Easing Up

Two outfits featuring straight leg jeans. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Comfort has always been non-negotiable for me, and that’s true now more than ever. I can’t tolerate clothing that’s binding or restricting. (And I’ve even become one of those people who removes scratchy labels from inside of my clothes.)

Above: left | right

For the last few years I’ve relied on a long-over-lean silhouette. It works well with my proportions and helps keep my wardrobe cohesive. I wear a lot of jeans, most of which have been on the slim-to-skinny side. They have enough stretch for comfort, but even so I’ve been making a shift recently to styles with more ease in the legs. In addition to being more comfortable, they feel a little more current and modern.

If you’ve been wearing mostly skinny jeans, it can take your eye a while to adjust to a silhouette with more volume. Because I’m petite, I have to be careful to balance volume in an outfit, lest I look swallowed up by my clothing. And I find that because I’m curvy, I need to keep at least part of my outfit relatively fitted to avoid a sloppy effect.

I’m also easing up on the notion of what’s “flattering.” Not completely, but I’m finding a new balance. Let’s call it “flattering enough.” Here are some of the criteria I’ve found help achieve that:

  • For now, I’m sticking to slimmer versions of straight leg jeans, and keeping the length at or just above the ankle.
  • Sticking with a true straight cut rather than one that narrows at the ankle.
  • Though I think those wide cuffs are kind of fun, I’m just too short/wide to pull them off.
  • Darker washes may be better for those with thick or muscular legs.
  • Avoiding boxy shapes on the top, and opting for a long outer layer helps too.

Here are a few of the straight leg jeans that I’ve tried and found easy to wear/style:

Eileen Fisher (Petite / Plus) | AG | J.Crew | Current Elliott | Frame

(Be advised, some of these are described as “cropped” which is often ankle length on me. Be sure to check inseam measurements.)

And these from NYDJ are full-length and get consistently good reviews: Marilyn Straight Leg  (Petite / Plus)

Is there a particular silhouette you wear most often? Do you ever change it up?

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27 Comments

  1. Susan B
    April 10, 2018 / 8:04 am

    test

  2. April 10, 2018 / 9:15 am

    I always used to wear NYDJ and loved them but they seem to have changed the styles and the fabric and I currently can’t find any that I like. Mybe they are better in the States.

    • April 11, 2018 / 1:27 am

      Ah not just me then, I used to love them but I think the fabric quality has deteriorated (in the UK ) and the styles have gone a bit frumpy.

  3. Darling Lily
    April 10, 2018 / 10:08 am

    For whatever reason, skinny jeans look best on me. I can manage a Boyfriend cut if I roll the cuffs up, but a closer fit just works best somehow.

  4. Susan
    April 10, 2018 / 10:37 am

    I have pretty muscular calves so skinny jeans do not work on me; they tend to pull my pants down!!!!

  5. Brit
    April 10, 2018 / 10:43 am

    I just returned from spring break in London. My take aways: Lots of chunky oxfords and short black boots, wide leg jeans and cropped flowy pants, chunky sweaters, “mom” jeans, and a vibe that reminded me simultaneously of the early Eighties AND the mid-early Nineties. And lots of Dr. Martens! Some of these trends could be challenging to translate to women of a certain age, but I really liked the chunky oxfords and think any age could pull those off.

  6. Nicole K
    April 10, 2018 / 10:51 am

    I’be found the Paige style Jacqueline as my new jean. It works well with all of the shoes I’ve tried, has a straighter, but not wide leg, and hits at a good length on my 5’4” frame (cropped-not capri). It’s a nice update and worked better for me than the AG Isabelle. Another great post! Thanks Susan.

  7. SusanG
    April 10, 2018 / 11:14 am

    I try to follow the Halston mantra of dress for the life you live. This winter it’s been long over lean: a column-of-color with leggings, ponte pants or Everlane go-weaves.That’s followed by a long sweater jacket, vest/gilet or kimono. I live in the midwest and we are all praying to the Weather Zeus for warm, sunny weather. When it comes, it’s dresses (some with capri leggings underneath), light-weight crop pants, matching tops, kimonos, shawls and scarves.
    I rarely wear jeans. For my generation, they were the uniform, but I never liked them. I only wear them when I’m hiking in the woods. I’m on the lookout, though, for interesting trousers.

  8. LINDA
    April 10, 2018 / 11:26 am

    I am 5’3″ with short, muscular legs. I am also very small on top with a long torso. I have liked the skinny jeans only because I can buy them in regular length and just cuff them. I can’t wear petite, because (I don’t care what they say) petite is too short in the torso. Recently though, I have been realizing they are not really the best style for my body type. I want to go back to straight leg. I have a couple of pair, but they are a tad too long and only look good with certain shoes. I love loafers & oxfords, but trying to figure out how to cuff my straight leg jeans, or since frayed hems are popular, if I could try a “do it yourself” fray. I love the just above the ankle look.

    • Rita
      April 11, 2018 / 6:04 pm

      With a long torso, you can wear pants that have a high waist, with a tucked-in or crop top. Take your jeans to the cleaners and ask about having them shortened. Even with a frayed look, there needs to be a line of stitching around the top of the frayed part.

