The Denim of 2021: Wide Leg Jeans

One of the things I love about living in NYC is the people watching, especially when it comes to fashion. New York City streets are a consistently accurate barometer of what’s truly trending (i.e. which styles actually made the jump from the runways to real life).  And after spending two sunny days in Soho this weekend, one thing was very clear: Skinny jeans are over.  

I know this has been a debate on social for a while now, but based on what I’m seeing downtown, its not even a question anymore.  Every single stylish person was wearing wide leg jeans, flares, straight legs, mom jeans – basically anything that wasn’t a skinny jean.  Even non-denim pants seemed to veer towards the voluminous, but that’s a post for another day.  Today we’re talking jeans. 

Before I get into the recommendations though, I want to make one thing clear: I am very anti-“rules” when it comes to fashion, and that extends to trends.  Trends are not laws, so if there is one you don’t like, you don’t have to partake.  I personally treat trends as suggestions, and a fun way to experiment with new styles and silhouettes, so that is precisely the approach I am taking to this wide leg jean moment.  I won’t be throwing my skinny jeans away, and will still wear them if I feel like it, but when it comes to buying new pairs, I’m focused on shopping wider-legged options – they just feel more current and fun.  

Fortunately, there are some excellent pairs available in plus sizes, and I’ve rounded up my top picks to shop now below:

Wide Leg Jeans:


Straight Leg, Flares, and Mom Jeans:


While browsing, keep my wide leg denim shopping tips in mind:

Fit is everything when it comes to denim. Doubly so when it comes to more voluminous styles.  I’ve had the best luck so far with brands that either specialize in plus size fit (like Eloquii, Torrid, and Lane Bryant); or higher-end denim brands like DL1961 that have put the work in to perfect their fit and make it consistent across styles (I am an 18W in every single pair of DL1961 jeans I’ve ever put on, and they all look good on me – a true denim feat).  

I’ve been wearing this same pair of DL1961 wide leg crops for years now and they remain one of my favorite pairs in my wardrobe (and still fit comfortably even after I’ve gained some weight over the last year!)

Know your options for specific body fit.  My three plus-specific denim recommendations (Eloquii, Torrid, and Lane Bryant) all have a range of body type fits available in pants, and choosing denim meant to work on your specific proportions can make all the difference when it comes to whether you feel good in a new style or not.  

Feel free to ease into the trend.  If the truly wide leg styles like my Eloquii pair above freak you out, maybe start with a pair of straight leg jeans or cropped kick flares – styles where the added volume really kicks in on the bottom half of the jean.  Boyfriend jeans are another happy medium style to consider.  

Fast fashion can be both a good and bad way to try the trend for less.  When it comes to trendier styles, especially those beloved by a younger market, fast fashion sites like Nasty Gal and PrettyLittleThing often have the largest selection and the lowest prices.  But they also are more prone to have wildly inconsistent fit, so the likelihood that you’ll get a pair that looks great is not as good.  If you are willing to take that risk, go for it, but make sure you check the return policy first!

Balance the proportions with a more fitted top.  Again, this is a suggestion, not a rule, but I like to balance more voluminous bottoms with a fitted crop top or bodysuit. 90’s ribbed cardigans like this one from the WAYF ’98 collection are also having a major moment lately, so try pairing one with wide leg denim if you are looking for a trendy way to transition seasons during this late spring chill.  (And yep, those are those same DL1961 jeans again!)

And most importantly:

Remember: If a pair of jeans doesn’t work on you, that’s a failure of the jeans, NOT your body.  (That’s true with all clothes, by the way!)  The only thing it means is that that particular pair isn’t for you – not that you “can’t pull off” the style or silhouette.  I know that isn’t always easy to remember, but especially when it comes to styles with more structure like jeans, it is literally impossible that one style will fit all bodies right.  So don’t internalize a bad pair – just return it and move on to the next!