How To Shop For Boyfriend Jeans If You're A Skinny-Jeans Girl

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The thought of shopping for boyfriend jeans gives me an immediate headache. As a petite (5'1") woman with the nonexistent hips of a 12-year-old boy, I always figured that finding a pair of boyfriend jeans that actually fit wasn't in the cards. Instead, I clung to my skinnies for dear life. They would never let me down — they're high-waisted (giving me the illusion of hips), and the shorter inseam hits just in the right place at the ankle.
With boyfriend jeans, on the other hand, I had no such luck — until I stumbled upon a high-waisted, mid-wash, perfectly destroyed pair at none other than Forever 21. And thank goodness, because skinny-jeans fatigue is real. Even with the rise of the flare and the culotte, I wear my skinnies more than I'd like to admit (and often without washing them between wears).
Yes, we all have our fears when it comes to the boyfriend cut — there's a fine line between the perfect amount of slouch and full-on pants-at-the-ankles. So to alleviate all of our boyfriend-jean-related concerns, we talked to BLANKNYC's Will Redgate, AYR's Jac Cameron, and Paige's Paige Adams-Geller to learn the tips you need to finally find the pair. Don't worry, this doesn't mean you have to retire your skinny jeans altogether — but it's always nice to have options, right?
1 of 19
Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
2 of 19
Try: A Medium Or Dark Wash With Minimal Distressing
You might not want to wear the same boyfriend jeans to work that you would to a casual brunch with your besties. Save the lighter-wash, ripped-up pairs for super-casual hangs, and opt for a darker, more sophisticated wash when you want to look anything but sloppy.

Avoiding overly faded washes, major ripping, sand-washing, and shredding keeps the denim looking clean and minimal, especially when you pair it with the right top and accessories. Paige's medium-wash Jimmy Jimmy crop is a slouchy silhouette that still maintains a feminine, modern feel, so you look like you're ready to face a conference call, not clean your bathroom.

"Boyfriend jeans are on-trend, so if they fit right, are worn to appropriate occasions, and put together with the right top and shoe, no one will think they look sloppy," says Redgate, Vice President of [BLANKNYC]. "Try pairing your boyfriend jeans with a dressier top or blazer and a dressy shoe. This will help balance out the look."

Paige Adams-Geller has some sound styling advice, too. She says, "You can even wear a bodysuit under the jeans and top it off with a great jacket for a sleek look."

Shop similar styles here.
3 of 19
If you're okay with a little bit of wear and tear, go for subtle rips, like a tear on the front pocket.

H&M Vintage High Cropped Jeans, $39.99, available at H&M.
4 of 19
With a sleek, dark wash and a cut that's close to the body, you can let your figure do the talking instead of feeling like you're drowning in an ocean of excess fabric.
5 of 19
A higher rise elongates the leg, and you can play with the length by cuffing the bottoms, depending on what height shoe you'd like to wear with them.

Jag Jeans Maddie Skinny Cuff, $84, available at Zappos.
6 of 19
Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The Fear: Boyfriend Jeans Aren't Flattering
Frankly, it's a myth that boyfriend jeans can't be flattering. Simply put, Redgate argues, "We in the fashion industry disagree. If they are properly fit, they are just as sexy and flattering as any other style!" It may seem impossible when you haven't found the pair that works for you, but there are plenty of fit options to try until you find the one.
7 of 19
Try: Slimmer-Fitting Options
From skinny boyfriend jeans to shrunken boyfriend jeans to "girlfriend" jeans, it's almost ridiculous how many variations are available. This shrunken jean from ASOS has that heavyweight feel with a touch of stretch, and is slouchy without drowning your figure.

"Choosing the right fabric is also important — I recommend 100% cotton. It's a little more rigid, with not as much stretch," AYR's Jac Cameron says. "When the weight of the fabric is really heavy — say, 12 or 13 ounces — that adds to the whole thing feeling bulky or overwhelming. A lighter weight, like 10 or 10.5 ounces, still feels rigid and shapely, but not chunky or bulky."

