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Love it or hate it, the skinny jean has been replaced. Where for so long skin tight, stretchy denim was the go-to, these days many women are opting for something a little less clingy: straight-leg jeans. Edgy dressers like Bella Hadid and those who favor the classics, like J.Lo, have both accepted the style as the new It-cut. And on the runways, luxury brands like Khaite and The Row have made them mainstays in their recent collections. What sets this particular type of denim apart is its variety — straight-leg denim can mean different widths, waist heights, and fits — meaning also, it’s flattering on all bodies.
“In recent years, we’ve seen a huge shift in people moving away from the super-stretch skinnies and opting for more authentic, rigid fabrications reminiscent of vintage jeans of the ‘90s,” explains Agolde’s Design Director, Erin Meehan. “When seeking inspiration for the perfect rigid straight-leg, I always tend to think of those iconic paparazzi shots from the ‘90s such as Cindy Crawford, Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, and Iman so effortlessly wearing their vintage straights with a simple tank or tee while at the airport.”
What Are Straight-Leg Jeans
“A straight-leg jean isn’t too far of a departure from a skinny as they have the same fit on top,” explains Tim Kaeding, Creative Director and Co-founder, Mother. “The term straight-leg is somewhat loose because there isn’t an exact point at which they have to go straight. Some Straight-legs go straight starting at the hip, others at the thigh and some can even start at the knee. It is an easy transition to make if you were a skinny jean wearer.” While skinny jeans hug tightly to the body from waist to leg, straight-leg jeans tend to be more rigid and fit slightly looser, especially through the lower part of the leg.
Top Straight-Leg Jeans of 2022
- Best Classic Jeans: Levi’s Ribcage Straight-Leg Jeans
- Best Distressed Jeans: Mother The Tomcat Jeans
- Best Cropped Jeans: Paige Stella Straight Jeans
- Best Red Jeans: Hudson Barbara
- Best Cargo Jeans: Alex Mill Phoebe Jeans
- Best White Jeans: Frame Le Slouch Jeans
- Best Acid Wash Jeans: BP Mom Jeans
- Best Black Jeans: Agolde Lana Jeans
- Best Embellished Jeans: Re/Done 70s Straight
- Best Vintage-Inspired Jeans: Still Here Harvest Rainbow Tate
- Best Plus-Size Jeans: Good American Good Boy
- Best Petite Jeans: Madewell Perfect Vintage Jean
- Best Jeans With Stretch: Everlane High Jean
- Best Printed Jeans: Stella McCartney Jeans
- Best Rhinestone Jeans: Y/Project Cutout Jeans
- Best Whiskered Jeans: Slvrlke London Jeans
- Best Twisted Hem Jeans: Toteme Twisted Seam Denim
- Best Organic Denim Jeans: Wandler Poppy Jeans
- Best High-Rise Jeans: Khaite Isabella Jeans
- Best Mid-Rise Jeans: The Row Montero Jeans
- Best Grunge Jeans: R13 Crossover Jean
- Best Editor-Approved Jeans: Reformation Cynthia Jeans
The Different Rise Options For Straight-Leg Jeans
“Rise is really all about body shape and type — you have to find the right one for you,” says Kaeding. “Higher rises can be flattering as they help hold one in at the waist. Mid rise is one of our best sellers at the moment. They work well for a variety of body types.”
- Low Rise Straight-Leg Jeans: The biggest trend of the aughts has returned, and low rise jeans are back in. This cut is definitely more trend-forward and will show more skin. “I would recommend keeping your low rise jeans a bit more relaxed and easy through the leg to give it a more modern appeal,” notes Meehan. If you’re ready to embrace it, try styling your jeans with a cropped shirt and cardigan to create a balanced silhouette. You can also try a long sweater or top for a bit more coverage through the midsection.
- Medium Rise Straight-Leg Jeans: If you gravitate towards things that sit in neutral territory, the medium rise is for you, it offers more coverage than low rise, but may not be as constricting as something that hits above the belly button. Style these jeans with a cool, relaxed T-shirt for a daytime look that doesn’t feel too buttoned up, or try a blouse for the office.
- High Rise Straight-Leg Jeans: Expect high-rise jeans to hit above the belly button, making them an ideal rise to pair with crop tops and shorter blouses. High rise also offers more support around the hips and stomach, so it’s worth considering if you prefer your pants to fit snugly across the midsection.
To help you on your way to finding the perfect pair of straight-leg jeans, we’ve compiled the below list in a range of styles, fits, material compositions and colors that can be dressed up, down or somewhere in between.
