What cut of jeans reads as "default" these days?
September 14, 2019 5:27 PM   Subscribe

I need a new pair of jeans, and would really like a satisficing cut/color: something that presents as sleek but unassuming (for a grownup professional), can be worn for smart casual workdays if needed, is not going to make me look like a fashion victim in 2 years. Is this still skinny jeans? If not, what is it?

As a complication, the high-rise and "mom jeans" that US teens and twentysomethings favor are horrible unflattering on me (the look is very Teletubbies/ Winnie the Pooh on a rectangle figure and short torso), and for the same reason I'm also not a fan of styles that require shirts tucked in at the natural waist.

I asked the same question a few years back and people declared straight legs the wave of the future, but I'm not sure that happened: instead of any kind of predictable shift to a new straightleg norm, the current moment seems to instead to be a mishmash of widely varying "exuberant" styles. Fashion is billing this as a "yay diversity! wear whatever jeans you want!" moment, but I am highly suspicious that this means some subset of the sailor wide-leg/ distressed boyfriend/ kick flare/ etc. diverse styles right now are momentary fads that will seem dated in a year or two. Plus it's annoying that each of those styles in theory requires an entirely different set of tops to get the proportions balanced right.

I don't want self-expression and flair, I want a presentable uniform that I can readily pull off without much curation. Any ideas?
posted by Bardolph to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
In my impression it's still pretty much well-fitted straight leg jeans, sitting at your natural waist or just under depending on your body type, in a dark wash. I think the confusing but is that sometimes straight leg jeans are called bootleg, and sometimes bootlegs are really flared. Sometimes skinny jeans are actually straight leg and sometimes they're tapered. But basically they should be the same width from your knee to your ankle.
posted by muddgirl at 5:31 PM on September 14, 2019 [10 favorites]

Well-fitted skinny jeans are still pretty neutral, in my opinion.

With straight leg jeans, I think there's very fine line between frumpy and stylish. It depends on how well they fit, what you wear with them, etc.

I don't think that any of the wide legged or flared styles will outlast skinny jeans, honestly. To me they read as much more "marked" in style.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 6:03 PM on September 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

Check out the You Look Fab website. Just this past week she did a post on what jeans are in style this year and she links to tons of choices.
posted by chocolatetiara at 6:09 PM on September 14, 2019 [5 favorites]

Muddgirl is right, well-fitted straight leg jeans are where it's at. You want a pair that's a bit looser than skinny jeans. My personal favorite is the Levis 314, which I indeed use more or less as a presentable uniform when paired with Uniqlo's drape crew neck shirt. For me, the Levis 314 hits the right place on my waist, neither too high nor too low, they're fitted through the thigh then a little more loose through the calves, and do not cling at the ankles. They're not bootcut, but I can wear them with ankle boots or squish them inside knee-high boots. The dark washes can be dressed up or down nicely.
posted by yasaman at 6:28 PM on September 14, 2019 [8 favorites]

Slim straight or cigarette leg, darker wash, mid-rise, subtle or no whiskering/fading. My "casual but I still want to look like a grownup" everyday work outfits are based on AG "The Prima" cigarette leg jeans like this for example. List price is not cheap so watch for them to go on sale.
posted by 4rtemis at 9:46 PM on September 14, 2019 [7 favorites]

I'm making assumptions here that you're generally female-ish-bodied and somewhere under 200-ish pounds, but I've had a lot of luck in the men's section of Express with their "super-skinny" line. They fit like kinda just normal straight-leg on me, this person with hips, not too high or too low. And they are straightforward and have real-person pockets. Men's super skinny, at least here, seems to be like, women's middle-of-the-line. And they actually go by inches, so you can not have to worry about hems or whatever.
posted by lauranesson at 9:58 PM on September 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

As to colour, my instinct was to say as dark as possible and definitely no pattern or rips.

I came back to this thread because I found this map of average jean colour, USA 2018 (image) that might be helpful- I found it while browsing 100 amazing world maps on Far and Wide. (Also it's just fun. :) )
posted by freethefeet at 1:17 AM on September 15, 2019 [13 favorites]

As a “uniform” kinda gal myself, I just go to Everlane and buy whatever suits my fancy and flatters my body type. They’re the brand (IMO) that does really well at basics that are cut stylishly, and keep a keen eye on trends without bowing to them.
posted by functionequalsform at 6:09 AM on September 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

I think if you’re wearing jeans to work, not working in a super-hip environment, and looking for “unassuming,” it’s safer to be slightly behind the trends than to anticipate future ones. Skinny jeans should be fine for another year or two, especially if they’re more jean than jegging.

I find that fashion magazines/websites and clothing stores are unreliable sources when it comes to what jean styles people actually wear, particularly practical nicely-dressed-but-not-super-cool people over 30. Brands keep presenting cropped flares and stuff as the next big thing but nobody seems to be buying them. And when it comes to macro trends like jeans, there’s often a couple years of overlap on either end. You’ll probably have a little bit of time between “everyone seems to be wearing style X right now” and “oh my god, nobody’s wearing skinnies anymore.”
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:47 AM on September 15, 2019 [6 favorites]

I travel internationally quite a bit and have been observing what jeans people are wearing in order to assess what I should buy. Bad news: the high waist seems to be the state of things for the foreseeable future. I feel your pain because I too have struggled to find a high waisted jean that doesn't look hideous. I got some jeans tailored last year and it has made all the difference.

I travel a lot. The majority of women, from Paris to Peoria, still seem to be wearing skinny jeans – skinny highrise if they want to be current. I've seen some high-rise relaxed straight/"mom jeans," which tend to either be worn by younger people or be worn by moms who look, well, mom-like. I think for someone over 25, a bit of tailoring is required in order to avoid frumpiness. I've also seen the occasional wide crop on people who are trying to be more fashion.

I was in Paris during Men's Fashion Week in January and all of the women I saw working the shows except one wore skinny jeans. (The one outlier wore a wide crop.) And they work in fashion so it's their job to look current. The skinny jean is not in danger of imminent extinction.
posted by rednikki at 3:29 AM on September 16, 2019

« Older Security blanket for a scaredy-cat?   |   Useful Gift for Family in Crisis Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments