Playing It Straight

Marilyn in “The Misfits”

If you sometimes feel as though you’ve been left in the dust by recent jean trends: the skinny, the boyfriend, the ankle, the sailor, the flare…then it’s time to take another look at that old stalwart, the straight leg jean.

NYDJ “Marilyn” 

I’m not talking about the oft-derided “Mom Jeans” of yore (which were actually tapered at the ankle) but a true “stovepipe” silhouette that creates a strong vertical line and the look of lean and longer legs. In a dark wash with dark stitching like the pair above (my new faves), they can be dressed up with heels for an evening out, and when paired with a jacket they’re sleek, polished and professional enough for the Business Casual office. Roll up an inch or two and wear with gladiator sandals on the weekend. Wear them with boots (in or out), oxfords, wedges, espadrilles, flats.

I’m still a big fan of NYDJ (Not Your Daughter’s Jeans), and they offer several styles and washes in a straight leg cut, as well as an extensive range of styles in Petite, Plus and Tall sizing. (Also try, and; both carry a decent selection.)

NYDJ “Hayden”
NYDJ “Marilyn” in white

If you’re into the colored jeans trend, these from APC are one of the few I’ve seen in a straight leg style:

A.P.C. straight leg

If you have a taste for premium denim or prefer a lower rise, there are options for you:

7 For All Mankind “LA Dark” wash
Paige “Skyline” straight leg

And always classic, Levi’s.

Levi’s Modern Bold Curve
Levi’s 505

Are you a fan of straight leg jeans?  Any favorite brands or styles? How do you like to wear them?

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  1. Yes, I love a dark straight leg jean – so thanks for this selection. I was very disappointed when we were in New York at Easter to find the shops full of super skinny jeggings!

  2. I am a fan of NYDJ Marilyn too, seem to fit me the best. Love the straight jean style also, can be worn with different style shoes. Thanks for a great post, as always! Judy

  3. I still like boot cut the best. Are they “out”? I’m the one stuck in ugly gym shoes because of a foot injury and I feel like the boot cut at least can spread out and hide them a little better.

  4. I have always preferred the straight leg jean as I found them very flattering. The boot-cut is also flattering and gives me the opportunity to wear well-concealed platforms adding inches to my height-challenged physique. I like the “jeggings” for boot wear only.

  5. What a wonderful post (and I am not just saying that because of that shot of gorgeous Marilyn 🙂 I had never heard of the NYDJ but look them up after I return from France, where I will be landing in just a few hours. I know better than to buy American jeans in Europe 🙂 Thank you for the tips. I admit to being partial to boot leg cuts, mais pourquoi pas? Maybe it is time to try a new cut. Bon weekend. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  6. Agreed! Very dark wash preferred but please no lines emanating from my crotch. I despise “whiskering” faked fading, aging paint splatters etc.

  7. I’ve done amazingly well with JBrand….mid-rise, dark (ink) wash and coral with a straight leg and tapered bottom. But I do also love my kelly green jeans from American Apparel. I was killing time trying them on while waiting for my daughter. They are high-rise and skinny but they have a somewhat concealed zipper at the ankle so I can get them over my foot! Who knew?

  8. Thank you for that photo of Marilyn!!! kathy peck is correct that today she would probably be considered overweight…so sad.

    Mid-rise… straight leg or slight boot cut… stretchy skinny under tall boots… wash depends on what I’m wearing them with. Now that I’ve said that, upon reflection, I seldom wear jeans any more.

  9. I am a dark wash, straight leg, mid rise girl!! And it took years to decide that! I do love my red denims…they are fun!

  10. After much running around and bemoaning and complaining that it’s impossible to find jeans that fit a 50-something but not heavy (size 6) woman, I finally forced myself to try NYDJ. I don’t even know which styles I got, but I ended up buying 3 pairs of them – a straight leg, a skinny, and an almost-legging (for long plane trips). They fit me better than almost anything else I have tried in years! Pricey, but worth it. At the other end of the price spectrum I have to give a shout-out to Levi’s 512’s. Less than $50, and they fit me perfectly. My only complaint is that they don’t come in black – that’s why I ended up trying NYDJ.

    Oh, and I’m straight leg/skinny leg all the way. I find them so much easier to wear than boot cut. With boot cuts, you practically need a different pair of pants for every heel height in your closet. And they’re not so flattering if one’s legs are short, like mine.

  11. Delightful coincidence: I just opened a package from Hautelook containing my NYDJ darkwash Marilyns ordered last week. They have a wonderful, classic look to them and are quite flattering. I must admit that the rhinestone appliques on the back pockets were a surprise: my daughter found them tacky, but I have been known, upon occasion, to enjoy small, tacky touches.

