Jeans can come in all shapes and sizes. With so many options available, hunting for the perfect pair of women’s jeans can be challenging. What should you look for and what are they called? What are the different types of jeans for women?
There are several types of women’s jeans. From the baggy, relaxed look of the boyfriend style to the sleek, tight fit of skinny denim. Women’s jeans can be straight, curvy, bootcut, flared, or cropped. They are available in high-rise, mid-rise, or low-rise options. Many women’s jeans contain lycra for a closer figure-hugging fit.
In this article, you’ll learn about the different types of women’s jeans. You’ll find out why women’s jeans differ from men’s jeans. Plus, you’ll discover the best colors and how to get the perfect fit.
- Types of Jeans for Women
- How to Fit a Pair of Women’s Jeans
- What Color Jeans Are Best for Women?
- Men’s vs Women’s Jeans: What’s the Difference?
Types of Jeans for Women
Jeans have come a long way since their early days as robust and sturdy pants for gold miners. Way back in the 1870s, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis teamed together to bring denim pants to the world. Although back then, they were called waist overalls and aimed specifically at miners in the Californian Gold Rush.
Made from 100% cotton denim, the pants were strong, durable, rigid, and slightly shapeless. They were work pants, after all. Designed to be long-lasting and capable of withstanding the rigors of my work, they didn’t have to look great on a catwalk.
Hollywood and movie icons from the 1950s and 60s changed that. James Dean’s “Rebel Without a Cause” helped elevate waist overalls to the forefront of fashion.
Waist overalls wasn’t a particularly fashion-friendly name for a garment set to take the world’s teenagers by storm. So in the 1960s, Levi’s followed the lead of their customers and changed the name of their pants to jeans.
The new iconic name is technically a nickname. The cotton twill fabric used to make the pants was originally called serge and was made in a town called Nimes in France. It became known as serge de Nimes. Even when you read it, it sounds like denim in your head. Doesn’t it?
Well, denim pants were worn by Italian soldiers from the Italian port of Genoa. The French name for Genoa is Génes, or as English speakers say, Jeans. So that’s how we get denim jeans today.
Although jeans have been around since the 1870s, it wasn’t until 1918 that Levi’s began producing a version of their waist overalls for women. Called “Freedom-Alls”, the garment was a two-part outfit of a tunic with matching pants. Then in 1934, they introduced “Lady Levi’s”, the first pair of stand-alone jeans specifically for women.
That was pretty much it until more recent times. As the popularity of denim increased, so did the number of different designs. Types of jeans for women now span a whole host of different styles. There’s a fit to suit every body shape.
Better still, modern jeans are no longer limited to 100% cotton. A subtle hint of elastane adds softness and comfort our mine-digging ancestors could only dream of. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular styles of jeans for women.
1. Boyfriend JeansThis style is straight-cut, easy-fit jeans. It’s close-fitting around the hips and then gets looser through the legs. They can be cropped to finish mid-calf, at the shin, or hit at or below your ankle.
The key with this type is that they have a relaxed, baggy look that makes it appear like you are wearing your boyfriend’s jeans. A slight downside is they can look a bit boxy. They can also create the illusion of shorter legs. Something to watch for if your legs aren’t that long to start with.
The boyfriend style will camouflage thicker thighs making your legs look more even throughout their length. You’ll have a more streamlined silhouette and be comfortable at the same time.
2. Overall Jeans or DungareesThis style of jeans has had a few names over the years. Overall, jeans have also been called the “bib and brace” or suspender jeans and dungarees. Whatever you call them, they are jeans with an attached bib and straps over your shoulders. Known as braces or suspenders, the straps are fastened to the bib with shiny metal clasps.
Reminiscent of the original working overalls made from denim, they can be loose or figure-hugging. Leg length can vary from cropped to regular. You can even get overall jeans in a boyfriend style. Comfortable and relaxed, this style looks great paired with a bralette, cropped t-shirt and sneakers.
One thing you have to watch with dungaree style jeans is the fit. As they are similar to a jumpsuit in that they are a top joined to pants, you need to make sure you fit them properly through the gusset. Too tight, you won’t be able to sit down. Too loose, your bum will look saggy.
