kick-fit cropped jeans

6 Best Denim Styles to Wear Instead of Skinny Jeans

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In my last post, 12 Ways to Wear Skinny Jeans Without Looking Dated, I talked about how to wear skinny jeans to look current. But what if you want to branch out and try some new styles? 

If you’ve heard that the popularity of skinny jeans has declined since Gen Z declared them out on social media in February of 2021, and you’re not sure what to wear instead, I get it. 

First, let’s acknowledge that there’s much to love about the skinny jeans that Kate Moss helped popularize. Perhaps you’re like me and need the stretchiness they provide. As someone who wears size 12 jeans, I need some stretch to get into a pair of jeans in the first place. Maybe you love how the slim fit hugs you in all the right places and shows off your curves. Or perhaps you don’t know what other styles of jeans to try. I get it; that’s exactly how I felt when I started wearing jeans again after the pandemic and wanted to try something new since tight jeans felt too constricting after wearing sweatpants all the time. 

There’s no need to get rid of your skinny jeans completely. They will always be the perfect jeans to wear tucked into knee-high boots. But if you’re ready to step out of your comfort zone to stay current with the fashion trends, good news, I’m here to help and be your style guide! 

The stores have been flooded with many new styles of jeans within the last year or so. In this post, I’ll talk about 6 denim styles that are a great alternative to skinny jeans. And cover the shoes to wear with them and give you quick styling tips for each type. 

If you haven’t read my post, How to Find the Best Jeans for Your Body Type Every Time, you may want to check that out, too. You’ll learn to find your best jeans styles using your body type and measurements.

Before we dive into the 6 styles of jeans, let’s talk about stretch in jeans. If you love your skinny jeans because of their stretchy fabric, this info will help you find more jeans that you love. 

How to find stretch in jeans

Jeans stretch information can be confusing, and the best way to know what you’re getting is to look past the name of the jeans and the marketing and read the fabric content of each pair. 

You’ll find the fabric composition in the product description, and you can test the stretch yourself by pulling the jeans with your hands and noticing how they snap back into place.

It’s a common misconception that pure cotton jeans are the stretchiest. The stretchiest jeans are usually made from a predominately cotton blend with a mix of flexible materials like elastane or polyester. These additional materials allow the jeans to flex where necessary and return to their original shape effortlessly.

For curvier bottoms and round midsections, rigid, nearly 99% cotton jeans will have less give and feel more constricting since they don’t have much polyester or elastane. If you struggle with snug waistbands, opting for jeans with more stretchy fibers can offer much-needed relief and comfort. When choosing jeans that are fitted in the hips and thighs, more stretch in your jeans will be more comfortable. 

I prefer jeans with 85% cotton content. 95% cotton may fit if I size up, but that may leave me with a waist gap. For wide-leg and loose-fitting jeans, the looser cut may allow me to wear fabrics with less stretch and a higher cotton content of 98%.

Stretch in jeans varies by brand. Finding the ones with the stretch and fit that feel good for you is often a process of trying a bunch of pairs. In this post, I’ll take some of the guesswork out by linking some options and notes about their fabric content. 

Ready to talk about different styles of jeans? Let’s dive in!

6 jean styles to try instead of skinny jeans

First up, straight-leg jeans. They’re very similar to skinny jeans in many respects and are a great way to branch out.

Straight leg jeans

Straight jeans are similar to skinny jeans in that they are also fitted in the hips and thighs. However, they’re wider at the hem than skinny jeans. If you fold the hem up to the knee, they’ll be a similar width. You may love straight jeans if you love a timeless and modern fit. This is the classic style that French women are known for having in their closets in a dark wash and with minimal distressing for a chic look. They come in mid and high-rise and different lengths. Ankle-length jeans stop at the ankle bone and show off your sandals or ankle boots. Full-length jeans hit the top of the shoe or just below the ankle. 

Straight jeans outfit

Levi’s Straight Jeans (color: Lapis Dark Horse)| Shirt | Sneakers | Similar Sweater

Shoes. Wear them with heels, loafers, flats, sneakers, or ankle boots. They’re often easier to wear with ankle boots than skinny jeans. You can tuck ankle boots right up under the hem of straight jeans.

straight jeans outfit

Levi’s Straight Jeans (color: Lapis Dark Horse) | Shirt | Boots

Read The Best Shoes to Wear with Different Types of Jeans to see all kinds of shoes paired with these jeans.

Styling tips. The easiest way to create outfits with them is to balance a slim-fitting pair with a top with a looser fit. Or try a fitted top with a looser pair of jeans. With a high-waisted pair, tuck in your shirt to define the waistline and elongate your legs. 

