Are Skinny Jeans Out of Style?

I’ve been getting a lot of this type of question lately:  “Are skinny jeans still in style?” And “Are skinny jeans going out of style?”

**This post was written in early 2020, and jean styles are changing rapidly. I’ve made some updates to this post, but you may prefer to read my latest post: What Jeans Are In Style for 2021?

While they may not be the most fashion-forward denim style, I think it’s safe to say that skinny jeans are a classic. Just like bootcut jeans are not super trendy right now, they’re still in stores and perfectly acceptable to wear if you like them, as long as you style them in a modern way.

Skinny jeans may be taking a backseat to straighter styles in popularity, but they can still look current. The key is in the styling.

Let’s talk about how to wear skinny jeans in a way that looks modern and current for 2020.

How to Wear Skinny Jeans for 2020

#1. go higher

This applies to both rise and inseam, but let’s start with rise.

The rise on a pair of jeans is the distance from the cross section of the crotch seam (between your legs) to the top of the front waistband.

When skinny jeans really hit the mainstream in the early 2010s, they were generally mid-rise (around 9″). But then the rises started getting lower until they were as low as 7″, and that became the norm for a while.

Nowadays, we are seeing rises going higher again. In fact, sky-high rises are trending for all styles of jeans — skinny, straight, or flare. The common denominator is a higher rise.

That doesn’t mean you need to go to the other extreme to stay current; you just want to be aware that the super low-rise jeans are beginning to look dated. 

If you like to follow the trends, and it works for your body type, feel free to go all out with a sky-high rise. But if you are just interested in not looking old-fashioned, find a good mid-range and stick with that. Anywhere from 9″ – 11″ is pretty safe, depending on your body type, but the 10″ and 11″ will look more modern.

2. go shorter

sweater (old) // jeans // mules

Along with the higher rises comes higher (or shorter) inseams.

The inseam on a pair of pants is the distance from the crotch seam (between your legs) to the hem.

It’s actually very flattering to show a bit of skin at the ankle, weather permitting, of course.

white denim jacket // jeans // sneakers

While I wore 28″ and 29″ inseams for a long time, I’m liking the look of a 27″ inseam a lot right now — especially with sneakers. Because they cover more of the foot than loafers, sandals, and pumps, sneakers require a shorter inseam so enough skin is showing.

But please note, these are the inseam measurements that work for me at 5’5″. Your ideal inseam length might be very different than mine.

t-shirt // jeans// sneakers

To my eye, that looks most current at the moment.

If I go much shorter (25″ – 26″ inseam) then I’m wearing cropped jeans — which are also very much on trend, but it’s a different look. And with cropped jeans, you especially have to pay attention to point #3 (below.)

Again, take into account your body type and what works best for you. But in general, showing some skin in the ankle area looks more current than when your jeans meet the top of your shoe.

#3. go for a shorter top

sweater // jeans // booties

It stands to reason, if we are going higher with our rises and shorter with our inseam lengths, we will need to also raise the length our tops to keep the overall proportion of the outfit in balance.

You can do this by wearing shorter tops or by front-tucking your longer tops.

Here, I front-tucked a longer t-shirt into higher-rise skinny jeans to keep my proportions more balanced.

blouse // jeans // mules

And here, I wore a shorter top and left it untucked… in fact, these jeans are more of a straight leg style. They’re a slim straight, though, and fit closer to the thighs than the trendy “mom jeans”. I like this cut a lot better for me.

sweater // jeans // shoes

Tops with shorter body lengths are becoming easier and easier to find, and they are starting to look more current than the longer, relaxed styles that have ruled the day for so long.

#4. go looser

As you know, what goes around comes around, and skinny jeans are starting to get looser again.

It’s getting pretty easy to find cigarette leg jeans — these are skinny jeans that fit closer to the leg than straight-leg jeans, but not as form-fitting as the legging jeans that have been so popular in recent years.

sweater // jeans // loafers

I’m a huge fan of the AG Prima style, and Gap makes a good cigarette jean at a more friendly price point.

sweater // jeans // similar mules

In fact, most brands make this style of jean, but they don’t all call them cigarette. Look for a 11″ or 12″ leg opening, as opposed to the 10″ that is most common in the legging fit.

