Fall/Winter Fashion

What Jeans are In Style For 2021?

Everyone wants to know what jeans are in style for 2021, and if they’re going to have to part ways with their beloved skinny jeans. Now that I’ve had a chance to play around with more styles, here’s my take on the situation!

Yes, my friends. Skinny jeans are on the downward slope of the fashion trend spectrum, and straighter styles are on their way up, or perhaps even at the top, depending on where you live and how fashion-forward it is. But that does NOT necessarily mean you should go into your closet and clear out all of your skinny jeans. On the other hand, if you’re feeling over your skinny jeans, or perhaps you never really embraced them to begin with, there are plenty of other options out there right now.

Before we get going, allow me to make my standard disclaimer: You should wear what you like, regardless of trends. If you feel good in it, then wear it. End of story.

But you probably wouldn’t be reading this post if you don’t care at all about what’s in style. I enjoy analyzing fashion trends and personal style and how they work together for each unique person. Is it the most important thing in my life? No, but it’s the point of this blog. So let’s discuss!

My goal as far as fashion trends are concerned is to be stylish and modern, while staying true to myself. I don’t care to be a slave to fashion and embrace every trend that comes down the pike, but I’m open to trying them.

Fashion is always evolving, and I don’t want to be left behind, so I’m always experimenting with what’s on trend at the moment. Plus, this blog would be really boring if I stuck to the wearing same styles year after year! Also remember that our perception of what styles look best on us may change as fashion evolves and our eyes adjust to new trends.

Mother Insider crop bootcut jeans (TTS) // sweater // sandals // bag

When it comes to denim styles, I like my skinny jeans and feel good in them, but I also don’t want to get stuck in a rut and end up looking dated and out of style because I wasn’t willing to try new things… or old things that are coming back around in a slightly new way.

I’ve had a lot of people tell me recently that they’re overwhelmed and frustrated with current denim styles and whether or not to embrace them, and I get it. I’m right there with you. But just because one article says that a certain article of clothing is “out” according to one particular age group doesn’t mean you should immediately toss all your favorite jeans. Let’s think about how trends work.

How Trends Work

Most trends have a life cycle, if you will, and they exist on a spectrum. They will gradually increase in popularity until they eventually peak, and then slowly decrease in popularity as they phase out.

I mean, sure, some trends are here today, gone tomorrow — like cold shoulder tops, for example. One summer, that’s all you could find, and by the next summer season, you could barely locate one in a mainstream retail store. But denim styles are rarely that cut and dried.

As each trend rises and falls in popularity, it overlaps the other trends that are also rising and falling, but they rarely rise and fall in synchrony. Older styles get phased out as newer styles arrive on the scene. Envision one of those line charts from 8th grade math class. I’m totally making this up, as far as the actual data goes, but here’s a visual to illustrate my point.

Also remember that where you live has a lot to do with when these trends rise and fall, and which ones have the most staying power, and your eye will adjust as the new styles become mainstream. It’s okay to wear a variety of styles, and slowly phase them in and out of your closet over time, as your budget allows and your eyes adjust to new silhouettes.

That said, there are definitely styles you can wear that will make you look dated, and some styles that will make you look more fashion-forward, and sometimes it’s the smallest details that make all the difference… such as the rise or wash of your jeans, rather than the leg style.

So, what jeans are in style for 2021?

All of them, really, but as I said above, some are on the rise and some on the decline.

I definitely see the pendulum definitely swinging back towards straighter, looser styles… often with higher rises and shorter inseams, but the full-length relaxed styles are right behind them.

To keep to the illustration above, skinny jeans have peaked in popularity and are on the downward slope of the line graph, and straighter, more relaxed styles are on the upswing.

Madewell high waist ripped bootcut jeans (TTS) // boots // jacket // tee

Some of you will tell me that where you live, the pendulum has already swung back, and straight styles are all you see, even among women our age. Where I live, it’s still a mix. Women in my area of the suburbs are definitely still wearing their skinny jeans, but when I’m at the mall, which is a good 15 miles closer to Philadelphia, I see a lot of the straighter styles, mom jeans, high rise cropped flares, and even some of the long baggy jeans.

The best jeans for you depends on where you live, your body type and personal style, your lifestyle, and even your age, to a certain extent. (I don’t believe age should dictate what we wear, however, some styles are harder to pull off as we get older.) And remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing; you can have a variety of denim styles in your closet.