  12. I love straight legs, but it seems most everything out there these days is bootcut. Sure hope that changes by the time it’s cool enough for boots again. I have some funky boots I love wearing on the outside of my jeans!

  13. I agree but you skimmed over a very practical issue so many jean articles do. No you cannot wear jeans with heels, flats or cuffed to make them a little cropped. If we buy jeans long to wear with heels as shown in all your pics, we can cuff/roll them for the cropped look. We cannot wear them with flats will be too long. Jeans come with enough emotional baggage without setting up false expectations on how to deal with the length.

    Please give us a break!

    1. Neats, I guess it just depends on individual style, but I *do* wear the same pair of straight leg jeans with different shoes/heel heights. Since mine are cut to hit just below the ankle, the height of the heel becomes less important than it would on a bootcut, which is supposed to land an inch or so above the ground. Chacun à son gout, and all that.

    2. Same here – if they’re truly straight or slightly tapered, I have them all the same length and can wear flats or heels with them and they look fine (or I think they do anyway….)

  14. I am with you on this one, I like straight leg…NYDJ fit well. For summer, I like them just above the ankles with flats..the thin part of the ankle. I am very particular on this one. The results could be tragic if they fall in the wrong place. It’s a science. 🙂

  15. I’m a big fan of and multi-owner of NYDJ too – straight leg, knee length and cropped. And while traveling up the Pacific Coast this summer, I just discovered, because I needed a couple more changes, Sonoma jean shorts – the style is “Skimmer.” They come to the knee but are fitted there, have some stretch and a little slit at the outside knee. I bought 3 – one in a marine blue, one in orange and one in a mustard color. Oh and a black pair – so I guess I bought 4. Oh my! Well they’re too much fun for summer and the price was oh so right($21 each)!

  16. The picture of Marilyn is great.
    I bought a pair of sevens, but sold them away. They dropped off me. So now I´m stuck with my 3 years old pair, a brand saying nothing to anyone.
    In fact, I´ll buy a new pair, when I come across something I like. Skinny ( not over- ) and naturally I must cuff them; ).

    1. Mette,
      You can sell anything it seems. If I come to Finland, I’m bringing a suitcase of clothing for you to sell for me!

  17. The photo of Marilyn is great. Sad that she’d probably be considered overweight now – a society gone crazy.
    I’m a holdout on the very dark wash – I still prefer a medium wash, or if I want to be dressier, black jeans. I wear AG jeans in Premiere Stilt, straight, but possibly slightly tapered at the bottom. The wash is very similar to the Levi’s modern bold curve photo. I don’t know why I can’t get behind the dark rinse?

  18. I’m with sisty, looked at photos and thought, skinny. I look for “trouser cut” as the ease in the thigh helps me and I love wide legs, but then I’m tall. NYDJ are great, I also buy Talbot’s trouser cut, about the only thing I’d buy there, as they fit and they show up at my door. There are sometimes very good sales, too.

    Am I the only one who finds those tummy-panel jeans or fabric with lots of spandex just too hot?

  19. What I love about this pic of Marilyn is that her jeans actually come up to her waist. Why does that style have such a bad name?
    Lately, I’ve been trying on many pairs lately..Gloria Vanderbilt classic and Sonoma classic fit have higher rises – my body breathes a sigh of relief.

  20. Great Post- I too love NYDJ ” Marilyn”, best fitting jean ever! I’m 5’3″ and the straight leg really is the best shape for us “littlies”. Am about to order another pair( at highly inflated prices here in Australia!), but didn’t know they came in white- might have to try to get a pair.
    Love your blog!

  21. I’m still a boot-cut kind of gal, but straight leg would probably be my second choice. And thanks for reinforcing the correct definition of “mom jean” (super high waist; tapered leg). That label is getting thrown around a lot these days, used to (wrongly!) slam any jeans that don’t have an absurdly low rise.

  22. These look more like skinny-legged jeans to me. When I think of straight-leg, I envision the leg falling straight down from the hip so that the bottom opening is a little bit wider. Not wide-legged, but wider. The orange APC pair come closest.

    I may be in the minority, but I think jeans look weird with a pump. Again, the APC pair looks better to my eye with the espadrille wedges.

    NYDJ have never worked for me. Right now I’m wearing my go-to pair of Lee’s natural fit, with the tummy panel sewn in. Dark wash, no bling, comfortable, and $16 at Ross.

