How to style wide leg jeans to make your denim work harder

Maximize cost-per-wear with our guide on how to style wide leg jeans

street style influencers showing how to style wide leg jeans
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One of this season's must-have styles, if you're struggling with how to style wide leg jeans, we've asked experts for their top tips to help you put together the perfect wide leg jeans outfits.

Having knocked skinny jeans off the top spot, wide leg jeans are taking over as the style to be seen in. Popular both on the runway and amongst influential street stylers, the best wide leg jeans neatly hug waists and hips, before sweeping out into a more A-line silhouette down the legs. Universally flattering, they suit pretty much everyone and can be worn in a number of different ways. 

“Arguably the most versatile denim style, wide-leg jeans rose to popularity in the vibrant, carefree 1970s, as a more wearable alternative to the novel flared, bell-bottom cut,” says Farrah-May Archer Boadi, Styling Team Lead at Stitch Fix UK. “The looser fit of a classic wide-leg silhouette makes them comfy, casual, and chic for any body shape - giving off that air of retro cool, which, in my opinion, is exactly why they’ve stood the test of time and are a go-to even fifty years on.” In short, wide-leg jeans are some of the best jeans around.

How to style wide leg jeans 2023: 7 wide leg jean outfit ideas

Still not convinced wide-leg jeans would work for you, or that you don’t have the right items in your wardrobe to wear them with? 

“From my experience styling customers over the years, I’ve come to find that the wide-leg silhouette is one of the easiest styles of the denim family to work with,” continues Archer Boadi. “It can seem a daunting shape for some, however, I think it’s one of the most simple because of the voluminous nature of the style -  giving you the opportunity to play around and pair it with all your wardrobe essentials.”

1. How to style wide leg jeans with a blazer

influencers showing how to style wide-leg jeans with a blazer

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If in doubt, throw on a blazer. The best blazers are the one item in your wardrobe that has the potential to make even the most thrown-together of outfits feel instantly more considered. Just be wary of going too oversized when it comes to the fit. You’re already adding extra volume with this type of jean, so any more than one up from your regular size runs the risk of drowning your shape. Keeping your tops form-fitted (like a tight-ish t-shirt or little camisole) and neat (such as a crisp, freshly ironed shirt) and tuck your top into your waistband to avoid adding bulk. 

A styling tip… Shoes with a pointed-toe will work in tandem with a blazer, adding polish and showcasing how to style wide leg jeans with ease.

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2. How to style wide leg jeans with a shirt

influencers show how to style wide-leg jeans with a shirt

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If you asked us to list the essential items for a capsule wardrobe, a good shirt would be right at the top. The ways to wear one are varied, from buttoned to the top and layered under a jumper, to half-unbuttoned and slouchy, all the way through to open over a vest. It’s the perfect way to make light-wash wide-leg jeans feel more sophisticated - especially when teamed with your best designer sunglasses, fine jewelry, and a structured bag. It’s the little details that count with your best shirt, so look out for features like a structured collar, rounded hemline, and statement cuffs. 

A styling tip… White or cream wide-leg jeans work just as well in winter as they do in spring and summer. Coordinate with a white shirt or use your top half to incorporate some color into your outfit. 

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3. How to style wide leg jeans with knitwear

influencers showing how to style wide leg jeans with knitwear

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Chic and cozy all at once, the best sweaters are the perfect partner for how to style wide leg jeans on those spring days that don't require a coat. If you’re opting for an oversized high-neck jumper, then you’ll need to French tuck it in at the front and the same goes for chunky knit cardigans when worn buttoned-up in place of a top. If you’re opting for a longline cardigan, wear it open over a simple white top or roll-neck and bunch the sleeves up for a laid-back feel. 

A styling tip… Brightly colored knitwear looks best with darker-wash jeans. Team lighter washes with pretty pastels. 

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4. How to style wide leg jeans with a top

influencers showing how to style wide-leg jeans with a top

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Of all the ways of how to style wide leg jeans, the most obvious way is with a top. When it comes to a stylish top to wear with jeans, we love a slogan white t-shirt or a simple vest. This look is a great fall-back to have in your fashion arsenal for relaxed weekend ensembles. White or black are the classic choices when it comes to the color of your top, and either will coordinate with any shade of denim. Thanks to the latest craze for '90s fashion trends, monogrammed t-shirts and oversized iterations are back in fashion. Tuck or half tuck these into your jeans for maximum style points. 

A styling tip… Boxy-fit t-shirts are cooler than figure-hugging ones. Choose high necks over scooped styles too. 

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5. How to style wide leg jeans for evening

influencers showing how to style wide-leg jeans for evening

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If you're often tempted to go for the best skinny jeans or other figure hugging styles for the evening, all we can say is don't dismiss the wide leg jeans ability to add a contemporary feel to going out looks. Counteract the extra fabric on the bottom half of your ensemble with a tight-fitting top or plunging neckline. Tops with Bardot or asymmetric necklines, as well as cut-out detailing on the shoulders, are continuing to have their moment and make great accompaniments to wide leg denim styles too. Go for black denim over bright colors to make your look evening-appropriate, adding instant polish, adding a touch of metallic to your top half for a dressier feel. 