My Advice

If you’re one of those who loves her skinnies but wants to keep up with current trends, my best advice is to start experimenting with some straighter styles, but take your time with it. Don’t start ditching your favorite jeans just yet.

Try different lengths, different leg shapes, different rises, and different washes to see what looks best on you and what feels most true to your personal style. I’ve tried on tons of different styles and finally found several that I really like.

Last winter, I discovered the AG Mari, a straight ankle style that fits close to the thighs like a skinny, but it’s cut straight from the knee to hem so it fits easily over Chelsea boots.

AG Mari straight ankle jeans (TTS) // sweater // jacket // boots // bag

I also tried to incorporate more cigarette leg jeans into my outfit rotation. This is a slim straight style that is cut close to the thighs but then a bit straighter from knee to hem. It’s not as trendy as a vintage mom jean but it’s not the same legging-like fit of the skinnies of the past few years. The AG Prima cigarette ankle jeans is a good example of this — the leg opening is a couple inches smaller than the AG Mari.

AG Prima ankle cigarette jeans (TTS or size up if in between) // sweater //  loafers // tote // sunnies

Then over the spring and summer, I started wearing straighter cropped styles and crop flares. I surprised myself by falling in love with these Mother Insider crop bootcut jeans. If you don’t like the rips and tears, they have other options. And for a lower price point, check out the Madewell demi boot style.

Mother The Insider crop bootcut jeans (TTS) // tee // sandals

Here’s how these translate to fall with booties. This pair runs smaller than the ones above — I recommend sizing up a full size in these.

Mother The Insider crop bootcut jeans // sweater // tee // boots

If you’re not into the crop flare, consider a crop straight. The AGOLDE Toni is similar to the AG Mari, but it’s more of a crop length. The leg opening measurement is 13″ — so right in between the Prima and the Mari styles above.

AGOLDE Toni straight ankle jeans (TTS or size down if in between) // similar jacket // similar sneakers

I feel like these are a great way to bridge the gap between skinnies and straight leg jeans if you’re trying to keep it modern without totally embracing the mom jeans trend.

AGOLDE Toni straight leg jeans (TTS or size down if in between) // sweater (sold out) // sneakers

Speaking of mom jeans, I’ve tried a lot of them, and they’re not my favorite silhouette. Usually a mom jean is relaxed through the hips and thighs and slightly tapered toward the ankle. I just found this KUT from the Kloth Rachael mom jean style that isn’t terrible… still not my favorite, as I prefer a closer fit in the thighs, but it’s a nice compromise between the mom jeans my teenager wears and the slim straight crop styles that I like.

KUT from the Kloth Rachael Fab Ab Mom Jeans (TTS) // booties // thermal top

I’m also seeing longer lengths coming back into vogue, and I love how they pair with booties for fall. I added this pair of NYDJ straight leg jeans to my closet during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale this summer. They’re a full-length straight cut with a more relaxed fit than the AG Mari, and they look very current to my eye. They have a 10″ rise, which is mid to high, depending on your body type.

NYDJ Marilyn straight leg jeans (size down) // boots // sweater

And this Madewell pair is actually a bootcut, but I feel like it has more of a straight silhouette. It’s not sloppy, but it’s definitely more relaxed. The rise is very high, though, so be aware of that.

Madewell high waist bootcut jeans (TTS) // sweater // boots

And I hate to say it, but yes, evolving denim styles also means you may need to reassess your tops and shoes. That’s probably the most frustrating part of the process for me. I have so many sweaters and tops that I love, but they don’t all look quite right with the straighter denim styles — especially when the jeans are a crop length. I have several posts on how to wear cropped jeans for different seasons, and I address tops and shoes in each of those posts.

If you love skinny jeans and plan to keep wearing them, try styling them in a more modern way. I recommend pairing them with Chelsea boots, combat boots, or hiker style boots… rather than the lower shaft fashion booties you may have been wearing for the past few years.

Also, pay attention to the rise. A higher rise looks more modern than low rise… for now, anyway! I’m hearing that low rise styles are on their way back, but I really don’t think this middle-aged middle can handle that trend again. I just got used to high rises, so I’ll stick with that for now, thankyouverymuch!

Express high waisted skinny jeans // boots // scarf // sweater // similar jacket

Another way to keep your skinnies looking modern is to wear them with fashion sneakers or mules, if your weather permits, and pay attention to the length. It’s more on-trend to wear them at or slightly above the ankle bone. Lighter washes are trending as well, so keep that in mind as well.

rag & bone Cate mid-rise ankle skinny jeans // sweater  (sold out) // similar sneakers

Whatever you do, don’t stress out over it. Fashion should be fun. We aren’t curing cancer here. It’s just clothes. You will have days you don’t love your outfit, and that’s okay.

