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A once denounced slim-fitting denim proves to be back with classics from Everlane, Mother, Levi’s, and more.
Forget what you may have heard: Skinny jeans are still in style. Not just from the early 2010s but for decades prior. That’s because skinny jeans are a timeless classic that has transcended generations. That’s right: Leave behind what you know about narrow-legged denim; they’ve been around long before we called them “skinny jeans.” While avant-garde fashion symbols like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn started wearing tightly fitted, high-waist trousers, iconic names like Dorris Day opted for skinny denim pants, and what began as a counterculture trend quickly became mainstream.
The golden year of skinny jeans arrived in the 2000s, as a surge of as-skinny-as-can-be (and often low-rise) jeans were sported by pop icons like Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, and Nicole Richie, proving their popularity up until the late 2010s when wide-legs took over and flares were revived. Rather than looking at it through the lens of trends, however, the sleek style is more of a closet staple. Plus, since the cyclical fashion cycle, fashion influencers and forecasters are already preparing for their comeback.
Fashion TikToker Marina Mari Maki says the skinny jeans resurgence will look different this time: “This time, they’re going actually to fit you and not be too tight,” she says, noting that pairing skinny jeans will feel updated and refined, too. “You’ll see skinny jeans be more proportioned, like with a looser-fit top or a looser jacket.” It sounds very Kaia Gerber-inspired — so sign us up.
Best Overall: Everlane The Way-High® Skinny Jean
What We Love: These jeans are soft but durable.
What We Don’t Love: They're extremely high-waisted, reaching above the belly button, which can feel uncomfortable for some.
Everlane, the contemporary and sustainable clothing company, stands at the forefront of accessibility in slow fashion in a fast fashion world. Up against rapidly changing fashion trends, Everlane creates something different—and it excels at it. Each item from its collection is a testament to its commitment to exceptional quality, comfort, and style, with every piece having been meticulously designed with intricate detailing and premium materials. From clean-cut lines to rich leathers, Everlane’s dedication to craftsmanship shines through in every creation, and this pair of denim proves just that.
Made from organic cotton and viscose (a more lightweight and sustainable alternative to polyester), the style balances durability and breathability. Fit-wise, it comes in two lengths, regular and tall. And it's designed to be extremely high-waisted, going so far up above the belly button. This can prove slightly uncomfortable for some, so make sure it’s the right cut for you before purchasing.
Price at time of publish: $88
Size: 23–35 | Colors: 5 | Material: Organic cotton, viscose | Inseam: 26.75 or 28.75 inches
Best Budget: Levi’s 720 High Rise Super Skinny Jeans
What We Love: These super-skinny jeans are stretchy and comfortable.
What We Don’t Love: Different washes come with different design details.
Levi's is a classic that's sported by celebs like Selena Gomez, Emma Roberts, and Kylie Jenner. It's trusted, too, for its reliable fit and reasonable pricing. These ultra-high-rise skinny jeans stay true to that ethos. They’re a flattering, figure-hugging pair that lengthens the legs and curves around your shape.
Regarding the high-rise in particular, TheBetterFit.com founder llena Rissa says it lives up to its name. “[The jeans] go to my belly button, so you get a lot of coverage and protection, which I like,” she says, adding that they’re a particularly great summer option given that they’re easy to wear with a crop top. “They also have a good amount of stretch,” she adds. While they may appear skin-tight, they’re comfortable, with a significant amount of breathability, meaning squeezing into your skinny jeans will become a nuisance that will (finally) be left behind. We only wish that all the colors offered come with the same design, but some have distressing up and down the leg and others have contrast stitching on the seams.
Price at time of publish: $70
Size: 23–34 | Colors: 12 | Material: Cotton, polyester | Inseam: 28 inches
Best Splurge: Mother Denim The Looker Ankle
What We Love: The ankle fray makes these look laid-back and cool.
What We Don’t Love: The raw hem hits slightly above the ankle, so it's better for shorter wearers.
