Will new jeans really stretch a size?

Jeans are a versatile and resilient wardrobe essential, but the abundance of fabric types and fits can make selecting the perfect pair that won’t lose its shape challenging. 

As jeans are worn more frequently, they have a tendency to expand. The degree of stretching, however, is influenced by several variables. 

Type of fabric

The material that jeans are composed of is the primary factor in determining whether they will stretch. Typically, denim is the fabric of choice for most jeans, which is a durable cotton twill. Initially, new jeans will be rigid and feel snug. The more they are worn, the softer the fabric will become, and the jeans will become more pliable. This can give the impression that the jeans have stretched an inch or two.

Jeans that are made with a polyblend of denim and other fabrics will stretch differently compared to jeans made from 100 per cent pure cotton denim.

Jeans that contain a greater proportion of spandex or elastane compared to denim are frequently referred to as jeggings. These stretchy, body-hugging jeans are constructed to fit snugly and adapt to your body’s movements, providing comfort and elasticity. The elastic polymers found in this type of denim have a degree of stretch. To prevent your favourite pair of jeggings from stretching out, avoid washing them in hot water and drying them in the dryer.

It is important to follow the care instructions on the label, wash them by hand in cold water, avoid ironing them, and refrain from using fabric softeners, which can break down the fibres and reduce their elasticity.

On the other hand, jeans crafted entirely from cotton denim do not stretch much. This means that if you have purchased a smaller size, then it is highly unlikely that these jeans will ever stretch to your size. So, when you buy jeans made from 100 per cent cotton, make sure they fit well initially. If they are overly tight or smaller than your size when you buy them, they will remain the same.

If you have made the mistake of buying jeans that are too tight, you can try and stretch them by getting them wet while you are wearing them and then doing activities such as squats or lunges around the house. After some time, remove them and hang them to air dry. Do not use a dryer for this step, as this will undo all the work you have put into stretching them out.

Another way to stretch these kinds of jeans is to wear them for an extended period of time. This will allow the fabric to conform to your body and loosen up slightly.

If you have a pair of cotton jeans that fit perfectly and you want to prevent them from stretching out too much, avoid wearing them too frequently between washes.

Washing and drying can cause cotton fibres to shrink, so it is best to wash jeans by hand in cold water and let them air dry. Avoid using hot water and don’t iron them frequently, as this will cause the fibres to break down and weaken over time.

High temperatures

Exposure to heat can cause new jeans to stretch out to a certain extent, but this also mostly depends on the type of fabric they are made from. Sources of heat include ironing, steaming and using hot water in the washing machine. Cotton jeans may stretch slightly with heat, while stretch jeans made from elastane or spandex can stretch significantly and even lose their elasticity over time if exposed to high heat.

To prevent new jeans from stretching and losing their shape, it is recommended to follow the care instructions printed on the label. Improper care may cause issues such as colour fading, fraying or pilling, all of which greatly affect the appearance and durability of the jeans.

It is generally not recommended to use heat as a deliberate method for stretching jeans, as it can cause damage to the fibres and may lead to inconsistencies in the fit and shape.

Quality of the jeans

The quality of the fabric affects how much jeans stretch out over time. Lower quality fabrics are often made from plain denim as opposed to stretch denim, and they stretch out and lose their shape more easily, while high-quality fabrics are generally resistant to stretching and maintain their shape better over time.

A common problem with low quality jeans is that they stretch out inconsistently; for example, sitting in them for a long period of time causes them to sag and stretch out specifically in the knee area.

Whether your new pair of jeans will stretch a size or not depends on a few factors, such as the fabric they are made from, the fit, and how well the care instructions are followed. It’s important to try on multiple pairs of jeans to find the best size and fit for you. 

Do you buy jeans in a smaller size? Or do you purchase your regular size? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: How to find the perfect pair of jeans for your size and style

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
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