When can I go back to my beloved boot cut jeans?
March 18, 2014 8:41 PM   Subscribe

Dear mefite fashionistas, please help someone who has been in the fashion wilderness for a while. For the last three years I've either been pregnant or having children. Now I'm starting to get my body back and will have to go shopping, what's the deal with jeans now? Just by looking around it seems that unfortunately skinny jeans are still in but are bootcut or anything else coming back? (Please say yes...) I remember a comment here a while back from someone who said that they were the new mum jeans, and whilst I am one, I don't necessarily want to look like that! Is this still the case? I'm also not wanting to look like a teenager either, for what it's worth. Aim for mid 30s. What should I be buying?
posted by Jubey to Shopping (49 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I like Levi's mid-rise skinny jeans. They're in a sweet spot of hip but not too hip.

Boot cut jeans look dated as hell to me these days. They are to middle 00s jeans what midriff halters were to 90s shirts.

Mostly, though, you should buy what you're comfortable in. Go to a bricks and mortar jeans store and let the salespeople give you suggestions, or do what I did and try on every pair until you find what works best for you.
posted by phunniemee at 8:51 PM on March 18, 2014

Bootcut jeans are out, unfortunately, unless they have the *slightest* of flares and are worn with heels. This doesn't mean that you have to follow this trend - but you asked, so:

Here are J. Crew's women's denim offerings which basically sum up current fashions: straight/tapered leg, moving towards higher waists (low rise is no longer chic!), dark colors. For a lower price point there's Old Navy -- but again, I'd stay away from their flared stuff if you want to wear these jeans for years to come.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 9:04 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

While bootcut jeans are certainly available (online stores like Shopbop have a good selection, and the mega-shopping search engine ShopStyle will give you hundreds of results) they are not really fashionable. While the runways have been showing a slight shift away from the skinny jean, the skinny still dominates. I have a number of friends that work in every aspect of the fashion industry and the skinny jean is now considered a staple like the Little Black Dress, everyone should have a pair. However, if you do not like skinny jeans, but still want to look on-trend, a straight-cut like these from J Brand are a good alternative (pretty much all brands have a straight leg cut). As for boot cut, if you can't let those go, then rock them! Yes, you might not be on the cutting edge, but wear what you like.
posted by eldvno at 9:12 PM on March 18, 2014

You can definitely still buy bootleg jeans at places like Gap, Banana Republic, Loft, Anthropologie, Express, etc. I also wouldn't rule out straight leg as some cuts do flare out slightly from the knee. The key I think is to find well-fitting jeans in a dark wash and get them tailored so their length goes well with the type of shoes you are wearing (different lengths for flats and heels). Bootleg jeans look frumpy quickly if their length is off. If you can/want to spend a lot on jeans, go to Nordstrom so you can try on different brands of premium jeans and get them tailored in store.
posted by wsquared at 9:16 PM on March 18, 2014

I am a late convert away from the bootcut too. I resisted for so long, because skinny jeans (in my head) are only for young, tiny, skinny people. Turns out straight leg jeans are great for me, so maybe they are for you. I went to Bloomingdales and let the assistant recommend me some, ended up with a winning pair I love. Comfy stretchy jeans too.
posted by Joh at 9:24 PM on March 18, 2014

I don't think bootcut or flared jeans necessarily look dated, and I am a relatively hip twenty something living in a major city.

If anything, I think super skinny jeans look kind of dated.

But really, just wear what looks good. Ill fitting, cheap jeans are not a good look, skinny or flared.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:24 PM on March 18, 2014 [11 favorites]

I feel your pain.

The Gap has a boot cut. But they seem to put less effort into the design these days. The result: they look kinda cheap.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:31 PM on March 18, 2014

If you go to the Nordstrom site and go to women's clothing>jeans you can search by leg style. Within those choices there are bootcut and slim bootcut. Regular bootcut is still pretty dated. But some of the selections in the slim bootcut look good and stylish enough.
posted by greta simone at 9:36 PM on March 18, 2014

I still think boot-cut works with sneakers (I'm 30). I have some sneakers that have a lot of padding in the tongue and ankle area and don't work with narrower leg openings.