Mother's denim does it again, and again, and again—this time, serving up signature cool-girl vibes in the form of ankle-frayed skinnies. The raw hem hits slightly above the ankle, abiding by a relaxed fit, with an inseam of 27.5 inches. While the brand can sometimes run long, we’ve found that this pair hits perfectly for regular wearers or taller wearers who want more of a cropped skinny style. It also comes with a great amount of stretch, so you’ll never have to feel like stiff toothpicks in it. “I’m a big fan of Mother Denim,” fashion stylist Kim Appelt tells InStyle. “I love the cut and the softness. They work well for my body.”
Wear this pair with trainer sneakers (like this option we love from Tory Burch) to run some errands, or style it up with kitten mules and a sweater for a day at the office.
Price at time of publish: $238
Size: 23–34 | Colors: 2 | Material: Cotton, polyester, elastane | Inseam: 27.5 inches
Best Plus-Size: Torrid Bombshell Skinny Premium Stretch High-Rise Jean
What We Love: There are multiple lengths, with extra short to extra long options.
What We Don’t Love: Prices vary between colors.
A favorite of petite-plus size influencer Tinsaye Berhanu, these Torrid Jeans hug and cling in all the right places. The figure-flattering detail is due to the jeans’ ultra-stretchy material, rated the “maximum” amount of stretch on Torrid’s denim stretch guide. Not only do these provide an ideal fit in the body, but they also come in a wide range of sizes and lengths. Each pair has precisely measured inseams for extra-short (25”), short (27”), regular (29”), tall (31”), and extra-tall (33”). Plus, they come in sizes 10-30. They’re a great wardrobe staple, especially for those who fall into the petite or tall categories and have trouble finding brands that cater to their body type. But the extensive range in sizing isn’t the only impressive thing about these; despite having tons of stretch, they don’t overly wear out. What we don’t understand, however, is why each color option differs in style and price.
Price at time of publish: $90
Size: 10–30 | Colors: 10 | Material: Cotton, rayon | Inseam: 25, 27, 29, 31, and 33 inches
Best For Petites: Banana Republic High-Rise Skinny Jean
What We Love: The dark wash looks sophisticated enough to wear to more formal events.
What We Don’t Love: It’s only available in one wash.
Banana Republic has been a bit of a go-to for us whenever we need extended sizing in stylish clothing without sacrificing quality. The petite inseam on these pants is 26 inches, which would generally work for anyone under 5 feet, 4 inches tall. The navy wash is super sophisticated, so we’ll forgive the fact that it’s the only color the pants come in. We love that there aren’t any unnecessary design details like frills or distressing, and the camouflaged stitching keeps it a clean canvas to look at. They have a supportive stretch, meaning that these jeans should mold to your body without feeling restricting.
Price at time of publish: $110
Size: 23–30 | Colors: 1 | Material: Cotton, recycled cotton, elasterrell, elastane | Inseam: 26 inches
Best Height Range: Abercrombie & Fitch High Rise Skinny Jeans
What We Love: These come in long and extra long.
What We Don’t Love: There isn’t much stretch to these.
Tall women know all too well about the ritual of concealing the short length of a pair of jeans with a boot, lest one’s exposed ankles proclaim a fashion faux pas. But these Abercrombie & Fitch High Rise skinnies should have you covered — literally — with a 29.5-inch and a 31.5-inch inseam.
It’s quite easy to imagine them with knee-high banana-heeled boots, like these from Everlane — and not because you feel like you have to but because you want to. Other standout features include an ankle that isn’t overly skinny but just right (something between a straight-leg and a jegging), eight washes to pick from, and easy-to-navigate sizing on the website. On the other hand, the style isn't as stretchy as some of the past options we highlighted, so it won't necessarily mold to the body or, conversely, offer mobility in a tighter fit.
Price at time of publish: $89
Size: 23–37 | Colors: 8 | Material: Cotton, elastane | Inseam: 23.5 to 31.5 inches
Best Curvy: Good American Good Curve Straight Light Compression Jeans
What We Love: The inclusive size options.
What We Don’t Love: The denim is on the thinner side.
When it comes to denim, Good American can do no wrong in our eyes; the label offers flattering silhouettes, an inclusive size range, and sturdy denim fabrics. Enter: the brand's Straight Light Compression jeans. They're cut for wider hips, so they don't create an awkward gap around the waist. Along with their structured look (which includes a versatile and practical five-pocket silhouette), they’re made from a flexible, comfortable denim blend that allows for movement throughout the jeans. This means no more restrictive and rigid denim but a lightweight alternative to all those pesky, uncomfortable jeans in the back of your closet.
