When they’re comfortable and flattering, jeans are the most effortless and versatile thing in your closet. But finding a new pair often feels as challenging as finding the perfect avocado. The cuts, styles, crops, rises, washes, and fabric options are endless, and constantly changing trends are enough to make anyone throw her hands up and slip into the same old tired pair. But we’re here to help.
We tapped Sarah Joiner, stylist and denim buyer at Elements boutique in Dallas, for a few tips on getting the right fit and breaking down the best of the current denim styles.
Worn and Torn
If tattered denim has you scratching your head, here’s help. Older women may want to skip the nearly kneeless variety, but there are plenty of pairs with light distressing and threaded rips that leave more (knee wrinkles) to the imagination. Keep the holes to a minimum, Joiner says. Another option: raw hemlines. You’ll find frayed hems all over stores this fall, and it’s a subtler approach to that cool, worn-in look. Opt for a lightly frayed edge, not one that is stringy or shredded. Keep it sophisticated with a classic button-up and ladylike pump.
Mother Denim Hustler frayed jeans, $248.
Paige Transcend Hoxton skinnies, $199.
J.Crew Perfect shirt, $69.50.
Rag & Bone The Dre boyfriend jeans, $250.
Francesco Russo contrast-toe pump, $820.
Aquatalia Phoebe pump, $395.
Returning to denim departments everywhere are the styles of the ’70s and ’90s: wide legs, bell bottoms, and patchwork. The re-emergence of the flare is great news for all women. Unlike skinny jeans, flared denim balances a curvy figure. Pair with a T-shirt and blazer combo, tall ankle boots, or a shapely blouse. For a full-length pair, choose your go-to heel and visit a tailor (or consult a store’s in-house alteration service) to have jeans hemmed just right.
McGuire Gainsbourg cropped flares, $227.
Attico cropped flares, $305.
Banana Republic x Olivia Palermo cropped flares, $98.
Veronica Beard Finley ruffle tie top, $375.
Sergio Rossi ankle boots, $895.
M.i.h Jeans Marrakesh flares, $245.
Frame velvet blazer, $575.
The Straight and Narrow
Crops rule right now, but don’t confuse them with mom jeans. They’re not baggy: They’re slim, snug enough to hug the hiney and offer a little lift, and elongate legs. Throw them on with a favorite tee and sneakers. Tuck in your favorite blouse or sweater. Pair with a gorgeous jacket and pretty tank. Basically, this is your new everyday go-to.
Need Cousin Fit jeans, $185.
Madewell straight jeans, $128.
Prabal Gurung T-shirt, $195.
Treasure & Bond bell-sleeve sweater, $69.
BP. mixed-media tank, $39.
Re/Done Originals cropped jeans, $240.
3×1 cropped straight-leg jeans, $265.
Frame Le Original cropped straight-leg jeans, $270.
Tretorn Blaire satin sneakers, $90.
Etro reversible jacquard jacket, $3,340.
Rise and Shine
How low can you go? If love handles aren’t your issue, celebrate. For everyone else, higher-rise denim flattens a tummy and offers comfort — but there’s no need to button your pants under your breasts. There are midrise pairs that don’t scream “mom jeans.” Joiner says, “3×1 and M.i.h Jeans both make an amazing jean that comes in flare, classic skinny, and even with embroidery and patches.” She also recommends sizing up. If a pair of jeans feels unflattering, getting a bigger size may turn them into the perfect fit.
Although pant legs have grown wider this season, your beloved skinnies are still a go. “DL1961 is a great go-to for a skinny,” Joiner says. “The Florence jean is universally flattering and comes in all the basic denim colors, leather, and fashion options with zippers, details on the pockets.” With a name like Instasculpt, we’re sold. Opt for tops that fall just under the hipline and over the top of the rear or a wear with a long sweater, cardigan, or jacket.
3.1 Phillip Lim bomber jacket, $850.
L’Agence Marguerite skinnies, $225.
DL1961 Florence Instasculpt skinnies, $178.
Mother Denim high-waist Looker skinnies, $238.
Acne Studios Carice coat, $1,450.
Sea ruffle blouse, $365.
Current/Elliott high-waist skinnies, $198.
Tod’s penny loafer, $495.
A few new twists on America’s favorite pants will cause more head tilt than head turn (see Saint Laurent’s unbuttoned pants, Sacia’s culottes, and the rear end on these Vetements that doubles as an optical illusion), but there are plenty of embellished jeans that work for women of any age. Wear these not-so-basic bottoms with confidence.