I resisted the skinny jeans and still don't wear them with sneakers or flats (they look so unbalanced if you are curvy!) but I think they're cute and useful for tucking into boots.

I have found the Goldilocks spot with "straight" jeans. I personally like Ann Taylor Loft Curvy Straight.
posted by radioamy at 9:37 PM on March 18, 2014

I've had good luck with, of all places, Eddie Bauer (and finally jumped off the skinny jeans cliff--they do have their charms.)
posted by jameaterblues at 9:38 PM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

Most of my hip, outdoorsy, active, mid 20-mid30s friends more often wear non-skinny than skinny jeans. Mostly because we are all bad asses with disproportionately large thighs, butts, or calves due to running, biking, or skiing (seriously, we're all size 4-8 and athletic; some even have legit sponsors for their sports). I'd love to wear skinny jeans but they just aren't flattering...nor comfortable...on me. The good news is no one has cared - if I'm trying to look trendy i just wear something else. Just go somewhere and grab one pair of each style, regardless of your preconceived notions about what's in fashion, and try them all on. Go with what looks good on YOU.
posted by adorap0621 at 9:48 PM on March 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

The only non-skinny style I've seen getting a lot of play recently is the "boyfriend" style. It's a slouchier shape, which I hope becomes the new thing. That said, the way people are currently styling these jeans is a lot of look. They're usually distressed, a lighter wash, and pegged up to capri length. They're not just baggy jeans.
posted by Sara C. at 10:09 PM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

what's the deal with jeans now?

Even for people in their 30s (and 40s, and 50s), it's still skinnies for just default jeans. Definitely not just for teens. Lots of different shapes have been happening in other kinds of fabrics, and I'm sure there are trendier jeans, but if you just want to fit in, skinnies.

Don't worry if you think your hips or butt look big in them, that barely registers - by now people are used to seeing all kinds of body types in those tapered legs.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:12 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Datapoint: I am mid-30s, not a mum, and I wear bootcut jeans. Haters to the left...

(Disclaimers: I also wear skinny jeans. I am not that interested in fashion but I have yet to be booed in the street!)
posted by Cheese Monster at 10:22 PM on March 18, 2014 [9 favorites]

Don't worry if you think your hips or butt look big in them, that barely registers - by now people are used to seeing all kinds of body types in those tapered legs.

That may be so but it's still not a good reason to wear something that is going to make you cringe when you look at a photo in 5 or 10 years because you decided to wear something that is deeply unflattering to you. For example there were a lot of people who decided to wear leggings in the 1980s who really shouldn't have. I use that timeframe as reference point because a lot of time has passed and the effect is most noticeable. When people look back at these pictures the universal feeling is not 'I'm glad I was on trend' but 'what was i thinking'.

Try on a range of styles and find something that is both fit for purpose and flattering and fits you nicely. That ensures you're comfortable in your clothes. Then defer to fashion trends with the remaining elements of the outfit. If you do that you'll still be able to date your pictures in years to come but you won't cringe.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:43 PM on March 18, 2014 [18 favorites]

Are you in the US? Old Navy's "The Flirt" jeans are my go-to style, and they're available in bootcut.

If you're in a country with C&A, they also sell bootcut jeans, especially via their Yessica brand. I like the "Sally" style.
posted by neushoorn at 11:04 PM on March 18, 2014

OP asked 1) what's most popular and 2) can she, as a 30 something, feel free to wear it without feeling out of place / too old. 1) skinnies 2) yes.

I'm not saying people shouldn't wear what makes them feel good, or follow classic lines. The thing is, people do wear skinnies in ways that imitate classic lines. I can't directly remember how people wore leggings in the 80s, but I think people have hung on to skinnies because they're adaptable. People wear them with things that balance out proportions in various ways.

