The New Denim: Styles to Wear Now and What to Do with Your Skinnies

If there was one trend that the Fashion Week fold universally embraced this fall (for Spring 2017—yeah, it’s confusing), it was denim. And that’s not as dull as it sounds. Current denim trends include a multitude of styles that open the door to personal interpretation. It’s tempting to say that if you wear any cut with confidence, you’re in vogue. But there are a few ground rules to consider.

New Denim, Milan street style

Image by Indigital Images

We spoke with Nordstrom Styling Director and our jean therapist Ruth Basloe about this season’s hot styles. She gave us some tips for wearing the trends now.

Raw edge denimImage by Kristin Yamada

Raw-Hem Denim

A deconstructed quality may be the most prevalent denim trend at present. We spotted frayed hems on almost every street-style star at some point during the Fashion Week month. These unraveled trims are not so much distressed as a natural flourish added to cuffs to make jeans feel current. “From neatly unfinished with minimal fraying to stepped hems with strings hanging down, the perfect jean is no longer so perfect,” explained Ruth. “I like them paired back to more polished footwear that lends some playful, irreverent contrast,” she advised. Ladylike shoes—like block heels, kitten heels and ballet flats—over undone cuffs were indeed the preferred choice for most wearers.

SHOP: raw-hem jeans


newdenim_highwaist_2_201610Images by Kristin Yamada 

High-Waist Denim

Also known as mom jeans, high-waist cuts reemerged as a high-style shape, and for good reason: the silhouette flatters by lengthening the leg and accentuating the waist. Ruth explained that the renewed interest in the shape includes an element of nostalgia. “As the revival of the 501 and the mom jean continues, so does the popularity of higher rises,” she told us. As for how to wear them, keep things minimal and be sure to tuck in your shirt to show off the cut’s slenderizing effect. “A cleanly tucked-in top is key to this look (half or loose tucks look sloppy). Keep it clean or add a statement belt if pairing them back to more basic pieces.”

SHOP: high-waist denim


Annabel RosendahlImage by Kristin Yamada 
Cropped Leg

Shorter, ankle-grazing pant legs are cropping up on the fashion-forward crowds. Whether jeans or trousers, this length is carrying over from the warmer months into fall and winter. Ruth explained that “classic cuts, like straight leg or bootcut, are being updated with shorter hems ranging from just above the ankle to mid-calf.” To wear them, “Try a heavier low heel, flat or sneaker. Or, if the length is short enough or the leg wide enough, a fitted ankle boot. Anything too bare or delicate can look dated,” she cautioned.

SHOP: cropped jeans


Images by Kristin Yamada 

Redone Denim

Thanks in part to Vetements’ reimagining of classic pieces, denim received an entirely novel reboot this fall. Combinations of washes, hems and shadow pockets began to appear on some of the trendiest, patchworked styles. “Jeans are being taken apart and reworked in myriad ways,” said Ruth. “It can be as simple as pockets being removed and placed in a different spot or panels being added, to a complete reworking that changes the entire cut of the jean.” Style these new cuts in a laid-back manner to make their unique shape a focal point of your outfit. “Most have a relaxed, vintage feel, so you can keep it casual with a T-shirt and sneakers,” advised Ruth. “Or you can pair them back to a feminine top and polished footwear for more contrast and statement.”

SHOP: Re/Done Denim


Embellished denim
Image by Indigital Images

Embellished Denim

Dress up your denim! Instead of wearing your jeans with a dinner jacket and blouse, wear denim that is fancier all on its own. “We are seeing everything from colorful patches to oversized pearls on denim right now,” said Ruth. “Since the jeans already make a statement, wearing solid, more basic outfitting will keep your look from being over the top or overly quirky.” Another tip: as these jeans are already busy, you may want to skip a belt.


Image by Indigital Images

Skinny Jeans

You could hack off the bottom of your skinnies to give them that au courant feel—and we suspect plenty of Fashion Week ladies did this. But you don’t have to demolish your old denim to make them seem new. “Right now I like wearing my skinny jeans with a sneaker or pointy-toe flat,” Ruth told us. “The sexy, vampy look of tight jeans with heels feels dated to me right now, so I prefer to take them in a more casual and less sexy direction.” Indeed, skinny jeans were still in attendance at Fashion Week but played to more subtle effects. Sneakers were a favorite footwear pairing, and we also saw them with menswear-inspired oxfords and mules.


—Britt Burritt