Brands to try. Levi’s Classic Fit jeans are an excellent option for stretchy jeans that feel as good as skinny jeans. These mid-rise jeans come in short, medium, and long lengths. The short length has a 28-inch inseam. For me, at 5’6”, they hit right at the ankle. This post will help you find your inseam if you’re unsure what it is. 

They come in a variety of washes. I own them in three colors. The lapis dark horse color is a dark wash perfect for work and what I’m wearing in the pictures above.

J.Crew Factory has bestselling classic straight jeans that are very promising if you prefer low-stretch jeans.


Mom jeans

Mom jeans have a high waist, a loose fit in the hips and thighs, and straight legs that may be tapered and end around the ankle or come down to the top of the shoe at full length. Mom jeans have a laid-back vibe similar to ’80s and ’90s styles. 

mom jeans outfit

Sweater | Shirt | Loafers | Bag

Shoes. For shoes, wear them with just about anything, from ankle boots to sandals or sneakers. 

Styling tips. Style them with just about anything up top without worrying too much about the proportions. Slim-fitting tops tucked in show off the high waist. A short sweater fits right down over the top of the high waist. 

mom jeans outfit

Similar Sweater Vest | Shirt | Loafers

Brands to try. Madewell Perfect Fit Vintage Jeans are well-loved mom jeans with a big following. They come in petite, regular, curvy, and tall fits. They have a very high cotton count, giving them a rigid vintage feel. 

Abercrombie & Fitch’s Curve Love Mom Jeans are another famous pair of mom jeans. They are 99% cotton with an extra inch of hip room, a high waist, and a tapered fit. They come in 5 lengths.

Full disclosure, in case you have a similar body type as me, neither of these jeans styles actually works for my body. But I know many people that wear and love them.

Bootcut jeans

Bootcut jeans fit snugly at the waist and hips and then kick out slightly from the knee to the hem, creating a subtle flare perfect for fitting a pair of knee-high boots underneath, hence the name. The flare is not as wide as that of flare jeans or bell bottoms. Bootcuts are universally flattering on every body shape since the flare below the knee balances out wider hips and thighs. They come in mid-rise or high-rise. 

bootcut jeans outfit

Shirt | Sneakers | Belt Bag | Gap Factory Bootcut Jeans

Shoes. Bootcuts come in various lengths, but you’ll want to choose a pair that works with the shoes you will wear them with. If you plan to wear them with flat shoes or sneakers, choose a pair that brushes the top of the shoes. If you buy a longer pair, they’ll work well with heels or boots or ankle boots with a heel. You want them to come down to just above the floor to get the full leg-lengthening effect of the heel. Try them on with the shoes you plan to wear to buy the correct length. You can also have them hemmed at a tailor. Ask the tailor to reattach the hem so you maintain the finished details. 

To see a variety of shoes to wear with bootcut jeans read, 10 Best Shoes to Wear with Bootcut Jeans + Look Modern.

bootcut jeans outfit

Gap Factory Bootcut Jeans | Flats

Styling tips. Bootcuts can be dressed up or down. Tucking in your top helps to balance the slight flare at the ankle. Try hip-length tops or sweaters for the perfect proportions. 

Brands to try. My favorite bootcut jeans are by Gap Factory. They’re 69% cotton with a mid-rise and enough stretch to fit true to size. J.Crew Factory’s bootcut jeans are promising for 99% low-cotton jeans.

Wide-leg jeans

Wide-leg jeans are fitted in the hips and thighs and then wide from the thighs down to the hem. I can wear high cotton count jeans in wide-leg jeans because they’re roomier than other jeans. Most often, you’ll see these jeans in high and mid-rises and both full-length styles and cropped styles. You’ll want the full-length jeans to skim the top of your shoes to create a long leg line.

wide leg jeans outfit

Loft Wide Leg Jeans | Sweater (old) | Similar Ankle Boots | Bag

Cropped styles end a couple of inches above the ankle. I have two pairs of wider leg cropped jeans with raw hems for a more casual and laid-back look. With cropped styles, a high waist helps to counteract the loss of inches at the hem so your legs don’t look so short.  

cropped wide leg jeans outfit

Belt Bag

Shoes. If you feel like wide-leg jeans make you look short and squat, wear them with heels or heeled boots to elongate the leg line. You can wear flats with them, as with heels; choosing pointy-toed flats or heels extends the leg line. Sneakers and sandals also work with them. Whatever shoes you choose, make sure you can see the toe of your shoes. You don’t want the hem to cover your shoes completely. Plus, that creates a tripping hazard.  

Styling tips. The easiest way to style them is with fitted tops that balance the volume of the jeans. Tuck in your shirt and push up your sleeves to define your waistline. Shorter sweaters are the perfect length with high-waisted, wide-leg jeans.

