My Fall Denim Edit

I always include a pair of jeans in my travel wardrobes. Outfits from Paris and Lake Como. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Denim, A Wardrobe Staple…

Earlier this month, I set aside some time to do a thorough closet clear out. I love my denim, and over the last few years have accumulated quite a few pairs of jeans. While I’ve learned to be cautious about declaring any particular style or silhouette “over,” I think a periodic refresh of even my wardrobe “soulmates” helps keep me looking current.

What I Tossed

Some of my jeans were feeling a bit tired, or were pairs I just hadn’t worn as much recently. Here’s what I culled:

  • dark washes with obvious, high-contrast whiskering or fading on thighs. These were hard to avoid a couple of years ago if you wanted a pair of dark wash jeans, but there are much better options now (see below).
  • navy sateen. I bought these as a dark wash alternative, never wore them.
  • knee rips. Though I never featured them on the blog, I had one pair that I thought I’d wear during warmer weather. They were comfortable, but I found them hard to style without looking too rugged.
  • super light wash boyfriend style. Again, this was a pair I’d purchased last year thinking they’d work for warmer months, but they just felt “off” somehow.
  • a few pairs that were stretched out, faded, bedraggled.

What I Kept

  • skinny and slim leg. Mostly dark washes, little or no distressing. Wear with: flats, ankle boots, longer tops. These are also my preferred style for travel.
  • straight leg. Dark and medium washes. These include some cropped styles, and some with released hems. Wear with: ankle boots, wedges, platforms, block heels, any shoe with a bit more visual volume.
  • bootcut. One pair in a dark wash with a longer hem, one pair in a lighter wash with a cropped hem. Wear with: wedges, block heels, heeled ankle boots
  • black denim (solid) in skinny and straight leg styles. A little dressier than blue denim, but still easy to style.
  • white denim. One pair in a straight leg style.
  • grey denim. One pair in a skinny leg. I’m on the lookout for a straight leg style that’s not too full.
  • olive, skinny. Not denim exactly, but 5-pocket jeans style.

Best In Class: My Fall Denim Picks

Here are my top picks for fall denim in skinny, slim leg, straight leg and bootcut styles. Some are a bit on the spendy side, but they’re also the styles that I’ve kept and worn for years. I find that especially with more fitted styles, fabric quality and cut do make a difference. Try not to wash jeans more than necessary, and always in cold water. I do put mine in the dryer on low heat, remove while slightly damp, and then line dry.

A staple in my fall denim wardrobe: Eileen Fisher skinny jeans in Indigo. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Skinny. Organic cotton skinny jeans in Indigo, in Misses, Petites and Plus. These were my first pair of skinny jeans, and are IMO are still the best-fitting and most comfortable.

AG The Abbey skinny jeans dark wash. details at une femme d'un certain age.

I have a prior season’s version of this jean and they’re one of my most often worn pairs.

AG Prima cigarette leg jean dark wash. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Slim Leg. A bit hard to tell from this image, but they’re not quite as snug through the lower leg as a skinny. Sometimes referred to as a “cigarette leg,” I find this is one of the most versatile jean styles. I prefer my skinny and slim leg jeans hemmed to top-of-the-ankle length, but some like them longer. (This is the style/cut I’m wearing in both outfits at top, just in different washes.)

J.Crew vintage straight jean with raw hems. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Straight Leg. I’ve been wearing this pair multiple times per week. (The wash is not as whiskered in person as it looks online, IMO.)

Citizens of Humanity Emanuelle bootcut jeans dark wash. Details at une femme d'un certain age.Bootcut. A full-length boot cut jean can be one of the most flattering styles. The dark wash style I kept has been discontinued, but I’ve seen several recommendations for these. In Plus sizes, this style is well-reviewed.

Fall denim pick: black coated slim jeans from Eileen Fisher. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Black jeans. If I were going to add just one pair of black jeans to my wardrobe this fall, it would be these coated slim jeans. Comfortable, washable, and they can dress up or own. Offered in Misses, Petites and Plus.

What styles of jeans do you wear most often?

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28 Comments

  1. August 23, 2018 / 5:20 am

    I love my high-rise skinny and straight leg jeans. Just bought straight leg high rise white jeans from Frame and love the fit. I also prefer them a bit cropped. I’ve started wearing again a pair of faded reddish/coral pair of cropped jeans from Elie Tahari that I didn’t wear for a couple of years. The legs are looser then some and I love them with my sneakers and a simple tee.
    As a side note, I almost dismissed that first pair (Eileen Fisher) pictured because they look low-rise with the way the shirt is bloused over the waist. But I clicked on them and they’re high-rise. Yah.
    Feels like fall here today. Cool and lovely. Sweater and jeans weather here we come!

