A guide to jean styles in women’s sizes—and how to pick one you’ll love
We asked stylists for their most injeanius denim shopping tips.
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From baggy “mom” jeans to not-your-mother’s low-rise pants, denim fits and fads are everywhere. Plus, with TikTok influencing fashion trends, social media offers near constant commentary on what styles are still “in”—and which are so last year. With all that noise, how can you find the best denim style for you?
After all, the perfect pair of denim is a valuable—and versatile—addition to any capsule wardrobe, i.e., a collection of go-to style staples. We tapped New York-based stylist Samantha Brown and San Diego-based stylist Vanessa Valiente to break down the most popular denim styles—and how to choose jeans you’ll love. Keep this advice in your back pocket next time you’re picking out pants.
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How to find the best jeans for you
Despite the multitude of denim trends, the right pair for you ultimately comes down to personal preference. “I would recommend choosing denim that’s flattering for your particular body type over buying what’s ‘in,’” says Brown.
As for how to find what’s best for you? “The right jeans [are] all about the right proportions, whether we are talking about your body type or the items you are pairing with them,” says Valiente, who recommends “a mid- to lower-rise jean” for a shorter waist (as mid-rise jeans will look “high in a good way,” she says) and higher waisted jeans for a longer waist.
When picking a pair of jeans, also consider what you’ll wear them with. Longer tops pair well with “slimmer leg jeans,” says Valiente, whereas crop tops tend to work well with “straight and wider leg jeans.” Shoes are another part of the equation; flats are ideal for cropped jeans, while heels “work best for straight to narrow leg jeans.”
Don’t disregard fabric, either, as certain styles are softer and stretchier than others. “Denim should fit comfortably and allow you to sit and move without any pinching,” says Brown. Keep an eye out for 100% cotton denim that is unwashed and untreated, as it “has a very cool texture but can be much more restrictive than denim with some stretch.” On the other hand, if you prefer jeans that move with you, look for cotton blended with Spandex, elastane, or Lycra for added stretch.
Read on for a guide to some of the most popular denim styles in women’s sizes—and how to rock each one.
High-waisted or high-rise jeans—which come up to the belly button or above—are, well, high on stylists’ lists. “If you’re looking for a modern style, a straight or wider leg, high-rise pair is very now,” says Brown. “A uniform dark-wash pair of jeans will always be flattering and in style. They’re great for day, evening, and most work environments.”
For a high-waisted look that’s highly versatile, try the Hi (Rise) Honey jeans from Joe’s jeans—a brand favored by Valiente. The dark-wash pair has five pockets and a curvy fit with “more room in the thigh and hip area.” Shop it in women’s sizes 23 to 34.
Go back to basics with a classic mid-rise jean. Mid-rise denim is the most traditional fit, with a waistband that hits somewhere between the hips and the belly button.
Try the Prima Crop jean from AG, a brand Brown calls “the classic for stretchy, comfortable, dark wash jeans.” It’s available in black and dark wash in women’s sizes 23 to 32.
How low can jeans go? If you ask celebrities including actress Julia Fox, very low. Amidst the recent Y2K resurgence, low-rise styles—which fit at or below the hip—have been rising in popularity. But when it comes to trying the controversial trend, Brown recommends exercising caution. “Even though lower rises are making an appearance again, make sure you can sit comfortably and your undergarments aren’t visible—this trend was bad enough the first time,” she says.
To test out the Y2K look, consider the mall brands of the era, many of which are once again selling the style. Abercrombie & Fitch, for instance, offers the Low Rise Bootcut Jean, available in women’s sizes 24 to 33 in short, regular, and long. In addition to the distinctive rise, the light-wash denim also features a slim, flare style, and a frayed hem.
While Gen Z declared skinny jeans “out,” the figure-hugging fashion still lives on in the hearts and carts of many shoppers. The style, which is fully fitted all over, is a “classic denim that flatters all body types,” Valiente says. Both stylists agree that we haven’t seen the last of the look, which surged in popularity throughout the last decade or so. “People may say skinny jeans are out of style; they are wrong,” says Valiente, predicting that the go-to garment “will just evolve slightly each season to meet our need for novelty and progress.”
