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Finding the Perfect Boyfriend... Jeans

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Getty Images

Boyfriend jeans are back after a couple of years on fashion's sidelines. Currently grappling with skinnies for dominance, boyfriends can be much sexier -- see Gwyneth Paltrow and Gwen Stefani for hot examples. But be warned, the perfect boyfriend, like it's real-life namesake, is tricky to weed out. For the desired sexy vibe, boyfriend jeans should be loose but fitted across the hips, narrow and tapered in the leg, rolled at the hem to no more than an inch above the ankle.

Size is everything with new boyfriends, length and breadth must also be right. Too short and the effect is more Newsies than Gwen or Gwynnie. Too tight on the thigh and we are talking Miss Bodybuilder USA. There is nothing wrong with either of those looks, by the way, they are just not what the aesthete is aiming for in a boyfriend jean. While "destroyed" -- the fashion word for beaten-up -- rocks for weekends, too ripped can look a bit Lil Wayne. Darker versions work better for town or office, but they need to be narrow in the ankle.

A recent boyfriend try-on session revealed the following: J Brand has a smooth, dark-ish wash but a disappointingly wide ankle opening at 14". From the side they are too early-Debbie Gibson, unless you are very tall. Current Elliot's "slouchy stiletto" skinny boyfriends have the best leg shape with an ankle opening of just 12". However, these are low in the crotch, shortening the leg and looking cool and funky from the front but terrifyingly diaper-shaped at the back. Having bought myself a pair, this was my partner's frank analysis while following me up an escalator at JFK over the holidays. I don't care by the way, see the Man Repeller if you haven't already, for more on that topic. The Paige boyfriend comes halfway between the J Brand and Current Elliot with a 13" ankle opening. However, it is stretch denim and too tight on the thighs. OK, on my thighs.

Anyway, if you haven't already, hunt out your own boyfriends. They are fun to wear and offer the fearful-of-formality type an easy leap across the divide between dressing up and down. Boyfriends look fabulous with a short, fitted jacket and and super-sexy heels or wedges. The more ornate your shoe, the better. I love a boyfriend jean with a high-heeled peep-toe bootie or a wedge, such as Rick Owen's classic black leather ankle boot for wintery days. You could also buy and taper some vintage Levi 501s to fit if you are handy with a needle and thread. You could even borrow your actual boyfriend's jeans if a) you have a boyfriend and b) he has some decent jeans. If that combination is possible for you then please send pictures of both so the rest of us can weep with envy.

Over the past decade, brands Current Elliott, Citizens of Humanity, Mother and J Brand -- to name a few -- stole the lead from denim old-timers by creating lighter, sexier looks women love. The best denim is born in the USA, but it can take Europeans such as Kate Moss or French Vogue editor and trouser-wearing-trendsetter Emmanuelle Alt to cement a style. Aficionado -- such as, I confess, myself -- get carried away with the prospect of a new jeans or casual trouser shape. The arrival of J Brand's skinny cargo pant -- the "Houlihan" -- a couple of years ago sparked store queues and almost too much excitement. There is something fun and very fashiony-moment about all this revived boyfriend business, too. No matter what is happening elsewhere on your body, a cool trouser shape connects you with the Zeitgeist. Fashion fact: wherever your heart is, you never feel lonely in the right outfit -- or jeans.