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There’s no denying that the ’90s denim trend (Think: high-waisted, straight-leg) is surging back with a vengeance—and, admittedly, I was holding my breath waiting patiently for it to pass. As a curvy girl, I continued wearing my beloved skinny jeans in peace, blissfully aware that Gen Z was shaking their heads in disapproval. But weeks turned into months, and my curiosity finally got the best of me. I had to know: Can curvy girls wear straight-leg jeans, too?
The short answer is, of course we can. I couldn’t help but admire the cool-girl aesthetic that straight-leg jeans gave to every brave woman who wore them. The more I thought about it, I finally felt ready to take the plunge and play with pant proportions myself.
I’m a big believer in wearing what works best for your body type, but this daunting denim analysis got me thinking that maybe what I’ve grown accustomed to was in dire need of a refresh. After all, the idea of wearing a looser-cut denim bottom sounded inviting, especially after a year of wearing nothing but joggers, leggings and loungewear.
After a ridiculous amount of research (i.e. trying on way too many pairs of jeans) I’m happy to share that some denim brands really did deliver and I now own several pairs of straight-leg pants that I feel confident in. But, I should also mention that there was a lot of trial and error to get to this point.
It goes without saying that every brand is different and sizing can be a real buzzkill. Forget the stretchy forgiveness of your basic skinny jeans and mentally prepare yourself to sometimes size up (Levi’s, I’m looking at you!) to get the right look when it comes to rigid denim with a high waistband and a narrower cut for fuller hips and thighs.
My biggest style tip? Pair your ’90s-inspired jeans with a more streamlined top (like a chic bodysuit) to enhance your curves, ensuring that your womanly figure doesn’t get lost in all of that denim down below.
With that, read on for 10 curvy girl-approved straight-leg denim styles that live up to the hype.
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Liverpool Los Angeles Marley Raw Cut Cuffed Ankle Straight Jean
Quite possibly the most comfortable pair of straight-leg jeans in the bunch, this style is forgiving, easy to wear and flattering. I love the heavy distressing for that lived-in look, and this brand offers a wide range of sizes and cuts to fit absolutely everyone. This lightweight jean paired with a basic tank from Splendid may very well be my summer 2021 uniform.
AGOLDE 90’s Pinch Waist High Rise Straight Jean
When I started researching this difficult-to-pull-off denim trend, AGOLDE came to mind right away. This enviable high-end denim brand has effortlessly mastered the art of delivering the ‘cool girl jean’ and their worn-in styles with ripped knees and high waistbands are amongst my favorites.
Kut from the Kloth Elizabeth High Rise Crop Straight-Leg Jean
It’s not easy to find a straight-leg jean that looks cool and will accommodate a range of body types, but this style is a sure winner. Easy to wear and not rigid at all, these jeans check all the boxes, especially when dressed down with a classic V-neck tee.
Levi’s Wedgie Straight Ankle Jean
There’s nothing more iconic than these classic cropped jeans, but be sure to size up one to two sizes for a comfortable fit. These are especially rigid, but the fact that they’re ridiculously cute makes up for it.
M.M. LaFleur The Milo Jean – Better Than Denim
The second I pulled on these leg-lengthening pants, I instantly understood why they’re described as ‘better than denim.’ They feel heavenly on, never lose their shape and create a long, lean profile that I never knew existed for my figure. Bonus: They have a concealed snap at the hem, which means you can alter the inseam instantly if you’re changing from flats to heels. I paired my pants with this ribbed A&F bodysuit and felt ready for anything.
Abercrombie and Fitch 90s Straight Ultra High Rise Jean
These extremely high-waisted jeans look best with a tiny top or strappy bodysuit, so the focus stays on the fluid straight lines in the silhouette. These fuss-free jeans made me feel tall and modelesque, even though I am not exactly built like either aforementioned adjective.
DUER High Rise Straight Jean
If you don’t already know about DUER performance denim, you’ll want to take note. This durable brand prides itself on delivering antibacterial, temperature-regulating, crazy-comfortable jeans that won’t let you down—like, ever. Their high-rise straight-leg jean has a high-fashion vintage feel and offers the perfect amount of stretch.
House of CB Yara Vintage Fit High Waist Jeans
I had no idea that the House of CB made jeans, but I’m glad I did my homework and found this pair in particular. I love the different washes these come in, and found the ultra high-rise waist to be insanely flattering on my figure. I almost didn’t recognize myself in this intentionally-oversized aesthetic! Best of all, I could actually move in these jeans. I don’t usually wear crop tops or bodysuits, but the generous proportions on these pants encouraged me to do just that, so I threw on this square neck top for a monochrome neutral look.
Etica Denim Tyler High Rise Crop
If you ask me, these jeans epitomize what it means to look quintessentially California cool. They’re ethically made, lightweight, soft to the touch and exude that ever-so-relaxed vibe that I had yet to successfully pull off—until now. The worn-in wash is flawless in every way and the fit is snug in the rear, easy in the thigh and straight all the way down to a cropped raw hem. Size up in these.
DIESEL D-Reggy Straight Leg Jeans
These straight-leg jeans don’t come cheap, but the impeccable quality speaks for itself. These Italian-made, eco-friendly jeans are crafted of recycled polyester and BMI cotton, so you can look good and feel good at the same time. Plus, they offer a nice amount of stretch in their sturdy fabrication, so they will last for years to come.