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If you’ve spent any time on TikTok over the last year, you may have found yourself in the midst of a heated denim war. The app’s elder generation of millennial 26-year-olds viciously fought against Gen Z’s 25-year-olds regarding the importance of skinny jeans. Sound ridiculous? It was. Across the nation, people stood pants-less in front of their closets, baffled as to what jeans were acceptable to wear. The Gen Z internet users insisted that all skinny jeans needed to be discarded and replaced with wide-leg jeans—some even suggested that the general population start wearing low-rise jeans (cue gasp). If you aren’t easily persuaded by internet drama, you may have found comfort in the denim war’s own Team Switzerland—straight-leg jeans, the undeniably good happy medium silhouette. While the skinny-versus-wide-leg conflict has yet to be resolved, let’s make this a productive conversation on something we can all get behind: how to style straight-leg jeans.
Tried-and-true straight-leg jeans won’t let you down or go out of fashion, but they are admittedly a little difficult to style. The cut of straight-leg jeans only slightly tapers out, which makes them difficult to tuck into boots, while the hem hitting right above the ankle can sometimes look strange with most sneakers.
In order to work around these roadblocks, you need to reframe the way you think about straight-leg jeans. They are a part of your outfit, serving as the base, but they are not the outfit themselves. When styling them up, layers and accessories are key to nailing a straight-leg look.
Straight-leg jeans are versatile in the sense that you can lean into the classic structure and pair them with something equally as timeless (like a trench), or you can use them as a canvas for a bright bag and heels, or whatever new microtrend Gen Z is peddling on TikTok this week. Though they may seem difficult to style at first, straight-leg jeans really do go with everything. I promise!
Show your straight-leg jeans that you appreciate their stable consistency by trying any of of the 10 styling tricks below. Feel free to Pin away, babe—your 2022 fashion Pinterest board will thank you.
With More Denim
Denim on denim is a combo almost as classic as the straight-leg jean style itself. Wear a Canadian tux on its own or add a complimentary blazer to break up the jean.
With Heeled Ankle Boots
While straight-leg jeans are hard tuck into tall boots, they’re the perfect cut for ankle boots. Find a pair that hits right at the top of the boot to make your legs look super long. The right ratio is a total game-changer!
With a Classic Trench
The classic denim/trench combination is wildly popular in Paris street style photos because it is incredibly chic. Both pieces walk the fine line between structured and relaxed, which helps them work together.
With Bright Sneakers
A good way to avoid the “dad aesthetic” that straight-leg jeans and sneakers can easily turn into is to opt for a bold, bright pair of sneakers. The vibrant shoes make the look fashion-forward instead of pseudo-sporty.
With a Form-Fitting Top
Contrast the relaxed shape of straight-leg denim by accenting with a form-fitting top. I love this example because the high collar neckline really balances out the exposed midriff. Also, these straight-legs have a slight slit at the hem, which allows you to further show off your footwear.
With a Blazer & Loafers
Wearing a black blazer and loafers is the perfect combo for when you feel like you have nothing else to wear. It always looks polished and fits in anywhere from a casual work setting to a trendy restaurant. Bonus points if you add a statement handbag.
With a Statement Jacket
In this outfit, the jeans are merely serving as the base beneath the rest of the look. An attention-grabbing jacket, oversized sunglasses and chunky gold jewelry create understated glamour. And personally, I’m a big fan of the intentionally-bunched-above-my-boots look these jeans have courtesy of the belting details. It’s giving very much “too cool to care.”
With Bright Accents
By keeping your pants simple, you allow so much opportunity to add color. The bold heels, bag and top don’t seem loud despite their saturation, because the casual element of light-wash, straight-leg denim offsets the tones.
With All Black Everything
Just as mixing a ton of bright colors works with simple denim, so does lots and lots of black. If you have a pair of jeans that makes you feel super confident, wearing all black will help make them the main focus of your outfit. Plus, you’ll look intimidating—in a good way.
With a Graphic Tee & Converse
When in doubt, layer on timeless staples. A graphic tee and converse will always give a casual, cool vibe. Bonus points if you can show off some ankle socks!