3. Skinny JeansOne of the most popular styles of women’s jeans, skinny jeans have been in fashion for years. These figure-hugging denim pants are an essential part of any wardrobe. Not only do they skim the leg and accentuate your curves, but they are also incredibly comfortable to wear.
Made from stretch denim, the fabric moves you. Stretching as you walk, yet holding in the lumpy bits gives you a smoother silhouette. If you are proud of your body image, go down a size to get an even closer fit.
Skinny jeans include tunic tops, cropped tops, t-shirts, and button-down shirts. You can dress them up with a jacket and heels or down with flats or sneakers. Of all the types of jeans for women, these are probably the most versatile.
4. Ripped JeansWhether you’ve gone for boyfriend, skinny, or bootcut jeans, the chances are they have a ripped option. Ripped jeans are a style of distressed jeans. More often than not, the rips will be at or near the knee, close to the top of the thigh, or even on the back of the jeans.
Go for a subtle amount of rips for a more relaxed look. Or go all out for rips, tears, and frays for a full-on look of rebellion.
The underlying style of the jeans will make a difference to the overall effect of the ripped jeans. The rips will appear more pronounced in skinny jeans and help enhance your edgy image. More loose-fitting jeans will portray a slightly softer effect.
5. Capri JeansFigure-hugging and close-fitting throughout, capri jeans end at the knee. Similar in style to pedal-pushers and capri pants, this style of jean is a knee-length pair of shorts made from denim.
With much in common with skinny jeans, capri jeans skim your skin and accentuate the curve of your hips and thighs. They can be dressed up with strappy sandals or worn with sneakers for a classy summer look.
You do need to get the fit right. Skin-tight denim around the thighs can be unflattering on some. As they finish at the knee, they can also make the base of your legs look chunkier than they are. For those with fair skin, steer clear of dark colors on your feet to carry this look.
6. Cropped JeansYou can get cropped jeans in straight leg or skinny options. These are the jeans where the leg ends at the base of your calf or lower. As long as it hits at least 2 inches above your ankle, it counts as cropped.
It’s a look that’s easier to pull off than capri jeans, especially if your cropped jeans have straight or flared legs. The slightly looser fit through the leg can hide any bulk around your thighs, and the extra length will help make your own legs look longer.
Pair with sneakers and a t-shirt for a casual, everyday look. Echo the look on your top half with a blazer-style coat or bomber jacket with rolled-up sleeves for an edgy, no-nonsense flair. Or dress up with heels for a night on the town.
7. High Waist JeansIf you’re worried about a little bit of a muffin top, then high-waisted jeans could be your perfect pants. The high waist of these jeans hits your belly button. This style is more flattering than others for two reasons.
Hitting at your natural waist, they elongate your legs and hold your stomach. Even non-stretch denim can smooth out your midriff simply because it falls higher up your torso. Have a pair of high-waisted jeans in stretchy denim, and that muffin top is toast.
It’s not just a style for girls with a slight tummy. High-waisted jeans look good on everyone. Pair with a cropped top and sneakers for relaxing at the park. Or team with a t-shirt tucked in at the waist and heeled ankle boots for a night out.
8. Low Rise JeansDon’t let the name fool you. Low-rise jeans is just another way of saying low-waist jeans. This style hits your torso a couple of inches below your belly button and slightly higher than your hips.
As they fall below your natural waist, they are more flattering on women with a defined waistline. Hitting below your waist means they shorten the distance between your waist and thighs, giving the impression of a smaller, tighter-looking booty.
Low-rise jeans are the perfect companion for cropped or bralette-style tops. They also look great with a sweater or hoodie that hits your body at the top of the jeans. Hey, rock it if you are going for the well-formed booty look! Don’t hide it under an oversize top.
9. JeggingsTechnically, jeggings aren’t jeans in a traditional sense. They don’t have the famous button and fly waist or 5-pocket style that identifies a pair of pants as jeans. Jeggings are leggings made from stretch denim. They have an elastic waistband and sometimes have faux fastenings.
