Skinny Jeans Are Back: Even Kate Moss Is Wearing Them Again, But Did They Ever Really Go Away?

The controversial style has definitely got legs (again).

best skinny jeans 2024

by Henrik Lischke |
Updated on

Over the past few years, we've seen it all when it comes to jeans - wide-leg, bootcut, black, white and everything in between. What we didn't expect to see coming back any time soon was skinny jeans. TikTok’s preoccupation with recycling trends – indie sleaze, Y2K, anything '90s – means everything old is new again. Now, all signs point towards skinny jeans. But it’s not just kids trawling through the bargain bins in thrift shops, breathing new life into our discarded Topshop Jamies.

Balenciaga AW24
Balenciaga AW24

The autumn/winter 2024 runways gave the stretchy proposition real legs. London designer and LVMH-prize finalist, Aaron Esh, made the season’s first foray into the skinny jeans territory, followed by Demna at Balenciaga whose iteration came tucked into thigh-high boots. Sean McGirr’s debut collection for Alexander McQueen featured lace-detail variations and Mrs. Prada delivered the final proof at Miu Miu, presenting double denim looks, complete with cropped trucker jackets not for the faint of heart. But are they actually back back?

Miu Miu AW24
Miu Miu AW24

Who looks best in skinny jeans?

‘Skinny jeans look good on about 2% of the world’s population, but I am here for it the same way I loved the belt-like miniskirts,’ says Nell Kalonji, stylist and contributing fashion editor at British Vogue. ‘Personally, I’m not part of this elite group and that’s ok. Let’s accept it and move on to the mid rise non-distressed straight-cut denim section,’ she continues.

Meghan Markle wearing skinny jeans
Meghan Markle wearing skinny jeans

Perhaps it was the pandemic ushering in new levels of comfort dressing or our new hybrid work culture, but the decline of the spray-on jeans happened gradually. Now, even my non-fashion friends have bid them adieu. But there’s some others, too, like Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, and Catherine, Princess of Wales, whose ongoing liaison with the tight-fitting style never came to a close. Just recently, Meghan was papped in a zeitgeist-y groutfit (that's a grey outfit for the uninitiated), complete with £230 Anine Bing skinny jeans. Has she moved to the moodboards of the big designer brands? Probably not. But there seems to be a core group of skinny aficionados, who never swore them off.

The Princess of Wales in skinny jeans
The Princess of Wales in skinny jeans

‘Do I love skinny jeans? Probably not. Do I find them easier to wear than the other styles that have lived in their place, trending in recent seasons? Absolutely,’ says fashion editor Naomi Pike. ‘Denim, when you’re not straight up and down, with a waist, with a bum, can be tricky as no matter the jaunty moniker given to them by the fashion press and their intended design, they come up different when put on your body. It’s disheartening and, quite frankly, boring, even if you’re willing to shop around like I really have done over the last 15 years with pockets full of hope. Skinny jeans, however, are the anomaly where they do as they say on the tin. It’s refreshing when you’re used to being served something different than what you’d hoped.’

Bella Hadid in skinny jeans
Bella Hadid in skinny jeans

Are skinny jeans in style or not?

Fashion has a knack for euthanising trends simply by virtue of the fact that they’re deemed unphotogenic – and we’re always chasing the new. But just because skinny jeans haven’t been featured in magazine editorials doesn’t mean there’s no appetite for them anymore. ‘Although in recent years we’ve seen an increase in popularity of looser fits and wide-legged jeans, skinny jeans have remained a significant part of our business and a staple for many customers,’ says buying manager for denim, body and activewear at Selfridges, Grace Neal. And what are the top-sellers? ‘Cult brands Paige, Frame and Citizens of Humanity consistently perform well for us, with slim-fitting styles, whilst brands such as Good American offer size-inclusive, skinny silhouettes in a variety of rises and washes, with stretchy, frame-contouring styles that are both comfortable and flattering.’

