I’ve received countless DMs asking me to check out a certain rumor that’s been circulating the internet for a few weeks now: Are skinny Jeans dead? I was sure this would go down because it’s a preposterous opinion popularized by those menacing youth on Tik Tok who have found joy and solace in our high school castoffs and claim them as their own.* (Honestly though, keep the hats off cube, we’re good.) But I’ve decided it’s time to speak my truth about this situation. The Short answer, in my not-so-humble opinion, is NO, skinny Jeans are not dead. Skinny Jeans have been around for over a decade and in that time have been perfected by the Denim industry. (I’m looking at you, high-waisted skinny jeans with elastic.) *chef’s kiss* Why would we throw away a good thing now?
However, I have a theory as to why this generation hates skinny jeans; Listen to me. Think back to the years these kids grew up, let’s say around 2010 they were in high school. And what did they wear? Skinny jeans and leggings. That was what was in style and in stores, so that’s what they wore. From middle school to high school, they only wore skinny jeans; it was his only option really. Well now they are entering their young adult years and they want to find a style that feels different from their youth. They want independence from their childHood, including style. I get it 100%. In fact, that’s why we found solace in skinny jeans: We finally had a pair of jeans that didn’t drag on the floor, stretched, and could be worn with virtually any pair of shoes. Skinny jeans for us millennials were a breath of fresh air for our overworked “Long and Leans” Gap; this style of skinny jeans felt new and exciting and cool. I still remember my first pair that I bought in 2007 from Gap. The fit wasn’t quite right, but I knew this style of skinny jean was on to something. In fact, skinny jeans transformed an entire industry. The Denim industry saw a huge opportunity with this new style and denim Sales skyrocketed to $90 billion in 2019. Skinny jeans accounted for 48% of all woMen’s denim Sales in 2018.(linked resource)Point? We love our skinny jeans. But the next generation is ready for something new and that’s just right. If you think about it, so did we and we brought an entire industry with us.
I, for one, have bought a lot of skinny jeans in the last 2 years, so I had some time to think about this dilemma. Giving up our collection of skinny jeans would be giving up our collection of Tops and tunics. Skinny jeans are not only integrated into our wardrobe, but we have built an entire wardrobearoundskinny jean aesthetic. It’s a fact that long, baggy tunics and wide-leg jeans don’t go together as well as skinny jeans. Mom jeans call for more fitted or cropped Tops that can create the hourglass look that high-waisted denim calls for. For us,throwing out all the skinny jeans on the whim that they’re now “dead” would be emptying cloSets and drawers, leaving us millennials without the trusty cloSets we’ve curated for years.
The long answer is: skinny jeans aren’t dead, but maybe it’s time some other denim styles enteRed the chat. Of course, there’s room for everyone at the table, so I’ve found 5 alternatives I like to wear when I’m looking for a different look than skinny jeans.
But first, I’m going to start with the old standby and classic… The Skinny Jean.
The skinny cowboy
This pair is one of my favorites from Good American. He’s stretchy, he’s flattering, he’s high waisted but not constricting and doesn’t flatten my booty. Everything points to yes with this pair of jeans. A classic dark shade, this pair of skinny jeans really does it all: T-shirt and sneakers, blouse and heels, sweater and booties. There’s no outfit this pair of jeans can’t touch. For this reason, skinny jeans will always have a place in my wardrobe.And my heart.
Good American skinny jeans
Madewell High Rise Roadtripper Jeans
1 / Balloon jeans
I’d classify this jean as a “bold choice,” if we’re being honest. I really like the idea of this style, but it’s definitely taking me a minute to fully understand the style. Balloon jean, daddy jean, barrel jean. There are many names for this style, but what you’re looking for here is a roomy but not wide leg, fitted waist and just slightly tapeRed towards the bottom. Not quite a straight leg, not a skinny. I would say this is an advanced level of denim, if you are looking to level up the denim trend this is it. If you’re new to skinny jeans, keep scrolling for more options.