#5. go for a modern wash

are skinny jeans out of style? NO! but you have to know how to style them. see more in this post.

sweater // jeans // mules

Lighter washes are having a moment right now, as well as grey and off-black.

jacket // sweater // jeans // boots

#6. go for modern details

jeans // sneakers

They say the devil’s in the details, and I say, so is great style! Go for skinny jeans with modern details, like raw or chewed hems, an exposed button fly, or a slit hem.

jacket // tee // jeans // mules // bracelet

The exposed button fly is also on trend and will keep your skinnies looking modern.

Raw hems are big right now, but watch those as they can look cheap if the process isn’t done well.

If in doubt, take a pair of sharp scissors and chop off the hem of your jeans to the length you want. Rub the edges between your fingers a bit to get them to fray, and you’re good to go! I literally just did this yesterday with a pair of jeans that I wanted shorter.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: How to Cut Your Jeans for a DIY Raw Hem

After you wash them, they will look even better. Just beware of over-washing your jeans.  Jeans don’t need to be washed unless you get a stain on them. They will wear out faster if you wash them too much.

jeans // sneakers

I particularly like the chewed hem that is having a moment. It adds interest and texture to an outfit without the distressing that can look sloppy.

#7. go for modern shoes

 jeans // mules

Shoes can make or break an outfit, and they are key to keeping your skinnies looking current. Loafers are very on trend right now, as are the loafer mule.

leather jacket // cashmere turtleneck // jeans // P448 sneakers

Fashion sneakers are another huge shoe trend right now, and they pair perfectly with shorter skinny jeans.

scarf // sweater // similar jacket // jeans // boots // bag

Booties and skinny jeans are a match made in heaven, but some styles of fashion boots can really date your look. Try a Chelsea boot or hiker/combat boot to keep your skinnies looking modern.

sandals // jeans // bracelet

And of course, as we get into spring and summer, it will be all about the sandals!

I hope this post helps you rock your skinny jeans into 2020 looking modern and feeling confident!

Keep scrolling to see how skinny jeans have evolved through the years, and then my roundup of modern skinny jeans at the end of this post.

Remember to find the rise and inseam that work best for your body and style aesthetic.

Shop Modern Skinny Jeans

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53 Responses

  1. Your post title is the scariest thing I’ll read today…and that includes reports that there’s now a toilet paper shortage in western New York.

    Loved the post and the throwback pics!

    1. Em, I am in WNY and saw the same thing about TP.  JoLynne, I think that you look great in all of the pics.  I have a question.  I am just not a fan of the front tuck….is it going away any time soon?  Or will it remain as long as the rise stays higher?

      1. I think it will stay around as rises are high. But also body suits and full tucking is getting more popular. I just think that’s super hard to pull off if you have any extra fluff in the middle, and most of us over-40 types do.

    2. Bwahaha, you crack me up. Nope, I don’t think they’re going anywhere. Some will say they’re starting to look dated, but I think it depends largely on personal style and where you live. I’m going to be wearing mine!

  2. Thank you, Jo-Lynne, for this comprehensive post on looking modern in the latest denim styles!  As usual, your advice is spot-on and much appreciated!  As a shorter gal, 5’3”, I am beyond happy that shorter tops are back in style!  (I’m also short-waisted so the longer tops were never flattering on me.).  AG jeans are my favorite for quality, and they have some really flattering cropped styles now.  Loving Paige, Mother, Madewell, and Abercrombie denim as well.  Thanks, again!

  3. Thanks for this post, discussing the evolution of skinny jeans and providing pictures was so helpful. I like that jeans are straighter and have a higher rise. I am down to 2 pair of skinny jeans I wear regularly and am ready to buy new jeans. I have gotten rid of the lower rise skinnies already. I do think the newer denim styles will be more flattering on me. I’m in my 50s. I try to keep my wardrobe relevant, without looking like I’m trying too hard. I really liked this post and the posts on white tees and spring shoes. 

