Slouchy over skinny: What jeans to wear now and how to style them

Corina Gaffey: From balloon to baggy, wide leg to puddle, denim silhouettes have become relaxed and roomier

Transcending seasons and generations, no wardrobe is complete without denim jeans. Dependable, versatile and wearable, denim is a fail-safe with wear-everywhere ability. But like most clothing items, denim goes through phases of transition and trends. And this year, denim has loosened up and got a makeover. From balloon to baggy, wide leg to puddle, denim silhouettes have become relaxed and roomier, and the fabric has been fashioned into everything from footwear to maxi skirts.

“The maxi denim skirt was a key style this year and is especially suitable for the warmer months,” says stylist Sinead Keenan. “Heralded in by Bella Hadid on the Givenchy runway, this piece then trickled down to the high street. Asos, Mango and H&M offer brilliant versions with styles in varying lengths to suit your height.”

Straighter legs have surpassed skinnies as the denim du jour, with the send-off for the spray-on silhouette accelerated by the post-pandemic shift towards comfort-first and looser-fit clothing. “At the moment, our most popular denim styles are definitely born from a wider-leg shape,” says Heajun Park, womenswear design director of denim brand 7 For All Mankind. “Our customers tend to gravitate towards the Modern Dojo, a modern take on our classic 2000s bootcut, and the Zoey, which has a 90s feel with its exaggerated wide-leg and high-rise silhouette. Anything with a relaxed, effortless fit feels so current for today.”

Keenan agrees there is a lean towards more wide-leg styles and extols their versatility. “The wide-leg is a brilliant option for summer as it works with both trainers, sandals, and a mid-heel mule or kitten heel. They look great with a white T-shirt, blazer, or oversized cotton shirt.”


Fashion content creator Louise Byrne advises playing with proportions when styling looser-fit or straight-leg denim. “Some people can pull off a head-to-toe oversized look really well, but in general, I advise wearing something slightly more fitted on top, even if it’s just a T-shirt or vest. Anything goes with footwear, but I love full-length loose-fit jeans worn with heels or ballet flats, and slightly shorter styles can look great with boots, runners, flat sandals or loafers.”

Roomer denim jeans aren’t just reserved for the warmer months, with slouchy styles spotted on the autumn catwalks of Bottega Veneta, Victoria Beckham, Gucci, and Balenciaga. Keeping it simple and chic, the designer denim was paired with trainers, flat chunky boots, and crisp, classic staples like button-down shirts, trenches, and white tanks.

But that’s not to say skinny jeans are dead and buried. The noise around them has lessened, with fancier, fresher options attracting attention, but the lean silhouette still has enduring appeal. “In the ever-changing world of fashion, just like people have different body types, there’s also a need for a variety of jeans shapes and materials. While skinny jeans are still very much a part of the scene, the overall denim offering has evolved over time,” says Anne Tucker, co-owner of Costume Boutique. With cyclical trends, it’s no surprise to see a resurgence of the slim silhouette on the catwalks of Celine, Diesel, and Saint Laurent for autumn. “I actually think skinny jeans are coming back now, especially with boots in the colder months. Footwear really can make or break a skinny jeans outfit, though,” says Byrne.

Whatever pair of jeans you choose, it comes down to styling to ensure the denim looks of-the-moment. “The key is in how you put your outfit together. When matched with a crisp T-shirt and a long blazer, a well-fitted pair of non-stretch jeans will hold importance on the fashion front. A classic combination like skinny jeans paired with knee-high boots, a chunky roll-neck sweater, and a long line coat remains undeniably chic,” says Tucker.

What shoes to wear with what jeans


Due to the ultra-slim silhouette, keep it sleek with your footwear. Take a style cue from the Celine catwalks and tuck your skinnies into knee-high boots. Skinny jeans and flats make the perfect partner, so team with ballet flats, loafers and sleek trainers.


With a slightly wider silhouette, straight-leg jeans can pull off chunkier styles, whether it’s a loafer, Chelsea boot or trainer. But the straight-leg jean is the most versatile silhouette, pairing well with ballet flats, mules, courts and Mary Janes.

Wide Leg

Thanks to all the extra fabric, the wide leg is the silhouette that can cause the most confusion with shoes. Chunkier styles will help balance the bagginess of a roomier shape or try a pointed pump peeping out for contrast and a contemporary way of wearing.


When choosing a shoe to team with flares, lean into the retro aesthetic and lengthen your silhouette by opting for a pair of platforms or wedges. If you prefer to stay grounded, opt for a flat sandal or tennis-style trainer.

Boot cut

Do as the name suggests and team the slim flared silhouette with an ankle boot. Slimmer style boot suits best, as does a rounded toe that softens the sharp silhouette. A simple heeled sandal or mule is the perfect after-dark shoe option for boot-cut jeans.

Corina Gaffey

Corina Gaffey, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about fashion