We’re back with part two of our denim series to help you prep for fall! Denim trends have been shifting for a bit, and I know it can still feel like a mystery to figure out which cuts to focus on, not to mention how to actually style them! The first post in our denim series was 5 Types of Jeans to Wear This Fall + Tips on What to Look For, and if you haven’t read that yet, catch it HERE. In today’s post, I’m sharing five tips to transition from skinny jeans to straight leg jeans and other styles.
Before we get into it, I need to say that you can still wear skinny jeans! They are classic and timeless, which means they are always okay to wear. But, they are just not the main style in the spotlight currently. AND, as I mentioned in 5 Types of Jeans to Wear This Fall, you need to wear them in a stylish way to keep from looking outdated. First, be sure they fit well and don’t look like they’re old and tired (as you should be doing with ALL your clothes 😜). Then, as I always say, make sure to pair them with a modern top and a modern shoe. Then your outfit will be 1/3 Classic + 1/3 Modern + 1/3 Modern, which is means your outfit will lean more modern than not. You don’t have to give them up, but if you want to look modern while wearing skinny jeans, make sure the pieces you pair them with are current!
Now, if you are open to trying other styles and need some tips to transition from skinny jeans, let’s talk!
Skinny jeans provide a unique shape at the bottom compared to other cuts like the other types of jeans that I mentioned in the last blog post (straight leg, crop bootcut / kick flare, girlfriend, and wide leg). Skinny jeans are fitted all the way through the leg, providing shape and definition. This affects the shapes and silhouettes that you can wear on top and the types of shoes you can wear on the bottom.
The other styles like straight leg, crop bootcut / kick flare, girlfriend, and wide leg aren’t as fitted as skinnies. Instead, they add volume to the bottom half, which means you have to change the proportions and silhouettes that you wear on top to balance out that new volume.
One element of good style is creating good proportions and silhouettes and fitting the right pieces of the puzzle together. If you change the shape of your bottoms from skinny to something else, that means you have to figure out which puzzle pieces go with that new “something else.” So, let’s talk through some tips for how to navigate the transition from skinny jeans to other cuts.
5 Tips to Transition From Skinny Jeans to Other Denim Styles
1. Balance the volume between the top and bottom halves.
A helpful rule of thumb is if one half of your outfit is fitted, balance it out with a looser piece on the other half. You don’t always have to follow this rule, but it’s a great place to start.
Skinny jeans are fitted all the way down from the hips to the ankles, so you can get away with looser-fitting and more voluminous tops, like tunic tops. Since the other cuts of jeans aren’t as fitted through the entire leg and instead add a bit of volume, certain styles don’t work as well with voluminous tops. Instead, for these styles of jeans try tops that are a bit more fitted to balance out that bit of volume other denim styles add to the bottom half. The tops don’t need to be super formfitting or completely figure-hugging, but without skinny jeans providing the definition somewhere, your tops need to help provide more shape instead.
In the graphic above, the outfit on the left-hand side shows crop bootcut jeans, which add volume below the knees, paired with a voluminous top. It looks frumpy and shapeless. Not to mention it makes me look squat. On the right-hand side I’m showing the same voluminous top, this time paired with slim straight jeans. I’m not wearing a skinny cut, but the jeans are still pretty fitted and don’t add much volume, so they balance out the voluminous top.
Here is another set of examples, this time focusing on changing the fit of the top. (Yes, these are wide leg chino pants and not denim, though the title of this post has to do with jeans. But, I don’t own wide leg jeans, and the tips in this post really do apply to ALL types of pants. 😊)
The first outfit pairs wide leg pants with that same voluminous top. Wide leg pants are very voluminous, so pairing them with a voluminous top creates a shapeless look. To counter voluminous wide leg pants, pair them with a fitted top, which I’m doing in the second outfit. I tucked my t-shirt very tightly, creating a very fitted silhouette on top to show my shape. But, in case you don’t want to wear something that formfitting, I’m showing a third outfit that pairs the wide leg pants with a top that is only somewhat fitted. I bloused out the top all the way around so it’s not completely hugging my stomach, and that works, too! As you can see, you can play with the different levels of volume with the big picture goal in mind: trying to balance out a voluminous half with a more fitted half so you don’t look completely shapeless.
2. Wear shorter tops.
I’m not talking about crop tops (though you can wear those if you want)! But do make sure your tops hit at the right length.
A good practice for tops is to hit 1/3 of the way down your body, starting from your shoulders. They can be shorter sometimes, especially if you are doing a full tuck like the one I’m doing above. But it is seldom great if tops are longer, especially when paired with non-skinny jeans. Having tops hit 1/3 of the way down your body helps define your torso from your legs, define and elongate your leg line, and create a good proportion to keep you from looking frumpy. It is much easier to get away with slightly longer tops with skinny jeans because of how fitted skinny jeans are. This doesn’t work as well with other cuts. So, be very mindful of how long your tops are!
In the first picture above, my top hits at about halfway down my body, cutting my body in half. I look shapeless, not to mention stumpier. In the second picture, I’m wearing the same jeans, but I paired them with a shorter top that hits 1/3 of the way down my body from my shoulders. My legs look longer, and I don’t look shapeless. AND, I am NOT wearing a tightly-fitting shirt. It is still very loose and almost has a boxy shape. ANDDDDD, I am not tucking anything. I really want to illustrate that just adjusting the LENGTH of your top goes a long way – and that you can do it without wearing anything formfitting or without having to tuck anything. (Anti-tuckers and anyone else self-conscious of your midsection, I’ve got your back! Trust me, you’re not the only one. 😉)
3. Make sure your pants hit at the proper length.
This is a basic style principle that is wayyyyy too often overlooked. But it is so, so important! Many outfits look frumpy if your pants aren’t the right length, but hemming your pants to the right length can completely transform them from frumpy to stylish and make you feel better in your outfits. (This is why knowing basics of style is so helpful. If you are executing the proper basics, you don’t run into as many issues with outfits. Knowing the basics makes putting together outfits a whole lot easier.)
As a quick guide, generally for ankle length pants, the sweet spot is for them to hit right at the top of your ankle bone to within an inch above your ankle bone. Too much shorter can sometimes make it look like your pants are too small or create an awkward proportion. Being able to go a little shorter with your pants will of course depend on your stature, body type, and the specific type of jeans. However, as a rule of thumb, aim for the sweet spot I mentioned first as a good starting place! It’s hard to go wrong with that length. It will keep your leg line clean and make your legs look longer (yes, even for petite women), and it will look great with a variety of shoes.
If you wear the non-skinny styles at full length, aim for them to hit right at the top of your instep, not pooling or bunching with shoes on.
Full-length styles are starting to trend more, but I still love an ankle length, especially with straight leg cuts. If I ever feel frumpy in a straight leg jean, I roll it up to ankle length to see if that will help, and it usually takes the frump out of it immediately.
Whichever length you choose, make sure it hits at at the right spot using what I wrote above as a good starting point!
4. For straight leg cuts, try a slim straight jean as an easier transition from skinny jeans.
I have mentioned this many times before, but it’s important to say it again. If you are having trouble with the transition from skinny jeans to straight leg cuts in particular, try a slim straight cut. All of the pairs I’m wearing above have a slim straight silhouette.
Remember, there are LOTS of different widths for straight leg cuts, and some are wider than others. A slim straight cut will be more fitted, meaning it’s closer to a skinny cut around the hips, thighs, and down the leg, and it won’t add as much volume. So, you can get away with sliiiiightly looser tops or slightly longer tops sometimes. Slim straight jeans are a great stepping stone to transition from skinny jeans to other cuts.
Find a pair that hugs your hips and fits close to the thighs, and then is just straight under the knee instead of super fitted like skinny jeans are. All the jeans above are like this. When the jeans are fitted at the hips and thighs, it helps define your shape a bit more than looser cuts.
Another pair that I always recommend for an easier transition is the Crop Skinny Jeans by Wit & Wisdom, which is the pair in the middle picture above. First, this is my absolute favorite brand of denim because they are SO comfortable. They are SOFT, very STRETCHY, and have an elastic strip in the waistband, which allows you to move, sit, eat, and do all the things throughout your day with ultimate comfort. Second, this pair in particular is technically a skinny cut, but the bottom portion reads like a straight leg jean. So, you get the shape-defining fit at the hips and thighs, and even a little ways down the calves that skinny jeans gives you, but they look like straight leg jeans with a wider leg opening at the bottom. This is a great transitional pair of jeans! Find them HERE. I wear size 6.