  4. I love a jeans post! I’ll be 58 this week and I wear jeans 99% of the time. I’ve been keeping track of which jeans in my closet I wear and the pile of unworn jeans has the pairs with the longest inseams. I’ve been shifting to the higher rise for a year or two, but I’ve decided it’s time to donate the stack not being worn. I’m finding the shorter length fun. What a great way to show off all my snakeskin shoes and boots.LOL

  5. Thank you Jolynne for a very helpful post.  I am happy the skinnies are a classic but appreciate they need tweaking as you have described- pleased too that they will be a little less tight on the legs which will give them a more sophisticated appeal and distinguish from leggings.  I love the sleeveless patterned on dark background too you show here too – it’s gorgeous!! Can’t wait for the Spring!! All the best Jane

  6. Such a helpful post! I need to chop a pair of skinny jeans but am afraid of getting the legs uneven. Any ideas so I don’t mess it up? Thanks!

    1. Two recommendations: measure and mark it with a price of chalk or washable pencil. Measure and mark the back and front of the leg. Then measure again!  Cut it with a rolling fabric cutter on a mat if you can, or carefully with scissors. 
      2-Spemd the $15 and take it to a local tailor. They’ll be quick and accurate and it’s worth the investment in a good pair of jeans. Good luck!

    2. Fold them in half so the legs are on top of each other, carefully line them up, and cut both legs at the same time.

    3. Angie and Bonnie are both right. Angie’s advice is great for those who are nervous about cutting their jeans. If you’re not working on pricey jeans, just do what Bonnie says. That’s all I do. 🙂

  7. What an awesome post!  This one is being saved for sure!!  Thank you sooo much for doing it.  I hope you are having a great day.

  8. Thank you for clarifying rise and inseam.. I’m 5’3 and finding shorter inseams isn’t easy.( I usually look for short or ankle)! I like wearing  my jeans above my ankle bone and I also like mid rise ( when I would see a short zipper I would run lol knowing they were never going to be high enough) so Yay!!! What’s in sounds good to me:) now if I can just find a crop pair that don’t hit my ankle bone….😀

  9. Excellent post! Thanks for explaining which inseam looks best with different shoes. I always struggle with this. And we both know how the wrong shoe can ruin a great outfit. Shoes matter! LOL

  10. Thanks for this post.   I  for one love the shorter mid length tops.   And the 9-10 inch rise is great for me too.   So you r  5 ft 5.  I am not quite 5 ‘4”.   You like the 27  inch do I measured my length and I think I would like my jeans about  25  to 26.    I loved the sneakers you were wearing too.  I M  all in for comfort.   Have a great day. 😊

  11. This is a helpful and timely post, as I, too, am weeding out my denim collection. Good to know that I can just whack off some of the ones that are too long but I still like the fit. That will save me some money!

  12. Another great, informative post!  It’s helpful when you really spell out what differences there are from seasons past.  

    Also, I just got my Banana Republic white tee in.  While the white was too sheer, the black & grey are perfect.  And it’s nice when you list sales in your Saturday (or any day) email.  Then I can go to that link when I’m ready to buy something you may have highlighted in an earlier post from the same store.  So, thanks for that!

  13. Your title scared me too! How could we live without skinny jeans?!!

    PS. Long live AG Farrahs. : ). Thanks to you, I bought them two Anniversary Sales ago and they’re still my favorite everyday jeans.

  14. This was a great post! I think I knew a lot of this but just didn’t realize it. I just took a pair of AG skinny jeans into the tailor to have them made into ankle length (when I tried them on for her to pin them, she asked me was I sure I wanted to hem them since they weren’t technically too long.) I have some frayed hem jeans, but that not always the look I want. 

  15. Great post..relevant and practical. How can short waisted ladies pull off a higher rise? The waist ends up in my rib cage which is so uncomfortable and I could never do a front tuck. I feel like the mid rise helps me to stay in proportion. It’s a challenge for sure.

    1. I have the same type of figure. I’m not giving up on mid-rise jeans. They are still being sold. It takes more looking, though, and there are fewer to choose from.

      I am happy about the availability of shorter tops and sweaters!

    2. This is an example of finding a compromise that works best for your body and also stays on trend. You may find that mid-rise jeans look high-rise on you. You just have to experiment, and also make sure to experiment with the top and shoes you will wear with them. Sometimes I choose a different rise based on the top I’m wearing.