A styling tip… The addition of heels will instantly lux up your look. The longer your jeans, the higher your heels should be, this is to help balance out the width of the hem and your silhouette. 

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6. How to style wide leg jeans with a coat

influencers showing how to style wide leg jeans with a coat

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Unless you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where the temperature is consistently high all year round, a coat is going to be a key part of your outfit for at least half the year. You can, of course, play it safe with a classic buy such as a beautifully tailored, straight-cut wool coat in grey, navy, or beige, or you could take this as your cue from the coat trends 2023 and have a little fun with your look. A statement coat is an instant talking point, whether yours is faux fur, brightly colored, or heavy on details like contrasting cuffs. Longline coats that finish on or below the knee look better with wide-leg jeans than anything that hits mid-calf. Ideally, you should look out for a coat with a waist belt, or a design that can be worn open, to bring that structure back to your silhouette. 

A styling tip… In winter, to keep your wide leg jeans off the ground, swap flats for heeled winter boots or platform trainers instead. Wide leg jeans are also some of the best jeans to wear with cowboy boots - just make sure to wear a heeled pair to keep your hem off the ground.

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7. How to style wide-leg jeans with a jacket

influencers showing how to style wide-leg jeans with a jacket

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Want to learn how to style wide leg jeans with a jacket? It's easy. It’s all about the cut. As we’ve touched upon for coats, an awkward, in-between length won’t sit well with wide-leg jeans, so instead, you need a cropped jacket that highlights the waistband of your jeans. Bomber jackets are making a comeback, reimagined in wool rather than traditional polyester or satin, while the aviator and classic collared jacket remain popular too. Ideally, you don’t want to see the top underneath poking out, so that lines are clean and you're not cutting your silhouette at multiple points. If it’s cold and you really need to layer, opt for a top as simple as possible. 

A styling tip… If you’re tall, stick to jackets in regular sizing as opposed to anything that has been specifically designed to be cropped. 

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Are wide-leg jeans in style for 2023?

Wide leg jeans in their various iterations have been in and out of fashion for years. Think as far back as the '70s, when they were high-waisted and mid-wash, or as recently as the '90s when grungy wide-leg jeans with low waists and moody grey and washed denim finishes were all the rage. “This shape never goes out of style,” explains Archer Boadi. “The ultimate LA cool girls, Dakota Johnson, Kaia Gerber, and Nicola Peltz have all been showing how simple it is to dress this style up and down.”

Trends offer a great guide for the season, but ultimately fashion should be about wearing things that make you feel good - and wide leg jeans are certainly a denim trend that have the power to do that. “The nature of a wide leg cut makes these jeans very wearable,” continues Archer Boadi. “They accentuate the waist and skim over the hips, hang loose around the legs, and hug in all the right places.”

“When shopping for the perfect pair, play around and explore the different waists and lengths you can try. For a more casual look for spring, try a cropped wide leg, which is an ideal pick to show off a statement shoe, or try lower-waisted wide leg jeans to lean into that effortless '90s look - à la Kate Moss at Bottega Veneta for SS/23. I always turn to original and trusty denim brands, such as Levis and Wrangler when sourcing a new style for my clients’ wardrobes.”

What type of tops go with wide-leg jeans?

Technically speaking, all types of tops go with wide leg jeans. The only thing you need to keep in mind is proportions, so you’re not swamping your frame with the extra fabric on both the top and bottom half. “When my clients come to me asking how to style a baggier silhouette, I always encourage experimenting with added structure to create a look that feels balanced,” advises Archer Boadi. “It’s all about giving off that effortless feel without appearing too slouchy. If I had one recommendation, it would be to shy away from other loose items unless you really want to embrace the rebellious '90s relaxed aesthetic.”

“For a daytime outfit, pair your wide leg jeans with a tucked-in, classic, and crisp button-down shirt. Add a light jacket and top it off with tan accessories - think a brown buckled belt to accentuate your waist or on-trend ballet flats to embrace a real Parisian chic feel. As night falls, get creative and play around with structured styling. Unbutton your shirt and layer it over a slinky slip cami, or tie the shirt above the waistband for a look that feels a touch more fun and playful.” 

Jess Beech

Jess Beech is an experienced fashion and beauty editor, with more than eight years experience in the publishing industry. She has written for woman&home, GoodtoKnow, Now, Woman, Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Own and Chat, and is a former Deputy Fashion & Beauty Editor at Future PLC. A beauty obsessive, Jess has tried everything from cryotherapy to chemical peels (minus the Samantha in Sex and The City-worthy redness) and interviewed experts including Jo Malone and Trinny Woodall.