We’ve discussed directional trends, colour and pattern, and theme and silhouette. Next up is jeans, where we’re absolutely spoiled for choice in silhouette, wash, length, colour and design detail. Milk the extensive assortment if you enjoy wearing jeans. You might like to make a trendier style a new go-to wardrobe essential. Most jeans come in a shade of blue, and fabric weights vary. White, grey, black and acid wash jeans are there too.
Generally, trendy fits and widths are wider, and rises are higher. Lengths are cropped, ankle, the new shorter full length, and floor-skimming full length. Mid-rise jeans are present, but harder to find. The denim can be super soft, and have a little or a lot of stretch. It can be sans stretch and and stonewashed. Or it can be raw, stiff, and with no stretch at all.
Skinny jeans in all their iterations are not on-trend, but they are in style. Please don’t think that the Modern Classic is out and over if you enjoy wearing them. They are only over if you want to move on from the silhouette and change things up. It doesn’t matter if fashion influencers aren’t wearing skinnies, or believe they are unstylish. What matters is that you feel good, attractive and authentic in your outfit.
These are the most important on-trend jeans silhouettes to my eye. Some of the silhouettes are “new”, some have been fringe trending for a while, and others have gone mainstream. Flies are zip-through, button-through, or exposed. You’ll see a lot of ‘80s and ‘90s revival here, which is why some of the styles are referred to as vintage jeans.
1. Relaxed Straight Leg
The ‘90s throwback is the “Mom jean” – I loathe that description – and mainstream. The cut is relaxed on the leg, wide and straight down to the hem, and higher in the rise. It’s not a regular straight leg because the silhouette is more fluid than that. The style is fitted on the seat and hips, so they aren’t boyfriend jeans either. Lengths are usually cropped, although full-lengths are coming through.
2. Balloon or Barrel Leg
These jeans are high rise, tailored on the seat and hips, and voluminous on the legs. The side seams “balloon” away from the thighs and lower leg, which is how the style gets its name. The hems taper back to the leg. Some retailers call them barrel leg jeans. These are roomier and more balloon-y on the legs than relaxed straights. Some versions balloon out more than others. The waist can be straight or pleated. Lantern pants are a close cousin, but sometimes aren’t as structured on the crotch point and hips. To my eye, they are a more architectural version of what we wore in the early ‘80s. They are fringe at the moment, but my guess is that they will go mainstream. The silhouette can work well for curvier thighs.
3. Wide Crop
Wide crops are wider than relaxed straight legs, and wide all the way down to the hem. They are mainstream. Their widths and lengths can vary. Some pairs are streamlined and what I call a “slim wide crop”, and others are dramatically wide like culottes. Lengths can finish at the calf or a couple of inches above the ankle. It’s about wearing them with the right fluid top untucked if you’re not a tucker. A top with a welt or banded hem is a good way to go because it adds some waist definition. Remember that you don’t need to feel and look streamlined and narrow in something to be fabulous. Turn the “long over lean” look on its head and wear “short over wide” to change things up.
4. Bootcut and Mega Flares
Bootcuts that are twenty years old are low rise, which is not today’s trend. The trendy version is with a high rise or relatively high mid-rise, and it’s just gone mainstream. Leg fits for bootcuts and bell-bottoms are streamlined till the knee and flare out to the hem. Hem widths can be subtle or more flared. Mega flares are high rise and wide, or extremely wide, from thigh to ankle.
The lengths of bootcuts and flares can skim the surface of the ground in heels, sneakers, flatforms and flats. Or they can be sported at the new shorter full length with the same types of shoes. Most of my clients who have bought bootcuts and flares recently are wearing them with fashion sneakers, low-heeled boots, and flatforms.
5. Wide Leg
This ‘70s inspired silhouette is high in the rise, fitted on the seat, and wide from thigh to ankle. They are much wider than bootcuts, which are fitted from thigh to knee. Like wide crops, these can make you feel and look wider, and are an acquired taste. I wear my own with pleasure, but make sure that I tuck my tops, wear a welted untucked top, or a shorter top to showcase some waist definition. Otherwise the silhouette is wearing me. Lengths can skim the surface of the ground in heels, sneakers, flatforms and flats. Or they can be sported at the new shorter full length with the same types of shoes.
6. Paperbag Waist
This mega ‘80s flashback is fun if you like to define the waist. The fringe trend is gaining momentum which means that more and more people are into the look. These jeans are high or very high in the rise, and often pleated on the midsection. Sometimes, the paperbag waist and belt is sans pleats, and the tie is quite subtle. Sometimes the style can be worn without the tie. Leg silhouettes vary from relaxed straight and balloon, to wide in the leg. The point is to tuck a top into the waist to showcase the paperbag-waist detailing. It’s a good look for long torsos, and works well for team curvier thighs.
7. Cuffed Hem
Jeans with broad cuffs at the hem are fringe, especially in relaxed, flared and slouchy cuts. Some of the lengths are cropped, while others graze the top of the foot or the ankle bone. The dark washes create a high-contrast cuff, while the low-contrast cuffs on light washes are more subtle. The versions with the high-contrast cuff can shorten the leg line unless you wear a shorter top, so you have to be okay with that.
8. Sailor Waist
The fringe sailor jean is a mid to high-rise wide crop or wide leg with three to four buttons along each of the front side entry pockets, thereby creating an eye catching “bib” on the midsection. The buttons can be tonal and subtle, or bold and shiny. The idea is to showcase the button detailing of the bib by wearing a tucked top. You don’t need to have a flat midsection to wear these. In fact, the bib detailing can be quite girdling, and very flattering with a tucked soft top.
9. Cropped Flare
Cropped flares are mainstream and have been around for at least six seasons. They’re also known as cropped bootcuts, kick flares, or demi legs. They are mid or high rise, streamlined on the leg, and flare out on the hem like a short pair of bootcuts. They are still going strong, and not quite a classic yet.
Jeans with track pant design detailing are fringe, but gaining momentum. Some have structured waistbands, but most have elastic waists. Hems are tapered and ribbed or elasticated too. It can be fun to pull up the hems to create textured scrunch.
11. Denim Skirts
And last, if you’re not into denim pants, try a denim skirt. Denim skirts can be comfortable and breezy, and to my eye look elegant and fab. They have a vintage and modern retro integrity to them that is appealing. They needn’t be super short and tight if that’s not your thing. They can be knee-length, midi, maxi, A-line and flared. They can have asymmetrical hemlines, and incorporate a little stretch for comfort.
I LOVE the jeans trends. Jeans and pants are the trendier part of my style, so I like to be an early adopter of new silhouettes that tickle my fancy. I steadily add trendy jeans to my capsule to balance out the modern classic components of my style. I wear my trendy jeans for many years, and not just for a season or two. For example, I began wearing cropped flares when they first came out years ago, and I am still wearing them.
My current jeans are in the collection below. I have moved away from skinny jeans completely. Instead, I’ve got wide crops, barrel legs, sailor crops, bootcuts, wide legs, cuffed hems, carpenters, patterns, tuxedo stripes, cropped flares, glitzy front-vented straight legs, and an edgy A-line midi skirt in raw denim. Next up is some sort of pleated jean, trouser jeans, and maybe a little acid wash. I also want to refresh my white jeans capsule with roomier silhouettes since I wore the white wide crops the most last year.
Over to you. Which denim trends tickle your fancy?