Denim is a staple in everyone’s wardrobe from childhood. Since it’s introduction as a workman (and women’s) practical, manual labour alternative, it’s had as many reincarnations as Madonna. But, entering the new decade, it seems as if it’s finally gone through the tough adolescence stage of low rise, thong highlighting rebellion and entered its adulthood as a mature piece of clothing that can carry its own weight in an outfit, instead of being simply the warm up act for the main event. Written By Ciara Loane
No matter what your shape when wearing denim, it’s paramount that you wear high rise (the higher the rise the better but some might feel a tad claustrophobic with thick cotton reaching up past the belly button). The reason? Accentuating your waist is the key to making an outfit as flattering to your figure as possible.
So, now that high street and high fashion brands are taking this new age of denim in stride and not only having fun and experimenting with pre-existing shapes but creating their own entirely, there is now more choice than ever. Furthermore, it is not the abundance of choice that makes this new decade so exciting for this previously boring staple, but it is the fact that they are created with the average consumer, the average woman in mind. And the average woman comes in a million different shapes, so whereas in the past we were limited to one or two semi-flattering shapes for everyone now we have a veritable cacophony of shapes and sizes for everyone. And, as someone who has always struggled finding jeans to suit my shape I have to say in just the past year the amount that has become available to me, from Levi’s immediately iconic Ribcage shape (more on that later) to ASOS’s hourglass range (designed for women with curves), the denim industry has never felt more inclusive, or sustainable.
With pear, rectangle and hourglass shapes, don’t be afraid to try tucking any blouses, shirts or jumpers you have into that high rise. Why not take it one step further and draw the eye to your accentuated waist with a statement belt (my go to is a leopard print one).
With Apple shapes, sticking to a slimmer shape of Jean will draw the eye to your slim legs and by teaming this with a loose fitting or even tiered blouse to glance over your tummy, it will create the image of a structured outfit, perfectly designed to highlight your positives.
New denim washing methods employed by small and high street brands alike mean that thousands of gallons of water are saved in the production of jeans. The Better Cotton Initiative is ensuring that cotton farmers are getting fair wages and the cotton industry has taken great strides in terms of its sustainability due to it. There couldn’t be a better time to invest in a good piece of denim.
But, when looking forward to 2021, what trends are emerging? Well it’s pretty clear following the trends of the latter part of the 2010s, skinny or drainpipe jeans are gone for good. Although Apple shapes can still get their leg-defining fix with slim and straight legs (especially those with elastine in them, as the style will hug the body close), looser and wider styles are generally ‘back in’. Perhaps this is due to fashion itself taking a deep dive into nostalgia for the 70s and 80s in recent years when baggy jeans and bell bottoms were all the rage. Perhaps this is due to the trend of ‘comfort’ being paramount to all high fashion and high street brands collections in the past year or so (with no signs of slowing down). Perhaps it is due to these both and other factors, such as a rise in everyday dressing and a decline in dressing up; the people want a pair of jeans that can be worn day to day, to the office, to pick the kids up and out for drinks, all in the same day. These jeans need to carry themselves in an outfit and a simple pair of mid-rise skinnies won’t do.
When wearing this looser style of denim, you might opt for the iconic Whistles Barrel leg (a style naturally high rise and with a curvature to the leg shape so that it’s loose around the thighs and knees and draws to a very slightly tapered ankle, creating the natural ‘barrel’ look). Or, you might go for the Levi’s Ribcage jean (a style so high rise, they’re named Ribcage as they glance over your own when wearing). It’s important to not be intimidated by a new shape or style when experimenting with jeans. These jeans are the key to upgrading a regular outfit and making yourself appear put together and incredibly stylish. Take a white t-shirt, something so incredibly basic, and a pair of trainers (ideally something sleek like Nike Airmax, Vejas for the ethical or a vintage pair of Converse for the alternative) and with the addition of a fun new denim shape, your outfit can take you through almost every everyday circumstance. French tuck or fully tuck the t-shirt to highlight your waist, then team a blazer for work, some lipstick if you’re going out (or on Zoom) and voila!
You can go even further by experimenting with ways to wear them. Technically, I like to go by the restrained rule of ‘baggy on one half, slim fit on the other’ but do not be afraid to deviate. Instead of a slim fit blouse with your jeans, why not try a transparent, mesh dress worn casually over the top? Or an oversized chunky jumper for winter, French tucked to really accentuate that waistline?
These jeans are more versatile that you could ever imagine. They are fun, youthful and allow you to truly express your style and individuality. Furthermore, the denim industry has never been as ethical and sustainable as it is now- if you want, you can do your research on a lot of brands and find out exactly where their cotton comes from and the methods of production due to their honest transparency. So, what are you waiting for?