Barrel leg jeans are the new hero denim style for the season - here's how I'm wearing them

Barrel leg jeans are taking over your denim wardrobe for 2024

Antonia Kraskowski wears different styles of barrel leg jeans
(Image credit: Antonia Kraskowski)

If you’re looking for a way to tweak your style for the new season, say hello to Barrel Leg jeans. This curved hem style has slowly been gaining on-trend traction and is set to be the break out star of every fashion editor’s capsule wardrobe. So swap out your skinnies and say bye to your boyfriends because this style offers a cool update to the simplest of outfits and is surprisingly flattering on all body shapes.

The style sits high on the waist, before flaring out to a wide leg from mid-thigh, only to taper at the ankle again – creating the exaggerated curve on the outer leg from which barrel jeans derive their name. It may sound daunting, but Barrel Leg jeans are set to become your best jeans this season. They are particularly flattering for those with pear or hourglass body shapes as the looser trouser fit skims thighs, creating a slimming look. Cropped versions of this jean also highlight ankles, drawing the eye to the narrowest point of your leg.

Barrel jeans are set to be one of the key denim trends 2024, with some denim brands going so far as to further accentuate the curvy hems with clever darting on the outside of the leg, which creates an extreme silhouette, furthering upping the ante not only in the style stakes but also creating the illusion of slim legs underneath.

If you’re wondering how to style jeans, Deputy Fashion Editor Charlie Bell says: "In the baggy versus skinny debate, barrel leg jeans are the perfect compromise. They have the nonchalance of the boyfriend cut but with a more elegant tapered leg that makes them easy to dress up with heels to create a cool high-low look. For a flattering fit, look for ones that sit high on the waist and a darker wash to keep them feeling polished.”

Barrel leg jeans are the style of the moment - 3 different ways I am wearing mine

The key to mastering how to style Barrel Leg jeans is finding balance in your silhouette. With the loose shape of the lower half, it’s important to avoid anything oversized on your upper body as this will swamp your frame, making you appear larger than you are. Instead, aim for a more fitted look for the upper part of your outfit, particularly paying attention to tucking in tops to highlight the waist to create a narrow point that highlights your slimmest point. Items such as bodysuits, form-fitting jersey, and slimline t-shirts are ideal for this, helping you achieve a streamlined silhouette that complements the curve of the Barrel Leg jeans.

Brilliantly, this jean shape works for all body types. If you’re naturally slim, the exaggerated cut will add curves to a straight up and down silhouette; while if you’re pear-shaped or have an hourglass figure, Barrel Leg jeans are one of the best jeans for curvy women as the loose cut through the leg will skim thighs whilst the narrow, high waist will draw attention upwards.

“Barrel leg jeans can be a little intimidating at first, but this shape has a universal appeal and suits all body types. The narrow waist and tapered leg is flattering on curves but equally can add volume and proportion to athletic figures,” says Heajun Park, Womenswear Design Director EMEA at 7 For All Mankind.

How to style Barrel Leg jeans for work

How to style Barrel Leg jeans for work

(Image credit: Antonia Kraskowski)

Just like every denim style, there are nuances to consider from just how curved you’re willing to go to where on your leg your jeans finish. From cute crops that show off your shoes to longer styles that curve in just above for a more louche, relaxed take on this trend, there’s a style to suit everyone. If you’re looking for the best petite jeans, a shorter length that finishes just above the ankle is the most flattering, while those of a statuesque height can pull off floor-sweeping styles with aplomb.

As office dress codes have relaxed, more and more of us are choosing to wear jeans to work. While many might reach for the straight-leg jeans that can pass as regular trousers in a dark wash, Barrel Leg jeans are just as easy to style for a day at your desk. To keep your outfit looking professional, look for a pair with a more muted curve with smart, finished hems with no fraying. A chic Breton top, low heels and blazer are a failsafe combination that will make you feel pulled together.

Kelly Harrington, founder of, offers this advice when shopping for the perfect pair of Barrel Leg Jeans and how to style them for the office:

“These jeans exude refined cool, they look great fashioned with a smart blazer and heels for the office and equally fun for a night out paired with a strappy top and stilettos. Seek soft, 100% cotton or - better yet - recycled cotton fabrics with stretch. A cropped length flatters most heights, but focus on the waist fit. Tucked shirts and tops will highlight that leg-lengthening waistline.”

