The Daily Mail’s Mimi Spencer on ‘Jean Genie’ Donna Ida Thornton and the Denim Clinic.
Fab-fit jeans here’s the skinny By Mimi Spencer
Mind the gape, girls – the perfect pair needs wriggle room only
Jean Genie: Boutique owner Donna Ida
Duchess denim: J Brand 811 mid-rise
Fearne cottons on to Hudson’s Nico.
So here’s a personal question: what size jeans do you wear? Is your waist measurement, gulp, the same as your leg measurement? Could your husband – as mine did – wear your jeans if he got his own trousers soaking wet, having fallen in a river while on a romantic getaway break at The Pig Hotel in the New Forest, and still look reasonably normal? (He actually looked great, like the lead singer from an indie rock band. He swanned about the restaurant that evening as if ready to sign autographs and only got back in his box when he realised that pudding was out of the question.)
Still. He wore them and I was gutted. I’m not a strapping woman. I’m of average build. My jeans, though, tend to be of a roomy persuasion. If pressed to reveal why, I think it is because I suffer from a well-charted syndrome which afflicts most women I know: we all think we are bigger than we actually are. We look in the mirror and see a sideboard staring back, even though in reality we’re more of an occasional table. Body dysmorphia would be the serious medical term for it, though my own version, and possibly yours, is more light-hearted and inconsequential than that. Body delusion, perhaps. Body folly. Whatever it is, it tracks us through life like an impish shadow.
This weird state of affairs was brought home to me recently when I paid a visit to Donna Ida’s Denim Clinic in SW1. Here’s how it works. You arrive and mumble something about being a size 32 waist (which, you remember with a wince, is the same as your husband).
Donna Ida Thornton – she is small, like a bracelet charm, blonde and cool and Australian – smiles knowingly, listens to you moan on about your bottom for a bit, and hands you a 30. You put them on. They’re baggy, she says, pointing out the ruckled thighs and the gaping space between body and waistband, a space to keep snacks, perhaps, or spare socks.
Pretty soon, you’re slipping down the sizes like a skier down a black run, Donna handing ever smaller pairs through the changing-room curtains, a magician pulling wonders out of the hat until you find the Magic Pair.
You emerge each time to stand on a podium and have a chinwag about the pros and cons of that particular style and size. The J Brands with the zip? The 811 mid-rise? A pair of Hudson Nicos in cobalt blue? The Current/Elliott Roller boyfriends? Donna and her skinny-fit assistants will bring all this and more to your happy bottom half. I arrived a 32 inch, and left a 27. This is heaven, I promise you, for anyone who’s battling body folly. I felt like I’d won the Lottery.
Clearly, you’ll now be gagging to go too, but if you can’t get yourself to one of the stores (in Belgravia, Chelsea, Guildford and Westfield London), there’s plenty of care/style/fit advice on donnaida.com. Here though, for tasters, is Donna’s way to find the perfect fit…
● If they go on easily, go down a size. Premium jeans generally have two per cent stretch, so you should have to wriggle to get into them; they will give when they warm up with your body’s heat. Jump up and down to get into them – that’s fine.
● Look at the fabric around the crotch – it should look tight and not have any excess there.
● See how much room you have in the back of the waistband. If you can fit two fingers down there, OK, but a whole hand isn’t good.
● Don’t be afraid to alter jeans. Ask for an ‘American’ hem when taking up jeans, where the tailor cuts off the original hem and reattaches it at the correct length for you so you can’t tell that your jeans have been taken up.
● If you have a very curvy figure (small waist, bigger bum and thighs), take a small wedge out of the back waistband to ensure a perfect fit.
● Read the care label. If it says a cold wash, make sure it’s cold and not 30 degrees; there is more and more stretch in jeans these days and the hotter the wash, the more it will damage the elastane.
● Don’t put them in the dryer! This also damages the elastane. Dry them on an airer or clothesline, not on the radiator.
● Don’t lend your jeans to your husband, even if he has fallen in a river. It is unseemly for all concerned.