At first it was skinny, then it was wide. High rise was all in until low rise made a comeback. Boyfriend jeans had their moment too, but they were swiftly replaced by straight legged options. Keeping up with jeans fit types, styles and trends is no easy task. And figuring out what works for you and your particular body type is another question altogether.
In our time in the denim industry, we’ve seen women from all walks of life embark on a quest for “the perfect pair of jeans”. They search online and in stores, try on countless pairs and spend a ton of time and money looking for “the one”. We’ve discovered, however, that more often than not, women don’t know what “the one” looks like.
There are so many styles of jeans that it’s easy to get lost in the sea of different lengths, rises, washes and weights. Which is why we created this guide. Read along to discover not only the different types of jeans on the market, but which will look best on you, and how to style them.
Choose Your Jeans Fit
What they are: Jeans with attitude! Flare jeans start getting wider at the knees and continue widening towards the ankles. The bottom part can feature either a conservative flare, like those in bootcut jeans, or dramatic, wide legs.
Who they’re for: Women who carry their weight mostly in their hips, thighs, and rear look amazing in this style. Fits that are snugger in the butt and thighs area are best for these body types. Pro tip: choose flares that almost cover your shoes.
How to style them: With anything, really! Go for a plain tee if you’re keeping it casual, or a cool blazer for a more business casual look. Denim on denim is also very trendy right now, so don’t be scared to rock a denim jacket with your jeans.
Wide Leg Jeans
What they are: Jeans that are at least 20" in circumference at the hem. The difference between wide legged jeans vs bootcut or flare is that the entire length of the leg is large, instead of becoming wider below the knee.
Who they’re for: Wide leg jeans are great for those with rectangle or triangle body shapes, and for gals on the shorter side. A cropped pair of wide legged jeans with a high-rise can make you appear a bit taller! This style also accentuates your waistline and curves, so it’s actually incredibly flattering for all body types.
How to style them: One of our favorite fashion tips with regards to wide leg jeans is to let the denim be the star of the show. Pair them with simple tops, such as plain tanks or cozy chunky sweaters, and you’ll have a great outfit. Ankle boots and heeled sandals will lengthen your legs, so they’re always a good idea.
What they are: As their name indicates, straight jeans run straight from the hips to the legs and all the way down to the ankles.
Who they’re for: Straight jeans nearly always guarantee a flattering cut and simple silhouette. Their looser fit (compared to skinny jeans) can provide the illusion of a curvier, longer, figure, as they create one long, unbroken, line down the legs.
How to style them: This style is easy to dress up or down. Blazers, tees, sweaters-it’s really up to you! Straight jeans are super versatile and, above all, classic and timeless. So don’t overthink it and unleash your inner fashionista!
What they are: The most universally, flattering style, according to experts. Bootcut jeans are tighter on top and looser on the bottom, with a slight flare.
Who they’re for: All body shapes and sizes! Stylists suggest that women with “pear” shaped bodies will benefit from bootcut jeans, as they are tight around the hip and upper thigh area, and flare out by the ankles. This balances your silhouette and compliments your figure. The truth is, ladies of all body shapes and sizes love this kind of denim, as their subtle flare is very slimming and can make petite women look slightly taller.
How to style them: Taking a minimalist approach when styling bootcut jeans is a good idea: as these jeans have a slimming effect, you can pair them with a well fitting top and let the silhouette do the talking. If your jeans are a darker wash, you can also pair them with a blouse for an office-ready look. For shoes, experts recommend adding something with a bit of height: high heeled boots, pumps, or sandals with a heel are all great options.
What they are: Slouchy denim pants with a loose fit through the thighs and waist that are meant to look like you borrowed your boyfriend’s jeans. Though they come high waisted, this style traditionally sits lower on the waist to create a baggy silhouette.
Who they’re for: Anyone going for a relaxed, casual look.
How to style them: Effortless chic is how to best describe the vibes these jeans give off. Have in mind that, contrary to what many may think, boyfriend jeans CAN be dressed up. Pair them with a button-up blouse, an oversized blazer, and strappy heels for a classic formal outfit. Another great trio we recommend: a turtleneck, stilettos and a decorative belt.
What they are: A second skin, made of denim. Or nearly so! Skinny jeans cling to your body all the way down to the ankle, hugging your thighs and calves. Though that might sound constricting, at Mott & Bow we make them with our four way stretch factor, so they’re as comfortable as your favorite pair of leggings.
Who they’re for: From plus size to petite, confident women of any shape and size can rock skinny jeans.
How to style them: Since this style is quite tight on the lower half of your body, we recommend balancing out your figure with more voluminous tops. Think chunky sweaters, leather jackets and winter coats. They also go well with classic tees or crop tops for a more casual look. Pro tip: pair your skinny jeans with a silky top, a blazer and a cool clutch for a stunning date night outfit.
What they are: The mom jeans silhouette is very specific: it features a high waist, slightly baggy leg, and excess space in the hips, as well as in the zipper and crotch area. They’re loose fitting and usually come in a solid, light-blue color with no fading. Since this style was widely popular until the late 1990s, the younger generation considered it something only mothers would wear, which is where these jeans get their name from.
Who they’re for: Pear and apple body types, hourglass figures, those with bigger butts or thicker thighs and women with skinnier or more athletic builds will benefit from the figure mom jeans can provide.