Image: @databutmakeitfashion

And searches for skinny jeans are up, too, according to the fashion search engine Lyst, which reports a 106% increase over the past six months, and the Instagram data analyst @databutmakeitfashion, who listed a 50% rise on social posts in January alone. So, it transpires, to say that skinny jeans have returned is nothing if not factually incorrect. They have, however, hit fashion’s radar again. A piece of good news? The new styles seem a notch above our 50% cotton, 50% elastane jeans from the aughts.

So, whatever pictures we put up on our socials this time around will hopefully be less frightening in 15 years than the ones I’m so desperately trying to eradicate off the internet.

Shop: The Best Skinny Jeans For Women

The Best High-Rise Skinny Jeans

Meghan Markle's preferred skinny jean is currently sold out but her brand of choice, Frame, has plenty of other styles that offer the same form-fitting shape with a modern feel. Le High Skinny is semi-high rise, ankle length and available in six different colours.

Pros

  • Available in six different shades
  • Super-stretch denim for extra comfort
  • Fits true to size

Cons

  • Sells quickly, so not always in stock
Materials:44% Cotton, 42% Lyocell, 13% Polyester, 1% Elastane
Measurements:10" Front Rise/29" Inseam/10" Leg Opening

The Best Mid-Rise Skinny Jeans

These are the exact jeans worn by Kate Middleton, Mother's Dazzler mid-rise straight-leg jeans, which are made from comfortable denim that won't lose its shape. They have a mid-rise and fitted legs.

Pros

  • Comfortable, easy fit
  • Dark blue denim goes with anything

Cons

  • Could be a wider range of sizes: currently, only 23-32 available (equivalent of UK 4-16)
Materials:43% Viscose, 33% Cotton, 17% Lyocell, 5% Polyester, 2% Elastane
Measurements;Size 26 jeans have an inside leg of 27.5”/ 70cm

The Best-Fitting Skinny Jeans

Made of a super-soft blend of organic cotton and ECOVERO™, Everlane's Curvy Skinny is breathable and doesn’t stretch out after wear. The brand says: 'To create the perfect curvy fit, we adjusted the hip-to-waist ratio to create a form-hugging fit through the hip and thigh. Plus, we included our highest rise yet, to accentuate your true waist, give you legs for days, and hold you in—in the best way possible.'

Pros

  • Made from organic cotton
  • Made with reduced water use
  • Everlane has worked to perfect the 'curvy' fit so that these jeans are more comfortable for everybody
  • The fit has been made with curvier bodies in mind, making these some of the most inclusive skinny jeans we've found

Cons

  • Reviews have said the style runs small, so it may be difficult to gauge your size online
Materials:<br>55% Organic Cotton, 25% Viscose, 18% Recycled Polyester, 2% Elastane
Measurements:Rise: 11 3/4”. Leg opening: 9 1/8” (size 28), Ankle Inseam: 26 3/4", Regular Inseam: 28 3/4”

The Best Affordable Skinny Jeans

These M&S skinny jeans have added shaping fit with a high waist, smoothing out your hips and bum. They're also made from bi-stretch fabric for extra support and comfort and have a brilliant range of sizes available. Not only do they come in UK sizes 6-22, there's also a choice of petite, regular or long lengths.

Pros

  • Inclusive sizing
  • Great fit
  • Made with responsibly sourced cotton and less water
  • They feel supportive while also being comfortable
  • Under £50

Cons

  • We can't find any
Materials:96% Cotton, 4% Elastane (exclusive of trimmings)

The Best Plus Size Skinny Jeans

Levi's is pretty much the last word in jeans, so it's no surprise the brand has the best selection of skinny jeans for all sizes. This pair is designed to flatter, support and lift, so you always feel great, while the Hyperstretch fabric keeps you comfortable all day long.