The stretch fabric that makes jeggings doesn’t have to be denim. It can be any stretchy material made to look like a jeans fabric.
Incredibly easy to wear and very forgiving on any body shape, jeggings are the most comfortable style of pants available today. They hold you where you need it and give you room to move. Wear with a long tunic or button-down shirt and boots for a sleek, smart/casual look.
10. Flared JeansA look made popular in the 1970s; the flared jean is coming back into style. Close fitting at the hips and down towards the knee, these jeans flare out gradually from below the knee to the ankle. Often ending at the base of the shoe in a wide expanse of fabric.
These jeans look like the fabric cascades down from the waist, creating the optical illusion of smaller thighs and hips.
The length of the jeans leg can help you create extra height. Flared jeans, especially ones that reach the floor, can hide your shoes. Team them with heeled boots to gain some invisible inches. This style of jeans flatters most figures.
Go for a faded denim look for true vintage style. Or bring the look up to date with a vibrant modern shade of denim.
11. Bootcut JeansSimilar to flared jeans, bootcut jeans do what the name suggests. They allow enough room at the ankle and calf area for you to wear the legs of your pants over the top of your boots.
Unlike flares, bootcut jeans have a more pronounced widening in the leg. It’s not a gradual increase in the fabric over the distance from your knee to the floor, but an instance expansion from the knee down.
This gives the impression that the top part of the jeans is more figure-hugging. Bootcut jeans are not as spacious or voluminous as flared jeans. But, because the wider area expands out from the knee, they look wider at the bottom. It’s a style reminiscent of bell-bottom jeans from the 1960s and 70s.
12. Straight Cut JeansThis is the traditional style of jeans. They go straight up and down. Without any built-in curves or added flares, these follow the length of your leg. There is usually a little wiggle room in straight-cut jeans. Rather than being figure-hugging, this style gives you a looser fit.
Also known as regular jeans, these are the middle ground between skinny and boyfriend jeans, not tight but not baggy. They have drainpipe-straight legs and ankles that can frame the top of your shoe.
That’s the best look for straight jeans. Wear them, so they are long enough to hit the top of your foot and frame your shoe.
13. Cigarette JeansLike straight jeans, cigarette jeans also bridge the gap between two styles. Only this time, it’s straight and skinny jeans.
With straight legs, they have the same drainpipe look as a pair of regular denim pants. But, cigarette jeans are tighter fitting. They have a certain amount of stretch and mimic the look of skinny jeans. The main difference is cigarette jeans are not skin tight.
This style of women’s jeans falls a little above your ankle for a flattering cropped look. Pair with sneakers or flats for a girl-about-town image.
14. Cargo JeansWe all know how much women love pockets. Well, these jeans have pockets in abundance. Cargo jeans, like cargo pants, have pockets on the top, back, and legs.
These are loose-fitting jeans with a slouchy shape. With pockets for your phone, keys, and wallet, you can leave your purse behind for a hands-free trip around town. Perfect with heels or sneakers, these jeans offer you a relaxed, casual look.
How to Fit a Pair of Women’s Jeans
How you fit a pair of women’s jeans depends on the style you are looking for. Are you going for tight-fitting skinny jeans or a more relaxed boyfriend style?
Types of women’s jeans made from stretch denim, like skinny jeans, are normally sized slightly smaller to allow for something known as negative ease. This is an allowance for the stretch and allows you to take advantage of it. As you wear the denim, it stretches around your shape, giving you a snug fit.
You’ll probably notice that your regular size will feel tighter. This is normal and is how skinny jeans work. To achieve an even closer or skin-tight fit, many women will choose the next size down from their usual fit.
Whatever style you go for, there is one area you need to watch in all types of women’s jeans. You need to make sure the rise in the crotch fits your body. If your crotch area is too tight, you’ll potentially suffer from two fashion faux pas.
A camel toe is where the jeans pull into your front area. This creates something that looks like the foot of a hoofed animal. Or, you might have a hungry butt syndrome at the back. This is where the jeans ride up into the crevice between the butt cheeks. Neither is an attractive look.
