If you follow fashion, especially over the decades, you know that fashion is indeed cyclical. The vast majority of “trends” weren’t recently invented—they actually existed before and are just coming back into style. Especially now, the postmodern era is fraught with nostalgia. You never want wide leg pants to come back into style when you’ve just thrown out a pair yesterday! Take “this will never come back into style” out of your vocabulary by stocking up on these 10 pairs of classic ladies’ jeans this fall. Now, when you open a magazine and see what’s in style, it will already be in your closet. Forever! As they say in the fashion world, “Semper paratus!”
Flares, also known as bell-bottoms, were in style in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The original flares, bought by young people who were tired of department store styles, were actually found in army surplus stores as navy uniform bottoms. Do I sense a protest against the war? Flares had been worn in the navy since the 1800s, and had been appreciated in the fashion world in the ‘20s as well. Flares came back into style in the ‘90s. This pair of modern flares seems a bit dramatic, but when flares come back into style, that’s the way they usually go! There’s a raw hem at the bottom, in case bicycling with your flares comes back into style as well!
2. Skinny jeans
There is a long history of skinny pants in general, but skinny jeans in particular were popularized in the ‘50s by Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe. Skinny jeans have been worn in every decade since by such notable people as Bob Dylan, Audrey Hepburn, The Ramones, Metallica, and Michael Jackson. This pair of skinny jeans have a 10 inch opening on the bottom, wide enough to put your foot in without a zipper on the side. The dark color is a great start to fade over the decades that you will wear them!
When skinny jeans aren’t skinny enough, jeggings, a portmanteau of jeans and leggings, are everything we like about the former, with a heightened spandex percentage. Jeggings were popular in the late 2000s and, after being initiated as a word into the dictionary in 2011, will surely make a comeback. The only question is when. This pair of jeggings has faux front pockets for an even more dramatic slimmer appearance in front, with back pockets for convenience.
4. Mom jeans
Before they were called “mom jeans,” top-roomy jeans were fashionable in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s among many demographics of women. In the later ‘90s, when low-rise jeans became the rage for younger women, relatively older women who continued to wear the looks of previous years were said to be wearing “mom jeans.” Mom jeans were worn ironically by younger women in the 2010s and also now in the 2020s. This pair of mom jeans is mostly classic, slightly updated in being slightly slim, and yet has smaller back pockets to emphasize the traditional goal of making the rear look bigger.
Low-rise jeans, also called hip-huggers, were worn by hippies in the late ‘60s, popularized by famous people such as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. In 2000, low-rise jeans were popularized again by Britney Spears. In 2020, low-rise jeans emerged again in people’s closets, with a resurgence seen on TikTok. This pair of low-rise jeans has some semblance of top-security, having some stretch in the material. The dark off-black color seems intrinsically rebellious, much like the cut’s associations, in general, historically.
Black jeans were also popularized in the ‘50s by Elvis Presley. Levi’s had started making black jeans that decade to update their look. Since the ‘50s, black jeans have gone into style time and time again, especially in particular cultures and subcultures, like with goths, hipsters, and celebrities, like Kanye West, and Justin Bieber. With limited availability pre-internet in the 20th century, some people kept their black jeans in their closets for years or longer until they could buy a new pair. In recent years and decades, people have wondered about making black jeans a more formal look. This pair of black jeans has a very saturated color, and has a potentially timeless “neutral” fit, with a mid-rise waist.
Loose-fitting pants have been in and out of style for much of human history. Before skinny jeans were popular for rebellion in the ‘50s, wide-leg jeans were the choice of defiant types in the early 20th century until that decade, for men and then women. Baggy jeans saw a resurgence in the early ‘90s, and into the 2000s with raver subcultures, among other subcultures. In recent decades, women of an age and demographic who were less likely to wear skinny jeans or low-rise jeans, but who also were less likely to wear mom jeans, often wore wide-leg jeans. The pair of wide-leg jeans shown here has a flattering cut and yet slightly rebellious length.
Boyfriend jeans, a women’s denim look that is inspired by men’s style, was first popularized also by Marilyn Monroe in the ‘60s. In the decades since, boyfriend jeans have kept the same concept, and yet differed in the details, from baggy to tight, from a more literal to a more imaginative take and from more formal to more informal. Kim Kardashian has famously worn boyfriend jeans. So have Katie Holmes, Sarah Jessica Parker, Reese Witherspoon, and Rihanna. This pair of boyfriend jeans, called “the next evolution of boyfriend jeans,” is perhaps redundant because boyfriend jeans are indeed always evolving by nature in time with men’s jeans.
High-waisted jeans were made for working women in the ‘40s. The look continued into the ‘50s and into the early ‘60s, during which years Marilyn Monroe also made this look admired. She famously wore high-waisted jeans with a tucked-in shirt and a belt. In the late ‘70s, the high-waisted style was re-popularized as a contrast to hippie and disco looks. This look was popular into the ‘80s, until mid-rise jeans were worn in the ‘90s. High-waisted jeans have made a comeback in the 2010s to the present, first as an ironic, hipster, vintage look, and then popular among more mainstream fashionable types. This pair has a waist so high that a man will notice it!
10. Acid washed
The acid washed jeans so closely associated with ‘80s culture actually originated in ‘60s surfer culture and had close iterations in the ‘70s. The punk scene started the ‘80s off with making homemade acid washed jeans. The trend was borrowed by folks not a part of this scene who started making them as well. The first ones you could buy were made by Guess. By the end of the decade, the heavy metal scene was also wearing acid washed jeans. Acid washed jeans came back into style in the 2000s and 2010s, for women. This pair has a very flat silhouette, as if to say, “look at the visual texture of my jeans harder!”