Whether you’re a loyal fan of the look or introducing it to your wardrobe for the first time, consider the bestselling Good Legs skinny jean from Good American. When we tested the style, it held its shape after weeks of wear and never looked (or felt) painted on. Try tucking them into boots—a look that Brown says skinny jeans are “especially great” for.
Straight Leg jeans
While it can be hard to keep the different silhouettes of jeans straight , don’t forget about straight-leg jeans next time you’re shopping for denim. The often relaxed-fit cut has a consistent leg width from thigh to ankle. When choosing a straight-leg jean, “skip any of those awkward straight legs that flare out a bit at the hem,” says Valiente.
Add some edge to straight-leg jeans with a cuff that’s raw, a.k.a frayed and unhemmed. Brown calls the brand Mother “currently a favorite” for its “high-rise, straight, and raw-hem” offerings. Consider the label’s The Tripper jeans for a high-waisted, straight-leg pant that pairs perfectly with flat sandals or sneakers. It’s available in a dark wash in women’s sizes 23 to 33.
A straight-leg jean with a more oversized fit is often referred to as a “boyfriend” jean. Brown recommends opting for one on the slimmer-fitting side, as it’s still “relaxed and a nice departure from the ultra tight skinnies.”
If your relationship with denim doesn’t extend to boyfriend jeans yet, consider adding a classic pair from Frame to your closet. The label, which Valiente uses, sells the bestselling Le Garcon jean in 10 washes in women’s sizes 23 to 34. The design is meant to be oversized, so the brand recommends sizing down if you’re after a more fitted look.
Much like dad-esque New Balance kicks, mom jeans are a trendy twist on a style once branded unfashionable. The high-waisted, straight-leg jeans range in bagginess and length.
For a modern take on mom jeans, consider the AE Stretch Mom Straight Jean from American Eagle. The high-rise, stretchy pair looks great with a crop top and flannel for a laidback ‘90s vibe. Shop it in four washes in women’s sizes 000 short to 20 long.
AE also offers the Stretch Curvy Mom Jean, which is “designed for curves” and has “more room through the hip and thigh.” It’s sold in black and dark wash in women’s sizes 00 to 20 with options for short, regular, and long versions of each.
Looking for comfortable pants with plenty of style to boot? Enter bootcut jeans. The design is often more fitted along the upper leg, and unlike straight-cut jeans, flares out from the knee down. Brown calls bootcut the “most universally flattering” silhouette.
To try a timeless take on the style, consider Levi’s which is “great for [its] classic styles, price point, and quality,” says Brown. Opt for the brand’s Classic Bootcut Women’s Jeans, which come in women’s sizes 2 to 18 in a light, dark, and navy wash. They have a 4.5-star rating out of over 400 reviews, with one reviewer raving that they “don’t stretch out after wearing multiple times.”
Add some ‘70s flair to your wardrobe with flare jeans. The retro style, also referred to as bell bottoms, is tapered on top but widens out at the bottom. “I predict that we will see a lot more flares later this year,” Brown says when asked about her denim trend predictions, foreseeing that there will also be an “anything goes'' philosophy “where people wear what works for them.”
Both stylists are fans of Paige jeans, which Brown says seem “to be a favorite for so many different body types that I dress.” Try the brand’s Genevieve High Waist Flare Jeans, which are sold in a dark wash in women’s sizes 23 to 34. Keep the retro vibes going with a chunky heel, as Valiente recommends.
Wide-leg jeans—which are “very in” right now according to Brown—are cut generously from above the knees, fitting like oversized trousers. “They look great paired with fitted tops and blazers,” she says of the design, which may fit in nicely with a casual office dress code. Valiente’s also a fan of the fit. “If you want to feel fresh and relevant without diving into unflattering trends, explore the world of mid- to high-rise cropped straight- or wide-leg jeans,” she says. “There are so many gorgeous versions of this style right now.”
Try a bestselling Madewell pair like the brand’s Curvy Perfect Wide-Leg Crop Jean, which is available in light wash in women’s standard, tall, and petite sizes 23 to 33. Consider wearing it with a cropped or fitted top, as Brown says “oversized styles can be tricky, so make sure you pay attention to the proportions of what you’re wearing on top.”
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.