Liquor n Poker Plus Boyfriend Jeans, $56, available at ASOS.
8 of 19
This pair is what they call a slim boyfriend jean — it's as if the skinny jean and the boyfriend jean had a baby.
9 of 19
If a higher rise in heavier-weight denim feels like too much bulk in the midsection, try a lower rise that sits right at the hips.
10 of 19
"The boyfriend jean is definitely one of the toughest fits to feel good and look good in and not feel sloppy," Cameron explains. "We have two — one that fits true to a regular boy jean and one with the feel of a slimmer boy jean, where we've slimmed out the hip. We also use a zipper fly instead of a button fly on our denim, which can add unwanted bulk."
11 of 19
Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The Fear: I'm Short!
Shorties, I hear ya — the boyfriend-jeans struggle is even more real when you don't quite have legs for days. Sometimes, the bunching of extra length at the bottom can't even be remedied by cuffing, lest it look bulky and feel uncomfortable.

Or worse, you might find a pair with a shorter inseam, and then realize that it runs huge around the waist. It can be difficult to find a slouchy shape that works on shorter legs without bulging and looking just plain weird. But the denim gods have heard our complaints, and there are some simple solutions.
12 of 19
Try: Cuffed, Petite, Or Cropped Boyfriend Jeans
"If you are on the shorter side, try cropped boyfriend jeans or size up in your ankle pegs and cuff them to achieve the boyfriend look," Adams-Geller recommends. There are also cropped inseams and petite fits available at a variety of retailers. And aside from finding a proper inseam or shortening solution that works for you, it's important to wear the trend with confidence.

Redgate adds, "You can always get them hemmed to fall at the location of your leg that the designer intended. If they bunch around the ankle, they lose their shape, so that is key." So, as many shorter women know all too well, your perfect boyfriend jean may require a trip to the tailor.

Nasty Gal You Da Mom Jeans, $50, available at Nasty Gal.
13 of 19
Topshop has a particularly impressive offering of petite clothing and denim. Sometimes, in regular sizes, even the 0's and 24's run too big in the boyfriend-jean silhouette, so with petite boyfriend jeans, short women no longer have to worry about the waist being too roomy or having that extra length drag on the ground.
14 of 19
A cropped boyfriend jean is a great solution for shorter legs. Keep in mind that it may even fit as a regular-length jean if you're on the petite side, which could actually be great.
15 of 19
Try a cropped boyfriend jean with a baby flare for an on-trend look that's flattering on most figures.

Nili Lotan Boyfriend Jean With Unfinished Hem, $375, available at Revolve.
16 of 19
Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The Fear: Boyfriend Jeans Make My Butt Look Weird & Saggy
The drop-crotch-like effect of many boyfriend jeans can make you feel like your butt looks nonexistent. While skinny jeans can often do the backside some good, boyfriend jeans' looser, slouchier fit doesn't always put those glutes in the spotlight. But it's possible to find a baggier pair that doesn't make you feel like MC Hammer.
17 of 19
The Solution: High-Waisted Boyfriend Jeans
The high-waisted boyfriend jean sits right above the belly button, lengthening the leg and defining the waist and hips so that you don't feel like your shape is lost in slouchy fabric. You still get a baggier, laid-back feel in the leg without the drop-crotch issue.

Also keep in mind that different rises and shapes of boyfriend jeans work for different body types. "If the jeans look too saggy, they are probably not the right size, or that particular style is not a match for someone," explains Redgate. "Try slimmer boyfriend styles, and keep in mind that new things often look weird."
18 of 19
"It also helps if the leg is a slim boyfriend and is tapered from the hip down the leg opening, rather than one straight width from the hip to the ground," adds Cameron.
19 of 19
Skinny-jeans devotees can also cheat a bit to get the desired boyfriend look. Adams-Geller explains, "If you want to create the look of a boyfriend jean without a saggy butt, you can always buy a size up in skinny jeans and cuff the bottom to make them look like boyfriend jeans — that way, you get the relaxed look without compromising the shape of your bum!"

More from Shopping


R29 Original Series