      • Lise
        April 16, 2018 / 6:39 am

        I think that you can DIY your straight leg jeans. Raw hems are very on trend (Not that frayed). I have done a pair myself. Lise

  9. Daniella Karo
    April 10, 2018 / 11:55 am

    I’m not fond of “one rule” formulas. Of course, one needs to be cognizant of one’s body proportions, and simply neglect what’s the latest fashion pin on models that are basically “clothes hangers”! Wide, straight, slim, skinny, short, long, etc.. jeans can work on almost everybody if the fit is right. That’s where the French women excel at, altering everything and anything within an inch of their body.

  10. Lyn
    April 10, 2018 / 12:33 pm

    Susan, I’m with you on one advantage of being short — the “cropped” length often hits me right at the ankle bone, the perfect length for me. It’s a luxury to buy something that fits without alterations.

    Straight leg jeans work best for me too. No problem with muscular calves here. It’s my knees! The skinny jeans look great standing up, but when I sit down they cut off my circulation. (I save them for times when I’m trying to look stylish for my daughters.)

  11. Susan D.
    April 10, 2018 / 1:01 pm

    I am so hard to fit in jeans that I tend to buy what fits,paying more attention to fit than the specific style.

  12. Angela
    April 10, 2018 / 1:11 pm

    Scratchy labels have always been my bete noir. They have also ruined lovely undies, unbeknownst to me until far too late. Have loved skinny jeans, being the same shape as you, but where I really struggle is the rise. The style that has been current, for what seems like an eternity, has me constantly hitching them up (I am a moderated H shape) and it seems to be taking an age for higher rise to arrive in New Zealand. It’s then like a domino effect trying to find tops to cover the inevitable muffin top. So yes, it’s more of the “flattering enough” attitude for me too.

  13. TERYL WITTWER
    April 10, 2018 / 1:42 pm

    At 54 years old and 5’6 (okay – maybe I’m really 5’5!) I love wearing wide-legged crops and am so happy that they are back. I wore them years ago.. The proportions of the wide leg balance out my wider hips and wider bust. But, like many of you, I wear all kids of bottoms, as long as they flatter my figure (wide leg with higher heels, skinny with flats or low heels)

  14. Cathy D.
    April 10, 2018 / 2:01 pm

    I love straight leg jeans and am wearing the LL Bean 1912 jeans at the moment. I’m 5’2″ and had them hemmed long to wear unrolled with sneakers for winter. They also look great rolled in warmer months, which will hopefully arrive very soon. Skinny jeans look fine on me, but they are so uncomfortable I cannot stand to wear them. When I sit down and then stand up, I have to bend over to pull them down… not a good looking move. I’m so glad they are on the way out. Here in Manhattan the only people still wearing skinny jeans are the high school girls.

  15. Holly Beaver
    April 10, 2018 / 5:26 pm

    I’m so glad to hear you are short, as I am. Since you often seem to favor Eileen Fisher, I assume you have a pair of the jeans in those you suggested. I’m older and probably wider than you but I will give these a try. I like the Frame jeans in your photo but they would probably be way below ankle length on me. Thanks for the suggestions

  16. Jill Ann
    April 10, 2018 / 7:18 pm

    Hate, hate, wide legged crops. Also wish cropped pants in general would go out of style, just like I wished for low-rise pants to go out of style (which they finally did). I’m tallish and have a long rise, and a belly. Perfect pants for me are full length and fairly high rise, so as to avoid the muffin top. I like skinny jeans or straight legs. I also love wide legged pants IF they are floor-sweeping length.

  17. Stephanie Anderson
    April 11, 2018 / 12:18 am

    I just got back from 2 weeks in Japan, where I had a glorious vacation from leggings and skinny jeans!! Not one Japanese woman would appear in public with leggings. They favor wide-legged jeans and trousers, or skirts, usually knee length and worn with dark tights. As a tall woman with horrible thick legs, I have never tried to wear skinny jeans, which have become so ubiquitous for SO MANY YEARS here in the US. It was so refreshing to go somewhere with such diverse ways of dressing. Now if I can get my 20-something daughters to abandon those infernal leggings, I’ll be a happy camper!

  18. Gillian CADMAN
    April 11, 2018 / 5:03 am

    Bonjour Susan, I love this casual style and your take on fashion in général, and your blog which I’ve been following for a couple of months now. You’re honest and inspiring……and you love France!! ( I’ve been living in Provence for over 40 years) Amicalement, Gillian.

  19. Vicki
    April 11, 2018 / 9:02 am

    OMG! Lovely Sezanne separates on Nordstrom site.
    My stores don’t have the pieces.
    Just ordered blazers to try on in two sizes.

    • Susan B
      April 11, 2018 / 9:07 am

      Yes! They’re doing a partnership for the Spring collection, hopefully will become a permanent collaboration. http://shopstyle.it/l/FhG8

  20. Linda
    April 11, 2018 / 2:57 pm

    Susan, thank you for providing me the descriptions and vocabulary to think about which pants will suit me at 5’ 2”. These kinds of post help me as I am unskilled in such analysis, where it is your strength.

    Linda

  21. April 14, 2018 / 8:57 am

    My favorite jeans are both stylish and economical. They’re the Style & Co Tummy-Control Slim-Leg jeans from Macy’s. Available in all size ranges with a choice of regular or short inseams. Full price is $49 and are often on sale for $24.99. I will put these jeans against any of the designer jeans I own that cost $150+. Try them … you won’t be sorry you did!

    • Mona
      April 14, 2018 / 1:47 pm

      Yes! I love Style and Co. too.

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