Levi's CEO Says Skinny Jeans "Will Never Die"—Here's What Stylists Think
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The fashion world has a complex relationship with skinny jeans. Some people love them. Some people (cough, Gen Z) hate them. Whatever your thoughts, they're everywhere. Skinny jeans first appeared in the early aughts. We wore them with knee-high boots, pumps, ballet flats, and other trendy footwear. By the 2010s, skinny jeans got even tighter with the introduction of jeggings. They were comfy (thanks, spandex), but people had already begun to question their stylishness. As the 2010s progressed, designers offered more iterations of skinny jeans: High waists, distressing, and frayed edges were all popular.
But in 2021, public opinion started to change. Gen Z TikTokers began criticizing the denim and called for a switch to looser styles. Since then, skinny jeans have had some PR challenges—perhaps no piece of clothing has ever undergone such an intense online smear campaign.
However, you don't have to toss your skinnies just yet. While Gen Z might have spoken, they only represent a fraction of the market. In late January, Levi's CEO Chip Bergh said, "Skinny jeans will never die." (Though he also noted that looser jeans are "definitely the trend.") To learn if others agree with him, or if they feel that this style was just a passing trend, we tapped personal stylists to hear their thoughts on the future of skinny jeans and other denim styles.
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Skinny jeans were a trend—but they might be back faster than you think.
Patrick Kenger, a personal stylist at Pivot Image Consulting, argues that skinny jeans, like the more oversized denim silhouettes we're seeing right now, are a trend, not a classic. However, he believes they'll keep reoccurring.
"Right now, the life cycles of trends are shortening quite a bit, so skinny jeans may be back in fashion sooner than you think," he explains. "We're even starting to already see them come back a bit here and there, but not the short, cropped, skinny jeans we were seeing before." As skinny jeans reappear, they'll also evolve. Styles with more fabric at the ankle are gaining popularity, he notes.
Nina Vargas, a stylist and business strategist for fashion brands, adds that the style is relevant on the runway, too. "Givenchy, Balmain, Levi's, and more incorporated this silhouette in their runway trends last year, and I can bet money it'll be on the runway this year as well," she says.
Skinny jeans are a classic—and people are comfortable in them.
Because skinny jeans were in style for so long, many women became incredibly accustomed to them—and had outfit formulas that included skinny jeans nailed down. That alone gives them staying power, says Jodie Filogomo, founder of Jodie's Touch of Style.
"They have proved that they work for every woman, size, shape, and age, so they are definitely a classic," she says. "I think older women especially are comfortable in their skinny jeans; they know what tops and footwear to pair with them, so they aren't going anywhere." If it's not broken, why fix it?
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Dark and black wash skinny jeans are essentials.
Kevin Ann Jordan, a personal stylist at Tailored Stylist, says that dark wash and black skinny jeans are wardrobe essentials. "They are the perfect silhouette to pair with riding boots, a classic style, or over-the-knee boots, which are trendy right now, and an oversized sweater," she says. "Style is about creating balance—using clothing to your advantage and working with the proportions of your own body—and skinny jeans balance out oversized pieces, especially for a woman with a classic or timeless style."
To make your skinny jeans feel modern, Ann Jordan suggests pairing them with an oversized button-down shirt and Chelsea boots or a bodysuit, oversized blazer, and pumps.
Oversized silhouettes will soon make way for more streamlined ones.
The fashion cycle strikes again! "Like all things fashion and trends, the skinny jean trend will eventually come back into favor, but it might not be for a few years yet," says Ann Jordan. "The current oversized and slouchy trend will eventually creep back toward a more streamlined silhouette before skinny jeans are the norm again."
As an example, Ann Jordan points to the low-rise pants trend. In the 2000s, they were popular; then, waists increased to a high-waist trend; now, the low-rise is back in style (which, we should note, is another controversial topic).
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The straight-leg jean is an on-trend skinny jeans alternative.
Sometimes, it's all about finding a happy medium. If you don't want to wear skinny jeans but aren't into the oversized look, straight-leg jeans are a fabulous option.
"This one, like skinny jeans, is also quite versatile and easily able to style with many pieces," says Jackie Condura, personal stylist and fashion blogger. "It's still a classic go-to style, and the leg opening isn't dramatic." You get the streamlined look of a skinny without the fashion news cycle confusion.