Jeans Are About To Get Weird — & We're All About It

When someone says "jeans," what do you think of? Even if you're the weird fashion one in your group, chances are you're imagining a skinny pair of blue denim pants. Those who grew up in the early 2000s (most of you!) understand the mid-rise skinny jean to be the standard — inoffensive, unprovocative, and totally neutral.
For most people, that's good enough. But there's a group of contrarians among us who want their denim to do a little more than just cover their legs. They want jeans that actually bring something to the table and add to an outfit. They want their jeans to be a conversation starter (and not just the "those are really flattering on you" conversation). They want their jeans to be bold and aggressive; to recall nostalgic movies, famous icons, or a sort of mood. And let's face it: Your skinnies, for however well they've served you in the past, don't quite deliver on the personality front.
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The new crop of denim styles out there aren't for everyone — and that's the point. If patchwork '70s gauchos or cropped baby bells become ubiquitous, they're going to lose that special sauce that makes them such an underdog favorite. We decided to show off some of the freshest pairs out there right now, worn by model Ashley Smith. Like ours, Smith's favorite jeans are a little left of center: "The first pair of jeans I really remember wanting were these hot-pink bell bottoms. I was in fourth grade and I rocked them with a T-shirt and a scarf tied on my neck. I didn't know how cool I was. I think retro is always better. It looks like you have been places in them."
We took Ashley to the equally flamboyant Villa Casa Casuarina, the former Versace Mansion. It was the perfect backdrop because, like these jeans, it's totally unabashed about how OTT it is ("I loved that the bedroom had a bed that literally could fit seven people. Perfect for sleepovers and other things..."). Check out the results, below.
Photographed by Jeff Olson.
What Comes Around Goes Around vintage Beatles T-shirt ; Victoria, Victoria Beckham Patchwork High-Rise Wide-Leg Jeans, $505, available at Net-A-Porter; Alexandre Birman Boots; Sarah's Bag The Inseparable Bag, $1,200, available at Sarah’s Bag; Aska Troy Boots, $350, available at Aska; Of Rare Origin Pagoda Earrings, $1,075, available at Of Rare Origin.
Franken-Jeans
We guess you could call these patchwork jeans, but this new trend is more about denim that looks like it's been stitched together from a few pairs (instead of fixing a random hole with scrap materials). From these Tetris-style pants to front-back pairs that Vetements pioneered, these jeans are a sleeker, more avant-garde upgrade to the boho '70s styles filling up the racks last year.
Photographed by Jeff Olson.
Gap 1969 Short Pleat Denim Jacket, $60, available at Gap; Coach top; Toga jeans; Garrett Leight x Clare V Collab Sunglasses, $340, available at Garrett Leight; Ellery boots.
Accessorized Jeans
From pierced denim to flares covered in hardware, patches, and embellishments, jeans that come with their own accessories are this season's answer to those jewel-encrusted jeans that were so popular a few years back. Wear them with pretty tops and party shoes — but go light on the jewelry (your pants have that on lock).
Photographed by Jeff Olson.
What Comes Around Goes Around vintage jumpsuit; Mother of Pearl top; Jennifer Fisher 2in Square Hoop Earrings, $250, available at Jennifer Fisher.
The Denim Coverall
They're not sexy like a jumpsuit or cute like a romper, but coveralls are really, really cool, and require a worthy wearer to pull them off. In a dark denim, they can give you those Saturday Night Fever vibes that your evenings out have been missing.
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Photographed by Jeff Olson.
Vintage Versace jeans, Kenzo top; Alexandre Birman boots; Ippolito Senso Hoop Earrings, $4,995, available at Ippolita; Gucci Cat-Eye Sunglasses, $405, available at Gucci.
Conspicuous Logo Jeans
We found these Versace jeans on eBay, and if you do a little digging yourself, you'll likely come across a trove of ridiculously ostentatious designer denim for a fraction of the price they used to cost in the '80s and '90s. For a more modern look, skip the ones with the back-pocket logo business.
Photographed by Jeff Olson.
Ellery top, belt, pants; What Comes Around Goes Around neck scarf; Prada Sandal, $825, available at Saks Fifth Avenue; Chloé Jackson Oversized Round Metal Sunglasses, $396, available at Neiman Marcus; Aritocrazy Shuttle Fings Ring, $195, available at Aristocrazy.
Mermaid Jeans
Thank Ellery for the proliferation of jeans with a bonkers-beautiful rippling hemline. You'll find lots of copycats on the racks, but no one quite does it as elegantly as the original. Wear these with your most dramatic shoes.
Photographed by Jeff Olson.
Magda Butrym Granada Ruffled Silk Satin Blouse, $920, available at Net-A-Porter; Collection LA Levi's 517's, $215, available at Collection; Of Rare Origin Aviary Classic, $1,450, available at Of Rare Origin; Aritocrazy Shuttle Fings Ring, $195, available at Aristocrazy; ASKA shoes.
That Perfect Levi's Fit
Whether you're a 501, 505, or 517 girl, that It fit still achieves three things: It has a bellybutton-grazing rise that lays flat on your midsection, a slightly tapered leg that's slim-fit but not skinny, and an unforgiving weave that won't stretch. Levi's has been reissuing some of its best vintage styles, and plenty of brands like Redone and Collection LA are perfecting old jeans with new fits. But with some digging, you can find your Platonic ideal at swap meets and thrift shops.
September is typically a time when fashion publications definitively tell you what’s in, and what’s out. Fuck that. We’re dedicating the next couple of weeks to celebrate all the iconoclasts, independent thinkers, and individuals with unique personal styles who’d rather say Fuck The Fashion Rules than follow them.