Price at time of publish: $139
Size: 00–28 Plus | Colors: 1 | Material: Cotton, recycled cotton elastane, polyester | Inseam: 33.5 inches
Best High-Waisted: Rails Larchmont Skinny
What We Love: These hold their shape.
What We Don’t Love: They run short on taller people.
A good pair of high-waisted jeans sits just below the torso. A great pair of high-waisted jeans don’t overwhelm the body when they do so. These high-waisted skinnies from Rails happens to be the latter. They’re the ideal size, measuring 10.5 inches in height. We especially love how the high rise doesn’t gape. They earn our top spot, though, mainly because they’ll remain a closet staple for their exceptional fit, quality, and color options. They come in five different washes, ranging from a deep indigo to a pale, faded denim, with a frayed hem and a 3.9-inch leg opening that doesn’t feel too restrictive or airbrushed on; instead, they fit comfortably around the ankle with a touch of breathing room.
Price at time of publish: $178
Size: 23–32 | Colors: 5 | Material: Cotton, polyelastain | Inseam: 27.5 inches
Best Black: 7 For All Mankind B(air) Kimmie Straight in Rinsed Black
What We Love: How comfortable these feel.
What We Don’t Love: The inseam is 32 inches without any shorter alternatives.
These jeans from 7 For All Mankind strike a harmonious balance, not skin-tight yet not as roomy as traditional straight-cut jeans. We especially love that they have a true mid-rise height, which is sometimes hard to find in a trendscape that favors the high and low rises. All in all, they're reminiscent of denim pants by high-end luxury labels like Khaite and The Row at a much more forgiving price point of $200. We only wish they were offered with more than one 32-inch inseam length, which is generally too long for petites. Wearing them with heels, though, could offer the right amount of lift.
Price at time of publish: $198
Size: 23–34 | Colors: 1 | Material: Cotton, lyocell | Inseam: 32 inches
Best White: Frame Le High Skinny Jean
What We Love: Finally, a non-see-through pair of white jeans.
What We Don’t Love: They aren't offered in more than one inseam length.
Shopping for jeans can be complicated. Shopping for white jeans feels even more impossible. These Frame high-rise skinnies, though, make the I need new jeans! panic feel a little less panic-y. That’s because they're so comfortable and flattering with a high waist that generally doesn’t gape at the waist. And for being tightly wrapped skinnies from the waist to the ankle, they are surprisingly opaque, meaning you don’t have to worry about having an accidental see-through moment while wearing them. Having tried several jeans from Frame ourselves, we can attest to how substantial the material feels — thick and warm yet stretchy and flexible. The color is rich and the denim is high-quality, coming in sizes 23–34 and an inseam of 29 inches, which unfortunately is the only length it’s offered in. Plus, if you’re not feeling the white denim moment, there are also three other equally-as-great washes, including two darker washes and a black.
Price at time of publish: $208–$238
Size: 23–34 | Colors: 4 | Material: Cotton, lyocell, polyester | Inseam: 29 inches
Best Light Wash: Rag & Bone Nina Ankle Skinny
What We Love: These are the perfect mix of stretch and structure.
What We Don’t Love: The distressed hem can get a little destroyed.
All the Jennifers love Rag & Bone — we’re talking Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Garner — for good reason. The brand specializes in classic Americana looks and thus has perfected denim jeans, making them substantially thick and warm but stretchy enough to easily shimmy into. From all the Rag & Bone jeans we’ve tried, they’ve always magically hugged every curve and never caused any gaping. To be clear, there isn’t any elastane blended into the material, so it's not as elastic as, say, the Good American option, but it’s still very easy to move around in. The only time you need to be careful with these jeans is when you slip them on — because of the distressed hemming, it’s possible your toes get stuck on one of the loose strands and pull them out.
Price at time of publish: $195
Size: 26–34 | Colors: 1 | Material: Cotton, recycled cotton, polyester | Inseam: 27 inches
Best Dark Wash: Citizens of Humanity Chrissy High Rise Skinny Jeans
What We Love: They’re ultra-high rise.