  16. Loved this post! I’m not ready to give up my skinnies yet. I’ve bought a couple of cropped ones for spring. I guess I’ll take my others into the tailors. I’m not a fan of frayed edges (personal choice) so will get them hemmed to length. Thank you for going into such depth to explain the difference and keep us current. 

    Would you do a post on what bags are trending for spring? I saw a post yesterday but the bags shown were mostly straw. They are great for the beach or a cruise but not so much for every day. 

  17. I like that the rise is getting higher (mid-rise or high is fine with me) because I was getting very tired of watching people hoist their low-rise jeans that were slipping away LOL I am not a fan of chopped off raw edges where a hem should be…..in the same category as ripped/frayed holes…..it simply looks cheap to me. And as for the length of the legs/inseam this depends quite a lot on the height of the person and their leg length as a combined visual. On very long legs that weird somewhat shorter thing looks awful because the proportions are wrong….on long legs it seems to look better to be just above the ankle bone or go all out with a crop that is short

  18. Thanks Jolynne for this informative post! I love my skinnies and with the shorter lengths and various hems options they will keep this style fresh this season. Thanks for taking the time putting this together for us!

  19. Love this article. So glad I dont have to get rid of all my jeans and start over!! I agree that proportion with the top and a grest pair of shoes can keep your “skinnies” current.

  20. Ugh, I love skinny jeans, but I also don’t want to look dated.  I’m so glad you said it’s ok to cuff because at 5′ 4″, everything is a couple of inches too long and petites don’t fit me right.  I’ve cut off a few jeans but it’s scary the first time! ha!

  21. I am trying to work up the courage to chop the bottoms off a couple pairs of my skinnies. Mostly for fear that the pendulum will swing back to shorter/raw hems no longer being on trend, and I will have “ruined” a perfectly good pair of jeans. I do have a pair of distressed off black skinnies which are absolutely not skinny enough for my taste and they’re too long, so will start with those (I figure I’ve got nothing to lose because I don’t like the way they look or fit now, and likely never will). 

  22. In contrary to most posts here I am happy that skinny jeans and ankle boots are out-of-style since May 2017. jeans have been out of style since skinnies were introduced. in the past jeans were real visible with bootcut/flare/low rise etc. Remember the time people looked good in their Abercrombie, Seven, Hollister, etc? That’s when they were fully visible. Then the knee high boot took over and diminished jeans into non-name-brand skinnies, tucked into boots. No one cared for jeans anymore, it was all about the boots. Then ankle shoes, also known as ‘booties’ or ankle boots’ (of course these are not boots at all), took over and now jeans might strike back with first straight, then bootcuts and flares. Bye bye skinnies and booties, you will not be missed 🙂

  23. i think skinny jeans and Jeggings are now true classics and will never go out of style for both men and women. They pretty much fir everybody type . The current mom jeans trend looks horrible on everyone !! Just plain lazy and sloppy look that no one should wear .

  24. Love this article! I have been afraid of the high rise jeans but this article makes them more approachable. I had my first child 10 months ago but I am now in better shape than I’ve been in years and would love to invest in a good pair of jeans. I am curvy but not plus size, around a size 10. I am 5’4” but have really short legs. Any suggestions on a nice pair of distressed jeans? 

  25. Interesting yet confusing. Skinny jeans were seen on the F/W 2020 runways, specifically, the high-waisted skinny jean. IMHO, the most important things to look for in any jean is FIT. If your jeans do not fit right they are not going to look good no matter what you pair them with. When it comes to skinny jeans, if they are too tight, you will feel overexposed and lumpy; like a sausage busting out of its casing. Not a good look on anyone! Stylecaster and ELLE magazine commented that the skinny jean isn’t going anywhere in 2020, BUT, the denim styles at the moment are moving away from slick silhouettes to more relaxed and voluminous. Also, the word on Fashion Street is that.. Our perception of what looks cool has shifted, and skinny jeans are no longer cool. ELLE magazine says ‘you look more rock’n’roll in skinny jeans, but more elegant in boyfriend jeans,’ I think that comment is on point. That being said, I will continue to wear my well-fitting skinny jeans on occasion ; )

  26. Nice post! I feel like skinny jeans have been out since late 2016 when 90s mom jeans became a thing. 2020 has been having a flared jeans and a baggy fit moment. 

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