  2. Kathleen M
    August 23, 2018 / 5:28 am

    Thanks so much for this fabulous explanation of jeans. I now know my body would prefer the slim leg to the skinny leg. I’ve recently lost some weight and in 2 weeks will be traveling to Minneapolis where there is a Nordstorm. (When I lived on the west coast it was my go-to store.)

    I am lacking dark blue jeans in my wardrobe and need a good pair. I’m more concerned with the fit and quality than the price as I’d consider them an investment.

  3. August 23, 2018 / 5:58 am

    Susan, Would you consider some definitions or more detailaed explanation for the clueless among us? For example, what is the difference in slim leg and skinny? And I could also use an explanation of straight leg. I do understand boot cut Also, would talk about denim fabrics? How much stretch is too much stretch? Do you always wear jeans with some stretch or do you also like purely cotton jeans.

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 23, 2018 / 8:08 am

      Hi Susan, with regard to skinny vs. slim, it’s more a matter of degree than a clear defining line. It’s about the leg opening circumference. A true skinny is more fitted through the calf and ankle, while a cigarette leg is straighter from the knee down. What retailers are calling “straight leg” is usually a straight and more relaxed fit. But these definitions can vary from brand to brand.

      I have to have jeans that stretch…a little. I don’t like fabric with so much stretch that it feels more like jersey than denim, but I can’t wear jeans without any give either. Usually a 98% cotton/2% elastane is enough stretch for me if the fit is good.

      • Pam
        August 24, 2018 / 9:26 am

        Thank goodness for your explanation! I’ve been confused about these “skinny/straight” leg versions and can’t often discern differences by looking at online photos and reading descriptions. (Choices not readily available locally to sample in this small beach town……)

        • Susan D.
          August 24, 2018 / 7:44 pm

          I’m glad I am not the only one who needed an explanation!! I agree that too much stretch is not a good idea.

  4. Linda B Kerr
    August 23, 2018 / 6:18 am

    I am so surprised that the ripped “style” has lasted as long as it has. It seems very pretentious and I never thought it was attractive, Alas, I see it’s still around.

    • Colleen Hickling
      August 23, 2018 / 12:17 pm

      Altho the look is fine on our 11 yr old granddaughter and her friends, I agree with you. Ripped jeans are past their BB date.

  5. Nancy
    August 23, 2018 / 7:22 am

    I love denim. I just bought the whiskered bottomed jean shown in the photo. Do you think women over the age of 5o should wear the ripped jeans style ? I’ve only seen teens and young (20’s) people wearing them where I live,

  6. Garden Goddess
    August 23, 2018 / 7:45 am

    If the only problem you have with a pair of jeans is that they are a bit faded, you could always just dye them back to a nice, dark shade–it’s pretty easy. Just make sure to “set” the color with some vinegar, then wash them separately for a while (or at least with a load of blue jeans).

  7. Rondi
    August 23, 2018 / 7:54 am

    I really enjoyed this post. I can’t imagine what anyone’s wardrobe would be like without jeans! I especially enjoyed your comments about which shoes to wear with the different styles of jeans. I also appreciate your honesty when you stated that you got rid of a couple pairs that you never wore or that just didn’t work. It happens. I have a great pair of black jeans so its also good to know they are still being worn. Very helpful post!

  8. August 23, 2018 / 10:08 am

    I am well provided in the jeans department. You hae a nice selection as well. And you look good in them.
    But I never dare putting them in the dryer with all that elastine in them. Apparently I am too careful.
    Greetje

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 23, 2018 / 12:01 pm

      Thank you! I’ve never had a problem as long as I keep on low heat. Otherwise they take WAY too long to dry! 😉

  9. Cathy D.
    August 23, 2018 / 10:08 am

    Due to recent weight loss, I’ve tossed all my jeans. I just bought a pair of dark indigo, mid-rise, slim and straight jeans from Lands’ End, and am wearing them right now. If they work out I will buy several more pairs. They fit better than any jeans I’ve had in the past few years. I do not expect them to last forever, but neither have the many pairs of premium denim I just tossed. The dark color is wonderful with no whiskering and the fit is very comfortable. They are very slim, just short of being skinny but without the tightness behind the knee and in the calf that I cannot stand. I love them!

    Thank you for this post. As usual, it’s very helpful.