Lengthen leg: with height - heels, for a long time. People wore Uggs for a looooong time and more recently, moto / engineer boots because (imo) both mimic a flare by adding width at the ankle, plus a bit of height.

Conceal bum/hips: directly or by distraction with volume on top - long drapey top/tunic/blouse, long drapey sweater, long drapey cardigan; long scarf

Remind people of waist via nipped in jacket, short boxy jacket layered over longer shirt, or belt.

All these tactics together = l think, a leaner, shapelier look than a rectangle, which is what I see when I see bootcuts now. (No offense intended to bootcut lovers. I loved those too. There was a conversion, some years ago. There will probably be another conversion when skinny jeans go, and it may be more painful.)

And, there are more or less flattering jeans, as people have said.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:17 PM on March 18, 2014 [10 favorites]

The thing with skinny jeans is that many, many people look awful in them. Really. You're not hiding anything with a long baggy top. That looks decent in the mirror, but then you move and everything you think you're hiding is on display.

People look good in jeans that fit them correctly. A classic straight leg is a good compromise if you're not comfortable or shaped for skinnies. Take them to a tailor and have the waist band adjusted if you need to prevent your coinslot from showing when you sit.

Purchase what makes you comfortable and confident. Then have it tailored to perfection.
posted by 26.2 at 11:31 PM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

I'm with you, but I can't find bootcut where I live either. I swear by Levi's new Curve series. Straight leg + bold curve = good. More of a Audrey Hepburn cigarette pant cut for Women.

I look like a stuffed sausage in skinny jeans...sigh.
posted by jrobin276 at 11:56 PM on March 18, 2014

You're not hiding anything with a long baggy top. That looks decent in the mirror, but then you move and everything you think you're hiding is on display

How so? I'm not suggesting people wear yards of ruched pink polyester. You can wear a heavy cotton men's style dress shirt and move in tasteful comfort, as I do. And agree, everyone should wear things that fit, yes. Above was intended to describe different ways of thinking about dressing with this style of jeans* - to hide, sure, flatter, maybe, manage proportions, yes - to someone who's not used to skinnies, and was as descriptive (Uggs) as prescriptive.

*By 'skinnies' I meant a general class of sleeker pant, which to me includes 'slim' or 'tapered', vs. the classic bootcut, as this remains the relevant distinction in my mind (conversion).
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:18 AM on March 19, 2014

I'm not yet thirty, almost a mom, and wear boot cut jeans, skinny jeans, and boyfriend jeans.

Granted, I live in Boston which is apparently not known for its high fashion but it... never occurred to me that all of the above styles were in any way no longer acceptable.

Skinny jeans might be "in" but it doesn't mean the rest of them are "out".
posted by lydhre at 1:29 AM on March 19, 2014 [7 favorites]

Bootcut jeans were definitely "out" a few years ago - they were almost impossible to find in stores - but they seem to be slowly making a comeback. Remember: fashion is cyclical, with means that bootcut jeans are due to come back in style (for the third time!) any time now.

Nice dark wash, bootcut jeans don't read outdated to me right now. They read Liz Lemon to me...not especially fashion conscious, but not tacky or old fashioned either.

I think you should feel free to wear them if you like 'em. I definitely do not think they are the new mom jean.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:28 AM on March 19, 2014 [9 favorites]

I kind of live in the middle of nowhere, but this is how I've felt for a few years now: Skinny reads "jeans for someone who is trying to be fashionable". Boot-cut or straight-leg reads "jeans for someone who needed a pair of pants". Some places you can find something that's a bit of a slimmer leg but not actually super skinny, and that seems to me to be a good default. But location, for these things, makes a difference; if you're in a more fashion-conscious place it might be a bigger deal.

