Skinny vs straight jeans - which style will suit me?

The debate rages on for skinny vs straight jeans. We explain both styles and how to wear them

skinny vs straight jeans - Gap, Spanx, Boden
(Image credit: Gap, Spanx, Boden)

Debating skinny vs straight jeans this season? Believe us when we say you're not alone. While these two styles of jeans aren't wildly different in terms of silhouette, they're just far apart enough in style to be divisive to some. 

Finding the best jeans can be tough. While each season ushers in new denim trends there are some jeans that remain a constant in our wardrobe. Coming to the fore in 2005, thanks to Kate Moss sporting a pair, skinny jeans went from denim fad, to jean fave and have stayed a constant in our wardrobes ever since. Categorised by its silhouette hugging style, the best skinny jeans hug your curves, following the line of your frame. Thanks to their skin tight fit, skinny jeans often have some stretch to them to help them hug your curves. 

Straight leg jeans on the flip side, were predecessor of the skinny jean, originally popular in the '90s, the straight fit means the jeans fall from hip to ankle without flaring. Straight jeans are often seen as smarter than its skinny counterpart and most consider them the most universally flattering style of jeans. A more relaxed fit than a skinny it doesn't cling, and thanks to the cut, they can often be crafted, as is traditional for denim, from 100% cotton, for a rigid fit. 

But when it comes to skinny vs straight jean, what do the experts think? While skinny jeans have reigned supreme, in recent years the straight jean has made a triumphant return to the top of the pack, thanks in part to the re-birth of '90s fashion trends.

"Straight leg jeans are a more flattering and modern denim fit, as we move away from skin-tight dressing to a more relaxed feel. Look for styles that sit high on the waist as these will create a longer line for the eye to follow, giving the illusion of a longer, leaner silhouette. Depending on your choice of footwear, you may also find that a slightly cropped pair that sit above the ankle bone are extra flattering as they show off the slimmest part of your leg" says fashion editor and stylist, Antonia Kraskowski.

What are skinny jeans?

skinny vs straight jeans: Street style shot of skinny jeans wearers: Alexandra Lapp and Kate Moss

Kate Moss wearing skinny jeans in London

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Skinny jeans are skin-tight and figure-hugging from the waist straight down to the ankle. They may need you to do the jump and wriggle to get into them, but they should feel figure hugging. The added stretch that most skinny jeans have will help you get into them and give you a contoured fit, however the elastane content does mean that over time they may lose their shape. 

Skinnies are loved by celebrities and royals, with even Kate Middleton a fan of the fitted shape, they're extremely popular with the fashion crowd too. From ripped to indigo, the timeless fit comes in many variations, it's all about finding the right pair for you.

Skinny jeans come in many waist styles, from the best high waisted jeans - that will often have some of the best shapewear integrated into the midriff panel, to classic mid-rises for a more relaxed feel. 

How to wear skinny jeans

When it comes to how to style jeans with a skinny fit, the trick is all in the proportions. If you've opt for a high waisted pair, you'll want to pair your skinnies with a shorter top, or tuck, or half tuck your top into the waistband to show off the waist. 

As skinny jeans are fitted all the way down your legs and calves, you can afford to add volume to your top, this includes directional full sleeves and ruffles, both big autumn/winter fashion trends for 2023. Oversized shirts, slouchy knits, and bulky coats also help balance out tight-fitting skinny jeans. If you want to dress them up, opt for dark-wash styles and team with a silky blouse, or your best blazer, and fancy shoes or heels. 

“Skinny jeans definitely still have a place in my wardrobe,” says Paula Moore, fashion director at woman&home. “I love how easy they are to tuck into boots without bunching up at the top. To avoid them looking too dated, try playing with proportions. Choose a voluminous top and do a ‘French tuck’. This is when you tuck in the front half of your top and leave the rest out. It helps highlight your waist for a flattering and fashion-forward finish.”