Shop the Outfits:
5. Try crop bootcut or kick flare styles.
Another style you can try to transition from skinny jeans to other cuts is crop bootcuts or kick flares. (Again, while crop bootcuts and kick flares have their differences, for the purposes of the overall look they give—fitted at the hips and thighs and wider below the knees—I will lump them together and use the terms interchangeably.)
Bootcuts and kick flares hug your hips and thighs, which again, provides definition and shape, but the bottom portion deviates from the skinny cut, opening out instead of tapering in. So, you still have the definition and shape above your knees that you love from skinny jeans to keep you from looking totally shapeless, and you have some more flexibility in terms of pairing it with slightly looser tops. (Just make sure they are still the right length!)
I especially love the crop bootcuts that are prevalent these days instead of full-length bootcuts. For one, I love that you don’t have to wear heels with crop bootcuts. (I love my sneakers and flats!) In addition, I personally always prefer an ankle length pant as full-length jeans are often a bit too traditional for my style. This is a personal preference, of course. Nothing wrong with a full-length bootcut jean! But, if you’ve ever felt the same, try a crop bootcut instead!
Shop the Outfit:
Sweater: (exact–wearing size M)
Jeans: (exact–wearing size 6)
Shoes: (exact–wearing size 8.5)
Earrings: (exact–wearing 30mm)
Necklace: (exact; nearly identical – but way more affordable!)
I hope these tips help you navigate the transition from skinny jeans to other cuts a bit more easily! All in all, I find it easier to transition to other cuts if:
- you are mindful of the balance of volume between your top and bottom halves
- the lengths of your tops are right
- if your jeans hit at the proper lengths
If you start with those basic principles of style, you will already be ahead of the curve and find the transition easier to make! 🤩
We have one post left in our denim series for this fall, and it’ll be about shoes! However, I have plenty more posts in the archives to help you with the transition, so I’ll list them below for you to dive into:
- 5 Types of Jeans to Wear This Fall (the first post in our current denim series)
- 5 Tips for How to Wear Wide Leg Pants
- How to Style Straight Leg jeans – Tips for Shoes, Tops, and Silhouettes
- How to Wear Booties With Different Cuts of Jeans
- How to Style Business Casual Pants With Boots in the Winter to Cover Your Ankles
- Three Clothing Silhouettes and How They Affect Your Outfits
If you love this style of learning and want a space to continue working on your style, join us inside the PMT Style Club!
You’ll be able to put together outfits with more confidence and ease (and less guessing and fuss!), with deep-dive teaching to help you put yourself together (and figure out those darn proportions), develop and hone your style, and take your style to the next level. Plus, there’s a community to help you work it all out and coaching from me and another stylist!
This fall we are doing **DENIM SCHOOL** in the PMT Style Club! We will talk about 5 types of jeans you can wear this fall IN-DEPTH, including what to look for in each of the 5 cuts of jeans depending on your body type, what kinds of shirts to pair with each cut depending on your body type, and more. And then you’ll be CHALLENGED with action steps to put it all into motion!
If you want a fun and friendly space to tackle your style problems or to experiment as you level up your style, become a PMT Style Club member, HERE! Hope to see you in there soon!
Step up your style, stay motivated, and love your wardrobe. – Open NOW!
If you have been tired or bored of your closet and you’re ready to take your style to the next level, join us today!
In the PMT Style Club, you’ll get my step-by-step style lessons and a supportive community to help you:
- figure out your style so that you only buy what you’ll actually love and wear
- love how you look in clothes — without having to lose weight or change your body
- craft a wardrobe that actually feels like you
- pull off the new styles that are out there to stay updated (again, I’m looking at you, non-skinny jeans!)
- put yourself together confidently, and have fun doing it!
Once you do that, you’ll be able to:
- Dress well with less time, money, and stress 🙌🏽
- Make smarter purchases, save money, and get more use out of the clothes you buy 💵
- Be motivated to stay out of the style rut 💃🏻
- Figure out how to dress your recently-changed body 💛
- Discover and hone your personal style
- Feel put together and confident each day ✨
I want you to love what you wear AND have a fun space with a welcoming community + the resources you need to figure it out, so that you don’t have to stay stuck trying to figure it out on your own.
If you’re ready for a style refresh, come join us inside the PMT Style Club!