The thing about the mom jeans of yesteryear is that they made everybody look lumpy around the midsection in ways that were never flattering and occasionally, depending on the size/placement of the back pockets, looked like your rear end was actually trying to slither off and escape. The leg style on boot-cut jeans might potentially make you look like you're not precisely up with the latest things, but at least they don't have that problem. The high-waist stuff has a lot more risk of that, no matter how hip it's supposed to be right now, if you're not super slim.
posted by Sequence at 4:06 AM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

The thing is, though, skinny, slim-cut jeans have always always been stylish. Look at pictures of people wearing clothes all the way from the 50s to now. The ones who look dated are the ones wearing bellbottoms, carpenter pants, those crazy acid wash pegged things that had ballooning pleats at the top, etc. People have been wearing dark, skinny/slim-fit pants for decades, and they always look good. And they always look relatively timeless (other outfit stylings notwithstanding). The skinny pant "trend" we're currently in might end as another pant trend (the boyfriend slouchy jean that Sara C. mentioned above, perhaps) comes in, but skinny pants aren't going anywhere as an overall style. You're not going to look back at photos in 20 years and lament how classically 2014 you look.
posted by phunniemee at 4:51 AM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I recently bought three pairs of Lee jeans in either the comfort fit or relaxed fit. I can't remember.

Best jeans I have ever owned. Seriously. Lots of different cuts and styles, and they seem to be fashionable enough as I've been complimented on them numerous times.

I too am a mom who has spent the last three or four years pregnant, tired, breastfeeding, or waking up all hours of the night. So when I really started to recover from that, I realized I needed a new summer wardrobe. I went to Chico's, completely randomly and had the best shopping experience I have ever had --- I hate shopping. If I can't go clothes shopping in less than 20 minutes, I don't do it. I despise it so much. But this was different. The stylist or associate or whatever she's called paid really close attention to what I was saying and didn't offer me anything that didn't fit within that.

So, as some general advice, try to hit up a store with some more dedicated help than a regular department store (though I do love my Lee Jeans!) but maybe less than say a personal shopper experience and let them help some.
posted by zizzle at 4:57 AM on March 19, 2014

Best answer: Trends that involve a change in the basic cut and fit of a wardrobe staple tend to be long-term; the dominant style of jeans seems to change completely every 10-15 years. I think bootcut jeans will still be available for some time to come, but I doubt they'll reclaim their old popularity anytime soon. I still wear them, but less and less so as the years pass, and I don't see them often on other people. They're still widely available in stores, but Gap was still selling "reverse fit" jeans in the early '00s, so keep in mind available doesn't necessarily mean fashionable.

Though I agree with koahiatamadl's advice that you shouldn't feel obligated to wear anything that doesn't make you feel good, I've noticed that the more ubiquitous a particular style or cut is, the more acceptable it is on a wide variety of body types. Several years ago, when skinny jeans were first showing up and only seen on trendy celebrities, there was a huge amount of snarky backlash: they were hideous, they made even skinny models look like diapers on stilts, etc. Now they're "classic," and I see them recommended for practically everyone regardless of shape. Likewise, if you traveled back in time to the 80s, I doubt you'd find many people who'd consider bootcut jeans flattering. Fifteen years from now, clothing is just going to completely change again, and we'll all have to readjust.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:00 AM on March 19, 2014

Try Kohl's; they carry Levis which come in various cuts, including a straight cut, which for me is a nice compromise between skinny and boot; if you get the right wash, you'll look with it (darker now, but I did hear that acid wash is slowly coming back???) without looking like you're trying too hard. I usually wear them with my Sperry's (which I think look absolutely ridiculous with the skinny jeans; someone upthread mentioned issues with skinny jeans and too much padding in the tongue area on the shoe, and this is it).
posted by damayanti at 5:21 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am nearly 40, and resisted skinny jeans as too young for me until last year.* Then, suddenly I didn't and I love it. I now have a full range from boot cut to straight to skinny. I was worried I'd feel like I was dressing too young, but instead I feel more modern and up-to-date.

