Sometimes finding the right jean length seems difficult, especially if you have ever struggled with saggy jeans bunching up above your shoes or the dreaded hem that hikes up your calf when you sit down. Different types of jeans often come in different lengths, making the choice even more challenging! So, how long should jeans be?
Straight or regular jeans should typically break at the top of the boot or shoes. Fitted jeans such as skinny jeans or slim-fit jeans should have a shorter length and end at the ankle. Bootcut jeans should hang long enough to cover the boots’ shaft but not long enough to reach the ground.
In this article, you will learn about how jean lengths work. You will discover the best break for 7 different styles of jeans. Finally, you will learn the right jean length with and without shoes or boots.
How Does Jeans Length Work
Clothing brands use the inseam of jeans to measure their length. This means the distance from the crotch seam of the pants down to the hem on the inner leg or from the crotch to the ankle bone if you measure on yourself.
To know how long a pair of jeans will reach down your legs, all you have to do is take your own inseam measurements down your inner leg. Then compare your measurement to the length listed for the jeans you like. If they match, the jeans will fit your height; if the length is shorter, you will know that the hem of the jeans will reach above your ankle, and so on.
Men’s jeans list this inseam measurement as the second number in the size of the jeans. A pair of 32 30 jeans have a thirty-two-inch waist and a thirty-inch inseam, for example,
Women’s jeans do not make the length quite so obvious. Most women’s jeans use an even-numbered sizing system starting at zero, meaning you have to look at a sizing chart to determine what measurements correlate with each size. But you can still find inseam length–you just have to look at the sizing chart provided by the brand.
The specific inseam measurements on a pair of jeans will vary from one brand to another and also depends on the size of the jeans. But most jeans for men and women have an inseam measurement range between 30 and 36 inches.
Of course, getting jeans that fit your height is not quite enough. A pair of jeans can fit your inseam and still have variations in length because different styles of denim look better in longer or shorter lengths. Some types of jeans should end at your ankle, while others should comfortably cover the tops of your cowboy boots.
On top of this, jeans styles change regularly. Wearing jeans has remained popular since the late 1800s, but the specific length and cut of the denim goes in and out of fashion every decade or even every year.
Check out the next section to learn how to get the right length in all the major cuts of jeans!
How Long Should Jeans Be?
Each jeans cut, such as skinny vs bootcut, has style rules that dictate how long it should be. This length is often described in terms of the “break” of the jeans, meaning the point at which the hem of the pants touches your foot or shoe.
The point where the jeans break depends on other factors besides your height, like your body type and what kind of shoes you wear with the outfit.
You also want to make sure your jeans fit your waist and hips properly, with a waistband that feels tight enough to wear without a belt but not so tight that you can’t breathe or bend over. Too-loose jeans will slide or sag down your legs and look longer after a while, and too-tight jeans will tend to bunch up and eventually look too short.
Skinny jeans have a tight fit all over and should always end near your ankle. You can get skinny jeans that end right where your ankle bone begins, right in the center of the knob of the ankle bone, or even just below the ankle bone. But you do not want them to reach any longer than that because the tightness of the legs will cause any additional length to scrunch up above your feet, which makes it look as if you chose too-long jeans.
Another common issue with skinny jeans that have an inseam too long for your legs is that they can actually bunch up along the length of your leg, especially right over the knee. These denim wrinkles above your knee should tell you that you need shorter skinny jeans.
For women, the best length for skinny jeans is when the tight leg opening ends right in the middle of your ankle bone. If you stand over 5’6”, you may need to look for skinny jeans with an extra-long inseam to make that happen.
For men, skinny jeans that end anywhere around the ankle will look fine. You do not want them to hang too long because they fit so tightly and will bunch up uncomfortably above your shoes.
Of course, as with all style rules, you can find exceptions to this! Some stylists recommend that men’s skinny jeans should show these “stacked” wrinkles of extra length around the ankle, especially if you plan to wear skinny jeans with boots.
Slim-fit jeans for men and women typically look best when they reach exactly the bottom of the ankle but have no break at the hem. This means that the jeans do not fold over onto the foot when you wear them on your bare feet.
Slim-fit jeans don’t fit quite as tightly as skinny jeans, but they do taper in and either outline or cling to your calf and ankle, which makes them look best in a shorter length.
The exception to this length rule is that you sometimes want to wear slim-fit jeans with a cuff. In this case, you need some extra length to give you extra denim to fold up at the bottom of the legs.
Whether you wear your slim-fit jeans cuffed or not, keep in mind that you want the hem to end at the most slender part of your leg, just below the ankle. This makes you look taller and thinner.
For women, try on the slim-fit pants with the shoes you plan to wear to make sure the hem just touches the top of your foot or shoes with no break.
For men, decide whether you want the casual cuffed style or the more formal tailored no-break style before you choose an inseam.