At the end of the day, wear what you like and feel most confident in because confidence is always in style.

Shop Jeans for 2021

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119 thoughts on “What Jeans are In Style For 2021?

  1. Hi-Lynne, Your denim blogs have been so helpful and have inspired me to try different styles. I always struggle with denim, I’m never sure what looks best from hem length to waist height. I’m currently loving the crop flares. I have a curvier bottom “pear” (funny, I don’t like that some of our body shapes can be minimized to fruit shapes) so let’s say curvier on bottom, that style balances slightly wider hips, very flattering.

  2. Great post (and comments too)! Mother denim has been a game changer for my petite, pear shaped self- comfortable and flattering. Wanted to share I’ve found pre-loved pairs on EBay, Real Real and new on Nordstrom Rack at more affordable prices. Also, I recently had a pair of ripped, step hem light wash Mothers hemmed- was a lot going on for my short legs lol.
    Thanks as always and best for college drop off!

  3. I like seeing the trends. I’m excited that straight is coming back, as I’m a pear so need straight or bootcut jeans. They were harder to find a few years ago.

    Can you do a piece on how to match layering pieces to jackets? I find myself buying jackets during the Nordstrom sale, but then don’t know what to put with them. I want something with coverage so I can take the jacket off, and also something not to clingy around the middle 🙂 Thanks

  4. This post is very helpful and informative! I will say I’m a skinny Jean gal perhaps more out of comfort and convenience. They don’t seem to require much thought for foot wear and coats! Pretty easy… but when we start getting into different cuts , lengths and styles it can really change up our footwear etc that we put with them either making or breaking the outfit. Would love to see how you style these jeans for the different seasons,

  5. Thank you So Much for this post. I am so glad that the straight styles are back. I love my skinnies though. The Modern Skinny was my go to from Loft. They weren’t too skinny but just right for me as I have muscular legs. Anyway!! Thanks A BUNCH!! Have a Great Day!!😀🌻

  6. So glad to hear you say you aren’t going to do the low-rise trend again! I didn’t like it the first time around (and it wasn’t nearly as flattering on most people as they seemed to think it was), and I’m definitely not about to “go there” again. This middle-aged pot belly needs high rise jeans!!!

  7. One of my favourite and most useful posts!I am a jeans girl and do not think of saying goodbye to my good old skinnies,because they are the ones which better suit my body type,which is very similar to yours:height and weight (and well endowed ladies we both are😂)But I have two pairs of cigarette jeans,one in a darker wash,the other in a lighter,and I feel very comfortable when wearing them.I also have two pairs of bootcuts in my closet which I used to wear a lot,though they are a bit forgotten,poor ones,in favour of my skinnies…To be honest,when I started wearing skinny jeans I thought they were too much body con,but now,oh my,they are my basic,staple,go to resource.These days I only wear jeans jeans jeans…I’m kind of obssessed,but they are so cuuuute!I pair them with my beloved Superga canvas sneakers,my new pair of suede monkstrap shoes ,and tons,literally tons,of shirts in every style you may imagine,but I do have a soft spot for Oxford white shirts and 100%cotton printed blouses.Jeans and shirts,shirts and jeans and a good leather bag and nice pair of shoes,that’s style perfection to me!😜

  8. I’m totally into the straight leg jeans. My skinnies are in the back of my closet. I can see some still wanting skinnies if you live where there is snow. They fit into snow boots neatly.
    I’m thinking fall/winter jackets. Will you do a post on what’s trending that will pair nicely with straight leg jeans?

  9. Great post! I agree when you said that you try new trends because you don’t want to be left behind. Because of your blog, I bought white kick flare crops, which I love! I just ordered a couple of denim in that style; they haven’t yet arrived but I am excited to try them on. I love your informative and fun blog!

  10. Thank you! It is fun to read about the trends and to hear your opinion! I love your ideas. Of course skinnies are my favorite still. I do love the cropped kick flares ! I’ll try some straighter styles too. The thing that’s hard for me to get used to is the high waist…I’m just feeling too frump in it…but will give it a chance:)

  11. Jo-Lynne, thank you so much for all of the time, effort, and research that you put into this post. I have various styles of jeans in my closet and can say that the skinny jeans are my least favorite because the legs don’t stay in place. I know that I will continue wearing jeans with a higher rise because those are what I feel most comfortable in at almost 65 and with my shape. You are right about not letting fashion and what’s current get the best of us. In the grand scheme of things, it just isn’t worth it. There are more important things to be concerned about. Enjoy the rest of your day!