*Warning: The fact that I have now relented to the tyranny of skinny jeans means they will now go out of style.
posted by girlpublisher at 5:44 AM on March 19, 2014

Hi, I am you (and posted a similar question two years ago).

I will say that in the wake of that question, I finally did give in and purchase these skinny jeans, feeling sure the whole time that they would be uncomfortable and ridiculous-looking. But actually, I really love them (am wearing them now!). I thought I would hate the tight feeling all down my leg, but the spandex content means that they move with me really easily in a way that my 100% cotton boot-cuts didn't. Since they're slimmer on the leg, you can wear blousier/looser shirts, which is friendly to that pesky post-kids tummy. They look OK with flats and UGG-style comfy boots, whereas my bootcuts always seemed to need at least a medium-high heel in order to fall right.

Re: the "looking-like-a-teenager" issue, in comparing myself with other preschool moms, the skinny jeans put me right in the comfortable upper tercile of the fashion bell curve: I feel more put-together than the people wearing sweatpants and their decades-old college jeans, but there are always at least a couple of other moms wearing skinnies, and none of us look pretentious or conspicuously cutting-edge or anything.

Skinny jeans: just give in!
posted by Bardolph at 5:54 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm convinced that skinny jeans are a conspiracy to oppress women. Ok, I'm not really, but would young women be obsessed with "thigh gaps" if they were permitted to wear straight-legged jeans? I don't think they're flattering on my body shape at all: I have really short legs, not much of a waist, and disproportionately big boobs, and I think I benefit from some volume on the bottom to balance out my top-heavy frame. So I don't wear them. I've decided that I'd rather be unfashionable than a fashion victim, and I'd rather look good than be on trend. Unless you work in a really image-conscious industry, I think you should wear what you like and makes you feel comfortable. Contrary to what people may tell you, you will not actually keel over and die if your clothes aren't trendy.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:39 AM on March 19, 2014 [6 favorites]

I'm 35 and resisted skinny jeans until last year, in large part because my powerful calves and thighs made it hard to find skinny jeans that didn't stick around my muscly bits and puff out at my knees (NOT A GOOD LOOK). But I eventually broke down and bought what is technically a pair of "straight" jeans but which fit pretty skinny on me (except at the ankles), and I really love them. But I also still wear boot cut jeans.

I do find I need to wear straight/skinny jeans with a looser top (not to cover anything up, just for proportionality) than I wear with boot cuts.
posted by mskyle at 6:53 AM on March 19, 2014

Sorry, this is a bit of a "OP wants apple recommendations, here is a pear rec," but I too loved bootcut jeans. I am seeing them on 10 year old TV shows and movies and thinking they feel dated too now (brainwashed by the fashion industry, obviously :p). I'm a hourglass so the modern higher waisted skinny jeans are okay, but I often get the "too big at the waist, not enough hip room problem," which I didn't see with bootcuts, probably because they were so loooow 10+ years ago. I am too old for that shiz now.

So, at work I am wearing skirts and dresses, but for play clothes I have gone with a lot of straight leg or slightly-flared corduroy and black chino style trousers (anything but khaki please), which are not really appearing at the trendier lower end stores I shop at (like Target). I've had success at Lands End and Loft, but I have to hunt to avoid the other end of eschewing trends, which is frump.

It's hard, man. I don't want to look like I am pretending I am 25 and I have money to spend now. Stores, please take my money and make me look not terrible.

Good luck, Jubey. My kids are 4.5 years apart and the wardrobe thing after was haaard.
posted by Lardmitten at 6:59 AM on March 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Wow, there's a lot of body shaming in this thread. Skinny jeans are comfortable if they're stretchy enough, very versatile in terms of footwear, and yes, still the current fashion.

I'm 37 and still carrying about 5 extra lbs of winter weight and right this moment I'm wearing a pair of black high-waisted skinny jeans from Express. They are SO comfortable. The high-waisted look can creep perilously close to mom jeans, so I have days when I hate them and days when I love them, and it all depends on how they're styled. I tuck in my shirts a lot with the high waisted ones, which is new for me.

