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What Are the Best Jeans for Women?

Best jeans women all shapes and sizes
Photo-Illustration: retailers

Like a button-down that actually buttons or a white T-shirt that’s not sheer, well-fitting jeans are hard to find (whether you’re shopping in store or online). So we turned to stylish women of all shapes and sizes to ask about their favorite jeans — including holy-grail high-waisted pairs, mom jeans, and literal maternity pairs. To ensure we left no acid-washed stone unturned, we also searched our archives to make sure we didn’t miss out on any notable denim. You’ll find all of these below, sorted by fit and style for easy reference — straight leg, skinny, cropped, wide leg, mom, boot cut, ripped and distressed, plus size, raw denim, vintage, and maternity — though some fall into multiple categories.

Straight-leg jeans

For people who don’t like the severe taper of a skinny-leg jean or any sort of flare, the best middle-of-the-road option is a straight leg. Alysia Alex, the manager of art-and-design partnerships at Ban.do, always returns to these jeans from Everlane, which run ankle-length on her five-foot-four frame. “They’re so affordable and fit true to size in all the right places (they’re called cheeky for a reason).” They’ve even earned a devoted following among Alex’s friends: “I have a dedicated Everlane denim group text with a few girlfriends that will back me up.”

Photo: retailer

Celebrity makeup artist Kelsey Deenihan wears black jeans almost every day, and this pair from NYDJ is her go-to. “They’re so comfortable and, even better, flattering for ladies like myself who have that booty,” she says. The jeans are available in sizes zero through 28 and feature Curves 360 denim, a material that molds and shapes the body. “They have the perfect amount of stretch — they hardly feel like denim,” says Deenihan. “I don’t like feeling too constricted, especially with all my travel and work, so these are great. Also love me a brand that celebrates women with curves.”

If you prefer an all-black wash made of a more rigid denim, we recommend this pair of high-rise jeans from Levi’s. It has a hidden button-fly, a bottom that sits flush against your tush without sagging, and a relaxed fit that’s perfect for pairing with Doc Martens. (Bird owner Jennifer Mankins and Madewell design head Joyce Lee are fans, too.)

From $63
Photo: retailer

“I love the classic high-waist American Apparel jean,” says photographer Ysa Pérez. “I’m quite short and don’t do the midriff thing — but I love being able to tuck sweaters and shirts in the jeans.” Pérez, who has had her pair since 2015, calls the material “really durable” and says the price point is part of the appeal. “They don’t break the bank … It’s a pretty reasonable price for some good-quality jeans,” she says. With their vintage-inspired cut, the jeans have a flattering straight leg that tapers at the ankle, making them ideal for wearing with boots this fall.

Photo: retailer

Stoney Clover Lane co-founder Kendall Glazer told us she had a difficult time finding the right pair of jeans until she landed on these. “I’m short and like to have my ankles showing in jeans, don’t want them too skinny or tight, and obviously want them to be flattering,” she says. “When I finally discovered the Mother the Tomcat jeans in the Confession, it was the best day. Pre-COVID, I would wear them to brunch, to work, and out at night. Now they’re my go-to when it’s time for a break from sweatpants.”

Dancer and consultant Eva Alt calls these “the perfect jeans. They’re like the pair you always hope to find at a vintage store, just without the work.” Strategist senior editor Simone Kitchens is a fan, too. “The fit is heavily inspired by 501s, of which I have many pairs,” she wrote. “Like vintage jeans, they also have no stretchiness; they are sturdy yet soft.”

If you prefer something with a menswear-inspired fit, try a pair of Carhartt straight-leg jeans, which photographer and visual artist Rachel Cabitt owns and loves. “I’ve always found that men’s pants usually fit me better than women’s,” she says. “Sometimes I think the tailoring of women’s fashion is a bit overdone, while men’s fashion is more practical, which I tend to look for in pants.” Cabitt picked up her pair a little over two years ago and says they’re holding up well — and are especially practical for colder days. “The denim is really soft, almost corduroy-like, and is really cozy for when the cold weather comes in (seeing as they’re work pants),” she says. She wears them both for work (“So many pockets to lose your lens cap in while still making your butt look good”) and leisure (“I pair them with a band tee and my black ankle boots for going out”).

Musicians Aly and A.J. Michalka both swear by Levi’s 501 Original Fit jeans. “These are just classic: the fit, the semi-high waist, the color,” Aly says. “The more worn they are, the better they look and feel. I probably own six or seven pairs.” AJ agrees: “My booty looks so good in these. Levi’s never fails — they just get jeans and always have.” The 501s are also a favorite of celebrity stylist Karla Welch, who has collaborated with Levi’s. “I’ve been wearing this style of Levi’s since I was 12 years old, when I stole a pair from my brother, which I still have,” Welch told us, adding that, like many pairs on this list, these relaxed-fit jeans only get better with wear and age.

These straight-leg jeans are stylist Jessica Cadmus of Wardrobe Whisperer’s current obsession. She describes them as of-the-moment with a high-rise, a medium wash, and a cropped cut that are all on trend. But these jeans offer a timeless fit. “They are super structured and sculpt the backside perfectly.” She likes to style them with cashmere and loafers to make them feel even more elevated.

Style coach Kim Hancher likes how straight legs offer a subtle shift from the skinnies that dominated the last decade. These are pricier than what you’ll usually see for Gap’s jeans, Hancher says, but they’re worth it. (Especially as many of us are putting on real pants again). “They are a looser fit, which is an easy transition from wearing sweatpants 24/7,” she explains. She also likes to roll the hem up or down depending on what shoes she’s wearing with them.

If Hallie Abrams, founder of the Wardrobe Consultant, had to pick only one pair of jeans to wear, she’d go with the stovepipe style, which is a slightly slimmer version of a straight leg. “If all the jean styles had a baby, the stovepipe is what would come out,” she says. These jeans feature more of a medium wash with no frills and no fuss, which Abrams prefers to dark denim, which she sees as a little dated. “Please stay away from the overstitched and bejeweled pockets à la True Religion. Those have most certainly had their day.”

Jessy Klein Fofana, founder of LaRue PR, cites Happy Days’ the Fonz as having her perfect pair of jeans: “dark blue with a retro flair, raw denim, fitted but not tight, and may or may not have an oversize cuff.” These come pretty close to that, looking “just plain cool without trying to be.” She recommends wearing them with a muscle tee for “an ultimate bad-bitch look.” And these jeans win bonus points for giving “the most alluring butt,” she says. ​​

Skinny jeans

A hit for decades, the skinny jean is still a versatile style to have in your jean repertoire. Vogue veteran Plum Sykes likes hers high-waisted and from Madewell for that “American casual beach chic with French Left Bank” look. She says they’re extremely versatile since they’re “very, very high-waisted, very flattering, and much cheaper than J Brand.”

“I’m curvy, five-foot-three, have a small waist and tummy, and an abundant booty and thick thighs,” says actress and real-estate broker Tonya Canady. Before finding this pair of jeans from Measure & Made, Canady says she would have to take plus-size jeans to the tailor to have the waist gap taken in. With these, the gap isn’t a problem: “The company’s measurement system meant I could pick pants according to my exact specifications,” she says. “I’ve finally found jeans and pants that hug every curve of my body.” The measurement system — which they call FitLogic — allows you to take a quiz to determine which of the brand’s pants will fit you best depending on your curves and the areas where you tend to gain and lose weight.

From $134

Marian Cheng, co-founder of Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings, favors mid- and high-rise skinny jeans, her favorite being this pair from sustainable denim brand DL1961 for its soft material and curve-hugging potential.