Age-Wise Style: Finding the Right Pair of Jeans

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InStyle's Fashion Director Cindy Weber Cleary has been a fashion editor for the past 20+ years. Needless to say, she's picked up some tricks along the way. Catch her column here each week for how-to tips and style secrets on her favorite, timeless styles. This week, we gave readers the chance to ask Cindy style questions on Facebook. Here, Cindy responds to one lucky reader. Head over to our Facebook page and submit an idea for Cindy's next column!

Q."Are there certain styles of jeans a woman over 45+ shouldn't wear? I have an hourglass figure. What should I look for?"

A. Who can ever forget the famous "Mom Jeans" video from Saturday Night Live? High-waisted, pleated, baggy, and hilariously unflattering from behind, mom jeans were every middle-aged woman's nightmare.

Shopping for jeans can be challenging! So many styles, washes and details to choose from…but you should always begin with fit.

An hourglass figure usually means a smallish waist and wider hips, which happens to be my figure type too. Look for labels that say "relaxed" or "curvy fit" which means they will be a bit more ample through the hip and thigh and you will definitely want stretch denim so that they don't gap at the waist, ideally about 70% cotton/30% lycra. You can choose a skinny leg, straight leg or trouser-style, depending on your personal preference. I find that boyfriend-style jeans look a bit sloppy unless you are quite thin. A mid-rise that hits just below the waist is generally the most flattering for women over 45, like Julianne Moore , Sharon Stone, and Salma Hayek (above). Here are a few of my favorite mid-rise styles:

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From left: MIH, $235,; J.Crew, $115,; Tory Burch, $185,

I also have different jeans to wear with different heel heights. For the ultimate slim silhouette, you can buy them extra long and wear them with a high heel. If you prefer flats, stick to ankle-length jeans, or, if your legs are proportionally short, choose a cropped style which will hit at your ankle—or take them to the tailor to be hemmed.

As for washes, I prefer a clean dark one which can be dressed up or down and is the most work-appropriate. You can wear a slightly faded or even a distressed wash for more casual situations, but I would suggest upgrading the look by pairing them with something very classic on top, such as a blazer, a white shirt, a turtleneck and a pump, wedge or boot. (Don't wear distressed jeans with sneakers or you'll look like a tourist.)

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From left: J Brand, $170,; Acne Studios, $230,; Frame Denim, $238,

Last but not least, the details. Avoid heavy stitching and fancy pocket details, "whiskers" (faded lines) at the crotch, heavy shredding, moto-inspired kneepads, patchwork, extraneous seams, any studs or fancy finishes…Keep it simple.

As Karl Lagerfeld once said, "You can be the chicest thing in the world in a T-shirt and jeans—it's up to you."

Read on to shop a few of my other favorite styles.

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From left: NYDJ, $130,; Ann Taylor, $60,; Levi's, $78,

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