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Levi’s Ribcage Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 24-40
- Color: Available in 13 colors from light indigo to black
Levi’s has a long history of offering unfussy, practical jeans that still feel great when you put them on. When Levi’s first released the ribcage, a super high-rise that hits above the belly button, I made them a staple in my own denim rotation. The leg is fitted, but not too tight, and the slightly cropped ankle is great for pairing with sneakers. “Amazing material and the denim quality is to die for,” writes one reviewer. It’s good to note that this style tends to run small, so consider sizing up.
Mother The Tomcat Jeans
Best Distressed Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 23-34
- Color: The Confession
If you prefer jeans with a rough and tumble look to them, consider Mother’s take on the distressed straight-leg, what the brand calls The Tomcat. One reviewer notes that they’re “the best distressed jeans I’ve ever owned.” The fit is slightly loose with enough give to allow for moving around comfortably and the material has stretch to it as well. A light wash jean is a great option for day time, so keep things casual by adding a sweatshirt.
Paige Stella Straight Jeans
Best Cropped Straight-Leg Jeans
- Size: 23-34
- Color: Roadhouse
L.A.-based denim label Paige is known for its California cool take on basics, but you’ll want to wear these no matter if you’re on the West Coast or elsewhere. These fitted straight-leg jeans have a medium wash with light whiskering at the pockets to create a laid-back look. For anyone with long legs, finding a cropped style that isn’t too short can be tricky, but these fit the bill hitting just at the ankle. In addition, the mid-rise waist is comfortable without being constricting. Consider styling them with loafers for a classic combination.
Best Red Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 23-34
- Color: Jasper
While blue jeans will always remain a wardrobe staple, there’s no harm in embracing a little bit of color in your wardrobe. Hudson’s Barbara jeans are a fitted straight-leg option that’s ideal for someone who’s still attached to their skinny jeans. The leg still feels similar to a skinny, but doesn’t hug quite as tightly. The high rise hits just below the navel and fits snugly on the hips, which is a perfect pairing to a fitted top like a tank or cropped T-shirt. Since the jeans are a statement all on their own, keep the rest of your look pared down — try a black top and boots.
Alex Mill Phoebe Jeans
Best Cargo Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 0-12
- Color: Vintage wash
Alex Mill was founded in 2012 on the premise of creating the perfect basics that will never go out of style. With that in mind, the brand’s Phoebe jeans are a comfortable and practical take on the cargo. The tapered straight-leg has a looser fit than some of the other designs on the list, which reflects the current trend cycle’s shift to roomier silhouettes. The fabric is non-stretch and made of 100% denim, meaning you can count on it to keep its shape between washes. Expect these utilitarian jeans to become your new go-to.
Frame Le Slouch Jeans
Best White Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 23-33
- Color: Ecru
There’s something undeniably cool about a high-rise slouchy jean. Frame’s Le Slouch jeans aren’t a true white, but a slight cream, giving them a slightly more lived-in feel instead of being too pristine (and basically begging for spots and stains). The non stretch denim sits loosely on the hips and through the legs, which lends to their almost trouser-like vibe. Try wearing these jeans to the office with a button-down and a pair of sleek black boots. Consider it the modern work uniform.
BP Mom Jeans
Best Acid Wash Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 26-33
- Color: Indigo Med Acid Wash
The ‘80s have re-entered the trend cycle and that means acid wash jeans are back. The funky bleached look of these jeans from BP is definitely not for the minimalist dresser, but can be a fun choice for the shopper that likes a little experimentation. “Looks just like my ninth grade acid washed Guess jeans. Super trendy right now and would look great with a crop top,” writes one reviewer. If you want to lean into the retro look, try styling these jeans with high-top sneakers and opt for something colorful up top. Since the mom jean fit sits high on the waist and is slightly roomy through the leg, you’ll be effortlessly comfortable.
Agolde Lana Jeans
Best Black Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 23-33
- Colors: Drum, Fiction, Backdrop, Roam, Disorder, Haywire, Descent, Element
All hail the power of a great pair of black jeans. This wardrobe staple is one that everyone should have on hand. Agolde is a fashion insider favorite for its relaxed, cool-girl silhouettes, and the Lana, a favorite of Meehan’s, has just the right straight silhouette. The lower rise and slouchy fit through the legs make for a relaxed combination that can easily be dressed up or down. The slightly washed coloring give the jeans a worn look. An added bonus: The non-stretch fabric is soft to the touch, so you can expect to be comfortable when you put these on.
Re/Done 70s Straight
Best Embellished Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 23-30
- Colors: Dark denim
Who says jeans can only serve as a basic — a little embellishment can go a long way. Re/Done is known for its upcycling of vintage Levi’s, so each iteration of this jean is a one-of-a-kind creation. The studs and crystals around the pockets have a slightly western bent to them, making these the ideal jeans to wear to your first (or second or third) rodeo. Throw on some cowboy boots and you’re good to go.