There is actually kind of a range of tightness of skinny jeans too - I have some pair that are super tight all the way down, and others that are not as tight around the calves and ankles. So try several brands/styles if you wanna give it a go.

No matter your weight or your shape, you should wear what you like. Now, if skinny jeans make you feel exposed and vulnerable, of course go for boot leg or straight leg or boyfriend jeans. But if you want to try them out, feel free to do so whether or not judgmental people think you "shouldn't" wear them because you don't have a model's body.

I also wear leggings a lot so my primary reaction to people not agreeing with my fashion choices is "Suck it, haters. I'm a goddess and I'm awesome."
posted by misskaz at 7:04 AM on March 19, 2014 [12 favorites]

Best answer: I'm another late-30s mom who resisted skinny jeans mightily, bought them a few months ago, and love them now. Super comfy, and much more flattering than I had expected them to be. Embrace the skinny! It'll be OK!

Which... yeah, since the resistant-to-fashion middle-aged moms are buying them now, they won't be in style much longer, eh?
posted by Andrhia at 7:14 AM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

misskaz I don't think it's body shaming, it's wearing what flatters you. And skinny jeans can be really unflattering. Personally I think the bunchiness at the bottom is just weird looking.
posted by radioamy at 7:22 AM on March 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

The thing about jeans is--anything outside of an obvious "fashion" trend (embroidery or bedazzling, extreme flares, exaggerated high/low waists) just reads as "jeans" to most Americans (assuming you're in the US).

Denim in one of the ordinary blue colors, that sits nearish your hips, and is cut like a jean and not like a trouser is just. . . .jeans to most of the people out there. So try on a lot of pairs, and pick the ones you think are comfortable and flattering. Then get them professionally hemmed to the shoe height you're going to wear and no-one is going to notice whether they are 2014 skinny or 2010 straight-leg 2000 curvy or 1998 slight boot cut.

If you're specifically asking about where to find jeans in the cuts you like, there are some good recommendations above. Gap, Old Navy definitely still have boot-cut, and the fancy jeans and regular jeans Nordstrom's carries (Citizens of Humanity, 7 for all Mankind) all still offer a boot cut.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:36 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For example there were a lot of people who decided to wear leggings in the 1980s who really shouldn't have.

That is body shaming.

And skinny jeans can be really unflattering.

According to whom, by what standards?

Are you honestly telling me that this lady's body would be more flattered by boot cut (or similar) jeans? Her lower half would just be a rectangle of denim. Or this lady? Or her? Or her? Or her? I can't, even in my wildest imagination, believe that any of them would look back on these pictures in 20 years and have a "what was I thinking, my lower half is so unbalanced and unflattered!" moment because they all look fucking awesome.

Figuring out what kind of jeans you want to wear is 100% a matter of personal taste, but if you want to look current, skinny or slim cuts are the way to go. My only point here is that you shouldn't just categorically demonize a particular style as being only for the young, svelte model-thin types.
posted by phunniemee at 7:39 AM on March 19, 2014 [13 favorites]

Do what Anna Wintour does and you can't go wrong.
posted by rada at 7:42 AM on March 19, 2014

Best answer: OP, I am a little older than you and I have a similar worry about trying to look like a teenager and looking frumpy and outdated. I resisted skinny jeans out of principle for a long time--I don't like clothing that feels tight on me, so I really did not think I'd like them, and although I am a fairly slim person, my tummy often looks bloated and i did not want to emphasize that. I'm also quite short.

Fashion is cyclical. What looks in now isn't what looked in a while ago. So neither "boot cut jeans looks stupid" nor "skinny jeans look stupid" is true--it's just one is in style right now and one isn't. I remember being about 11 years old and becoming suddenly conscious of my straight-leg pants flapping around my ankles. They didn't change--fashion did; everyone was wearing tapered ankle jeans and I had only just realized it. (I was slow on the uptake for this sort of thing.) I don't think wanting to know what's considered fashionable makes you a slave to fashion.

