It’s been a difficult year for skinny jeans lovers. In February, TikTok, Gen Z’s go-to platform, declared the It denim trend of the ‘00s “uncool” alongside side-parts and the laugh-cry emoji. Since then, it has left many millenials wondering, “What do I wear now?” Our suggestion: balloon jeans, also known as bubble and barrel pants. They’re loose, like the straight-leg styles that Gen Z approves of, but also boast a millenial-approved high-waist and tighter ankle hem.
Even if you don't base your wardrobe off what's cool on TikTok, you have to admit: After almost two years of sweatpants, athleisure, and work-from-home comfort, performing the ever-seductive jumping-and-pulling dance to put on a pair of jeans so tight they might as well be leggings sounds less and less appealing Why not embrace styles like baggy jeans and parachute pants that will not only not make your legs feel like they are trapped in sausage casings but that are all over the biggest runways.
While the silhouette isn’t new — Tibi’s Brancusi pant and Totême’s barrel leg jeans have been part of the brands' offerings for several seasons now — this year, the look is more exaggerated and voluminous, making balloon jeans a cooler alternative to boot-cut jeans. This fall, many more mainstream brands, including Agolde, Madewell, and Cos, have jumped aboard the trend, too, with more styles available than ever before. For those who might be skeptical of the trend, brands like Frame, Eloquii, and Levi’s are offering styles that fall somewhere in between straight-leg and balloon pants with more curve-enhancing shapes rather than sharp angles.
By now, most skinny jeans lovers have countless day-to-night outfit formulas for their beloved denim trend. The reality is that nothing has to change with balloon jeans. You might want to take advantage of the current bodysuit craze (thanks, Skims) for a casual outfit that balances the fitted top with the jeans’ voluminous silhouette, paired with a set of sneakers for a day of errands, or a strappy heel to go out. For work, a pair of chunky loafers and an oversized blazer would do the trick.
If you’re hoping for the 2022 return of skinny jeans — after all, fashion trends are cyclical (see: the return of the low-rise jeans) — we're sorry to disappoint you: The spring 2022 runways were filled with baggy jeans, promising at least another six months of ‘90s-inspired styles. But, at the very least, balloon jeans will fill the time before skinnies make their eventual return.
Make the most of the trend with some of the styles below.
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