Still Here Harvest Rainbow Tate
Best Vintage-Inspired Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 23-32
- Color: Vintage Blue
New York label Still Here made a name for itself thanks to its vintage-inspired jeans with one unexpected detail: Painted rainbow stripes down the back. The Tate is the brand’s “first and best-selling” fit, a high-rise crop that flatters the legs and hips. Each season, the brand chooses a new variation on the signature rainbow stripes, so make sure to act fast if the current color scheme speaks to you. It’s also worth noting, since the jeans are hand painted, you’ll want to hand wash them only to keep them pristine.
Good American Good Boy
Best Plus-Size Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 00-30
- Colors: Blue 643
One major perk of shopping on Good American’s website is that the brand makes an effort to show the same pair of jeans on multiple body types. This high-rise straight-leg jean is made in a stretchy fabric that’s still roomy and comfortable while hugging tighter at the hip. “I stumbled upon these jeans and as a girl with hips and a booty, I trusted these would look good on me and now they’re my favorite jeans,” writes one reviewer. The light blue vintage wash is casual and classic — so you can easily pair them with anything. These might just become your favorites, too.
Madewell Perfect Vintage Jean
Best Petite Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 23-33
- Color: Montville Wash
- Made with certified recycled cotton
For petite women, buying a new pair of jeans often means the added expense of taking them to get tailored. But, Madewell’s Perfect Vintage jeans come specifically made in petite, standard, and tall sizes so you can forget about the extra cost of having the jeans fitted to your height. The high rise and cut are inspired by the styles worn by ‘90s supermodels according to Madewell’s site. And the stretchy fabric lends itself well to whatever you may have on the agenda — supermodel or not. To style, try pairing with a simple tank and a striped button-down layered over the top.
Everlane High Jean
Best Straight-Leg Jeans with Stretch
- Sizes: 23-35
- Colors: Vintage Indigo, Distressed, Coal, Light Indigo, Indigo Rinse, Rich Earth, Lapis, Aqua Grey, Soy Bean, Day Break
- Comes in Regular and Tall
“It takes everything in me not to wear them every day,” wrote a reviewer who called these the “best jeans I’ve ever owned.” These high-waisted jeans are a favorite among Everlane’s shoppers for their versatility and the fit through the waist and legs (though many reviewers suggest sizing down). The wide range of colors and washes mean that you can opt for multiple pairs depending on the necessary occasion. Because they’re made with 2% elastane, they have a slight stretch and are soft to the touch. Clearly, Everlane is doing something right.
Stella McCartney Jeans
Best Printed Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: XXS-XL
- Color: Mid denim
Ready to have a little fun with your jeans? Look no further than this psychedelic option from Stella McCartney. In collaboration with Ed Curtis, this funky pattern also appears on a matching denim jacket (just in case you’re ready to embrace it head to toe). The two-toned jeans are made with a slight stretch and a relaxed fit, making them easy to wear all day long. Now, just add a kooky pair of boots and you’ll turn heads.
Y/Project Cutout Jeans
Best Rhinestone Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 24-36
- Color: Ice Blue
Y/Project has gained a cult following since Glenn Martens took the helm in 2013. It’s become known for its quirky and creative takes on denim, and these embellished cutout jeans are no exception. The light wash is dressed up with the addition of rhinestones arranged across the front of the jeans. The result: Subversive ‘90s jeans that are begging for a party. Break out a Euphoria-inspired beauty look and hit the dance floor.
Slvrlke London Jeans
Best Whiskered Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 23-32
- Colors: Available in 23 washes
There was a time when the fashion industry had had enough of whiskering — the bleached lines down the front of jeans were ubiquitous. But, after a pause, they’re back, adding style and texture to your signature denim. Slvrlke, named after the East L.A. neighborhood, has made a 100% cotton jean that brings back the look in a tasteful way. These jeans are subtle, with a light wash and relaxed fit that make for an unbeatable combo. Consider these your timeless jeans.
Toteme Twisted Seam Denim
Best Twisted Hem Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 23-34
- Colors: Washed blue, black, black rinsed, dark blue wash, distressed light blue, grey wash, light blue wash, off-white, worn blue
Minimalists flock to Swedish brand Toteme for its luxurious basics, and the jeans are no exception. They may look simple, but the small details make all the difference. The jeans are made in Italy and are designed for you to break in comfortably over time. The twisted hems help to elongate the leg in a flattering way. The jeans are also mid-rise and have a cropped hem, a combination that remains a classic.
