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Shopping Tips

A Comprehensive Guide to Alternatives to Skinny Jeans

This is not our first time at the alternatives to skinny jeans rodeo. This blog has a predecessor from 2018, when we and our clients first started to tire of skinny jeans. However, now that Gen Z has made a whole meme out of skinny jeans being “uncool,” we have been asked countless times, “Which style of jeans am I supposed to be wearing?!”

First things first, your skinny jeans are not being taken away from you! As fashion stylists, we still approve of skinny jeans that make you feel good and flatter your figure. If you are super petite and narrow hipped, skinny jeans are probably your most flattering denim silhouette. However, if your pre-pandemic denim or skinny jeans are no longer serving you, consider trying one of the alternatives in this blog. I’m including myself here, as all of the pairs I model in this blog are from 2020 and forward.

Lani originally asked me for three alternatives to skinny jeans, and yet here I am providing you with seven! What can I say? I’m an over-achiever, and this is a subject I’m passionate about. There are three main categories: straight jeans, flared jeans, and wide leg jeans. Each of these main categories can be divided into subcategories of full-length or cropped. And then there are the bonus boyfriend styles! Let’s jump in!

Happy shopping!

(Note from Lani: Thank you so much to Kyle for collecting and modeling enough fabulous new alternatives to skinny jeans for an entire blog! Now that’s dedication!)

Straight Leg Jeans

The straight-leg jean is a slightly more relaxed cousin of the skinny jean. This jean is fitted in the butt and thighs, with more room in the calves and knees. You’ll see this silhouette in many different fabrics with varying washes and amounts of stretch. For example, my Agolde Jamie jeans are a rigid, tapered cigarette leg in an ankle length. In our slider below, you’ll see light-wash, vintage-inspired versions that are very casual, as well as dark-wash pairs that can be dressed up for a dinner out. Some of our favorite straight leg jeans are the Madewell Perfect Vintage and the NYDJ Marilyn.

Cropped Straight Leg Jeans

Cropped straight leg jean styles are similar to my description of straight leg jeans, but with a perfect-for-summer above-the-ankle length. I love that cropped straight jeans go with any footwear, from Birkenstocks and Tevas to heels and booties. This is probably the most “of-the-moment” silhouette that you can find in anything from designer styles to less expensive versions at Target and Gap. My pair is from Closed via The Real Real.

Boyfriend Straight Leg Jeans

The boyfriend straight leg jean is another very current style. The difference between the regular straight leg jean and the boyfriend version is that these are much more relaxed, leaning towards a wide-leg. They are fitted in the butt and straight down the leg. Many brands making this style are using 100% cotton in a light vintage wash. This can make it more difficult to find the right fit compared to stretch denim. The two pairs that have worked for me are the Pistola Cassie jean, pictured above, and the Agolde 90s jean. The cotton is soft and lightweight. If you want to try the style but need stretch in your jeans, check out Good American or Lucky Brand, where Lani just found a pair.

Flared and Bootcut Jeans

Bootcut jeans are classic. A good dark-wash bootcut jean with the appropriate length will always be a smart wardrobe staple. Of course, if you still have the low-rise, high contrast stitching version from a decade ago, its probably time for an upgrade. Tailor this style to be as long as possible with the shoes you’ll be wearing, giving your legs an elongating effect. Bootcut jeans should be worn with shoes that have more structure and a longer toe-box (i.e. no large flares with a flimsy round-toe ballet flat, but rather a pointed leather flat, ankle boot, or a loafer). My pair is from Topshop. While no longer available, here is a similar pair. We also love the NYDJ Barbara bootcut and the Wit and Wisdom itty bitty bootcut.

Cropped Flare Jeans

We have written a few blogs about the cropped flare—one of our favorite jean silhouettes to come out of the last few years. More than 4 years later, a lot of people are still resistant to this style. We are here to make it’s case! This jean creates an hourglass shape, just like full-length bootcut jeans. However, the cropped flare jean also shows off your great footwear. See our blog post on what shoes to wear if you’re still stumped. My stretchy dark-wash pair is last-year’s Paige, but our clients have been loving the NYDJ Slim Bootcut Ankle Jeans, Madewell Demi Boot, and Wit and Wisdom Kick Flare.

Wide Leg Jeans

I only had a corduroy wide leg jean to model for you. Fabric aside, this is my favorite silhouette. If you love a wide leg trouser, you must try a wide leg jean. Wide leg jeans make your legs look super long and create the illusion of a tiny waist. Who can say no to that? These are the Frame Palazzo, which have a super wide leg and cover your shoes. Anthropologie has a ton of full-length, wide-leg styles right now, and of course our fave NYDJ has the Teresa Trouser jean.

Cropped Wide Leg Jeans

A cropped wide-leg is the ultimate cool-girl pant. These are the perfect summer jean, especially if you find a pair in a really soft chambray denim such as this Nic and Zoe pair. Dress them up with wedges or simply wear a fashion sneaker or Birkenstocks. If you’re in the market for a pair, you can find them at most retailers from Talbots to Old Navy! Lani has a pair in white from Frame she loves so much she is afraid to wear them too often!

What are your favorite alternatives to skinny jeans styles? Let us know in the comments!

Real Life Style is a style consulting firm that teaches busy women to wear their power so they can live their lives fully and confidently. Lani Inlander and Kyle Dunphy are based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and serve clients across the country. We offer personal styling services, an on-demand e-course, corporate services, and training to become a personal stylist.

You can find Lani Inlander and Real Life Style on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

(1) Comment

  1. Fran Garfinkel Greenstein says:

    Love this! Thanks for sharing your expertise and lots of fun and fashionable ideas! Wit & Wisdom never disappoints as well as many other great brands.

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