Last week, we talked about what shoes to wear with flares and bootcut jeans this fall. I promised a similar post for straight leg jeans, but as I got further into the post, I realized it was just wayyyyyy too long.
And the fact of the matter is, you can wear pretty much any type of shoe with straight leg jeans… but not all shoes work with all straight leg jeans.
Since there are so many variables, I decided to focus this post to how to wear loafers & flats with straight leg jeans for fall 2022. I’ll follow up with posts on boots and sneakers next week.
First, let’s define our terms. Straight-leg jeans hang straight up and down the entire leg from hip to hem. They be relaxed and slouchy, or sleek and slim-fit; and they come in crop, ankle, and full lengths. (On the average woman, ankle length jeans have a 27″–29″ inseam. Shorter than 27″ is cropped, and longer than 29″ is full length.)
Mom jeans, barrel jeans, cigarette jeans, balloon jeans, and stovepipe jeans are all variations on straight leg jeans. (I explain all those terms in my post, Women’s Pant Styles and Hem Lengths Demystified)
Also, remember that body type plays into how straight leg jeans fit. I have wider hips and thin legs, so a slim straight style hangs straight on me rather than hugging my calves, but slim straight leg jeans look more like skinnies on women with larger legs. All that to say, you may have to try different styles to find the style that looks best on you.
SIZING NOTES: I’m 5’5″ and I usually wear a small in tops, a 28 or 29 in jeans, and a size 8 shoe. Gifted items are indicated by c/o; everything else I purchased myself.
Straight Ankle Jeans
Pairing straight ankle jeans with flats such as loafer mules exposes a few inches of ankle, which is flattering because it draws the eye to the slimmest part of the leg.
left: Frame Le High Straight Ankle (size 28) // similar loafer mules // Frame silk tee
middle: Frame Le High Straight Ankle (size 28) // Steve Madden mules // Gap Factory sweater
right: Fidelity Cher (size 28) // Dolce Vita mules // Equipment sweater
The jeans I’m wearing in this section have a 27″ inseam with a 14″ leg opening. I’m 5’5″, and they hem is just above the ankle on me.
I like this look, but I realize some women will feel like it shortens the line of the leg, especially when there is high contrast between the denim wash and the color of the skin.
One way to soften that line that is to wear jeans in a lighter wash that doesn’t create such a stark contrast, as in the outfit below.
The same general principles apply for loafers. The AGOLDE Toni Mid Rise Straight has a 28″ inseam with a 12 1/2″ leg opening, so they’re right in between the Frame Le High Straight (27″) and the AG Mari (29″). These are about as ankle length as ankle length gets for me!
AGOLDE Toni (size 28) // Vince Camuto Prenten Loafer (8)
I love this length and fit of jeans with loafers. There’s just enough space between the hem of my jeans and the top of the shoe in the back to give the eye a place to rest, but not so much that it shortens the line of the leg.
Lug sole loafers are trending this season, and these work well with straight ankle and straight crop jeans because the bulky shoe balances out the wider leg of the jeans.
If you don’t like the lug sole, the darker color with more foot coverage also provides some balance, but with a more elegant look.
STYLE TIP: You also want to pay attention to the length of your shirt when wearing crop or ankle length jeans. I usually front tuck or wear a shorter length to balance out the proportions.
Full Length Straight Leg Jeans
Wearing a full length straight leg jean can be tricky with loafer mules because of the high vamp. (The vamp of the shoe is the part that covers the foot.)
This AG Mari slim straight has a 29″ inseam with a 13″ leg opening, which is technically considered ankle length, but it’s a little longer than that on me.
You typically don’t want your straight leg jeans to break on top of the foot, but it’s okay if the hem touches the top of the foot. However, I don’t care for how the hem of these jeans tries to slide under the top of the shoe.
The solution? Wear these these jeans with shoes with a lower vamp, or wear a shorter jean with those shoes.
Here’s the AG Mari in a darker wash with a chunky loafer. While the vamp is slightly lower than the Dolce Vita mules above, so the length of the jeans looks good to me, I feel like the slim straight cut is off balance with the chunkier shoe.
Here’s how the same jeans look with a pair of low profile loafers. The balance is better, but the overall vibe is very conservative and almost frumpy, and I still don’t like how the jeans touch the vamp of the shoe.
Next, I tried the same loafers with a pair of more relaxed straight leg jeans. These are the AGOLE Lana Vintage Straight Jeans, and they’re a true straight. They have a 31″ inseam and a 16″ leg opening, and they’re more of a rigid vintage denim.
I am not a fan of this combination because I don’t like how the jeans buckle on top of the shoe. Ideally they would be an inch shorter; I think 30″ is probably the length for a full length straight on me.
I also tried the AGOLDE Lana with the Madewell lug sole loafers, hoping for a better balance.
I changed tops as well, but I just don’t know. I’m not feeling these jeans overall, although my opinion is subject to change without notice. I just like a slimmer, more feminine silhouette.
Straight Leg Jeans + Flats
Pointy toe flats and ballet flats work with almost every length of straight leg jean, but with these straight ankle jeans, I feel like the wider leg opening looks a little off-balance with the exposed ankle and more delicate shoe.
I think I actually prefer these shoes with the longer jeans. Because of the lower vamp of the shoe, you still see some skin, and the full-length jeans make my legs look longer and leaner.
And I also really like these jeans with these slender pointed toe flats, but this doesn’t look fashion-forward to my eye.
I’ll be curious to see if these more delicate styles are coming back. I hope so because I really like them. I realize they’re a classic style, and I can wear them if I want to, but I’m not feeling this quite yet.
Here are the same shoes in black with the straight ankle jeans. I think they work okay since I’m wearing shorts sleeves, but I don’t know that I’d like them if I had more of my skin covered.
I feel like you need to balance the skin at the ankle with some skin on top — either arms or neckline. I also might like this outfit better with black jeans. It would look more cohesive.
And finally, I tried the AGOLDE Lana with the pointed toe flats, just to verify what I already assumed to be true. I do not care for this look. The jeans are relaxed and almost sloppy, and the shoes are too precious by comparison. There is probably a way to juxtapose those two elements in a pleasing way, but I don’t think this is it.
As you can see, there are a lot of variables at play when pairing straight leg jeans and flats. You really have to try things on and see how you feel about them. I also realize that what is pleasing to my eye may not be pleasing to yours, but these are all the things I consider when putting outfits together.
The good news is, once you find pairings in your closet that work, you have a formula you can wear over and over again and recreate in different ways.
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