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
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.
RRP: $108 / £106 | Crafted from 100% organic cotton, these sit just above the belly button for a flattering finish on the waist. Not sure how to style high waisted jeans like these? Tuck in a fitted top and layer a blazer over to pull the look together.
RRP: $69.90 / £49.99 | If you want to upgrade your best blazer game, choose a neutral shade such as khaki or grey in an oversized fit. Perfect for work or play, the oversized fit looks great teamed with slim-fitting jeans or a pretty floral dress.
RRP: $45 / £30 | The best loafers for women are a great choice if you want to inject a level of smartness into any outfit. High-end finishes such as the snaffle trims and mock croc material keep this style looking luxe, even though they’re budget-friendly.
2. How to style straight leg jeans with a sweater
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.”
RRP: $34.99 / £24.99 | Zingy brights are set to be some of the top fashion colors 2023 is predicting will be big, making this jumper a must-buy. Perfect teamed with white for a bright springtime look. The oversized silhouette offers a lovely relaxed feel.
RRP: $60.99 / £35 | For those days when you don't want to wear heels, but still want to look together, flat mules are the key. Wearable with everything from the best mom jeans to cargo pants, they make any look feel contemporary, yet chilled.
3. How to style straight leg jeans with a shirt
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.
RRP: $200 / £145 | The best high waisted jeans are made with rigid denim, to help contour your shape. It also means they keep their shape longer. Made with organic cotton, the stonewash version has an authentic, vintage feel while still looking super modern. Team with a pretty floral top and flat sandals.
RRP: $162 / £123 | Choosing a paneled denim shirt with a mixture of washes is a great way to ensure you can wear it with all of your best jeans. Mix and match with the different shades to give a modern take on double denim. Finish off with a pair of sky-high ankle boots for a relaxed look with plenty of attitude.
RRP: $129 / £95 | One of the big handbag trends for 2023 is the re-introduction of the top-handled bag. As this orange beauty shows, this style is sleek and polished, but super contemporary. Choose one of the best tote bags for the season in a bright shade to add a dose of dopamine dressing to any denim ensemble.
4. How to style straight leg jeans with a top
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.
RRP: $240 / £270 | Mother is the luxury denim brand with some of the best designer jeans that every fashion fan wants to get their hands on right now. Created with that cool worn-in look, the added joy is that they come with an added 6% stretch, meaning they’re super comfy to wear, whether for work and play.
RRP: $45 / £28 | A must for any minimalist capsule wardrobe, a striped top is a quick and easy way to add instant chic to any outfit. Made from super soft cotton, this Boden Breton is timeless with the ability to add a touch of French 'je ne sais quoi' to jeans, cut-offs, slip skirts and so many more separates.
RRP: $229 / £139.99 | The perfect transitional coat, the best trench coats are classics for a reason. With the ability to smarten any outfit up, helping to create smart casual outfit ideas in an instant, the neutral camel shade reaffirms its versatility, working with everything in your current wardrobe.
5. How to style straight leg jeans for the evening
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."
RRP: $148 / £168 | Looking for smarter denim options? Then choose black jeans. These are slim fitting with an ultra high waist and made with stretchy denim so they're supportive and comfortable. When working out what to wear with black jeans for evenings out, go for sparkle or pops of bright color.
RRP: $152 / £125 | Featuring a timeless, yet demure, square neckline, this celestial print top is the perfect way to add a touch of glamor to a pair of straight leg jeans. While it suits all body shapes, it’s a good choice for broad shoulders or larger busts as it enhances curves, while also streamlining shoulders.
RRP: $135 / £95 | When it comes to how to style straight leg jeans, sometimes keeping it simple is best. A basic tee can provide the backdrop for fancy footwear, such as these green beauties. Mules are key shoe trend 2023 and bright footwear is an easy way to lift your look and let your feet do all the talking!
6. How to style straight leg jeans for petites
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.
RRP: $38.99 / £22.50 | Looking for the best petite jeans? These ones from M&S tick all the boxes. Available in extra short and petite, they come in a wide variety of shades, have added stretch for comfort and are a super budget-friendly price point.
RRP: $42 / £35 | A slogan tee is an easy way to inject a touch of fun into your wardrobe. Made from pure cotton, this one is super soft. Toughen up your look by pairing with a leather jacket or give it a pretty edge by wearing with a floral midi skirt.
RRP: $618 / £359 | A simple leather jacket is an investment piece every over 50s capsule wardrobe needs. In quilted leather, this jacket transcends trends, adding an edge to everything from a simple white shirt to a brightly colored midi dress.
7. How to style straight leg jeans for plus size
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.
RRP: $108 / £100 | Thanks to the super high waist, these jeans create the illusion of longer legs, while also skimming hips and defining the waist. The 1% elastane adds comfort and give, making these the most versatile and comfortable jeans in your wardrobe.
RRP: $25.99 / £19.99 | There’s nothing basic about this square neck top. Available in sizes XS to 4XL, the soft rib knit feels super comfy, while the beige color and square neckline make it look more luxe than the price tag. Layer with jackets and shirts.
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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.