I am dedicating a trends post to jeans, because they are such an important component of many of our wardrobes. One can make some extrapolations from the silhouettes that designers are putting out for bottoms in general, but jeans are not particularly well covered at the shows. The retail collections are a much more important place to look for insights about where jeans fashion is going.
There is a lot of denim silhouette variety right now, across a range of neutrals and washes. If you like wearing jeans, I hope you’re finding what you’re looking for and enjoying the extensive assortment. Most jeans come in a shade of blue, and fabric weights vary. White, grey, black, patterned, acid wash, and coloured jeans are there too.
Skinny jeans and tight straight legs are classic and not dated. If you enjoy wearing those instead of the trendier styles, please carry on. They continue to work well tucked into tall boots and snow boots.
Rises on jeans range from mid lengths to high, and very high. That said, low rises are coming through too. Before long, you’ll be able to find any rise length at retail and in thrift stores. This might be a first for fashion.
Front flies are zippered, buttoned, concealed, exposed, or seamed if the waist is elastic. Torn, ripped, and extremely distressed jeans are still a thing, but so are very dark washes and untreated raw jeans. Lengths vary from full-length and ankle, to all versions of cropped. Widths vary from tailored and sleek, to wide and voluminous. Plus more and more manufacturers are producing jeans sustainably and ethically, which is good news.
These are the most important on-trend jeans silhouettes to my eye. Some of the silhouettes are ‘new’, some are fringe, and some are mainstream. You’ll see a lot of ‘80s and ‘90s revival as those decades continue to heavily influence today’s fashion, There’s a fun bit of ‘70s coming through too.
1. Relaxed Straights
These are THE on-trend mainstream jeans silhouette, and a ‘90s throwback. If you’re going to update your jeans with one silhouette, this is a good option. The cut is relaxed on the leg, straight down to the hem, and higher in the rise. Mid-length rises are available too. The fit is fluidly tailored or fluid, and NOT tight.The style is fitted on the seat and hips, so they aren’t boyfriend jeans either. They can work well on a curvier body type.
2. Barrel or Balloon
These jeans are higher in the 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. Some versions balloon out more than others. They are a more architectural version of what we wore in the early ‘80s. Lantern pants are a version of barrel or balloon jeans. The silhouette is fringe, and can work well for curvier thighs and longer rises.
3. Bootcuts and Flares
Trendy ‘70s and ‘90s bootcuts and flares have high and mid rises, and are mainstream. The waist and seat is tailored. Leg fits are streamlined until the knee, and flare out to the hem. Hem widths can be subtle or more flared. Lengths can skim the surface of the ground in heels, boots, sneakers, flatforms and flats. Or they can be sported at the new shorter full length with the same types of shoes. They work well on most body types, and are a relatively easy way to update your denim capsule.
4. Wide Crops
Wide crops are mainstream and still going strong. They are wider than relaxed straight legs, and bootcuts because they are wide all the way down to the hem. Their widths and lengths can vary. Some silhouettes are slimmer than others, and those are the ones I suggest trying first if you’re unsure about the silhouette. Lengths can finish at the calf or a couple of inches above the ankle. They are cropped, and not full-length. Some versions are sailor style, and some have elaborate pocket detailing.
5. Wide Legs
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. They are dramatic, a lot of denim, and mainstream. Like wide crops, these can make you feel and look wider than you are, and are an acquired taste. Lengths can skim the surface of the ground or sweep the ground in heels, sneakers, flatforms, boots and flats. Or they can be sported at the new shorter full length with the same types of shoes.
6. Cuffed Hems
Jeans with broad and not so 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. Sometimes you can create a cuffed look with a pair of relaxed straight legs, narrower, or wide crops if the hems are long enough.
Jeans with athletic track pant design detailing are fringe. Some have structured waistbands, but most have elastic or half elastic waists. Hems are tapered and ribbed or elasticated. They are forgiving on the midsection, and can have a utility vibe. Some joggers look like denim but are made of knitted fabric. They are great work-from-home options.
8. Paperbag Waists
The silhouette has been a fringe trend for a while, and I don’t see it going mainstream like it did back in the ‘80s. 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. 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.
9. Slit Hems
These jeans are tailored or relaxed in silhouette with slits or vents in the front, side, or back of the jeans. The slits and vents can be subtle or dramatic. Lengths are cropped or full-length. Most of the silhouettes are bootcut, relaxed straight, or wide leg,
10. Boyfriends and Girlfriends
Boyfriend and girlfriend jeans are higher in the rise, fitted on the seat, tapered at the hem, and very relaxed on the leg. Hems can be gently cuffed or extremely long. Some versions are slimmer than others. Some of the waists are wide so that they can be reined in with a belt. Or they fall loosely on the hips which lowers the rise and crotch point to create lots of slouch. The slimmer versions are mainstream. The very baggy and slouchy versions are fringe.
11. Cropped Flares
Cropped flares are mainstream and have been around for eight years. 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 will soon be classic.
12. Tuxedo Stripes
Jeans with tuxedo stripes and ribbon detailing on the side seams have been around for a while but are not mainstream. Silhouettes are usually mid or high-rise cropped straights, relaxed straights, wide crops, wide legs, or cropped flares. The tuxedo or ribbon detailing can be subtle or bold.
13. Crossover Waists
The crossover jean crosses over in the front at the waist creating a diagonal line from waist to crotch point. It’s probably the most acquired taste and the most fringe trend of the lot. They’ve been around for a while but are quite exclusive. Fits are generally relaxed or slouchy. Some versions are more dramatic than others.
Patchwork has a strong ‘70s and ‘90s vibe, and is a fringe look. It’s coming through in relaxed straights most frequently, but in other silhouettes too. This is a great way for designers and manufacturers to use up off-cuts and scraps of fabric to minimize waste. I vote make this an iconic classic and available every season as a way to increase sustainable manufacture.
Printed jeans in skinny and tight straight legs silhouettes are mainstream, but roomier and wider versions are fringe. There’s a larger assortment of patterns each year, so take your pick. You’ll see psychedelic ‘70s patterns and tie-dye come through too. Patterned jeans are a good way to break up the monotony of a long Winter.
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. Jeans work well for my climate and some of the silhouettes are wardrobe essentials. I steadily add trendy jeans to my capsule to balance out the modern classic components of my style. I wear my trendy jeans for multiple years, not just a season or two, which makes them a more sustainable option.
My current jeans are in the collection below. I moved away from skinny jeans a few years ago. Instead, I have wide crops, relaxed straights, barrel legs, sailor crops, bootcuts, wide legs, cuffed hems, patterns, tuxedo stripes, boyfriends, cropped flares, and glitzy front-vented straight legs. I’m no sure which silhouette I’m going for next, but will grab the right trouser or jodhpur jeans when I see them.
Over to you. Which denim trends tickle your fancy?