  10. Kathryn51
    August 23, 2018 / 10:13 am

    Thank you for your “guidance” on shoe styles/heel heights. The shoes in my closet are (1) flats/moccasin/etc. and (2) Paul Greene heels (sandals, booties, etc). Your list is a quick guide for pairing up with the different jean styles.

  11. Maggie
    August 23, 2018 / 4:37 pm

    Hi,

    I used to wear only NYDJ in petite in the small sizes but always wanted to try Diane Gilman jeans on HSN. I am larger on the top than I am on the bottom but I finally fit into the Diane Gilman boot cut jeggings in PXS.. I was looking for a jean to use as pants for a sort of uniform for school and work after reading about Matilda Kahl who wore the same thing to work for 2 years. I bought 6 pairs of the same jean on sale a year ago in April and wore them almost every day. (I washed them in cold water and hung to dry and they have shrunken only a little bit in length.) I have been trying out 2 different styles of t-shirts in gray and off-white since a year ago April. They are starting to lose their shape and look pretty worn so I have been scouring the stores today to find a replacement.

    This has been quite an experiment for me since I used to be quite the fashionista!

  12. Janet
    August 23, 2018 / 6:11 pm

    This is very helpful. Thank you!

  13. Maggie
    August 24, 2018 / 3:48 am

    Hi,

    I originally bought a pair of NYDJ at Nordstrom and then found them on sale at 6pm.com and Nordstrom Rack. Diane Gilman on HSN also has regular zipper jeans that have regular sizing with stretch. I have not bought jeans from Isaac Mizrahi on QVC but I have bought his 24/7 stretch pants in petite and they fit me well.

    Regards,
    Maggie

  14. Maggie
    August 24, 2018 / 3:50 am

    Hi,

    I originally bought a pair of Not Your Daughter’s Jeans at Nordstrom and then found them on sale at 6pm.com and Nordstrom Rack. Diane Gilman also has regular zipper jeans that have regular sizing with stretch. I have not bought jeans from Isaac Mizrahi on QVC but I have bought his 24/7 stretch pants in petite and they fit me well when I need something dressier.

    Regards,
    Maggie

  15. August 24, 2018 / 5:38 am

    I’ve been wearing only 100% cotton jeans for awhile now. I know a bit of stretch is flattering, but I can’t stand the feel of them. Great explanation on the different styles. I’ve been wearing a straight or wide leg jean mostly.

  16. Marybeth
    August 24, 2018 / 9:15 am

    Re; Ripped jeans… admittedly, I purchased a pair of white jeans, ripped @ knees… kinda strange but I do have to say that they are nice & cool for hot weather! I took them to Las Vegas & was glad & I had them… & yes, I’m 72…

  17. Pam
    August 24, 2018 / 9:43 am

    I mostly wear skinnies, and skinny-straight since they look better with long tops and cardigans. Full length still looks best on my body. I have some nice bootcut jeans I’d love to wear this fall, but experiencing difficulty finding/understanding the right kind of tops for my shape (and age) to make the overall look work. Although I have a nice waist, the weight around my hips and tummy are challenging when I search for slimmer tops to balance the bootcut jeans. I’d love to see some good styling examples – have searched online but haven’t found flattering looks for my “8” shape yet. Sigh……

  18. August 24, 2018 / 1:35 pm

    I just wanted to add my 2 cents on ripped jeans. I have them, wear them and love them (not overly ripped up, but knee holes at least). “Tastefully ripped”–haha!). I think it is a personal preference. I don’t care for overly light or dark rinse jeans, it’s midwash for me. I’m 58 yrs. old.

  19. August 26, 2018 / 8:50 pm

    I need to cull my jeans collection too… keep the ones I love and wear regularly and let the others go. Recently my favourites have been a pair of bright red skinnies purchased second hand!

  20. Spacegeek33
    August 28, 2018 / 10:39 am

    How about colored jeans (straight or skinny), and coated jeans (skinny)? Still “in”?

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 28, 2018 / 12:17 pm

      Coated jeans, absolutely! Colored jeans: not seeing as many colors/styles as in recent fall collections, however I’m still wearing mine in olive and burgundy. I think in classic colors, they never really go out of style.

  21. Janet
    September 8, 2018 / 7:37 am

    I am a size 8. I find I can’t fit into slim jeans. My legs are heavier and I feel like a stuffed sausage when I put them on. If I size up the waist is too big and the crotch slides down. Straight jeans seem like skinnies to me. Any suggestions ?

    • Susan B
      Author
      September 8, 2018 / 7:53 am

      Hi Janet, a lot of brands are now offering what they call “curvy” jeans, which are cut a little fuller through the hips and thighs. You may also want to try a regular or cropped bootcut style.

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