What’s in a Jean Size

Hi Friends!

I’ve been thinking about something for the past week or so and it just doesn’t seem to want to get out of my head, so I’m writing about it.

{This is funny because clearly I was not having
any deep thoughts in this picture}

ANYWAYS…last week, one of my fellow Fitfluential Ambassadors asked people to submit a picture of themselves wearing a pair of jeans that make them feel great about themselves. I didn’t…mainly because I was feeling lazy…but I think that’s what started this whole thought process.

I started thinking about the pairs of jeans I own. I think I have 4 pairs. 2 pairs of what used to be my favorite pair with the flare legs. Yep, exactly same pair, bought about 2 years apart…so one’s old and one’s new. And two pairs of my new favorite pair of skinny jeans. Yep, again, same exact pair, just one old and one new.

I held out on buying skinny jeans for a long time. I have big legs, always have, probably always will, namely big thighs…and I was convinced skinny jeans just weren’t for me. So, a few months ago when I finally got up the courage to even try some on…it was a big day. This particular pair wasn’t great…BUT they weren’t horrible…I was surprised and I decided to keep looking. A few weeks later, I tried on another pair and they were AWESOME. They weren’t the infamous jeggings…they were actual jeans…just with a skinny ankle opening…HUGE change from the flare legged jeans I’d been wearing for oh, approximately the last 15 years. So I bought them.

And I’ve pretty much been wearing them non-stop. I think I like them because they remind me of the leggings I’d rather be wearing…but they’re jeans….so they’re more appropriate in most situations :) I’m especially loving that they fit so nicely in my winter boots and that I no longer have to deal with stuffing my bunchy flare legged jeans into them, which i’ve been doing for oh, approximately the last 15 years.

Anyways, so here’s what happened. The other day it was pretty nice out (read: dry, with no snow) so I decided I would wear my tennis shoes to class, instead of my boots. Along with that decision, I decided that since I’d been wearing my skinny jeans for the past however many days in a row, that today might be a good day to pull out the old flare legged pair. Here’s me wearing the flare back in April.

And you know what? They didn’t fit. Well, they fit. I could still button them, they weren’t too tight in the waist, but I spent the next several hours being super uncomfortable. Since I started working out, my legs have changed a little bit…I’ve gained some muscle. And when I put on my old pair of jeans, ie the pair I hadn’t really worn since I started working out, they didn’t fit right. They were tighter in my hips and thighs but still fit in the waist. I was constantly tugging on the sides and squatting to try to stretch them out, yet pulling them up at the waist.

And it was miserable. I knew they still looked ok. I could see myself in the mirror and I know that anyone else who saw me wasn’t going “omg look at how terribly her jeans fit”…but I wasn’t comfortable. I started thinking I must’ve gained weight since the jeans were tighter in some places…even though I KNEW it was muscle I’d gained. It’s still hard to avoid those negative thoughts.

Later that day, as I came home from class, I remembered that the hubby and I had a college alumni event to go to that evening. I wasn’t really in the mood. I was feeling a little down in the dumps…but hubby was excited about going. So here’s what I did: I got my hair wet and restyled it from the messy high ponytail it had been in all day. I put on a new shirt that I know fits my body that way it is now, and I put on my skinny jeans and my favorite pair of boots. And you know what?

I felt like a million bucks. I was comfortable and I didn’t tug at my jeans a single time during the night.

When I got home, I looked at the size on both pairs of jeans…just for kicks. And you know what? The skinny jeans were a size smaller. I realized that the two pairs of jeans represented two different stages of my life. One pair fits how I used to be, and one pair fits how I am now. And you know what? That’s ok. It would have been ok if they were the same size, or even if the skinny jeans were a bigger size. Who cares?! They look better, they feel better…why should it matter what size they are.

It got me thinking about why clothing size really matters. Do you think people’s body confidence would increase if jean were sized via random letters in non-alphabetical order instead of increasing numerical numbers? Would people care less about what size they wore  if they couldn’t compare their size C jeans to another girl’s size K jeans? Versus comparing their size 10 to another’s size 4?

Clearly size is irrelevant anyways if I can have two pairs of jeans and the the bigger ones feel too tight. Size is just a number, and it irritates me when people let it define them.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that if you’re working out hard, losing fat and gaining muscle, OR losing weight through diet and exercise, OR working hard to get healthy and gain weight….treat yourself to some clothes that fit your body now. Whether it be a size bigger, or a size smaller….find a size that FITS YOU…don’t just buy something and try to squeeze into it because it’s the size you think you want to be or think you should be. And don’t keep wearing the same pair if your body changes. 

Ignore the size, ignore the label, ignore what size the sizing charts tell you you should be wearing. Focus on the way they FIT, not what size they are. Find a pair of jeans that are comfortable. That fit your curves, or lack of curves, whatever the case may be. That make you SMILE when you look in the mirror because you’re proud of yourself for all your hard work and you want to show it off.

Then buy those and never look back!

Today’s workout:

Needed a heavy lifting day so I picked 4 moves and really focused on heavy weights.

Here’s what I did:

Pin It

I chose a heavy weight and then a slightly lighter one for round two. I’m getting to the point where it’s almost as hard to hold the 30# dbs as it is to squat with them! I miss having a bar to do squats. But anyways, my legs were screaming by the end of the lunges…and then I went and did wall sits!
PS…you can turn your gymboss into a stopwatch- perfect for the wall sits and planks!


P.S. In case you missed yesterday’s post check out my January Foodie Penpals reveal and while you’re there, check out some of the linkups to see what everyone else got! AND then, if you wanna join in the fun, send me an email..because 160 of my closest friends and I would love to have you :) 

About Lindsay

Lindsay Livingston is a Registered Dietitian and new mom from Columbus, Ohio. On her blog, she shares simple, healthy recipes, nutrition tips, workouts and snapshots of her life. Follow her on Twitter @LeanGrnBeanBlog and Instagram @TheLeanGreenBean and be sure to subscribe via RSS or email so you never miss a post!


  1. Awesome post! You’re so right about a number being JUST a number. It’s about how you feel. Especially because numbers are so relative. You have gorgeous legs!
    Tessa @ Handle the Heat recently posted..Hot & Light Spinach-Artichoke Dip

  2. WOW, fantastic post, Lindsay!! I’ve struggled with this off and on, to be honest… you know, being obsessed with the number. I’ve always been small and likely always will be, and I’ve also always been fit. So what gives??? I’m better about it these days, but honestly, I’d still probably buy a pair of pants with a smaller number over a higher number that felt and looked better. SO bad!! This is a beautiful post, and it’s beautifully worded! Also SO VERY RELEVANT to this day and age and women of ALL shapes and sizes!!! So glad I found your blog!!
    Krystle {Fierce|Fabulous|Fit} recently posted..Fit Tuesday: Inner Thighs

  3. I couldn’t agree more.

    I even wear different sizes in the same brand of pants. I was buying workout pants the other day and while one style (of the same brand) fit better in a smaller size, the other style did not and I went up a size because they were more comfy. I walked out of the store with two different sizes. I almost let it bum me out, but it reinforced in me what you said above.

    I buy new jeans each fall, usually in the same size because my body changes shape from season to season and based on my current workout schedule. Sometimes a new pair of jeans in the same size and same brand fit better. It’s strange and again shows how arbitrary numbers are.

  4. Such a great post girl! And I can totally relate. My jeans are starting to feel too tight on me and I’ve been holding off buying some new pairs because I don’t want to accept that I’ve gone up a size. It’s so irrational! I need to just bite the bullet and do it because I know buying new jeans in a bigger size will be so much more comfortable and make me feel better while wearing them. Size is just a number!!!
    Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin recently posted..WIAW #23: Summing up January

  5. GREAT post! I think you relayed an incredibly important message here. It’s funny because I know my body has changed over the past few years – I went from being a “dieter” and cardio queen to someone who eats mostly whole foods and works out in a bunch of different ways. And the changes in my body reflect that. However, I still let the size of my jeans/pants get to me sometimes. But just like everyone else, I’m a work in progress. :) And reading this post and your thoughts have definitely helped me look at my body differently and appreciate it more. Thanks for that!
    Parita @ myinnershakti recently posted..Check-in + Second Chances

  6. jeans are one of those “scary” clothing items for me (along with bathing suits). i hate jeans shopping because i will inevitably try on jeans in a 4-size range with different successes with each size. i also have a very hard time buying jeans above my scary size, which is totally subjective and not really based on anything except my own random fear. anyway, how my jeans fit definitely affects how i’m feeling!
    sarah @ sarah learns recently posted..a truly glorious box

  7. I LOVE it! I’ve been struggling with pant sizes ever since high school and that is something my mama always said, “Pant size doesn’t matter!”
    Mindy – Clueless Nut recently posted..Enough? Nope.

  8. youre so so so spot on with this.
    I wish we could go back to the beginning
    the very
    the CAVEPEOPLE TIMES!!! and never ever have the sizes.
    period end.
    Miz recently posted..The MizFit workout skirts are here!

  9. AWESOME post. Seriously, so true! You rock those skinny jeans ;D

  10. LOVE this post Linds! Such a good one. And I’m so glad that you’re feeling good about it now. I try not to get wrapped up in jean sizes. I absolutely used to, and then I realized that a lot of my jeans are completely different sizes- it depends on what store they came from and whether or not the material is stretchy. How they fit is so much more important. And how they feel on and how they make you feel is important too!
    Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health recently posted..A New (To Me) Organizational Tool

  11. You are adorable – great post! Certain jeans make me feel the same way, for good or for bad! I definitely spend most of my time in my favorite skinny jeans because of how they make me feel (and show off my bum). 😉

  12. so true! i think it would be really interesting (and probably has already been done) to do an academic study on some of the issues you brought up about size vs. fit vs. brand.

  13. Awesome post! I was just thinking about this yesterday. My jeans were feeling weird and uncomfortable. I finally put on a belt and then they just felt weirder. I was pulling and tugging at them all day. After reading your post, I realized that I’ve had them for over a year and maybe my body has just changed a bit. It’s hard to not think that body change = weight gain. When it’s probably more muscle tone changes.
    Carrie recently posted..Which would you choose?

    • it’s super hard not to thing bigger = fatter….but i’m starting to notice more muscle tone so that’s making it easier! keep working hard…and treat yourself to a new pair of jeans :)

  14. Um hi. We are most definitely soul sisters from a previous life. I *just* posted about the numbers game on my blog yesterday!! This is exactly what I want others to realize – numbers are NOT the be all end all, how you FEEL in those skinny jeans is FAR more important than what the size on the tag says. I’m so glad you had that epiphany, feels awesome right??
    Jess recently posted..Numbers.

  15. Great post Lindsey. I love skinny jeans because I like the tight ankle too. Hopefully most women know that jean sizes are intentionally manipulated at certain stores to deliver a false sense of tiny-ness. But who do they think they are fooling? Women have jeans from more than one store…we aren’t stupid. I have a size 1 pair and a size 5. I take like four sizes in the dressing room because I never know. Jean sizes are sort of like scale numbers to me…indicators of mostly nothing. For me, I recently had to gain weight and was dreading have to re-shop for all new jeans. You know what? I ended up getting mostly the same sizes even though my body was different! lol Whatever clothing companies! 😉
    StoriesAndSweetPotatoes recently posted..How Goats Can Save The US Economy

  16. Great post! I am not a big jeans wearer, I only have a few pairs also, and only wear half of them. Jeans always fit me weird because I have big hips and thighs, short legs, and a smaller waste so they always fit awkwardly! I have given up on skinny jeans because I feel like I look so silly in them.
    Anyway, the size thing is so right! I mean each brand is so different it’s hard to even have a starting point of which size to try on anymore.
    Andrea @ Andrea Out Loud! recently posted..The Big Two-Four & Sharing A Little Wis-Dumb

  17. most excellent post!
    It shouldnt be about the numbers..be it jean size or on a scale!
    Tara Burner recently posted..11 Things about me and you

  18. This was so refreshing! THank you!!

    On sizes – yes, it’s terrible how much weight (no pun intended) people give to numbers.

    Your story inspired me. My legs have recently changed too, and I no longer fit into my favorite jeans, so I’ve given up and always wear leggings, or a pair of other, looser jeans. They don’t make me feel special, but I’m still hoping I’ll get back into my old favorites someday soon… But now I might follow your lead, just go out and buy a pair that fits me well, NOW, and makes me feel like a million bucks, like you say. Time to take the plunge, accept my new shape, and start looking and feeling fabulous.

