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?”

At this point, I think it’s safe to say that skinny jeans are a classic style. 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.

So, 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.

How to wear skinny jeans and look modern for 2020

jacket // tank // jeans // shoes

Personally, I’ve found my happy spot with the AG Farrahs — they have anywhere from a 9.5″ to 11″ rise, but usually around 10″. I currently have this pair and this pair. Oh, and this black pair (shown above.)

2. go shorter

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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.

THE BEST 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.

My Farrahs still have the 28″ inseam, although I recently chopped almost an inch off of this pair to give me a little more “breathing room” in the ankle area with my sneakers.

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.

Basically, I’m going for a length that is a good inch above my ankle bone. This Rag & Bone pair is about perfect for me, at 27″.

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

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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 // sandals

In this case, I wore a shorter sweater and left it untucked.

sweater // jeans // sneakers

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 what I call hybrid skinnies — 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 // sneakers

I’m a huge fan of the AG Prima style. These are considered a cigarette jean because they are a slim fit, but straighter from knee to ankle than classic skinnies, which taper from knee to ankle.

Gap makes a good cigarette jean at a more friendly price point.

sweater // jeans // sneakers

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

#5. go for a modern wash

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sweater // jeans // mules

A classic true blue indigo wash is always in style, and an all-over dark wash is timeless as well. White and black jeans are classic, and you can’t go wrong with those either.

But, if you like to be up on the latest trends, lighter washes are having a moment right now, as well as off-black.

sweater // jeans // sneakers

The top picture above is the Everlane high rise skinny button fly, and I ordered ankle length to get the 26.5″ inseam. The lower picture is the Gap high rise distressed cigarette jeans.

#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.

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.

I don’t care for the frayed edges that have a seam sewn around it, like this green pair below. It looks fake and over complicates matters.

cheap looking frayed hem - just chop it off and leave it raw

pants // shoes

Most high-end raw hem jeans are just cut and left to fray naturally, like the picture below. (I’m not crazy about these pumps with those jeans, but it’s the best close-up picture I could find of a raw hem.)

raw hem jeans

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.

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.

white skinny jeans with chewed hem

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

cardigan // tee // jeans // shoes

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. I LOVE my Everlane Day loafers.

jeans // loafers

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

tee // jeans // sneakers

And of course, as we get into spring and summer, it will be all about the sandals! Read more about the best spring transition shoes and spring 2020 sandal trends.

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.

Skinny Jeans Through The Years

When skinny jeans really hit the mainstream in the early 2010s, they were full-length and generally mid-rise. My old favorites, the DL1961 Florence had a 9″ rise and a 30″ inseam.

Skinny Jeans circa 2013

skinny jeans circa 2013

We did a lot of cuffing back then too…

skinny jeans circa 2013

Then rises started getting lower, and inseams started getting shorter.

Skinny Jeans circa 2015

skinny jeans circa 2015

I wore the DL1961 Emma legging jeans for a while, with the 8.5″ rise and 29″ inseam. Also, leg openings were slightly wider back then, maybe 10.5″ or 11″ at the ankle.

skinny jeans circa 2015

I would sometimes cuff my jeans to shorten them for spring, but note how low the rise was…

skinny jeans circa 2015

Soon after that, I discovered the AG Legging Ankle Jeans. At the time, all the “cool girls” were wearing them, haha! Hey, it was for good reason. They fit and flatter so well. Those were my favorites for several years.

Skinny Jeans circa 2017

skinny jeans circa 2017

This pair was my ride-or-die pair of skinny jeans for years. I actually bought them twice, I loved them so much.

skinny jeans circa 2017

I also had a few others pairs in different washes. I honestly thought I would never get tired of these, but I finally retired my last pair last fall (2019).

Skinny Jeans circa 2020

Rises are higher, inseams are shorter, and the raw hem is having a moment.

These are my current favorites — the AG Farrah. I just wish they came in a 27″ inseam. They work okay with shoes that have a lower vamp (the area that covers the top of the foot) like these ballet flats, but they are too long on me with sneakers.

How to wear skinny jeans and look modern for 2020

jeans // shoes // bag

I see skinny jeans getting a little looser and a little shorter this spring and summer, and that will work well with the fashion sneaker trend that is so hot right now.

When in doubt, just give your jeans a cuff!

Shop Modern Skinny Jeans

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