There are many jeans styles to choose from today, but skinny jeans are a modern staple that fits and flatters so well it’s not going anywhere. Discover more about how this denim style gained popularity and why it’s an enduring favorite, plus get expert tips on how to get the chicest looks with your skinny jeans.
What people today refer to as skinny jeans have a relatively brief history, but their design is rooted in the style of slim-fitting pants, which have a storied past. Close-fitting pants were around as far back as the seventeenth century when they graced the courts of Louis XIII. The popularity of fitted trousers (like many fashion styles) waxed and waned through the decades, but it was a style seen across the globe.
Tighter pants for women started being seen much later, beginning around the early 1900s. According to Refinery 29’s Illustrated History of Denim, “Close-fitting pants slowly became more acceptable for women to wear, but exclusively for activities like sports or certain manual labor.” At that time, these fitted pants might be made of fabrics such as denim or twill.
Styles of pants and jeans continued to evolve, with styles in the 1960s becoming close-fitting in the hip and thigh (though the bottoms were usually flared). 1970s jean styles had fitted waists like we’ve seen in modern skinnies as well, with the later styles in that decade welcoming tighter, darker denim versions. Insider shares dozens of different denim styles that have helped pave the way for skinny jeans, like the tapered-leg look of the mid-80s and the popular straight-leg styles of the 90s. It wasn’t until 2010, according to Byrdie's History of Jeans, however, that skinny jeans really exploded in popularity.
Although skinny jeans are a fashion style that’s been debated on social media, all it takes is a little observation to see that the skinny jeans look is alive and well. The Guardian, in fact, refers to the style as the fashion trend that will never die, and outlines in detail how this denim style has infiltrated the closets of every fashion style and walk of life: “[Skinny jeans are known for]...stretching comfortably to include all shapes of bottom and all social groups. They clothe the entire cultural spectrum…” No matter who you are or what your fashion preferences are, skinny jeans are holding their ground and continue to be a favorite look.
There are many reasons why skinny jeans are sticking around. For starters, the fit is just about perfect for everyone, regardless of body type. It conforms closely to the body and provides a sleek, streamlined silhouette that plays up all your best features. Since most skinny jeans styles have some stretch, they will look like they were tailored just for you.
Comfort is another key factor why people continue to love the style. The close fit, comfortable stretch, and lightweight denim that most designs use all equal a pair of jeans that feels just about as good as your favorite pair of pajama pants. Most skinny jeans styles also allow you to bend and move, so they aren’t restrictive despite their tailored look.
Some styles are just for winter, fall, spring, or summer. It’s rare for a style to transition seamlessly between seasons and be a standalone staple for all of them, but that’s exactly what skinny jeans do. They’ll see you through a summer evening with a floaty tank and embellished sandals just as easily as they pair with turtlenecks and cozy boots in the winter. Layer them up in fall and spring for a never-ending style.
If there’s one thing that just about everyone can agree makes the ultimate wardrobe item, it’s versatility. When you have an item that you can dress up or down, wear for work or the weekend, use for a polished look or a carefree vibe, and that you can style with just about every other color in the rainbow, it’s a clear winner. This is exactly what helps make the skinny jean a staple that’s here to stay. Whether you pair it with soft cashmere women’s sweaters and flats, cute flannel shirts and canvas shoes, or polished-looking blazers and ankle boots, skinny jeans offer limitless options for creating chic outfits. From classic looks like a white button-up blouse and neutral trench coat to ultra-modern outfits like an oversize vest and sporty shoes, skinny jeans can help you take your look to the next level.
There’s no question that skinny jeans are a favorite for their look, feel, fit, and versatility. Even if you switch it up with different denim styles, skinny jeans have an undeniable place in fashion history (and in your closet). Explore them in a new way this season by pairing them with other women’s tops, jackets, and footwear. Try on-trend accessories like fashion scarves, chic jewelry, and more to look and feel great in one of history’s best denim trends.