Skinny jeans come in a range and flatter many more people than you would think. I found a pair (after trying on MANY pairs) that is stretchy and not skin-tight but is very slim-fitting, and I just love them. I have another pair with slightly less spandex and they are OK but I like the stretchy pair much better. I can lounge around in them all day long, that's how comfy they are. They are more comfy than my previous well-loved boot cut pair because they are stretchier.

Look at Pinterest for outfit ideas with skinny jeans. Try on many, many, many pairs until you find some you like and then buy them in a few different washes.

If you find skinny jeans just aren't your thing, that's OK too. I'm just saying, don't dismiss them out of hand, because they can be more flattering than you think! Good luck and have fun! If you can bring a friend to shop with you, all the better.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:43 AM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I like the Gap's Real Straight jeans. I'm not a big fan of skinny jeans because I dislike how they bunch around my ankles and cling to my calves, so I go for straight cut now and find it a nice compromise. They fit great without clinging too much and look great dressed up or dressed down.
posted by yasaman at 8:50 AM on March 19, 2014

You know what I like as I've hit my thirties? A dark-wash A-line denim skirt with tights and ballet flats (sometimes boots or Converse, depending on what's on my top half). When my current set of jeans wear out, I might end up replacing with all skirts, all the time.
posted by mippy at 9:44 AM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am late 30's and mom of two. I still wear bootcut jeans, but they have to be dark, fitted, only slightly flared at the bottom, and worn with a heel. Anything else looks dated to me. I'd really encourage you to try both skinnies and boyfriend jeans, which are my new favourite style because they are super comfortable! I have to wear them with at least a bit of a heel in order to not feel frumpy, but I love how they feel.

Here are a couple great articles on this topic:

bootcut and skinny jeans
the skinny on bootcuts in 2013
posted by yawper at 11:58 AM on March 19, 2014

I'm in my late twenties and live in Los Angeles. I've seen plenty of bootcuts with sneakers, ballet flats and flip flops - all depending what you pair them with. A simple white tank with an oversize sweater and accessories makes for a pretty common casual outfit. The most important thing to find is the right fit/ length. H&M bootcut jeans come in different lengths, have a great fit and are not terribly flared at the bottom so they don't look as dated. I'm petite and curvy and these jeans make my butt look great (when I'm not wearing my go-to Citizens of Humanity Ditas)!

That said, I also wear skinny jeans, and I find that Joe's and Seven make ones that fit great on my curvy hips/ thighs. H&M I've had some luck with, but it's hit or miss. I find the key for me is to pair skinnies with heels or boots, and tops that aren't fitting that hit at or below the hip, especially with long or 3/4 length sleeves. Blazers look good on top as well, if you can find one that's not too short or fitted. I've had luck with one or two pairs of skinnies that I can pair with sandals but even then forget that when I'm bloated!
posted by Everydayville at 12:35 PM on March 19, 2014

I don't think it's body-shaming to say that the skinny jeans look doesn't suit everyone. I have a nice "fit" figure but the ultra-fitted pant plus slouchy top does not quite play to my favorite physical attributes. I resisted the skinny jean thing as long as I could, and once I gave in it took a bit of work to find the right kind. I found that Eddie Bauer straight leg jeans (in the curvy fit) worked better for me than any of the skinny jeans I had tried on in the major retailers. My problem with most of the truly skinny jeans is that they pushed everything down, flattening the butt and thighs. (Just the nature of spandex when you layer it on from pelvis to ankle.) So the thing about those Eddie Bauer jeans is that they have more of an opening at the ankle, but it still has that modern skinny-ish look. I think it looks appropriate for a 30ish mother. I suppose other companies must have a straight fit somewhere in their offerings, too. I'm in the States if that has any sartorial bearing.

