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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 // 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.