(I’m wearing a 28 on this pair of jeans. If you wanted them to sit a little lower towards your hips, find one for a more relaxed look.)
Madewell Balloon Jean (pictuRed)
Gap high waist jean
Levi’s Loose Fit High Waisted Skinny Jeans
Agolde 90’s Mid Rise Loose Fit Jeans
TOPshop Dad Ripped Jeans
2 / Rib Cage Straight Leg Jeans
This is a wonderful option if you’re looking for a skinny jean alternative and love a relaxed fit. This look is the Levi’s Ribcage Straight Leg, a true straight leg. These hit me just above the ankle so they aren’t too Short and I love the fit. They’re high-rise (hence the name ribcage) and the same gorgeous Levi’s denim and fit we know and love. Levi’s is one classic denim you can get your hands on, so this is a wonderful alternative that will give you many looks for years to come.
(I’m wearing a 29 in this pair of Levi’s.)
Levis Ribcage Straight Leg Jeans (shown here)
Levi’s Ribcage Straight Leg Jeans in Blue
Gap High Rise Bold Straight Leg Jeans
3 / Mom jeans
If you’re still skeptical but curious about the whole skinny jean trend, this is your pair. This is the classic ‘mom jean’ or just the vintage jean as some retailers call it. What you are looking at here is a high waist that I accentuatedto your hips and presents a slimmer straight leg. Madewell has a lot of this look and I think hers is the easiest to switch to skinny jeans. This is the Perfect Vintage Jean, and it really is.
(I’m at 28 on this pair. Works out generously though, you can downsize.)
Madewell High Waist Vintage Jeans
AF High Rise Mom Jeans
AF Curve Love High Rise Mom Jeans
Jag Jeans Vintage Mom Jeans
4 / Vintage straight leg jeans
This jean is a cross between the Ribcage Straight denim and a mom jean. The leg is not as tapered as a mom jean, but also not as straight as a Ribcage jean. Her son loved hers, the best of both worlds. This pair is a recent LOFT favorite. Lots of stretch, super flattering and comfortable. Slight crop for spring, too, and this cut makes it easier to pair with low-profile sneakers. This pair is another easy transition to the skinny jean style. No experience necessary. Another option for this look is the Levi’s Wedgie crop, I have linked it below.
(I’m wearing 28 on this pair of jeans.)
LOFT High Waisted Straight Leg Jeans
Levi’s Wedgie High Waisted Short Jean
Gap High Rise Cheeky Straight Leg
5 / Wide leg jeans
Are you already tired of me pushing these? I’ve found some recent peace with wide-leg denim, or maybe it’s just this pair, but I love them. I find them super chic and very easy to use. I also love this ivory shade, it’s almost easier to layer with items than a pure White or wide leg denim. White gives it more of a trouser feel than a pair of jeans. This pair sits a little lower on me at the waist, but is still high waisted, roomier through the hips and thighs. They really are a perfect jean. I love the wide leg look because it’s the antithesis of a skinny jean. I think wearing heels with wide leg jeans suits my body better, but you can also easily pair these PANTS with some low profile sneakers.
(I’m on 29, they run TTS.)
LOFT Wide Leg Denim
Mother Denim The Tomcat High Rise Wide Leg
AG Denim Etta Crop Wide Leg Jeans
What can we learn from Generation Z and perhaps even from ourselves a decade ago? Try something new once in a while and then feel free to like what YOU like. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching this generation, it’s their unwavering devotion to personal freedom of style and choice. Or *Aesthetics*, if we are being relevant. Finding comfort in the classics, like a nice pair of skinny jeans is great, or finding a new style, like mom jeans, that you find you love, is great too. Try a new style and tell this older millennial how you’re doing. I think you might find your new favorite pair of jeans.
*implied sarcasm. I love those Gen Z and their chaos. They keep me young.