But, yeah, I'd like to let my pelvis breathe some after putting it through the rigors of childbearing! Stupid fashion.
posted by stowaway at 3:38 PM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

The thing I notice about moving from bootcut jeans to skinny jeans is that I feel I need a longer top with skinny jeans, to feel balanced. This works out OK for me because I'm short and I end up with a heap of tops that are a bit too long - but I do sort of think "Isn't this *convenient* for the fashion industry, if everyone has to buy more tops?" Subvert the dominant paradigm!
posted by Cheese Monster at 3:46 PM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hi, OP here. I feel bizarrely vindicated that so many others of you know where I'm coming from! I haven't really worn jeans since 2010, when (I think) it was still acceptable to wear bootcuts, I actually have skinnies from back then, I just didn't really like the look of them, so didn't wear them that often. Like some of you, I thought you could only pull them off if you were tall and thin.

However, looking at some of the links posted and seeing bootcuts up against skinnies, yeah, phunniemee is right, they do look dated as hell - thanks for the brutal truth, I think I needed that! Someone mentioned upthread that I should wear what I want unless I work in an image conscious industry. I'm contemplating heading back to work in probably the most image conscious industry of all outside fashion - advertising, and while I'm not looking to set trends, I would like to fit in.

I'm 5'5", around 125 pounds and hoping to get this down a bit more, with a body type similar to Pink's, (not her muscles, the shape of it) that is, boyish, no chest, no hips, no waist. So hopefully there will be a pair of skinnies that suit me, thanks for the links and any more suggestions will be gratefully received. Oh and it's interesting to see how viewpoints have changed in even the last few years since Bardolph's question because back then, bootcuts were still considered ok but now they're definitely out. Fashion, huh!
posted by Jubey at 6:14 PM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Another 30-something mom here with a vote for the Eddie Bauer straight leg jeans. I like Eddie Bauer's jeans because they offer a classic dark wash without whiskering or ruching or other nonsense. Straight leg is a nice compromise - not quite so trendy, versatile with tops. Their shoe choices for the models on their website is doofy-looking. The jeans look better in real life.

I also bought some jeans from them this winter with a fleeced inside, and they are insanely comfortable. I've worn them to bed thinking I had pj bottoms on. It's not a layer of fleece inside the denim - they have somehow treated the denim itself to be incredibly soft and cozy. I can't find them on the website now, and I know this doesn't really answer your question per se, but they are really the best jeans ever.
posted by jeoc at 6:29 PM on March 19, 2014

I'm relatively non-curvy, too, and I've been happy with the Verdugo style from Paige - though I recommend looking for sales or buying secondhand, since they're pricey. You can often find them at Nordstrom Rack.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:25 PM on March 19, 2014

It's less a matter of what style you appropriate and more that you do so with intention. I see bell-bottoms as coming back, not in a widespread way, but I do see them - do you see how crop tops are really trendy right now? or how '90s grunge is being reinterpreted? So on one level, it doesn't matter what you choose to do, but how you choose to do it.

You have to be honest with yourself about your reasoning and then follow through with your intention. I think people pick up on that.

If it's to fit in, a skinny is a good staple to have, and contrary to many women's beliefs, is not the least bit unflattering to as many bodies as you would think. If you're this concerned about the shape, then you're already not going to put yourself in a position where you would snark on yourself.

I also want to say, though, that advertising as a field seems to me to be a second-level signifying field in terms of fashion. So I would give the most latitude to some of the arts, fashion itself, music. But start-up culture and advertising, while image-driven, seem to carry a lot more weight in not what is creative per se, but what is collectively accepted as appropriate.

Finally, people have given some good recommendations for sources, but if you want to see where that stuff lies in the trend spectrum, you should check out Madewell & Shopbop on the one hand and stuff like Nasty Gal, Karma Loop, Pixie Market on the other.

Yes, so if I were you, I would grab a couple of pairs of skinnies. You will quickly get used to it.

(this coming from a 30-year-old who likes to dress on the young end of the spectrum)
posted by lady3bird at 6:39 AM on March 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

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