  12. So funny that literally moments before I opened your post in my email, I had gone through all my clothing store emails and I thought, what the heck is with all these jeans styles? Your post helped me clarify the different styles. Loved the line graph! Only fashion wonks could appreciate that! Always enjoy your blog.

  13. Great post. I have been following European bloggers for some time and noticed that skinnies have had their day over there for some time. Skinny jeans look dated to my eye now. However, as they are the best fit for my high winter boots I have no plans to toss them out. To look stylish though I find kick flares look the best.

  14. Love your insight on the denim trends. I took a ride today to shop for a few new pieces to add to my transitional wardrobe as I head into my last year of work. I literally left every single store with NOTHING………..I either had something similar and/or the cut of tops would not work with my body type. I didn’t even find any new jewelry………is it a bad time to shop or what…………….helpppppp

  15. I’m the minority that is soooo glad skinny jeans are on the way out 😃 I’m a short pear /hourglass shape and they never did anything for my legs lmao Yay crop flares!
    Thx so much for your post-so helpful and timely for me. Love the raw hem style!

  16. Thank you so much, Jo-Lynne, for this post. It’s very informative and the photos make it so easy to understand.

  17. Your daughter will adjust wonderfully to campus, just keep your cell phone on you to field the calls as they come in! 📱🥰
    Great post on the denim trends. I love them all (except the mom jeans-I just can’t) and I’m glad I kept my tried and true Levi’s bootcuts in my jeans bin 👍🏼!
    However this does explain why I was able to snag a pair of Democracy skinnies last night for super cheap! Unloading the “downward trend” styles, thank you, NordstromRack! I think I’ll always keep those for shearling boots and cute sandals ❤️

  18. Thanks for this post – so helpful! I have cigarette jeans (black and medium wash) which I wear with leather sneakers on repeat thanks to your encouragement. You helped me nudge onto the sneaker trend and found a cute pair of Roxies beige sneakers with a leopard detail that works with everything. Thank you for helping me stay current and nudge me out of my fashion ruts! Have a fab Mom/ daughter day getting mani-pedis and lunch. You have a lot on your plate right now with moving Caroline and your husband’s upcoming surgery. Thinking of you and praying for you. ” This too shall pass” as my Mom says.

  19. Think I’m going to chop off some of my skinnies and fray them to see if look more current-not all though, because I love a skinny in a knee high boot!

  20. So overwhelming to me for sure. It’s the shoe thing hardest to figure out. I don’t like the big lug soles boots that are in or the high heel ones that look best with wider leg jeans as I’m
    More casual most the time. etc etc. I only have one new wider style I’ve added and they are light wash and it’s been so hot I rarely wore them but I need to figure out jeans for Fall. My eye having hard time with full length ones. I have to get to a store to try for sure. 😬Great post. But hard to hear how fast skinnies are going out.

  21. So helpful, thank you! Love the reminders that it’s ok to do what feels right regardless of what’s in style. Also, to just try different styles and see what you think….you would think I would I remember that after all these years of dressing myself 🙂

  22. Again, I feel compelled to say- I recognize all the heavy things going on in the world around us, but what you do brings so much hope and joy to those of us who follow you. It really matters. I work so many hours and just don’t have the time to research and try on everything. The fact that you do the work and distill the information for me is such a huge blessing in my life- saving me time and keeping me relevant. I just can’t thank you enough!

  23. It’s VERY hard to find jeans other than skinny jeans in the stores .
    It is frustrating .
    I’m over the skinny jeans look.

  24. I live in an area of the south west . You can wear jeans any place. Really feel more comfortable in Jeans just because most people wear them. When I wear something else I feel out of place.

  25. This was very helpful! I am at an age now where comfort is my top priority, while also wanting to stay fairly current. I have begun trying different styles of jeans and currently have my straight leg, high waisted, distressed jeans on repeat. I’ve also found brands that have some “give” to offer the comfort I am after while also keeping shape.

  26. My 2 cents worth- most of these pictured are TOO SHORT. Flood pants. They don’t look good, most women need a more flattering cut as well. These all look like they’re riding up in a bunch and causing a lack of length.

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