To avoid those classic fitting errors, always try your jeans on before buying them. Depending on the style or cut of the jeans, you may need to go up a size.
There’s no shame in doing that! In many cases, women’s clothing tends to follow a vanity system. They will be labeled a 10 when in fact. They are an 8. It’s a marketing ploy to make you feel better about your image. Ignore the sizing and go for the jeans that fit.
No one will know what size jeans you wear if you don’t tell them. Besides, if your jeans fit you, you’ll look better, so no one will care. They’ll just think, “Wow! You look hot”.
Another thing to keep in mind is the manufacturer. Not all makers of women’s clothes use the same sizes. While the jeans in one company may feel small, the same size in the next company may feel big. You have to shop around to get the fit that’s best for you.
Confusingly, many styles of jeans are known as high rise, low rise, and even mid-rise. This isn’t referring to the rise of your crotch. Names of jeans describe where the jeans sit on your body.
A high rise sits at your belly button. Low-rise jeans are a couple of inches below your belly button but above your hips. Mid-rise jeans are hipsters and sit on your hip bone. Make sure you know what style is which when you go jeans shopping. That way, you’ll be sure to get the one you want.
Lastly, consider the length of the leg. There are various options, cropped, ankle length, regular, or tall. Above ankle length normally refers to an inside leg of 29 inches, while regular can vary from petite to 32 inches, with tall being longer still.
Your inside leg, or inseam, is the distance from your crotch to your ankle. If your inside leg is longer than 29 inches, an ankle-skimming jean leg could look too short. Rather than being fashionably cropped, it could fall in an unflattering section of your lower leg, making them look fat.
So watch your height when choosing your jeans. Make sure those denim pants hit your leg where you want them to.
What Color Jeans Are Best for Women?
Any color of jeans will look good on women. Jeans come in various colors and finishes, all of which can enhance your figure or bring out the color of your eyes.
Although you have to consider your skin tone, particularly cropped or ripped jeans, you can go for any color you like. If you have a pale complexion, you can still wear jeans that show off your skin. Just make sure your accessories are a lighter color than your clothes.
For instance, for cropped jeans in light blue, pair them with white sneakers. That way, people will see your shoes, not your lack of a tan. Avoid black or dark blue shoes, as dark colors make paler skin tones look even worse.
The next thing to consider is the occasion you’ll wear your jeans. Choose white jeans for summer chic or a sophisticated winter walk. Acid-washed jeans are perfect for a super casual trip to town. While dark or black jeans have a slimming effect and can be worn either dressed up or down.
Want to be ready for anything? Go for medium colors like the traditional denim blue. A classic look and color that goes with anything and suits every woman.
Men’s vs Women’s Jeans: What’s the Difference?
Although jeans are considered a unisex garment, there are some slight differences between jeans specifically designed for men and women. Because men have fewer curves, their jeans tend to be cut squarer.
Women’s jeans are cut to flatter. With more of an allowance for curves, jeans meant for women are more spacious around the hips. For instance, different styles of jeans, like the Wedgie by Levi’s, are cut to accentuate and highlight female curves.
Then there is the weight of the denim. Many types of jeans for women contain lycra or elastane. This gives the fabric enough stretch to fit comfortably around all your curves and hug your booty. Because of this, the denim content is less, so the jeans are lighter.
Jeans for women are designed to hide some features and flatter others. High-waisted jeans can elongate the leg and make you look taller. Skinny jeans can accentuate a shapely calf. Then there are the embellishments like lacy inserts to add an extra touch of femininity.
It’s a bit of a shame for the fellas, but their jeans tend to be more functional. They have a more boxy shape, particularly around the hips, and the fit is looser. Although they can wear skinny jeans, they aren’t as figure-hugging. Men’s choices in denim are a lot more limited.
When it comes to types of jeans for women, the choice is immense. From cropped, skinny, straight, or bootcut, there’s a style suitable for your body and lifestyle.
How many styles of jeans do you own? Have you worn skinny jeans or do you prefer flared? Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments.