Bright denim makes fashion a neon jungle

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      Warning: this is not a denim drill, I repeat, this is not a denim drill. “Coloured jeans really are hot this season!” I know, I know, we’ve heard it all before, but this time, brightly hued denim is a five-alarm trend alert you can’t ignore. No more playing it safe. It’s time to rock your gnarly neons, bold primaries, full-disclosure pastels, and, of course, all those beautiful, crazy-ass prints.

      Almost every label has ramped up its colour selection for spring and summer. For example, for the last several years, Fidelity Denim has been putting out collections in which only 20 percent of the designs were novelty jeans, with the rest being straight-up, high-quality blue, black and grey. But this season, it’s 50/50.

      “I don’t think we’ve ever seen this before,” says Fidelity founder Jason Trotzuk, who’s calling from L.A. “Well, maybe back in the ’90s, there were all kinds of prints, but the fits, quality, and technology weren’t there.”

      According to Vancouver stylist and beauty expert Nadia Albano, before investing in decorative denim, you should make sure you already have a pair of go-to, dark-wash skinnies. After all, without a staple jean to switch up with once in a while, you’ll end up overexposing your coloured jeans—and no one wants to be known as the “The Lady in Red…Floral Jeans”.

      Once you’ve got your basic bottoms sorted out, then it becomes a matter of selecting the right coloured jean for your personality and body type.

      “I love the idea of coloured jeans,” says Albano, who recently sat down with the Straight at her one-stop beauty and style shop, Nadia Albano Style Inc. (100–825 Granville Street). “But you need to be careful with the colours that you’re choosing. So typically, if you’re a little bit more bottom-heavy or curvaceous, I’d probably suggest sticking to a darker shade and more of a primary colour like red or royal blue rather than a pastel because, generally speaking, darker colours make you look smaller, whereas lighter colours can show every lump and bump.”

      With that in mind, Paige Denim’s Kylie Crop with ankle zippers in Deco Rose ($245) is a very figure-flattering choice. As are Mavi’s great-fitting Alexa skinnies in Daphne blue—$98 at Mavi stores (various locations). But if you really want to pack a punch (not to mention save a penny), the Joe Fresh Caribbean orange skinny jeans with ankle zippers have a sizzling summer vibe to them and they’re a nice fit to boot—$49 at Joe Fresh (540 Granville Street) and Real Canadian Superstore (various locations). Or there are always Mavi’s coral Soft Pink skinnies ($98). If you want to make a bolder statement, look to AG neon skinnies—$225 at Hill’s of Kerrisdale (2125 West 41st Avenue) and Urban Rack (various locations).

      As for pastels, again Paige Adams-Geller is your girl. The L.A. designer—whose jeans are carried at Holt Renfrew (737 Dunsmuir Street), FAB (2138 West 41st Avenue), and Wear Else (various locations)—knows how to outfit chicks with hips. Her Paige Verdugo Ultra Skinnies ($220 to $235) in pale yellow, mint green, and spring-light lavender are simply divine.

      In terms of patterns, Paige Denim also takes top prize for wearable avant-garde jeans with its Toulouse collection ($259). Inspired by abstract paintings, these ultra skinny, smudgy, Pollock-indebted beauties really are a work of art. But the most rock ’n’ roll jean award goes to Fidelity’s Hepburn low-rise crops in royal blue python print ($150), which hit store shelves this May.

      As for bohemian denim, J Brand’s got its skinny-leg Twisted tie-dye series—$249 at Aritzia (various locations). J Brand also boasts one of the prettiest designs, with its floral mid-rise capris ($255).

      Still, as Albano points out, this is one trend that probably won’t be around forever: “I personally wouldn’t spend as much on prints, because they’re here today, and then maybe gone tomorrow—I mean, I remember wearing those in 1986,” says Albano with a laugh.

      For those who really want to play up their coloured jeans, Adams-Geller, interviewed over the phone from Mexico, has no shortage of fab fashion ideas, including flipping the whole jean tradition upside-down by wearing some sort of chambray on top. Another contemporary way to go is ombre, which basically means if you’re wearing bright purple jeans, for example, pair them with a lavender blouse and dark violet shoes, so you get this colour graduation effect from top to bottom. And then there’s always colour blocking—granted, not easy to pull off if you don’t trust your instincts.

      “I think the most important thing is to rock your jeans with confidence,” says Adams-Geller. “Enjoy this time when fashion is fun.”

      Trotzuk agrees. “The best advice when buying colour jeans for the first time is don’t be scared,” he says. “You’re not alone, so have some fun.”

      > Model: Kirsten, Stylist: Luisa rino, hair & makeup: melanie neufeld, all