Jacket proportions are key here – while oversized blazers are still on-trend, a double hit of voluminous fabric is likely to leave all but the tallest women feeling swamped, particularly if you err on the petite side of life. Instead, opt for a more fitted slimline design such as single single-breasted blazer that balances the loose proportions of your lower half. Or if you’re short-bodied, go for a cropped style of jacket like I have that accentuates the nipped-in waist of your jeans.

How to style Barrel Leg jeans for the weekend

How to style Barrel Leg jeans for the weekend

(Image credit: Antonia Kraskowski)

Whether you’re heading to the playground or a bottomless brunch, Barrel Leg jeans are a great base for every weekend outfit. This loose style of denim looks just as great with trainers and a slogan tee as it does when worn with a pretty broderie anglaise blouse tucked in and teamed with ballet flats. Add a pair of gold hoops for a statement finishing touch to your outfit before throwing on your best leather jacket for insouciant cool.

Harrington says: “For weekends, keep it effortless with a vintage graphic tee, sneakers and a crossbody bag when running errands. Toss on an oversized menswear shirt and slides for brunch, or channel Parisian chic in a neutral camisole. Their versatility makes Barrel Leg jeans a wardrobe staple.”

How to style Barrel Leg jeans for a night out

How to style Barrel Leg jeans for a night out

(Image credit: Antonia Kraskowski)

Heading out for dinner and drinks? Barrel Leg jeans can easily be dressed up for a night on the town. If you’re wearing heels, why not try a slightly longer leg to mix up the style and add some height. The extra inches on your hem mean you can go higher in your best designer heels too. To elevate the classic combination of jeans and a nice top, try swapping blue denim for dark grey or black to smarten up your outfit.

The key to looking sleek and chic for your night out is to go for a fitted upper half to your outfit, balancing out the wider silhouette on your bottom half. A one-shouldered monochrome jersey top, delicate camisole or slinky silk shirt will all look great tucked in, creating a svelte silhouette.

Are Barrel Leg jeans flattering?

With their wide leg, cinched waist and narrow ankle, Barrel Leg jeans are a universally flattering style for every body shape, provided you think carefully about proportions, as Park highlights:

“It's important to make sure that your barrel leg jean of choice fits really well around the waist, just so that the distinct volume of the silhouette looks intentional - and not that it's the wrong size! The length should sit squarely at the ankle and ideally show a little bit of skin with a delicate shoe.”

Are Barrel Leg jeans in style for 2024?

If you’re looking for a quick way to update your style for 2024, add a pair of Barrel Leg jeans to your wardrobe. While there are plenty of excellent styles on the high street from brands such as ASOS and River Island, this style is going to be around for a while so if you’re going to invest in a new pair of the best designer jeans, make your next denim purchase a pair of Barrel Leg jeans.

Our experts:

Kelly Harrington Head Shot
Kelly Harrington

Kelly Harrington is a fashion futurist, trend forecaster, designer and vintage archivist with over 20 years of industry expertise. Her uncanny ability to identify future movements has established Kelly as a denim authority. Kelly has collaborated with Grenson Shoes, M&S, Gap, Tomwood and more as a consultant guiding creative strategy, content and collection development grounded in cultural insight.

Charlie Bell Headshot
Charlie Bell

As deputy fashion editor at Future plc, Charlie works across multiple women’s magazines including Woman & Home, Woman and Woman's Own, ensuring she has her finger on the pulse. Beginning her career in the magazine industry in 2009, Charlie has written for titles including Stylist, Closer and Dare. With a weakness for a printed midi dress, Charlie is on a mission to shop more sustainably and loves finding new ethical brands and second-hand buys.

Antonia Kraskowski

Antonia Kraskowski is a freelance fashion editor with over 15 years of experience in the industry. 

Having started her career at Conde Nast working for titles including Easy Living, Glamour and Vogue New Markets, Antonia went on to work in the fast-paced world of newspapers and weekly magazines, becoming Fashion Editor at Express Newspapers and Magazines in 2014, a role she held for five years before going freelance.

Her career has seen Antonia travel the world, shooting in 18 countries and styling campaigns for brands ranging from Ben Sherman and DKNY to Wallis.