How to Wear Straight Leg Jeans (and What Makes Them Different from Other Jeans)

Move over skinny jeans, this spring, straight leg jeans rule. Here’s everything you need to know about how to wear straight leg jeans to look modern and hip at any age.

Skinny Jeans vs. Straight Leg Jeans – What the Difference?

The main difference is the width of the leg opening. Skinny leg jeans have a closely tapered fit that hugs the thighs and calves and continues all the way down to the ankle.  Straight leg jeans fall straight down from the hip to the ankle. Although snug through the thighs, there’s more breathing room through the knees, calves, and ankles.

straight-leg-jeans vs. skinny jeans infographic

So, Straight Leg Jeans are Mom Jeans?

No, they’re not. It might seem straight leg jeans are the same as mom jeans, but they really aren’t. Mom jeans are similar to straight leg jeans in that they have a relaxed fit and are high waisted, but they are wider and looser through the crotch, bum and legs than straight jeans. Mom jeans also often have an elastic waist.  Both are comfy jeans, but straight leg are much more chic.

Who Can Wear Straight Leg Jeans?

Straight leg jeans are considered a classic and look good on everyone because they’re more forgiving than skinny jeans. They’re particularly flattering on pear-shaped gals and inverted triangle bodies because the wider leg opening helps balance these body types.

Hourglass figures can also rock a pair of ladies straight leg jeans, and gals with wide calves appreciate the extra width through the lower leg area.

Does this mean Skinny, Tapered Jeans are out of Style?

Don’t toss out your skinnies just yet. They’re still your friend. Straight leg jeans are just another option and the quickest way to look fresh and modern this spring. Women over 40 are loving them because they are easier to wear when you have a bit of padding, but they are still streamlined. Also, they’re just a nice change.


What Types of Straight Leg Jeans are Trending?

  • Cropped straight-leg jeans are trendy (although it’s still fine to wear classic length too).
  • High waisted straight leg jeans are also trending.
  • Straight leg with a slight flare is fun.

Popular Hemlines for Straight Leg Jeans

This spring, there’s a huge focus on pant hemlines with something for everyone. Just as you can have your Starbucks coffee any way you like it, so it is with straight leg jeans.  We see straight leg jeans with all sorts of hems like:

  • cool raw edge
  • elegant cuffed
  • boho fringe
  • rolled hems
  • asymmetrical hems
  • release hems

Here’s a detailed look at the many types of women’s straight leg jeans that are starting to pop up in stores, along with some chic ways to style them.

1. Cropped Straight-Leg Jeans with a Release Hem

Cropped straight-leg jeans are  #1 on many fashionistas’ shopping lists this season. Wear them now with sock booties when temperatures are still a little chilly and with a sandal later on when things warm up. (More tips on how to wear cropped pants, here.)

If you’re looking for a well-fitting pair of straight leg crops, this pair, above, is it. They’re called ‘slim straight,’ which walks that nice middle ground: it’s not too tight, it’s not too loose, but it’s just right. This particular pair is cut to flatter a curvy figure.

The other nice thing about them is that they fall on the conservative side of this super relaxed look while they have a released hem. These jeans have a  pretty “neat” hem as far as release hems go, and the dark denim, which also happens to be trending this spring, makes them automatically more dressy than faded denim. If you’re trying to stretch your style boundaries, these are an excellent transitional jean.

With a tank and blazer like I show here, a hip look for a casual date night or lunch out with the girls.

Cropped flare jeans for women over 40 2. Cropped Straight-Leg Jeans with a Subtle Flare

If you like your jeans with a flirty kick, then these cropped jeans are perfect for you this summer. These jeans are straight through the thighs, then flare out ever-so-slightly at the hem.

If you haven’t tried a cropped flare before but think of giving them a whirl, these jeans are an excellent way to dip your toe into the water. The dark wash is slimming, and the flare is modest so that you can baby-step your way into this look.

Cropped flare jeans look fantastic in the summer with a block heel sandal like the one I show here. (If you don’t have a nude sandal, please consider getting one. It goes with everything and makes your legs look long and lean.)

These also work with summery slip-on sneakers or, in colder weather, a pair of sock booties.  Add a striped top in spring colors, and you’ve got a look that will take you from early spring right into the summer.

Black jeans with zipper hem for women over 40

3. Straight Leg Jeans with an Asymmetrical Hem

As we’ve seen, a hem with personality gives jeans a decidedly modern touch and is a very wearable trend for the over-40 gal. These black straight leg jeans with the asymmetrical frayed hem and zipper detail are a great way to play this.

I like black jeans because they can be dressed down with a t-shirt and slip-on sneakers, dressed up with a silk blouse and a kitten heel, or be worn somewhere in-between like I show here with a floaty blouse and mules. The statement zipper on these adds just enough detail to let you show your style-chops but isn’t super over-the-top.

One more great thing about these pants… these are high rise straight leg jeans, which means they hold your tummy in really well!

Two-tone jeans for women over 40

4. Two-Tone Straight Leg Jeans

We started to see more two-tone jeans – jeans that incorporate both light and dark denim washes – last year, and the trend is continuing this spring and summer. An easy way for an over-40 gal to do this look is by incorporating small hits of dark denim. We’re seeing many straight leg jeans with two-tone denim running down the side seams, or at the pant hemline, like above.

These straight leg, cropped jeans with the wide release hem are a funky two-tone. You could call it a boho color blocking effect. I’ve kept the rest of the look simple and super classy with a white blouse, pale bag, and silver loafer mules. (These shoes will look great with white jeans too!).

Colored jeans for women over 40

5. PInk Straight Leg Jeans

Colored jeans in spring and summer have become a wardrobe staple for women of any age, and this year the trend is to wear a pair of ladies straight leg jeans in one of spring’s sorbet colors like pale pink, lavender, or minty blue.

For us, over-40 gals, I like to keep the look classy with a feminine blouse, simple ballet flats, and a stylish bag.

Whether you live in them 24/7 or jeans are your trusty weekend uniform, keeping up with what’s new and ‘in’ will keep you looking modern and hip. Are you thinking of adding a pair of straight legs to your jeans wardrobe?

Join the Conversation

5 thoughts on “How to Wear Straight Leg Jeans (and What Makes Them Different from Other Jeans)

  1. Very nice blog! It seems as though you’re in the, UK, judging by language clues and “Boxing Week.” But the clothes come from American stores. Do you have Nordstrom, Chicos, Ann Taylor in the UK? (I ask because I’m in France and it’s easy to order from the UK.) Thanks for any advice.

    1. Hi Roxanne, Yes you can wear the new straight leg cropped jean but I would suggest a couple of things: Choose one with high or mid-rise because it gives the illusion of longer legs and balances the torso. Also, wear shorter tops to balance out your frame and skim the top of the cropped pants. A long top over cropped pants will make you look stubby. A shoe with some height even if it is a block heel or wedge helps too.