Are Skinny Jeans DEAD?

Oh. My. Gosh. Have you seen ALL the drama that’s happening over on TikTok? People (non-Millennial women, mainly) are in an uproar! The excitement involves the status of skinny jeans and what wearing them signifies. The basic premise is that hair parted on the side, the crying emoji, and wearing skinny jeans are all outdated (aka, for old people!!). 

I get it. As the years pass, things become classified as more in or out. And it’s the role of the younger generations to differentiate themselves from their parents and grandparents generations. It happens through music and fashion in particular. Think Elvis (and his gyrations, banned on TV) or Madonna (and her Like A Virgin tour, along with her lingerie as clothing). 

That’s evolution from an art and style standpoint. And, it’s the same reason I kind of cringe when I see my high-school hairdo (serious 80’s BIG HAIR). I’ve evolved, and (thankfully) that style no longer represents who I am. When we look at ourselves in the past, it is purposely meant to make us feel uncomfortable because that means we are continuing to grow. Evolution and progress happen from a beauty and fashion standpoint and on a human psyche level. In both hair and character, I hope that I’ve moved forward in the last 30 years. 

Evolution or not, labels sort of annoy me. Marking something “in or out” or “young or old” can be an unfair description. That being said, I do believe some styles are more modern and current the same way some styles are more flattering. Nonetheless, if it makes you feel comfortable, confident, and you like it – you should wear it! You are the ultimate maker of your own style!

But Are Skinny Jeans OUTDATED? 

Skinny jeans are NOT outdated. Rather they’ve moved to the category of a classic style. So yes, you can keep wearing your skinnies if you like them. And I personally am keeping a few pairs in my wardrobe. However, if you’re like many of my clients and readers that are writing in saying they’re feeling ”off” when they put on the skinnies they once loved, I’d recommend adding a crop, flared, or straight leg jean to the denim repertoire. A wider leg (notice I said wider, not necessarily wide, just not skinny) is the most recent trend for ladies of all ages.

I’ve been talking about this for a while. In fact, my post from 2017 about how to wear skinny jeans but make them feel updated still rings true. In the past four years, there has been a steady shift away from skinny jeans. It doesn’t mean they are out entirely, but you’re seeing in stores and on people, jean styles other than just skinny jeans. So the time is right to add a new jean style to your denim collection.

What’s the New Rule When It Comes to Jean Style?

Even though we’re calling these new styles of jeans, fashion is cyclical. TECHNICALLY, we’ve seen these jeans’ elements in the past, be it the boot cut, culotte, or flare. But the overall shapes are quite different from the bootcut jeans you were wearing in the ’80s and ’90s.

Consider these styles a hybrid of the older and more modern fashion. The details to note are the mid to higher waist (no low rise, thong showing jeans happening anymore – thank goodness) AND the wider leg.

  • Straight Leg

If there’s one style to start with if you’re a devoted skinny jean fan, it’s the straight-legged jean. They’re not as full as a mom or baggy style. But they offer more of a stovepipe look to the leg that is uber flattering. And current.

  • Cropped Kick

The fantastic thing about cropped jeans is that you can crop them yourself! Grab your scissors or a razor and clip those suckers! When you crop a skinny at the ankle, it naturally kicks out a bit and offers that more modern silhouette. In case you’re not the DIY type, this style is sold everywhere. Or your tailor can crop it for you.

  • Boot Cut or Flare

This silhouette throws it all the way back! The wider leg is quite flattering in balancing the hip and thigh region. Ideally, wear the bootcut or flare style long.  Almost touching the floor to provide that legs for days look.

  • Boyfriend

In the recent past, a boyfriend jean was the only non-skinny alternative women had. And often, the boyfriend jeans were just too baggy and unattractive. Now slim boyfriend jeans (sometimes called girlfriend jeans) are an option too. And that shape allows for a more relaxed leg, but not the saggy but look of the boyfriend jean predecessor.

  • Wide-Leg

Wide-leg or culotte styles are extremely flattering, especially if you have a small waist and carry weight in your hips. Make sure to tuck your top in to highlight the waist.

Non-Skinny Jean + Shoe Situation

With this non-skinny jean situation, people are having a hard time trying to match their shoes. What once worked with skinnies is now not looking as sharp with these wider leg styles. Are you one of the many confused about how to style these pants? If so, stay tuned in two weeks. Therefore, my next blog will be all about how to pair shoes with different jean shapes. Be sure to email or send me a dm on Instagram with any questions you have!

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Photo: Becky Cormell

Post Updated 6/17/21


Cleveland-based personal stylist and fashion blogger.

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