Wandler Poppy Jeans
Best Organic Denim Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 24-32
- Color: Mid Wash Denim
- Organic, hypoallergenic cotton
Amsterdam-based Wandler may be best known for its playful accessories, but the brand’s denim is worth putting on your radar too. The wash is a bit brighter than other styles that made the list, but the jeans still manage to serve as a neutral building block for your outfits. The jeans have a high rise and the leg is loose, great for pairing with something fitted up top. The denim is made of organic cotton and the line is produced in Italy. You can expect to see these jeans all over your Instagram feed.
Khaite Isabella Jeans
Best High-Rise Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 24-32
- Colors: Ivory, Dayton, Santa Cruz
Embrace the style of the ‘70s with these high-rise jeans from New York label Khaite. The front patch pockets are a nod to vintage style, and also flatter the body by sitting squarely across the front of the jeans. Khaite is known for its elegant take on basics, and the slim straight-leg silhouette feels both elegant and easy. Since the jeans are made of 100% cotton, the fit will be tight at first, but will loosen naturally over time. As such, the brand recommends sizing up if you’re planning to pick up a pair for yourself.
The Row Montero Jeans
Best Mid-Rise Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 0-8
- Color: blue
“Quiet luxury” is a phrase used to describe unassuming but luxurious pieces, and it’s the best way to describe The Row. The NYC label, founded by Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen is beloved for its subtle but premium pieces. These mid-rise jeans are made in Italy from 100% cotton and feature a structured, fitted leg silhouette. The subtle fading gives them an unfussy air. Try styling with a trench and ballet flats for an Olsen-approved look.
R13 Crossover Jean
Best Grunge Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 24-31
- Color: Neutral
The crossover jean, with the fly running diagonally across the front, became a popular trend a few seasons ago and continues to be a favorite of trendy dressers. R13’s take is edgy, with a low rise and loose fit through the legs that feels lived in and cool. Made of 100% cotton, the denim is lightly distressed but still has the structure you desire. For these jeans, consider leaning into the downtown-cool aesthetic and pair with a pair of black boots and a leather jacket. It’s a simple combination, but since these jeans demand attention on their own, it works.
Reformation Cynthia Jeans
Best Editor-Approved Straight-Leg Jeans
- Sizes: 23-21
- Colors: Colorado, Tahoe destroyed
- Made with Tencel, Recycled cotton, and organically grown cotton
When I first made my break with skinny jeans, I was on the hunt for something that lengthened my legs and wasn’t too slouchy through the back. Reformation’s Cynthia jeans became an instant favorite — they hug in just the right places without feeling clingy or too tight. They hit comfortably at the ankle, and I wear them with sneakers and boots interchangeably. The fabric is rigid, but has softened over time, making them one of the comfiest pairs of jeans that I own. My suggestion: try the darker wash as the color tends to lighten over time.
The Best Shoes to Wear with Straight-Leg Jeans
When figuring out the best shoes to wear with your straight-leg jeans, you’ll want to start by evaluating your denim silhouette of choice. Since there’s so much variety in terms of hem length and how loose the leg is, you’ll want to keep this in mind. If you want to style your jeans with sneakers, consider low-top options, or if you’re going to opt for a high-top, choose something that fits tightly to the ankle like Converse. Anything that’s too wide will clash with the pant silhouette, so it’s best to avoid that. When it comes to boots, keep to a similar set of rules. Tall boots can be tricky since the pants don’t easily tuck inside like a skinny jean. Instead, try ankle boots that sit easily under the jeans. In addition, loafers and flats are favorites for wearing with straight-leg jeans as they add a polished bent to your outfit.
As for hem length, a cropped straight-leg jean is probably best reserved for warmer weather since it hits above the ankle and can leave an awkward (and potentially chilly) gap when worn with winter boots. For cropped jeans, keep the shoe silhouette low — try sneakers or sandals — and you’ll find that the length feels more purposeful and fashion-forward. For a more versatile denim option, you’ll want to aim for a hem that hits just at the ankle. When styled with your shoes, the jeans shouldn’t puddle or flow over the top of the shoes, but should sit squarely at the top of the foot.
Meet The Experts
- Erin Meehan is the Design Director of AGOLDE. Meaning, she guides the ship when it comes to creating the next big denim trends. The fashion-forward denim label is a favorite of celebs like Selena Gomez and Kourtney Kardashian.
- Tim Kaeding is the Creative Director and Co-founder of MOTHER. The LA-based denim brand is inspired by California in the ‘70s, and is loved for its classic, cool fits. Bottom line: he knows what makes a great pair of jeans.
Meet The Author
Aemilia Madden is a writer, editor, and brand consultant who has worked in the fashion industry for over eight years. She’s an Oakland, California native and Brooklyn resident. When she’s not writing about the latest trends, Aemilia is running in prospect park, testing new recipes on her friends, and trying to keep up with her New Yorker subscription.