How to style straight leg jeans for every occasion

Make everyday dressing a breeze with these tips on how to style straight leg jeans

Three women in street style images wearing jeans illustrating how to style straight leg jeans
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It can be tricky to work out how to style straight leg jeans so that they look and feel contemporary. Once you know how to wear straight leg jeans though, you'll realize it's one of the most versatile styles you can invest in.

Skinny jeans have fallen out of favor somewhat over the past few years, replaced by looser and more comfortable styles and straight leg jeans are bridging the gap between the skin-tight and the relaxed boyfriend-styles. Generally speaking, straight leg jeans sit to high on the waist and carry straight down the leg for a flattering and lengthening finish. With all the vintage flair of mom jeans but with a more tailored edge making them easy to dress up or down for a plethora of sartorial opportunities.

The first ever pair of blue jeans, Levi’s 501, were straight leg jeans popular with manual workers in the US. Over the years they’ve dipped in and out of popularity, but Emily Stott, Stylist Ambassador at Stitch Fix UK says straight-leg jeans are not going anywhere right now.

“Frequently worn by the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Katie Holmes and Gigi Hadid, this classic denim cut is a must-have in your wardrobe and can be worn in a multitude of ways to create different outfits for any occasion,” she says.

How to style straight leg jeans: 7 straight leg jean outfit ideas

The beauty of straight legs is that they can be dressed up for the evening with heels and a blazer or can be worn casually with trainers and an oversized sweater.

"Due to being one of the most versatile denim cuts, you can wear this style with pretty much anything in your wardrobe,” says Emily.

Whatever the occasion, here are some fail-safe ideas for how to wear straight leg jeans.

1. How to style straight leg jeans with a blazer

Three women wearing straight leg jeans to show how to style straight leg jeans with a blazer

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The easiest way to sharpen your denim is to add in some tailoring. Enter the blazer, which has become a mainstay in our everyday wardrobes. Whether you opt for a pop of color or keep it classic in black, a blazer will instantly smarten your best straight leg jeans.

“For a chic, Parisian-inspired look, team straight leg jeans with a plain white tee or blouse, an oversized black blazer, classic loafers and a matching belt,” suggests Emily. “As the jeans are straight, you can afford to add volume to the top-half of your outfit, whether it be puff sleeves, structured shoulders or oversized fits.”

For a daytime look that still has polish, layer your blazer over a simple tee and add your best white trainers for a sporty, on-the-go spin.

2. How to style straight leg jeans with a sweater

Three women wearing straight leg jeans with jumpers to show how to style straight leg jeans

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Wondering what to wear with straight leg jeans? One of the most versatile denim cuts you can own, they'll pretty much work with all your capsule wardrobe basics, especially your favorite knits.

“Create a Scandi-style look by styling your straight leg jeans with an oversized jumper, a full-length coat and Boston sandals,” suggests Emily.

Take advantage of a high-rise jean and look for cropped knits and cardigans to show off the waist area and give your outfit a contemporary, preppy feel. Alternatively, half-tuck in your knit at the front to help streamline your shape.

Emily says: “If you want to add some definition to your figure with oversized items, simply tuck the front of your jumper into the jeans as this will highlight your waist.”

3. How to style straight leg jeans with a shirt

Three women in jeans and shirts showing how to style straight leg jeans with a shirt

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Double denim has come a long way since Britney and Justin rocked it back in the early noughties and it’s now considered a favorite amongst the fashion elite. Gigi Hadid rocked oversized double denim at Givenchy's SS23 Paris Fashion Week show proving it’s very much on the denim trend 2023 radar this year. Tap into the vintage aesthetic of the straight leg jean and pair them with a matching denim shirt or your best denim jacket.

When it comes to how to style jeans with a denim shirt, try bringing in different washes for a chic contrast - team a light-wash jean with a darker shirt or vice versa. You could even introduce color and opt for pastel-hued denim to break up the traditional blue.

