Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Unless you’ve been on a wifi-less island for the last year, wearing only bikinis and sarongs (lucky you!), you’re probably aware that there have been some major shakeups in the denim landscape lately. Alarmists everywhere are crying that the skinny jean is dead. While there’s a time and a place for a skinny jean still, I will say this: It’s time to branch out.
If this is scary territory for you, there are a few tricks to make shedding your skinnies a bit easier. For some reason, new denim cuts tend to feel better when they’re slightly cropped.
If you’re trying out jeans with a wider leg, a slimmer or shorter top may be in order to keep the proportions well, proportional.
And perhaps most importantly, try and keep at least one element that you’re comfortable with from your old jeans. That is, if you always wear dark wash, high waist skinny jeans, maybe stick with a dark wash and a high waist, and just change up the leg.
With so many options out there that aren’t skin tight from the waist to the ankle, we decided to break them down into five, non-skinny starter styles. Hopefully one will inspire you to take a leap into the new, wider world of denim.
1. CLASSIC FIT
The style often called "classic fit" is not exactly not-skinny. It’s slim and fitted, but doesn’t hug your ankle like a vise. So you can hold on to your skinny look, and wear it with all the same things, but you’re suddenly way more on trend! Win-win, right?
These jeans look like vintage, but not in an unflattering or absurdly distressed way. You see that released hem and frayed bottom? Get into it, because there’s a lot more where that came from. Amo Babe Jeans, $246
If you’re not ready for that much fray, Frame denim’s high straight is a great alternative to the obligatory skinny summer whites. Frame Denim Le High Straight in white, $200
Cos is a good go-to for classic styles at wallet-friendly prices, and its denim doesn’t disappoint. Consider this pair a beautifully primed canvas for the rest of your outfit. Cos slim-fit cropped jeans, $99
2. KICK FLARE
Next up is the kick flare, which yes, is a flare, but just a little one; this is not some giant bellbottom swishing around your legs. Since it's cropped, the style looks cute with platform sandals, but also works with sneakers or flats.
First of all, if Alexander Wang says it’s cool, it’s cool. His take on the cut features a light indigo wash for an almost-vintage feel. Denim x Alexander Wang, $275
Alex Wang not enough to convince you? How about Leandra Medine, the queen of the fashion bloggers. She loves this look so much she made her own version with reworked denim brand Re/Done. Re/Done the Leandra, from $322
And never forget Levi’s! The classic brand has a great kick flare for much less (and in several color options) if you want to try them out without so much monetary commitment. Levi’s Kick Flare jeans, $88
3. SLOUCHY SKINNIES
Want a little more room in the waist, but not an overall baggy look? Me too. Here are some great options for almost boyfriend fit, but not quite.
Zara has a few options in the slouch category. This distressed pair melds easily into any relaxed weekend wardrobe. Zara slouchy jeans, $50
On the opposite end of the price spectrum are R13’s boy skinny jeans. But make no mistake, these are the best slouch skinnies around — the washes and fit are perfect. Especially in black, these jeans are instant rock and roll. R13 Boy Skinny, $345
An intentionally low-slung waist and very slight drop crotch make these jeans extra comfy, while the selvedge wash keeps them looking polished. 6397 495 jean, $275
4. HIGH WAIST WIDE LEG
This is probably the most intimidating cut out there at the moment. It seems like something that won’t work unless you’re tall and skinny. But I’ve seen them look great on every body type — just try a bunch on until you find the most flattering fit and wash.
It’s up for debate who brought back the wide leg jean, but Rachel Comey is definitely in the running. Her Legion pants are hard to find in stock, so grab them when you can. Rachel Comey Legion pants, $345
Topshop carries the look for less. This faded black version makes the wide leg style feel a bit less boho. MOTO Black washed culottes, $68
Maybe the frayed edges and dark washes aren’t for you (or your office). In that case, New York-based label Apiece Apart has a wonderfully refined version. Apiece Apart High Waist Crop, $255
5. THE WILD CARD
If you’re not feeling any of the above cuts, there are about a thousand other denim styles on the market right now. Check out the jeans below, but know that these tuxedo jeans, patchwork denim, and mom jeans are only the tip of the iceberg. Just get out there and try some on!
With a stripe of darker wash down the leg, these jeans will take the Canadian tuxedo to a whole new level. Rachel Comey Tux Jean, $345
Patchwork jeans are everywhere this summer. If you don't want to go too crazy with color, stick to blue-on-blue — as seen on Ulla Johnson’s loose-fitting, carpenter style pair. Ulla Johnson Boro Patchwork jeans, $99 (from $390)
If light blue seems too literal for mom jeans (and it kind of is), Urban Outfitters brings you the same look in off-black. So, like, a cool mom. BDG Mom jeans, $59