BootcutThe general rule of thumb for bootcut jeans is that they should have a full break or even a few wrinkles on top of your boot or shoe.
Bootcut and flared jeans have a wide leg opening that would not look good if it ended on the skinny part of your leg at your ankle because the contrast between the wide leg opening and your narrow ankle would look odd. Instead, the wide opening ending at your foot balances out the curves of your torso. Plus, bootcut jeans look good with heeled footwear such as boots or high heels.
The best way to find the right length for bootcut jeans is to try them on with your intended footwear.
For men, bootcut jeans should easily cover the shaft of your boots. You can also check to make sure you see a full break in the denim at the top of your foot. You can also make sure that the hem of the jeans reaches only one or two inches above the floor when you stand on your bare feet.
For women, bootcut jeans should cover slightly more of your booted foot, leaving only a couple of inches of the toe of the boot showing when you stand up with your feet flat on the floor. If you try on these jeans in bare feet, you should measure only about a half to a quarter inch between the hem of the jeans and the floor.
This makes bootcut or flared jeans an excellent choice to wear with high heels. Shorter jeans may make it look as if your foot and heels stick out too far from the jeans, but bootcut jeans with the right length will smoothly extend down to your heels.
Regular or straight-fit jeans have a casual, comfortable appearance with little curving or shaping in the legs and typically look best when they end exactly at the top of your foot with no break in the hem. You can also easily check this length by making sure that the hem hits your leg at the underside of your ankle bone.
Straight-leg jeans can have many different fits, such as slim, relaxed, or regular. The fit typically determines the circumference of the leg opening. Jeans with larger leg openings, like regular or relaxed fit,s absolutely must have the right length because if they hang down longer around your feet, they look saggy.
For women, a popular straight-leg jean trend is to wear them, so the hem hits your leg above the ankle. Putting the hem at the skinniest part of your leg makes the jeans look as if they outline your shape, even though they do not!
For men, try to avoid the “dad jeans” look, and don’t buy too-long regular-fit jeans. If you want the hem of your jeans to reach down to cover your boots, try a pair of bootcut jeans instead, as the flared leg opening on these jeans looks better in a longer length.
Capri or CroppedCapris and cropped jeans have unique lengths that end between your knee and ankle, though the specific hemline can vary a lot from one style to another.
The most important guideline to consider with these short jeans is that you do not want the hemline to end at the widest section of your calf. This will make your legs look squat and fat. Instead, try to find either capris or cropped jeans that end where your calf begins to curve in and narrow.
Generally speaking, capris remain mostly a women’s style, though you can find a few cropped jeans trends here and there for men as well.
Capris can come in a flared or slim-fit style. This casual type of women’s pants tends to go in and out of style pretty often, so you may want to do some research before putting on these short jeans.
Cropped jeans remain extremely popular, as they have for several decades. This style trends for both men and women, with the perfect length hitting you about an inch above your ankle bone. You need to make sure you wear the right casual footwear, such as canvas boat shoes or mules, to make it look as if you selected the short length of the jeans on purpose!
Relaxed FitRelaxed-fit jeans have a lot of variation in the most stylish length because you can wear them in so many different ways. This comfortable cut for jeans provides extra space in the seat and thighs and usually has wide legs. Because of this, some men’s and women’s styles today allow wearing relaxed-fit jeans with extra length in the lower leg so that the jeans bunch up at the ankle above your shoe.
But you also commonly see these wide jeans worn with a simple full break in the hem at the top of the shoe, with no extra wrinkles. This second style has a cleaner, neater look. The extra wrinkles, especially with high-top sneakers, can present more of an urban street-style look.
This holds true for both men and women. To decide what jean length you want, think about what kind of style you want to present. If you want comfortable, classic-looking jeans, go for a simple full break instead of any extra length in the legs.
Women’s jeans in a boyfriend or girlfriend cut have a slightly looser fit and a longer length, but you should always wear them with the hem rolled up in a cuff that hits your leg a couple of inches over your ankle.
Just like a boyfriend cardigan, boyfriend jeans have a loose, boxy style meant to mimic the idea of a woman borrowing men’s clothing. They tend to have a comfy fit, but the length can prove problematic because you have to create it yourself by rolling up the hem into a cuff. You want the lower fold of the cuff to hit your leg above your ankle but not as high as midcalf.
The best way to get a nice-looking cuff is to measure your first fold at both side seams with a ruler and make sure you fold up the whole circle of the cuff in a precise two inches. Then fold over that first fold once more. You could also iron the fold into place to get a nice crease if you want.
If you still have questions about jean length, check out the answers to height and length questions here!
What Height is 34 Length Jeans
Jeans with a 34 length or 34-inch inseam will typically fit men with a height of about 6’ to 6’3”. Men’s jeans use the inseam measurement as the second part of the size, which is why you can find jeans with a “34 length,” which just means the inches of the inseam measurement.