The Best Skinny Jeans

What are straight leg jeans?

skinny vs straight jeans composite image of two women wearing straight jeans

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to skinny vs straight jeans, the best straight leg jeans are universally flattering. Less clingy than skinny jeans, they skim hips and thighs, sitting straight from hips to ankles, giving everything a little more breathing room.  

Straight leg jeans are often considered more polished than the skinny jean, and in a smart wash, with no distressed or whiskered details they can be worn with a blazer for more relaxed office attire. 

Loved by '90s styles, the straight jean doesn't show off your legs as much as a pair of skinny jeans, but thanks to its straight style, it doesn't swamp your shape either. An easy style win, whatever your body type

How to wear straight leg jeans

When it comes to how to style straight leg jeans, they can be styled with pretty much anything. From the best jumpers to shirts and blazers, they add a more relaxed feel to any look. Whether it's brunch outfit ideas you're after, or need something for a desk day, straight jeans are largely governed by the wash you opt for, rather than their just shape.

Straight-leg jeans are great for all silhouettes thanks to the flattering cut and simple silhouette they achieve. Offering a slightly more relaxed fit to a skinny jean, they can easily be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. 

On an apple body shape, they skim past the midriff and add little to nothing in bulk. For extra security over a tummy opt for high-waisted styles as these will offer extra support and contour. 

Straight-leg jeans are a great choice for those with a pear-shaped body, skimming past hips and balancing curves with a straight leg. They'll work easily with sandals, trainers, and boots, although as the fit isn't super close to your ankle, you might find that they are some of the best jeans to wear with Chelsea boots and are easier than trying to tuck your straight leg jeans into knee-high styles. 

The Best Straight Leg Jeans

Skinny vs Straight leg: Which cut is best for me?

When it comes to straight vs skinny jeans, the truth is both shapes are universally flattering. While skinny jeans are definitely going to be the most contoured to your shape, straight-leg jeans can be more varied in terms of leg widths. 

If you have a pear-shaped body, look for straight-leg jeans that are slightly more bordering what has become known as 'girlfriend' style. These are straight-leg jeans that are relaxed and slightly wider, skimming hips with ease. While some straight-leg styles use traditional stiff denim, pear-shapes might want to look for denim with added stretch as these will offer a better fit across bums and thighs. This is particularly true when looking for the best skinny jeans. Added elastane will ensure your jeans fit like the best leggings, offering excellent levels of comfort.

Apple body shapes can easily wear straight or skinny jeans. While skinny jeans will be the best style to show off slender legs, more fitted straight-leg jeans will still highlight your silhouette. For the most support for a midriff in either style, opt for high-waisted cuts as these will help to contour your shape. If you're looking to tuck tops or blouses in, you might want high-waisted jeans with added sculpting technology built into the waist panel area for a really flattering fit. 

Hourglass body shapes benefit from having a small waist and proportionately balanced bust, shoulders, and thighs. While either shape of jeans will work for your body type, a high-waisted cut will highlight your silhouette. To show off your curves, tuck or half tuck your top into your waistband.

Rectangle body shapes suit both styles equally. To create curves, pair your jeans with tops that have added volume. This could be a fuller sleeve for an on-trend feel, a dramatic ruffle detail to add volume to a bust, or a peplum waist, that will give the illusion of an hourglass silhouette. 

headshot of writer Antonia Kraskowski
Antonia Kraskowski

With over 15 years experience in the fashion industry, freelance fashion editor, Antonia Kraskowski has worked at Conde Nast, across titles including, Glamour, Vogue New Markets and Easy Living. Antonia later went on to serve as the Fashion Editor of Express Newspapers and Magazines for five years before embarking on a freelance career. 

Charlie Bell

Charlie is the Deputy Fashion Editor at Future plc across multiple women’s magazines including Woman & Home, Woman and Woman's Own.

She bagged her first magazine job in 2009 and has previously written for titles including Stylist, Closer and Dare. Over the years Charlie has embraced anything that was thrown at her from styling celebrities to testing out the best jeans on the high street to writing about must-have beauty buys.

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.

With contributions from