It’s always been a challenge for me to find jeans that fit. I’m 5’11”, 190 lbs. and have what you’d call “solid” thighs. They have a circumference of 24.5”, and they are not easy to fit into most jeans. Occasionally, I’m tempted by those hipster styles on mannequins or great sales, and I’ll venture into a store hoping to find something that fits. Usually such good-spirited ventures end in frustration and fruitless results. I’ve learned to resort to a few brands that I know — from years of trial and error — will have a more forgiving fit for my body. Lucky Brand and Ralph Lauren tend to work well for me and, though some styles aren’t necessarily “exciting” or “on trend,” they seem to have my fit and are easy enough to find in most shopping malls.
But do I want to experiment with more brands and styles? Definitely! My most recent pair of jeans are size 32×30, so I figured this was a good starting point for exploring other brands and styles of jeans. The challenge is the missing size chart for thighs. Besides the conventional waist (32”) and inseam (30”) measurements, I also need to know the thigh measurement, and I have not found a single brand that publishes that extra information on its sizing chart. It’s a simple measurement that anyone can obtain with a tape measurer within minutes, but strangely it’s just not available—anywhere.
So, on a sunny weekend afternoon, I decided to do just that: hunt for my size 32×30 jeans with a tape measurer. It’s a strange, but practical way to shop for the right fitting jeans.
I live in Palo Alto, California: center of the universe when it comes to technological innovation (i.e. Silicon Valley), research (i.e. Stanford), and legions of Medium writers (i.e. venture capitalists). Fashion, however, is not the highest priority. With the exception of the Stanford Shopping Center and the Westfield Valley Fair Mall at Santana Row in Santa Clara, there are few shopping hubs in the area. Suffice it to say that the Valley’s shopping scene is not on par with major Asian cities like Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing (not to mention just about any building in Tokyo or any street in a major European city). But that’s OK. Why shouldn’t we try to dress with MVP style anyway?
My search began at the Nordstrom Racks in East Palo Alto after which I went to Macy’s Men Store at The Stanford Shopping Center.
In these two stores, I dug out all of the size 32×30 jeans from every men’s jeans brand, and used a tape measurer to measure the width of the thighs before even going into the fitting room. Given my thigh’s circumference of 24.5”, the jeans needed to have a width around the thigh of at least 12” to be a legitimate candidate. I know it must have looked strange to the casual shopper: a guy, tape measure in hand, going around and methodically measuring jeans. Must’ve looked like I really knew what I was doing (though no one approached me asking for assistance).
Here are some of my initial observations:
- No Inseam measurement: Some high-end designer jeans simply don’t have an inseam measurement, such as 7 for All Mankind. They only have a waist measurement and probably just assume you have the right leg length to match it.
- I have a nontraditional size: For middle-of-the-road brands that do have both waist and inseam measurements, 32×30 is kind of an odd size that is not easily available, at least not from just any store. Given a waistline of 32”, an inseam of 32” and 34” are much more common.
- Taking a thigh measurement is not straightforward: While it’s rather straightforward to measure waistline and inseam, there is no universally accepted rule that says, “measure from A to B to get the thigh size.” So, I just picked a starting point that is 4 inches from the start of the inner inseam and ran the tape across the jeans to measure the “width”. Maybe this is one of the reasons why the apparel industry doesn’t publish this number?
- The jean’s style or “cut” is easily forgotten: For most brands, the jean’s specific “cut” (straight, boot, relaxed fit, etc.) is only printed on the tag. However, nobody keeps the tag after purchase so, after they’re thrown away, it’s difficult if not impossible to remember this information, which can help a novice shopper (like me) find the right style again. For example, the Ralph Lauren jeans pictured below have the “Bootcut” style information printed on the tag, but this is not on the jeans. Once the label is discarded, only 33×30 can still be identified on the jeans.
- Thigh measurements vary widely: Last but not least, the thigh measurement from these brands vary significantly from 10” to 11.5”. I’m sure if I expand the scope of my search the variance would be even larger as I haven’t hit those European skinny jeans yet.
Here’s what I’ve found (notice the variation in thigh width):
|Brand||Model||Available Sizing (inches)||Thigh Width(inches)|
|Joe’s||Collector’s Edition, Slim Fit||32 (W)||10.0|
|Diesel||Larkee, Regular Straight||33-30||11.2|
|7 for Mankind||Carsen||32 (W)||10.7|
|7 for Mankind||Carsen, Slim Straight||32||10.3|
|Levi’s||513, Slim Straight||32-30||10.5|
|Rock Revival||—||32 (W)||11.0|
|Ring of Fire||Slim Straight||32-30||10.5|
|Ralph Lauren||Denim & Supply, Relaxed Fit, Slouch||32-30||11.5|
|Ralph Lauren||Denim & Supply, Relaxed Fit, Slouch||33-30||11.5|
|Ralph Lauren||Denim & Supply, Bootcut||33-30||11.5|
|Ralph Lauren||Denim & Supply, Classic Fit, Straight||32-30||11.0|
So, there was not a single model from these two stores that had a thigh width of 12” from the 32×30 class. Quite a disappointment.
On the last stop of this trip, I walked into the Lucky Brand store at the Stanford Shopping Center looking for reassurance that my search for a pair of jeans was not entirely doomed. Alas, the “410 Athletic Fit” and the “363 New Vintage Straight” both in size 32×30 were still too tight for me. I was ready to throw in the towel and accept that in the new age of skinny pants, I’m just not cut out for trendy jeans.
As I was about to walk out, a shop assistant must have taken pity on me. She stopped me and showed me a pair of size 32×34 “481 Relaxed Straight” that had probably been collecting dust in the warehouse. “You can always just cuff it up if it’s too long,” she said.
Well that’s true, so I tried it on, and they actually fit! I did the same measurement for their thigh width and it turned out to be the elusive 12”. Wow, it actually does exist! Here’s a photo of me in this 32×34 Lucky Brand. Maybe it’s not stylish but, for people like me, I’m happy as long as there is something I can actually put on. Depressing, but true.
I designed an arguably scientific and rather efficient method to search for what I needed, given what’s available in the store. It did not produce the outcome I was hoping for. It would have been a fruitless shopping trip if not for this shop assistant who happened to feel sorry for me. I would’ve never tried on a size 32×34 expecting the increased length in the inseam to affect the fit around the thighs!
But what does this mean for my jeans search going forward? Maybe I just need to expand my scope to include more brands and sizing combinations? Can I assume that if I try on longer jeans, the width of the thighs will accommodate my measurements? I wonder if brands could listen up and make our lives easier by providing this extra measurement. Or I wish somebody could just tell me which jeans have 12” thigh width – it should not be that hard.
Or maybe there is another way? What are your thoughts?