Of course, the best way to find out if a 34 length will fit you is to measure your own inseam! Put on a pair of jeans or pants that fit you well and measure from the crotch seam, down your inner leg, and to the hem of the pants. If that length also measures 34 inches, the new jeans will likely have a good length for your height.
What Length is 32 inch Jeans
Jeans described as “32 inches” could have a 32-inch waist circumference or a 32-inch inseam, so you will want to read the product description to find the specific length. A 32-inch inseam is pretty common for men’s and women’s jeans. It means that the distance up the inner leg between the hem and the crotch seam measures 32 inches.
Are 30 Length Jeans Short
Jeans with a length of 30 inches have a pretty average inseam for women’s jeans but fall on the shorter side for men’s jeans. A 30-inch inseam is the shortest length offered by many brands selling men’s jeans.
A 30-inch inseam often fits well on men between 5’10” and 6”. This can cause problems for men with a height under 5’10”, who often have to take jeans to a tailor for a custom hem job because many brands don’t sell jeans in the right length for their height.
Where Should Jeans Sit on Shoes?
The way your jeans should sit on your shoes depends on the style of jeans you wear and also the type of shoes you plan to wear with them.
- Skinny jeans look good with casual footwear like sneakers or ballet flats, though the hem of the jeans should never touch the shoes. Make sure the hemline ends at or just above your ankle, showing a gap between the denim and your shoe. You can also embrace a more eclectic style by pairing your skinnies with combat boots, work boots, or even high heels.
- Slim-fit jeans have a tailored, classy look that goes well with slightly nicer shoes like loafers, heels, or office-style footwear. Ideally, you want the lowest edge of the hem to brush the top of your foot or the top of your shoes (depending on the style of shoes) as you wear these jeans. You do not want the slim-fits jeans to fold over onto the top of your foot, but you also do not want to see a slice of your ankle between the top of the shoe and the hem of the jeans.
- Bootcut jeans should hang long to accommodate tall boots or high heels. For men, check to make sure the wide bottom of these jeans hangs down around the ankle portion of the boot, or try on the jeans with your boots and measure to make sure the hem reaches just an inch above the ground. For women, you want your boot cuts to almost touch the ground, hanging down to just half an inch from the floor.
- Regular jeans should usually have a full break, meaning they fold over slightly on the top of your shoes. These casual jeans look good with sneakers or other low-key footwear.
- For a relaxed fit and boyfriend-style jeans, you have to consider whether you want to cuff the jeans into a shorter length. If you want a shorter length, the jeans will not touch your shoes! If you wear them full-length, you usually want a full break, so the denim folds over on top of your shoe.
How Long Should Jeans Be Without Shoes?
The perfect jean length without shoes depends on the style of jeans you pick.
Shorter jeans like skinny jeans, capris, cropped jeans, and cuffed boyfriend jeans should always end well above your shoes.
Skinny jeans should end around your ankle–you can decide if you like the hem better just above or below your ankle bone. Capris and cropped jeans should end below the widest part of your calf. If you cuff your boyfriend jeans, you want the cuff to hit you between the skinny part of your calf and the top of your ankle.
Jeans with broader leg openings should look longer when worn without shoes. For instance, bootcut jeans may touch the floor when you wear them without shoes, especially for women. Regular or straight-leg jeans should have a full break on the top of your foot, meaning they fold over or look a bit crumped on top of your foot when you wear them without shoes.
Where Should Jeans Sit On Ankle?
Some styles of jeans, like skinny and slim-fit jeans, look best when the hemline ends around your ankle.
The exact spot the hem hits your ankle can vary, though. If you want a trendy, shorter look, you can get skinny or slim-fit jeans at the top of your ankle bone. For a slightly more traditional look, go for jeans that end just below your ankle–just make sure they don’t scrunch down onto the top of your foot.
What is the Proper Length of Jeans?
The proper length of jeans depends on the style of your jeans and the kind of shoes you wear with them. You now know that you can find variations within any popular denim style, but in a nutshell, look for these lengths for all of the most popular cuts of jeans today:
- For men and women, wear skinny jeans with a hemline that hits you at or just above or below the knob of your ankle bone.
- Look for slim-fit pants that just touch the top of your foot or shoe, and pair them with shoes like loafers for men or flats for women.
- Find bootcut jeans that hang as long as one inch off the ground for men and half an inch off the ground for women.
- Regular jeans with straight legs usually look best with a full break on top of your boot or shoe. This means that the hem hits the shoe and folds over just slightly.
- Capris and cropped jeans should end between your knee and your ankle at the point where your calf begins to narrow. You do not want these short jeans to end at the fullest part of your calf.
- Comfy relaxed-fit jeans can have a slightly longer length with a full break on top of your shoes or boots.
- Boyfriend jeans can have a full-length relaxed fit, but you usually wear this style with a double-folded cuff that should hit your leg just where your calf begins to narrow.