"Find the Perfect Jeans" \\ girl buttoning her jeans \\ Photo: Image Source\Getty Images

If you know what to look for (and what to avoid), you can steer clear of a denim-induced breakdown -- and walk out with your dream pair.

Know your body type.
If you're shaped like an apple (thicker in the middle), look for trouser-cut or straight-leg jeans, which tend to have flat fronts that slim the midsection. If you're worried about your skinny legs, try a straight-leg pair (to make them look less twiggy), or if you're in search of curves, choose high-waisted flares. Pear-shaped types should consider wide-leg or boot-
cut jeans to balance out bigger hips and thighs. If you have an hourglass silhouette, pick high-rise flares, which highlight curves without gapping at the waistband.

Buy by brand.
Here's a cheat sheet: For skinny jeans that look amazing on pear and hourglass shapes, try Siwy's "The Hannah" -- its side seams are pushed slightly forward, creating the illusion of sleeker thighs. If you're looking for a trouser style, go with Seven for All Mankind's "Dojo"; it doesn't have the style's typical slash front pockets, which can make hips look wider. For ridiculously soft jeans, try Hudson's flattering "Freedom of Movement" line. Current/Elliott's "The Bell" are the ultimate '70s-style flares, and they're nicely relaxed through the thigh. And when it comes to boyfriend jeans, try Nobody's -- they're slim in the hips -- which brings us to our next point ...

Don't take "boyfriend jeans" too literally.
While the style is meant to be relaxed, if they're too baggy through the hips, you'll look heavier than you are, or -- if you're the slender sort -- you'll lose your shape entirely. The ideal pair is just slightly slouchy, falls a few inches below your navel and gets a bit wider at the bottom.

Pick the color carefully.
Inky blue, deep gray and black jeans are amazing at downplaying heavier hips and thighs. Conversely, paler washes make pin-thin legs look a bit fuller.

Don't go too low.
Steer clear of jeans with anything less than an eight-inch rise, especially if you don't have six-pack abs. (The rise, by the way, is the distance from the crotch to the top of the waistband.) If the top button is any lower than three inches below your navel, even the slightest post-lunch tummy pooch can look like a full-fledged muffin top, and who wants that? Well, someone, probably.

Check out the rear.
Small back pockets can make your butt look bigger than it really is -- a good thing for some. But if you're hoping to detract attention from that area, look for medium-size standard patch pockets, free of any tricky details like flaps, studs or elaborate stitching. To avoid the dreaded unibutt -- one that's flat and squished -- make sure the jeans' center seam is just snug enough to define your tush.

Buy them a little too tight.
All jeans stretch over time, but if they're made with even a teeny percentage of pliable fabric -- like spandex, elastane or PES -- they can stretch up to 10 percent after only a few wearings. Purchase these types a touch too snug to ensure they don't sag prematurely.

Sit down.
Once you're zipped up, take a seat to make sure the waist doesn't pinch your stomach. (If it does, skip them -- they'll only get more painful after you eat.) Also, check that the waistband doesn't gap: If it's loose now, it'll only get looser. That said, if the jeans are otherwise perfect, you can get a tailor to take in the waist.

Add some heels -- they make everything better.
Even kitten heels or teeny wedges elongate your legs and cause your bum to tilt outward a little, giving your profile a gentle, flattering S-curve.

When you find a pair of jeans you love, buy two.
Tailor one to wear with flats, and keep the other long enough to wear with heels.
Here's why: With heels, your jeans' hem should just skim the floor -- this elongates your legs. But if you wear that same pair with flats, you'll end up stepping on (and tearing up) the bottoms, and the look will be more schlumpy than chic.