  23. Even though I have a Marilyn like figure, I’m not a big fan of wide cut legs. Too voluminous. I do favor jeans that have a higher waist, if not quite as high as Marilyn’s. I haven’t tried NYDJ. I am going to seek them out. Great post.

  24. I love my NYD jeans, and they are so comfy (I’m 58 and that matters!), but here in Western Australia, they are horrendously expensive. My pair cost me $290!! And the Aussie dollar is about the same as yours. I will be trying to make them last …
    Wish I had bought a few pairs when I lived in SoCal

  25. I love my NYD jeans, and they are so comfy (I’m 58 and that matters!), but here in Western Australia, they are horrendously expensive. My pair cost me $290!! And the Aussie dollar is about the same as yours. I will be trying to make them last …
    Wish I had bought a few pairs when I lived in SoCal

  26. All these jeans look great! I hadn’t seen the NYDJ before, but it looks terrific. I will say, however, that for some of us, low-rise jeans are absolutely out of the question after babies!

    It’s also a real challenge to buy jeans when you are petite (and I don’t mean 5’4″ either; I mean 5’0 or less!) – even the “petites” have to be altered, and you just never know what’s going to work unless you try it.

    As to the Marilyn picture – she looks great. A real woman’s body – or at least – one variation of a real woman’s body, at a time when we weren’t expected to be homogeneous or look asexually emaciated.

  27. Straight leg jeans are without a doubt my preferred style. The skinny jean makes legs look like pins and are troublesome with boots, the flare doesn’t seem jean enough, but the straight jean is the original jean – the ’50s jean. I like them cuffed or straight. I buy all my jeans from Alfred Sung and don’t pay over $29 for them.

  28. I would love to wear jeans but have great trouble as I am a pear shape with a smallish waist. I always have a large gape at the back which looks silly and the jeans keep sliding down if I buy low waisted. I am off to Canada and the US soon so I will give NMDJ a try. I live in hope. I would love a darkish pair and a white pair if I can find some to fit. I also hate the pre aged and torn look. Had to laugh at the whiskers comment, so true.

  29. I have a pair of straight leg Levis and another of boot cut. I purchase my jeans in men’s sizes–which isn’t a boast, but an acknowledgment that men’s sizes take into account the size of the waist and the length of the leg. Plus, they are made of more durable denim.

    I love the Marilyn photo.

  30. I have jeans in most leg shapes,color washes & fits. As a woman of a certain age with hips, I favor a high waist, no matter the cut of the leg. My preference, and this is just on me, is high-waisted with minimal pockets to reduce bulk and a slightly flared bottom which looks best with heels. It gives me a sleeker look. Straight legs are great too as long as they are high waisted. The waist line that sits on the hips or below the navel just makes me look heavy.

    As for brands, I’ve had the most luck with Levis and Nine West. I haven’t yet doled out the cash for a premium jean but that will probably be my next jean purchase.

  31. My current jeans are Levis 50? bootcuts — not sure what number — but I’ll be looking for a pair of straightlegs when I’m next back in the States. It’s too hot for jeans here now anyway…

    I bought three pairs of cotton trousers when home in April that were bootcuts, but I had the flare removed when I got back, and hemmed them to ankle-bone length so I can wear them with my ubiquitous ballet flats and the occasional wedge espadrille. NOBODY in Spain thinks that bootcuts are fashionable — though you do occasionally see women wearing semi-gigantic flares. (I think they’re seen as stylish because they’re more obvious.)

    Whatever the leg width, I like my waistband two fingers’ width away from my belly button — that way they don’t press on the tender spot that ulcerative colitis has given me (it’s not just funky feet that can dictate fashion choices).

  32. My absolute favorite straight leg jeans, ones that skimmed my hips and then dropped right to the floor with minimal tapering, were a pair of Brittanias. They had no back pockets to draw attention to my uber-JLo type derriere and they made my short legs look a mile long. I’ve not attempted shopping for name brand jeans as I assumed they don’t make any to fit a mature size 24 so I take what I can get from Lane Bryant or sometimes Sears will carry Lands End jeans. But it wouldn’t hurt to take a peek at NYDJ now, would it?

  33. I have one pair of NYDJ’s bought at Ross for $34. Been looking for another one ever since. I cannot ABIDE low rise jeans – I have the same gap problem in the back (who knew it could be bad to have a little waist?) I work with a bunch of 20-somethings of every size and frankly, I get reminded multiple times per day of diaper changing. Besides, I have yet to find a pair of even moderately low rise that I don’t have to belt tightly just so they’ll stay up, and then they bruise my hipbones. Bleh.