Here are some dos and don'ts to keep in mind when wearing denim this year:
-- Do buy jeans that fit. The stiff denim jeans are a thing of the past. With new stretch fabric innovations, there's a pair of jeans to fit even the curviest of figures. You may have to try on several different sizes in different labels, but don't give up. There is the perfect pair out there. Ask for help from a knowledgeable salesperson. Then when you do find a brand you like, stock up!
-- Don't get stuck wearing the infamous "Mom" jeans. You can win the battle of the bulge without sacrificing style and without spilling out of the top of your jeans into the dreaded "muffin top," which has plagued many women for years. Look for jeans with waistlines that hit right below the bellybutton for the most flattering silhouette.
-- Do consider cut. The skinny jean is still a big fashion trend, but a boot cut is usually more flattering for most body types. And if you do have larger thighs, a trouser style may be your best bet.
-- Don't stick to just one style. Try to incorporate a variety of silhouettes into your wardrobe. You may have one favorite, but jeans can be your best friend when it comes to building a basic wardrobe. This spring, cropped denim is a big trend for the warmer months ahead.
-- Do think about shoes. The right shoes or boots can make or break a pair of jeans. Generally speaking, your jeans should cover the heels of your shoes and hit right on top of the front of your shoe. If you need to get them hemmed (and many of us do), have them altered to match the original hem stitching. You will probably find that you will wear different lengths with different shoes -- I have a special pair for flats and another pair for heels.
-- Do dress your jeans up. Jeans are one of the most versatile basics you can have in your wardrobe. When buying them, think about your lifestyle and buy accordingly: a dressier pair for the office; a more casual pair for the weekends. Darker washes are preferable for dressier occasions and for work.
-- Don't go baggy. There's nothing worse than a slouchy pair of jeans that hang off your body. You may have broken them in years ago, and they're the softest things in your closet. But it's time to get rid of them. Stick to wearing jeans that are sleeker and chicer! You don't have to go tight, but you do need to remember to buy jeans that fit and may even be a little small for you, since most jeans have a tendency to stretch as you wear them.
-- Do get creative. Jeans are the perfect "base" for adding some oomph to your fashion outlook. Experiment with different "trends" and revamp your whole wardrobe. Tuck your skinny jeans into knee-high boots, or jazz up your cropped denims with a pair of strappy sandals. The more creative you get, the more you'll see how you couldn't imagine life without your favorite pair of jeans.
Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association.