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Style SOS: How do you wear skinny jeans?

Style SOS: How do you wear skinny jeans?

“How do I wear skinny jeans?” – Michael, via email

When it comes to skinny jeans, perhaps the question shouldn't be 'how do you wear them' but rather 'should you wear them in the first place'? There was a time, probably in the early 2000s, when you couldn't move for skinny jeans (or, often, in them). On men, on women, the spray-on look was everywhere.

But fashion is cyclical and fickle, and its pendulum has swung the other way. Nowadays, you're more likely to see a pair of light-wash dad denim than a pair of drainpipe jeans. And yet the skinny jean persists. They persist because – when done right – they can be flattering and versatile and easy to style. They're also the first thing in any frontman's wardrobe, which means they still give your look a certain rock 'n' roll feel.

Wearing them well starts with finding the right pair. You want some with a little bit of stretch, so they're comfortable, but not so much that they turn into leggings. They should be skinny, but not spray-on – if you can pinch half an inch of the fabric around your thighs, they're about right. Go for a darker indigo, or even black, and stay well away from white and grey. It's also especially important not to overdo it on the rips, fades, whiskering, embroidery, studs, and any superfluous decoration – the fit is statement enough. The only signs of wear on your denim should come from you (unless they're vintage).

If you're looking to invest, you can't do much better than Neuw's skinny jeans. Denim original Levi's 512 silhouette is ideal if you want a not-quite-figure-hugging fit, while at the more affordable end, you've got a wealth of options, from River Island's skinny jeans (which punch well above their £30 price tag) to Jack & Jones skinnies, which veer into second-skin territory.

On a more practical note, get used to carrying your stuff, or finding other pockets, or even carrying a tote, because there's no way you should be stuffing the pockets of your skinny jeans with anything thicker than a business card. If a casual passer-by can see the outline of your phone, or anything else, it's too much.

As for what you wear them with, treat them like your regular jeans and stick to a consistent silhouette. If you're going skinny below the belt, think slim above it, or you'll end up top-heavy. Jeans, like life, are all about balance.

Words: Theresa Harold
Illustration: Ryan Gillett