, and who should avoid them? 
AS: I strongly believe that when it comes to jeans the importance of flattering your shape will always preside over any trend. I think High-Waisted jeans are hard to pull of if you are not tall and thin. However, if you are inclined to try these out, definitely pair them with really high platforms or heels to elongate your legs.  

JJ:  Are skinny jeans here to stay? ‘Cause I have to tell you…I rarely feel skinny in them. I find the most comfortable and flattering ones for me have lots of stretch in them. Any tips for buying and wearing skinnys? 
AS: YES! Skinny jeans are considered a classic style at this point, and they are here to stay! From premium denim brands to mass-market brands you will find skinny jeans everywhere and at every price point. I think anyone can wear skinny jeans it is all about balancing out your proportions and finding the jeans that will flatter and contour your body. JBrand has a new great technology called Power Stretch Denim. They have a variety of styles, their skinnys will hold you in and retain their shape, offering you a comfortable and flattering fit. 

JJ: What is your personal Denim style and what are your Go-To jean brands right now? 
AS: I love jeans, and wear them almost everyday. I have two styles that I usually base my denim looks around, edgy/rock and roll and hippie/boho. My favorite jeans are  Siwy Denim, I love them, I am petite and they offer a style called the Slim cropped Hannah that fit me perfectly and I don’t need to get them tailored I have them in every shade of blue, black and even in sequins for a night out.  I also have my favorite bell bottom jeans that I am wearing at the moment they are old Paper Denim Cloth Jeans that I got about 5 years ago, but I am looking forward to getting Genetic Denim, Adriane Bell Bottom style.  Those are really my 2 go to brands for my style and body type.                                   

JJ: I know you are always working on a million projects, what can we look forward to from you? 
AS: I am currently working on some exciting new projects with Ruffian designers Brian Wolk and Claude Morais, we are creating an exciting new venture that will include a full lifestyle concept, launching very soon. I am also working on developing a project that is very close to my heart. I am creating a collection all produced and manufactured in El Salvador, which is where I am from. I am looking to create not just a beautiful product but also help my country and bring work to some very needed areas. I am launching my collection for Resort 2011, with a capsule of handbags and accessories using fabrics naturally dyed and handmade in local looms in El Salvador. 

JJ: That sounds so exciting! I can’t wait to see what you create. You will have to keep us posted. Really quickly before you go- Best jeans/brands for every body type! Go!
Curvy/Hips: J BRAND 
Straight/Narrow: ACNE
Petite: SIWY
Well there you have it! Something for everyone, straight from the best of the best! Here are pics of some of Ariela's favorites that she mentioned above:

joe's jeans, the honey, joesjeans.com

paige denim, lou lou, bloomingdales.com

siwy, hannah slim cropped jean, piperlime.com

j brand, powerstretch jean leggings, shopbop.com

Can't wait to see what Ariela works on next! I will DEFINITELY keep you all posted! Click on all the hyper-linked labels in the interview above to see all the amazing brands she talked about.

We thank you in advance for making jeans shopping a bit more bearable Ariela!  :)

Happy, Happy, HAPPY Friday.



  1. Great tips!! Thanks

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I think Ariela needs to come out with her own denim line!