Pros

  • Inclusive sizing
  • Really great fit
  • Keep their shape after washing

Cons

  • Only three colours available
Materials 74% Cotton, 15% Lyocell, 6% Polyester, 5% Elastane
MeasurementsSuper skinny leg opening: 10.75", High rise: 12.5" (front), Inseam: 30", (Measurements based on size 18M)

The Best White Skinny Jeans

White jeans can be tricky to pull off, especially in skinny fit. Thankfully, this pair from Mango is slightly looser on the leg, meaning the fit is more flattering than tighter styles, which can be incredibly unforgiving in lighter shades.

Pros

  • Good fit on the leg
  • Affordable price compared to other products on this list

Cons

  • Not much stretch
Materials:Composition: 99% cotton,1% elastane
Measurements:Inseam 68 cm

The Best High Street Skinny Jeans

These jeans consistently sell out – and for good reason. They have the perfect high-rise fit, making them more flattering and comfortable, too, plus there's a strong range of five colours.

Pros

  • Flattering fit
  • Good range of colours

Cons

  • Often sell out
Materials:94% Cotton, 4% Elastomultiester, 2% Elastane

Are skinny jeans in style or not?

The skinny jean is arguably the jean of the past decade. (Note: Kate Moss still wears them as much now as she did in the early '00s, accessorising with leopard-print pumps or ballet pumps.) And it's come to our attention that although the skinny jean may not be as popular as it once was, it's still a wardrobe staple - and, crucially, one that quite a few people never actually stopped wearing in the first place. For millennials, there can be something slightly intimidating about the wide-leg styles that are everywhere on TikTok, especially as they tend to be worn with crop tops so that a sliver on stomach is on show. If you're worried about buying into a trend for a trend's sake alone, a baggy jean that's possibly got a low-slung waist might not be first on your priority list.

How to wear skinny jeans 2024?

The trick to making sure you don't look like you're in cosplay as your 2005-era self is to avoid any skinny jeans that are too tight. Steer clear of styles with more elastane (over 4%) than anything else – you don't want to feel (or look) restricted.

Emily Ratajkowski wearing skinny jeans tucked into boots
Emily Ratajkowski wearing skinny jeans tucked into boots

As for what to wear them with, try everything from a simple vest top to an oversized shirt. Balance proportions with sharp-shouldered jackets and, as for shoes, try with loafers á la Miu Miu's AW24 catwalk. Or, if you're really feeling brave, try tucked into boots; not only is this how Balenciaga presented skinny jeans, it's also how we've seen celebrities like Emily Ratajkowski wearing them. It may seem too noughties to be true but trust us: you'll be doing it again before you know it.

How to find the most comfortable jeans:

The trick when buying a long-lasting and comfy pair of skinny jeans is to always check the label for composition first. The higher percentage of elastane (as long as it's balanced with other materials), the more the jean will stretch and move with you, rather than feel stiff and restricting. 2-4% elastane is a good guide to go by but any lower, or no elastane at all, won't make for a comfortable pair of jeans when they're this slim-fit. Marks & Spencer's Best Ever Jeans are 2% elastane and are not just super comfy, but super affordable too.

Another top tip? Try to avoid low-rise skinny jeans (yes, we're even looking at you Gen Z) – mid- to high-rise means the waistband will sit nicely - and won't dig into your hips.

How to find the best jeans for your shape:

Ultimately, the best jeans for everyone and every shape are the ones that you feel the best in. If you're looking to find the best pair to give you that confidence boost, here are the general rules:

Curvy? Look for stretchy, straight-leg and skinny-leg styles or slim flares.

Straight-up-and-down? Use volume to your advantage and opt for boyfriend or mom fits.

Petite? Cropped, kick-flare styles will suit you best (if you can't find a good petite pair that is).

Tall? Wide-leg denim is your best friend.

Henrik Lischke is the Senior Fashion Features Editor at Grazia. Prior to that, he held the role of commerce writer at British Vogue, and was junior fashion editor at The Sunday Times Style. A first-class honours Fashion Journalism graduate from UAL: London College of fashion, Henrik is invariably on the lookout for the newest talent in fashion, that is driving the industry forward, and shining the spotlight on them whenever possible. He’s also got a passion for interiors design and the arts.

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