    You look great :) Love the jeans.
    Meredith @ DareYouTo recently posted..Make plans, but allow for changes

  19. This is such a great post.
    I needed this. I have been feeling down lately about my size. I don’t know why I let a number define me. This post was just what I needed.
    You look great by the way!!!!
    Kristen @ Swanky Dietitian recently posted..Giveaway: Driscoll’s Berries

  20. Love this! My husband has been known to cut the tags off my clothes so I don’t get caught up in the craziness of it all. He is also continuously baffled by the sizes of women’s clothing – what the heck is a size 6/8/10 anyways? :)
    Jenny @ simply be me recently posted..Skiing and snowmen

  21. :::hugs::: I had to wear sweatpants to the grocery store last week because my tried-and-true, perfect-fit, never-fail-to-look-great jeans didn’t fit. I have 3 pairs of jeans; two are the same pair and the third is a stretchy pair for those blah days. All 3 failed me last week. Once I got them over my legs, they fit at the waist just fine, but my legs couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t move. I blame the kettle bells I was tossing around the day before!! Stupid bells. Now, I need to go pants shopping :::dread::: and find skinny waist, thick leg jeans. Do they make those?

  22. Love this post! It’s all about the confidence and choosing something that fits your body. You rock those skinny jeans!
    Tina @ Best Body Fitness recently posted..My Why

  23. Great post!! I always (trying to break this habit) measure my confidence with how my jeans fit, not that it’s a good thing! I’m in a phase where I am working out more, eating better, but the scale isn’t budging, however, i put on jeans that were tight a month ago, and they felt looser and COMFORTABLE :) Such a nice feeling to not be stuffed into them! I’m slowly learning to not focus on numbers (scale, pants) and to notice how I look and feel, and to adjust to my changing body!
    Julie recently posted..Long Time No See.

  24. Wow! I love this post and I totally agree! I have a love hate relationship with jeans for this exact reason. First of all, all of my jean sizes are different so its really not a good way to measure what size I actually should wear. Second, jeans are such funny things. Some are supposed to be loose, some tight, some flare, some short, some long. etc…So it’s really hard to figure out exactly what kind suits you best. I say just go with the one that feels the most comfortable and flattering on your body!
    Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction recently posted..Snack Habits

    • exactly!!! once i realized that not all jeans are the same, it got a lot easier to focus on the way they were supposed to fit, and not what size they are

  25. OMG. I love this post. I have jeans that I won’t even bother putting on when I know that I’m at my fittest b/c, like you, I gain muscle – especially in my upper thighs/legs and there is no way that they would be comfy! And the jeans are usually the same size as the ones I prefer to wear when I’m fit – so you are right, size is JUST a #. I wish I weren’t so attached to the #s too – # on jeans, # on the scale, etc. It’s something that has been ingrained in me, I guess, for years!
    Great post and insight!!!
    Michele @ nycrunningmama recently posted..11 Random Things

  26. This is such a great post! This happens to me all the time and I feel awful that I can’t fit into a certain pair of jeans one day. But when I change to my black leggings I am overhwlemed at how much better I feel.
    Steph@stephsbitebybite recently posted..Work It Out Wednesday

  27. Terrific post! It’s an accomplishment to realize your body is changing and forming muscle. Otherwise, what are all of those hours at the gym for? 😉 I also have big thighs and skinny jeans are out of my comfort zone, but I’m trying…only with boots! :)

  28. Another wonderful post! I am going through something similar right now in that jeans that have fit me for a long time are suddenly not very comfortable. I get down about it because it makes me feel like I’m gaining weight or not at the weight I’m supposed to be…but the reality is that I’m turning 30 this year and some of my jeans are like 4 years old! Bodies change and that’s just the way it is :)
    Rachel @ The Avid Appetite recently posted..A Whole Lotta Superbowl Recipes

  29. Love this! A few years ago I embraced the idea of going up a size because it often fits better and looks better. The funny thing though is that I’ve had such a hard time doing this… with shoes. I was always a size 10. If I could squeeze into a 9.5 I was elated. Then I started running and I started buying size 11 running shoes. I hated to admit that my feet were that big… um, why? So what! Its a completely genetic thing. It’s not like it was signalling that I don’t work out enough or that I eat poorly, it just is! So I let it go… I am a size 11.
    Laura is Undeterrable recently posted..Buck Furpees