If the Canadian tuxedo really isn’t for you, swap the denim for a classic white shirt and wear tucked in. Size up your shirt for look a modern twist, and if you’re not sure how to style oversized shirts with straight leg jeans, keep it simple, by throwing it over a vest or cropped top.

4. How to style straight leg jeans with a top

Three women wearing different tops with straight jeans, illustrating how to style straight leg jeans with tops

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When it comes to finding stylish tops to wear with jeans, Emily says thanks to the versatility of straight leg jeans, you can literally pair them with anything, so when exploring how to style straight leg jeans choose tops that fit in with your personal style.

“If you prefer a looser fit on top, for example, opt for a patterned blouse, tuck it into your jeans and add a brightly colored belt that pulls out one key color from the print on your top,” she says. “Match this fun look with trainers or colored boots and finish it off with a vibrant lipstick.”

If you’ve been weighing up straight vs skinny jeans, the former can definitely be worn with more tops. The high waist means you can tuck in t-shirts, blouses and sweatshirts, while the slim fit on the leg also lends itself to longer-length tops such as oversized shirts or baggy sweaters.

5. How to style straight leg jeans for the evening

Three women wearing straight leg jeans with evening tops illustrating how to style straight leg jeans

(Image credit: Getty)

While you may feel comfy popping on your straight leg jeans with trainers and a t-shirt for the school run, can they actually be worn on a night out? Emily thinks so.

"Straight leg jeans are a great option for an evening out as they can be worn in so many ways to suit your personal style,” says Emily. “To create an elegant and sophisticated silhouette for your evening out, team your jeans with a fitted top and strappy heels.

While darker blue or black denim makes the perfect choice for an evening out, Emily says not to dismiss other types of denim when working out how to style straight leg jeans for going out looks.

“It’s quite fun to play with distressed denim for a night out too, and this works especially well on a straight leg,” she says. “Team distressed or ripped straight leg jeans with a simple, classic top, heeled boots and a leather jacket for an edgy feel."

6. How to style straight leg jeans for petites

Three women wearing straight leg jeans showing how to style straight leg jeans for petite women

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If you’re 5 ft 4 in and under, Emily says before you can learn how to style straight leg jeans, you have to find the best jeans for your body type.

"It is important to experiment with lengths, so you can find which one that makes you feel your best - also bearing in mind that you may want a shorter length for the summer when paired with sandals, and a full length for winter with boots,” she says.

“Generally speaking, slightly cropped styles work well on petite frames as they show off the ankle and footwear, as opposed to drowning the whole leg.”

If your jeans are too long, either get them taken up or cuff them to create the same look. High waisted, straight leg jeans will also give the illusion of height, as it makes your legs look like they start higher up, so if you choose this cut make sure you tuck in your top half, to make the most of this optical illusion. This will give an elongated silhouette and accentuate your waist.

7. How to style straight leg jeans for plus size

Three women wearing straight leg jeans, showing how to style straight leg jeans

(Image credit: Getty)

When it comes to the best jeans for curvy women with a straight leg cut, you're looking for a pair that skims the thighs, so that it falls straight, rather than appearing like a skinny jean.

“Consider the fit on the thigh,” advises Emily. “If it is incredibly tight there but looser on the lower leg, you won’t achieve that effortlessly chic look that an overall, looser fit achieves. Straight jeans should almost skim over your thighs, as opposed to clinging to them like a skinny or bootcut.”

The beauty of looser-fitting straight leg jeans means you can team them with a variety of tops from fitted body suits to looser, flowing blouses. Tuck in the latter for a smarter feel. 

Jayne Cherrington-Cook

With over 22 years’ experience in journalism, Jayne has written about a variety of subjects. She spent the start of her career within the world of film, interviewing Hollywood stars, attending premieres and lusting after red carpet outfits, and then moved into fashion, launching websites for big magazines such as Look, Woman’s Own and Wedding and working with top fashion brands such as Westfield, LK Bennett and Hunter.