A few years ago, when skinny jeans first started to appear in stores - and on legs - many of us assumed they'd be just another fashion flash-on-the-pan.
Oh, how wrong we were.
Fast-forward to today, and the popularity of the skinny jean has only grown, to the point where those drainpipe legs have become something of a style staple. That doesn't, however, make these jeans easy to wear, however: in fact, their skintight nature can make them hugely problematic for some people. Don't worry, though, that's why we're here, so if you're wondering what to wear with skinny jeans, here are some ideas for you...
What to wear with skinny jeans: tops
Because skinny jeans are so form-fitting, it can be tempting to wear them with longer-line tops or tunics, and if you're new to the world of the skinny jean, or feeling a little self-conscious about your hips/thighs/muffin top, this can be a really good idea: not only will the fabric of the top hide those problem areas, the longer line will help create that long, lean look skinny jeans are so famous for, by elongating the body to match the legs.
Try to avoid very baggy, shapeless tops, however: the proportions look wrong with skinny jeans, and can also make the look a little dated in that "baggy-sweater-and-leggings" way that was so popular in the 80s and 90s. Instead, stick to reasonably fitted tops, which skim the body.
If you're feeling more confident, however, shorter tops can also look good with skinny jeans, although be aware that this look is best left to those with lots of body confidence:
Want to try a top that's somewhere in-between these two extremes? Say hello to layering:
Alexa Chung's top here is a happy medium: neither too tight nor too baggy, it hits right on the hips, but the thin jacket and interesting jewellery draw the eye to the top half of the body, away from the legs. (Not that Alexa needs to worry about her legs...)
What to Wear with skinny jeans: shoes and boots
In terms of footwear, skinny jeans are pretty versatile. They look fantastic with heels, for a dressy look that elongates the legs:
But they also look good with flats, for a more laid-back, casual look:
In the photo above, the jeans are cropped to ankle length, which can look especially good with ballet flats, creating a very classic, Audrey Hepburn-esque look. If your skinny jeans are too long for this, try turning them up at the bottom: cute and chic!
Finally, skinny jeans are perfect with tall boots, because they're narrow enough to easily fit inside them:
Don't be scared to try over-the-knee boots with your skinnies, even if you don't have the legs of Claudia Schiffer: when pairs with a long-line top they can actually be surprisingly flattering, as the combination of boots and top will leave only a small area of the jeans showing, so if you're self-conscious about your legs, this could be a good one to try. (Thigh-high boots also make your legs look longer: bonus!) Of course, knee high boots will look just as good.
What NOT to wear with skinny jeans
We've talked about what you SHOULD wear with skinny jeans, but what about the things to avoid? The main culprits here are anything that adds significant bulk to your upper body: puffa jackets and chunky knits will make your torso look out of proportion, and give you a "matchstick legs" look. (Trust us, that's not a good thing...)
The other big no-no with skinny jeans is chunky footwear. Always remember that the skinny jeans will hug your leg and ankle, and that skinny ankle has the unfortunate ability to make your feet look larger in comparison, depending what you wear on them. Avoid trainers, flat platforms ("Flatforms"), and anything too chunky. Heels will make your feet look smaller, but ballet flats will also work with skinnies.
Some other quick tips on dressing in skinny jeans:
You don't need to be skinny to wear skinny jeans: the word "skinny" refers to the cut of the leg, not the shape of the wearer.
Pay close attention to fit: these jeans are much less forgiving than other cuts of denim, which means you really can't afford to size down in them.
Look for jeans in good quality fabric, with lots of stretch. Thin denim will outline your figure, and possibly your underwear, too, while a rigid fabric will be really uncomfortable when it fits as closely as these jeans are designed to.
Dark washes will look dressier than lighter ones, and will also be more slimming.
- If you've read all of the tips above and you're still not convinced you can pull off skinnies, try a straight-leg cut instead: it'll create a similar silhouette, but be much easier to wear.