  30. Glad I made you think!
    You should have sent the picture to me; all of the ‘models’ looked fab!

    Check out the rest of the FF jeans models @ http://www.fitknitchick.com
    Tamara recently posted..Bye-bye burpees, hello (just a little) sugar and a pretty package from Arbonne

  31. Just the kind of post I needed to read today. Thanks for covering a topic that I am sure nags many of us.
    Talia @ Bite Size Wellness recently posted..Working Lunch: Make it a Team Approach

  32. Wonderful post!!
    Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio recently posted..WAAW: What Ashley Ate Wednesday

  33. LOVE LOVE LOVE! Beautiful post. And jeans should DEFINITELY be assigned with random letters.
    Savannah @ Sweet and Savvy recently posted..Taking a Blog Break

  34. Awesome post! Jeans have always been something that I have battled with throughout life. I can wear my jeans from high school still but throughout college I dropped to a much smaller size. I remember being devastated all of the times I tried to squeeze back into those jeans from the disordered eating days. Why? Who cares? I’d much rather have to buy a bigger size, feel confident, comfortable, and not look like a tube of popped Grands biscuits. lol.
    Abby @ Abz ‘n’ Oats recently posted..January Foodie Penpals

  35. I love this post! I could not agree more about size being just a number. Although it would be nice if jeans fit the same across the board. Today I fit in a size that I haven’t worn in about ten years. Yesterday, I tried on a pair of jeans in my normal size and I couldn’t move in them. I don’t get it!
    Michelle @ Blogitness recently posted..I Don’t Have Writer’s Block

  36. I bought a pair of skinny jeans just so I didn’t have to stuff them in my high boots. I am not built for skinny jeans, I have hips. I had to buy a pair 2 sizes bigger than I normally wear, but they look good with tall boots and a long sweater. Great Post!
    Dena @ 40 Fit in the Mitt recently posted..Color and a Cut

  37. LOVE!!! I am all of 5’0 nothing and have lifted weights since I was 12. I can never find anything that fits both my legs and my waist. I used to think I was the only one with this issue. Love that you wrote about it!
    Alexis recently posted..My favorite healthy snacks!!! WIAW19

  38. Aw…I love this post! It’s so so true. I’m usually okay with size so long as I’m within a particular size range. If I go up out of that range, then I join the size-obsessive. “You’re Prettiest When You’re Happy” – I just love that!
    Andrea @ Vegvacious recently posted..Romantic Pasta Dinner for Two

  39. I love this post! You are so right….I focus way too much on the number versus the fit sometimes. I also love the pic with the balloon!
    Autumn@Good Eats Girl recently posted..Chicken Chili

  40. SUCH an amazing post :) probs my fav one of yours everrrrrr

  41. I love this post. Seriously, I feel like how a certain pair of jeans fits a particular day will either make me feel great or make me feel bad about myself. I also need to remember what sizes are reasonable for me and my body type, since I’m alot taller than most women.
    Lauren @ Chocolate, Cheese and Wine recently posted..An About Me Survey

  42. Most of my jeans are the same size. Some are bigger, some are my “too busy to eat” jeans, and some fit me right now. In fact, I’m about to get rid of a number of bottoms that fit when I was nursing my son and unable to eat enough to keep up. They are the same size as my current jeans. {{shrug}}
    MCM Mama recently posted..Welcome to my new little piece of the web!

  43. I completely agree, though I don’t usually let the number get me down, I wish it was easier to find pants that FIT! I always have to dry on a dozen pairs before I find one since every brand & cut is sized differently.

    I’ve wished for years though that instead of being an ‘8’ or a ’10’ and a ‘tall’ or a ‘short’, which means something different in every brand, that we’d go to men’s more factual sizes 30 x 34, 32 x 32, etc.

    I’ve also seen some bras that are starting to do their sizes the way tights do, which makes so much more sense to me, since a 34C is not that different from a 36B
    Diana @ VeggieNextDoor recently posted..Cookbook Review: Everyday Happy Herbivore

  44. You’re 100% right (once again haha). The obsessive part of me always gets hung up on the numbers, but they really do mean nothing. Thanks for the reminder!
    Lisa @ Live and Be Awesome recently posted..9 Goals in 9 Months (Part Two)


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  2. […] super deep, heavy or from the heart. In fact, it’s been about two months since my last one (What’s in a Jean Size?). But yesterday something happened that really tugged at my heart strings and it brought to mind […]

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