Brands to try. Choose wide-leg jeans with a draping fabric to avoid adding bulk to your lower half. The first pair below from Loft has enough stretchy fibers to drape nicely. The second pair below are narrow, wide-leg jeans from J.Crew Factory that have a higher cotton count but fit true to size for me.

Here’s a picture of me wearing the J.Crew Factory jeans.

wide leg jeans outfit

J.Crew Factory Wide Leg Jeans | Shirt | Vest | Loafers

Flare jeans

Flare jeans are high-waisted and fitted through the hips and thighs, flaring from the knee to the hem. Similar but less extreme than bell bottoms, they carry a ’70s vibe. Flares are flattering on every body type, and the bell-shaped hem helps to balance out wider hips. Choose long flares that nearly touch the ground or trendier cropped flared jeans that end above the ankle. 

flare jeans outfit

Loft Flare Jeans | Similar Blouse | Heels | Bag

Shoes. Heels and wedges are great for continuing the long leg line that comes with wearing these jeans. Make sure the front of the shoe peeks out from under the hem. Platforms are another great option to give you height with flares. Boots and ankle boots are another great match. If you want to wear flats with them, pointy-toe flats extend the leg line. 

flare jeans outfit

Gap Flare Jeans | Boots | Coat | Bag

Styling tips. Dress your flares up or down. A form-fitting top that’s tucked in helps to balance the volume of the flares. Cropped or shorter sweaters work great with a higher waist. Wear them with looser tops, button-down shirts, or an oversized blazer for a deliberately laid-back look. 

Brands to try. I love these Gap High Rise ’70s Flare Jeans with a high rise and 93% cotton. They come in 5 inseam lengths. I sized up one and purchased the short length so they’d hit just above the ground for me at 5’6″. I do need to wear heels with them. J.Crew Factory is showing a very stretchy, promising pair that will need heels if you’re 5’6″. Reviewers say to size down.

Kick-fit crop flare jeans

Kick fit crop jeans are a personal favorite of mine. Fitted through the hips and thighs, they’re cropped and hit above the ankle. The hem is wider than straight jeans, with a slight kick-out flare. If you’re more prominent on the bottom, like I am at a size 12, the flare helps to balance out the width of your bottom half. The hem may be stitched or cut and left raw so it frays when you wash it for a laid-back vibe. 

Since they’re cropped, if you can wear a high rise of around 11 inches, it counteracts the loss of length at the hem, making your legs appear longer. 

Kick-fit crop flare jeans outfit

Sweater | Shirt | Gap Kick Fit High Rise Jeans (in long length) | Loafers | Bag | Belt

Shoes. These jeans are some of the easiest to wear with various shoes, from heels to ankle wrap sandals to loafers, and even ankle boots that easily fit up under the hem. For ankle boots, you want the jeans to hit no more than an inch or two above the top of the ankle boots to avoid a high water effect. See my post about different shoes to wear with them, 25 Best Styles: What Shoes to Wear with Cropped Jeans.

White kick-fit crop flare jeans outfit

Coat | Similar White Gap High Rise Kick Fit jeans | Similar Ankle Boots | Camel Coat | Similar Sweater

Styling tips. Style them with relaxed tops or slim-fitting tops, depending on the look you want to create. With high-waisted styles, tuck in your top to define your waist and elongate your legs. 

Black kick-fit crop flare jeans outfit

Shirt | Black Gap High Rise Kick Fit Jeans | Heels | Belt Bag

Brands to try. My favorite are Gap’s High-rise Kick Fit Crop Jeans because they have the stretch that comfortably accommodates my larger half. But they also have the appearance of more rigid vintage jeans.

Madewell offers pairs with less stretch if you like a higher cotton count. 

There are so many jeans options out there the search can feel overwhelming. I’ve been there. But finding a pair that you love can make you feel great! Keep trying new styles and pairs until you find some you want to wear. If you get down on your body, the problem is not you. The jean designers don’t offer enough options for various body shapes. Take a break if you feel discouraged, and return another day. Remember, all it takes is one pair! You’ve got this, and I’m rooting for you.

6 best denim styles to wear instead of skinny jeans

Hi, Friend. I'm Marya. I'm so glad you're here!

I’m here to help women feel good inside and out through approachable everyday style inspiration and encouragement for midlife. Once upon a time, I worked as a therapist and coach. Now, I’m a holistic style blogger studying style coaching! Be So You celebrates leaning into who we were meant to be! 

Read about my  journey to self-discovery at 40. Follow me on Instagram here and Pinterest here. Send me a quick question through my contact page here.  

Fit Note: I’m midsized at 5’6″, 160 pounds, with size 12 jeans.

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