Our Favorite Hacks For Getting Too-Big Denim To Fit Just Right

If one of your New Year's resolutions was to slim down, you may have found yourself in a situation where you've excitedly grabbed your favorite pair of jeans from the back of your closet only to find they're now way too big. And when your jeans aren't supposed to be a slouchy or oversized look, it's not always the cutest style for everyone. Not only is that the case for jeans, but denim jackets, skirts, shirts, and everything in between. Throwing denim away isn't great for the environment, and donating clothing to a good cause unfortunately doesn't always mean we're doing the right thing either. Not to mention, getting rid of them in one way or another also means having to fork out for some new denim, which can be pricey and time-consuming. According to a U.K. OnePoll survey of 2,000 women, nearly half of all respondents find shopping for jeans that fit well an arduous task.


But put your clothing and the trash bin down. Because there are actually a few hacks out there to help ensure that too-big denim fits the way it should.

Make the waistband of your jeans smaller using a beltloop

All too often, the problem with jeans being oversized is rarely the legs, but the dreaded waist gap. Thankfully, fixing this is as easy as adjusting the way you button your jeans.

Basically, you're going to want to pull your jeans on as normal but leave them unbuttoned. Then, take the button in your hand and push it through the first belt loop on the same side (in the same way you would a belt). Once the button is on the other side of the loop, all that's left to do is push the button through the buttonhole to fasten them. And, voilà, you have pants that fit your waist without shrinking the legs. The finished look creates a slightly diagonal look, which is super trendy. 


Or get smaller waisted jeans using an elastic band

If you don't care for the asymmetrical look, you can still get the same shrunk waist effect using a basic elastic band. As demonstrated by TikTok user cwboylikeclaire, for this hack, pull on your jeans and leave them unbuttoned. Then, using a small elastic band or hair tie, hook it around the button of your jeans. A clear band or something that's a similar color to your bottoms will work well here, as it'll look less obvious than something in a bright or contrasting color.


Next, pull that band (which should be looped around the button) through the first belt loo on the same side as the button itself. Then re-loop the band over the button. This will pull the belt loop and the button closer together, instantly reducing the waist diameter of your jeans. All that's left to do then is button your pants up as normal; but be careful to not snap the rubber band in the process.

Give your denim a hot water wash -- without fabric softener

Anyone who's ever done laundry will probably have at least one story of how they forgot to remove their jeans from the dryer pile, only to end up with a smaller pair. Well, you can absolutely apply the same methods here to purposefully shrink your denim.


Crank up the heat on your washing machine to the hottest setting possible. The high temperature will cause the individual denim fibers to tighten up, therefor undoing any stretching hat may have happened from wear. This works best if your jeans have a higher cotton percentage, though it will still work even if it's a blend of fibers.

Since you're using this wash cycle for shrinking, opt to skip the fabric softener. Though it may not make much of a difference with how well your denim shrinks, the chemicals in the product can actually wear down your jeans.Plus, it could contribute to unnecessary fading. Once to wash cycle is complete, toss your jeans into the dryer on the hottest setting to maintain the shrinkage. 


Wear your denim in the bathtub

If you don't have easy access to a washing machine or dryer, you can still use the hot water method by wearing your denim in the bathtub. Yes, really. Similar to the wash method, the idea with this hack is to use hot water to shrink the fibers. However, by wearing the jeans while it happens, it can better cling to your specific body shape — which is great if you're trying to go for a slimmer or skinny fit. Though this work best for pants, but it can also work for other denim items such as a skirt or shorts.


To try it yourself, fill a bathtub with hot water and get into it while wearing your jeans. For best results, try to sit in the tub for as long as possible, up to 25 minutes if you're able. Once the water has gone tepid, you can move on to drying. To prevent the fibers from expanding again, try to let the denim air dry on your body. But, if you'd rather not stand in soaking wet clothes, you can always toss your jeans in the dryer on high heat.

Throw your denim in a pan of boiling water

If you don't have a bathtub, or simply would prefer not to sit in wet jeans, not to worry. You can actually shrink your jeans on your stove top using a boiling pot of water. This is a great option if you don't have a home laundry, and would rather not waste an entire hot cycle at the laundromat on shrinking jeans. It's also helpful if you only want to shrink a portion of your jeans, like the legs, but not necessarily the entire pant.


To get started, you're going to need a larger pan (how big will depend on the size of your denim clothing) and access to a heat source like an electric or gas stove. Once the water is boiling, submerge your denim in it and leave it in place for around 30 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on it the entire time as you want the jeans to be fully underwater during the boil process. The hot water will help constrict the fibers, making the clothing tighter. To continue the shrinking process, finish them off by throwing in the dryer. If that's not an option, though, an air dry should still be fine.