What We Don’t Love: They’re not as soft as others on this list.
You might still carry the scars of the unflattering and excessively snug skinny jeans trend of the 2000s, or perhaps you're looking for a more sophisticated and polished alternative to replace your distressed denim collection from that era. In any case, you desire a style that exudes a more mature and luxurious look — and these Citizen of Humanity jeans do just that. They hit the rib cage, so if you’re hunting for a higher waistband and extra comfort, these have you covered. They’re figure-hugging and woven from a brand-specific Sculpt denim, meaning they’re designed to keep their shape wear after wear.
Price at time of publish: $198
Size: 23–24 | Colors: 2 | Material: Rayon, cotton | Inseam: 29 inches
Best Medium Wash: Ann Taylor High Rise Skinny Jeans
What We Love: These come in petite and regular-length options.
What We Don’t Love: There's no tall-specific sizing.
It’s no secret that InStyle editors love Ann Taylor: Its refined, luxurious designs are the kind that never go out of style, just like a faithful pair of medium-wash denim. This pair from the brand is designed with sculpting pockets to flatter and hold your shape — and also has a performance stretch that supports and shapes the body. Plus, if you’re on the shorter side, there's a petite length of 26-inch inseam, while regular runs at 28 inches. We just wish there was a tall option for those who'd need it. On the material: There’s just enough stretch, and the fit is very flattering (it doesn't have a painted-on look despite being form-fitted). Instead of being pin-thin, there's a little more room around the legs, not unlike a cousin to the straight-leg silhouette.
Price at time of publish: $109
Size: 00–18 | Colors: 1 | Material: Cotton, recycled polyester | Inseam: 26 or 28 inches
What to Keep in Mind
Skinny jeans often contain stretchy materials like spandex or elastane for them to hold that figure-hugging component we are looking for. If you’re unsure how much stretch those jeans you’ve been eyeing have, check the fabric composition to ensure they provide the right stretch for comfort and flexibility. Look for a balance between stretch and structure. Brand websites like Torrid and Mother sometimes provide a denim stretch scale to compare fabrics.
The length of skinny jeans matters for three reasons: fit, aesthetics, and styling options. You wouldn’t want to rock too long of a denim with a must-be-seen bootie, would you? Exactly. A way to check that your denim is the right length is through the inseam measurement. The inseam measurement ensures the pants are the right length for your legs. A correctly measured inseam will result in pants that aren’t too long and aren’t too short. Many brands, including Ann Taylor and Levi’s, have petite and tall inseams, catering to people who wouldn’t regularly fit classic lengths. Abercrombie & Fitch takes it one step further and offers pants for extra tall ladies fitted for women who are taller than 5 feet, 11 inches.
Your Questions, Answered
What shoes look best with skinny jeans?
Skinny jeans are entirely versatile because of what they can be paired with — which feels like everything and anything. The same goes for the shoes you can sport with pin-tight denim. You can't go wrong, whether it be an ankle bootie, like this style from Everlane, or a full-length boot, like this one from Vince Camuto. We also love a white sneaker moment for a laid-back look. High heels, sandals, sneakers, and boots, all styles of shoes can be worn with skinny jeans.
Are skinny jeans in style?
Skinny jeans will always be in style as a classic pair of denim and a closet staple. While baggier options have become pop culture’s favorite trend as of late, don’t forget that these are just styles brought back from the late ’90s and early 2000s. You can expect, therefore, that skinny jeans that ruled in 2010 are set to come back into full swing. Even now, however, the sleek style perfect for boots and high heels is still very much en vogue. Granted, the super-sleek skinnies of 2023 have evolved since the late aughts to have a more relaxed look and feel.
Why Shop With Us
Philadelphia-based freelance writer Morgan Sullivan has written for multiple publications, including Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue, and Glamour, focusing mainly on beauty and fashion. For this piece, she tested and reviewed the best denim brands on the market with intention and thorough research. Bianca Kratky is a commerce writer at InStyle with three years of experience covering fashion and beauty and brought some of her expertise on denim shopping into this article.
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Read the original article on InStyle.