How to style them: A crisp white shirt or tee will have you looking effortlessly cool when paired with these jeans. Cropped tops and oversized sweaters also look great with this kind of denim!
Choose Your Jeans Rise
What they are: High rise jeans sit high on, or above, the waist-usually between 9 and and 11 inches high.
Who they’re for: High rise jeans accentuate waists and curves, so if you’re looking to highlight those areas of your body, this style is for you. Hourglass body shapes look great in this rise, and so do women who carry weight in their tummy. One of our best tips: the bigger your backside, the higher the rise! High waisted jeans look amazing on those blessed with larger behinds.
How to style them: As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to pair your high rise jeans with a fitted shirt that can be tucked in to emphasize your waist. Tops that are even slightly oversized or that hit below the waist will create a boxy effect that you most probably won’t appreciate. Our second suggestion: heels! They’ll help elongate your legs even more than this style of jeans already does.
What they are: Jeans that sit between the navel and hips and create one of the most flattering, elongating silhouettes possible!
Who they’re for: Shorter gals, this one’s for you! From slim to curvy, short women all over will benefit from the leg lengthening effect mid rise jeans can provide. This rise is extremely flattering, so truth be told, it’ll look amazing on nearly every body type.
How to style them: These jeans take versatility to a whole new level, as they are compatible with just about any top. You can pair them with anything and everything, from tees and hoodies to dressier blouses-it’s up to you!
What they are: A revival of the 1990s. Low rise jeans sit just at your waist and hug it tightly.
Who they’re for: Women with a shorter torso will find this rise flattering, as it’ll create the illusion of a lower waistline.
How to style them: A tank, a crop top and a sports bra are all great ways to pair your low rise jeans. If you prefer to keep your midriff out of view, wearing a longer top is fine, as well: just remember to tuck it in! It’s very important for the waistband to show on these kind of jeans.
Choose Your Jeans Length
Cropped Length Jeans
What they are: Shorter pants that are perfect for showing off your fave pair of shoes! As a general rule, cropped jeans should hit just above the ankle, no lower and no higher than 2 fingers above your ankle bone.
Who they’re for: This style is particularly flattering on petite women, as it gives the appearance of longer legs.
How to style them: Cropped jeans are super versatile. Pair them with a white tee for a casual outing, or elevate your look with a blazer and a low heel. Nearly everything looks well with this pair, which is sure to turn into a staple in your closet.
Ankle Length Jeans
What they are: Ankle jeans land about 1-3 inches above your ankle and they are perfect for wearing with -wait for it- ankle booties!
Who they’re for: Full disclaimer: the eye stops where the pant leg ends and gives the impression your legs stop there, too. So ankle length jeans will slightly shorten your legs. Tall ladies, this is your moment to shine! The rest of us, slightly more lacking in the length department…maybe go for another style.
How to style them: Though ankle length jeans give off “relaxing weekend” vibes, they could also be good for the office if Casual Fridays are a thing where you work.
What they are: Full-length jeans feature an inseam that measures 30"-31" and, depending on your height, will fall between your ankle and the ground when you're barefoot.
Who they’re for: If you prefer your jeans to cover part of your shoe and ankle, this is the pair to wear.
How to style them: This classic length goes well with pretty much anything. Pay special atenttion to the style and rise of your jeans, as those will play a bigger part in determining what to pair them with!
Factors to Consider While Choosing Right Fit of Jeans
- #1: Know your body type and shape, and choose styles and fits that complement it accordingly.
- #2: NEVER choose a pair of jeans that you don’t feel 100% comfortable in.
- #3: Make sure your jeans are the right size: they shouldn’t be loose enough so that you absolutely need a belt to wear them, but they shouldn’t be tight enough that you feel like you can’t breathe and move comfortably, either.
- #4: Look for denim with extra stretch, like the ones we offer with a four way stretch factor. They’ll feel as comfortable as your favorite pair of leggings but still boast all the benefits of denim!
- #5: Know your measurements! This will make shopping for jeans SO much easier, and will nearly guarantee the best fit possible. There are three important measurements to have in mind: A) The inseam: the distance from the crotch seam to the ankle hem. B) The thigh width: take this measurement two inches below the crotch seam and then double it for your thigh measurement. C) The rise: Pull the waist tight when you take this measurement to get the most accurate number. (Insider secret: low-rise jeans generally measure 7’’ or 8’’ from crotch to waist, mid-rise is 8’’ or 9’’ and high-rise is 9’’ or 10’’.
- Is it better to buy jeans bigger or smaller?
Neither! You should get jeans that fit you well: they shouldn’t fall without a belt, shouldn’t feel like they’ll rip if you squat, and shouldn’t have a ton of extra fabric. That being said, a bigger size is usually much easier to have tailored than it is to stretch out a smaller pair.
- Do jeans get tighter after washing?
Jeans typically stretch out a bit after wear (think around half a size), but after washing and drying them, they shrink back to their original size. So they won’t get tighter or smaller than they were when you bought them, but they might revert back to their original shape if they had stretched out after a couple of uses!
- How do you know if jeans are too big?
As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t need a belt to hold up your jeans. If you do, they’re too big!
- Do high-waisted jeans make you look thinner?
High waisted jeans highlight and define your waist. And if they fit you well, they’ll also elongate your lower body. So in a sense, yes, you may appear leaner in high waisted jeans!