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It doesn’t matter who you're in conversation with, as soon as you bring up the topic of jeans, it is either a love or hate relationship—from the fit being uncomfortable or the shade of denim being unsuitable to complaints about where the jean sits on the ankle. There are so many hoops we have to go through to find the perfect pair of jeans that are faultless and also last a while. Throw in another curve ball such as a specific style like straight jeans, and your venture for the perfect pair starts from scratch. Yet with the apparent slow death of the skinny jean, it's even more pertinent for us to find the ideal pair.
Meet the Expert
Solange Franklin is a stylist who's worked with celebrities including Tracee Ellis Ross, Serena Williams, and Solange Knowles, and clients like Glossier, Elle UK, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
“Straight-leg jeans are the classic look everyone is looking to snag," says celebrity stylist Solange Franklin. "What’s great about the straight leg is it allows you to dress your outfit up or down with different tops or shoes, whilst staying comfortable with a looser fit—that’s stylish."
To find the best pairs of straight jeans, we considered many factors, including fit, rise, inseam, material composition, and color. If all of these components are expertly reviewed, then you have yourself the perfect pair of straight-leg jeans. The styles and fits are endless, but once you have mastered what suits you, it will put an end to your denim nightmares.
To help you on your journey to finding the perfect straight jeans, we have tried and researched the best straight jeans for your styling needs.
Best Overall: Everlane The Way-High Jean
When you’re considering any jeans in your wardrobe, comfort, fit, and style mustn’t be compromised. The perfect straight-fitting denim is a pair that can go with any outfit and blend into any occasion—and the Way High Jean by Everlane is just that. In a plethora of sizes, available in regular or long, the style is made with the most premium cotton that adds the perfect amount of stretch for comfort, as well as an extremely flattering high-waist that sits comfortably above the navel and elongates the legs. Not only that, but Everlane jeans are crafted using renewable energy and air drying techniques to help the planet.
Material: 98% organic cotton, 2% elastane | Size Range: 23-35 | Inseam: 27.5 inches | Rise: 12⅛ inches | Care: Machine wash cold, inside out; tumble dry low | Colors: Black, Indigo, Khaki, Indigo Rinse, Light Blue, Distressed
Best Budget: American Eagle Stretch Mom Straight Jean
While they say that investing in key items is the answer to a long-lasting wardrobe, it doesn’t necessarily have to count for denim. As long as you can find good mid-weight jeans that aren't too rigid, but soft enough to mold to your body, then you don’t have to empty your bank account. The Stretch Mom Straight Jean is that jean. It's structured with enough weight to note its quality and give as an everyday styling piece. Featuring the classic straight fit of the high waist and tapered leg, it finishes just above the ankle.
Material: 80% organic cotton, 1% elastane, 10% modal, 9% polyester | Size Range: 000-20 (in X-short, short, regular, long, X-long) | Inseam: 28 inches | Rise: 12 inches | Care: Wash once separately in cold water before wearing; machine wash cold, inside-out with like colors | Colors: Dark, Mid, Light Blue
Meet the Expert
Tyler Minor is a fashion stylist and costume designer who has worked on editorials published in Vogue and People as well as clients including HBO, Amazon, and The Motley Crue.
Best High Waist: Levi's Ribcage Straight Ankle Women’s Jeans
Considering the heritage and reputation of Levi's, we could not not include the cult classic in our straight-leg round-up. With an immense 12-inch high waist from the crotch to the beltline, these jeans are reaching new height limits and we’re a fan. Even with an extremely high waist, these jeans still carry the length and comfort for them to flatter all silhouettes by cinching in at the waist and hitting the ankle—you’ll feel so incredibly confident in this style. “Levi's is a brand that will stand the test of time," says fashion stylist Tyler Minor. "The fit and quality are incredible for the price point whilst also being very inclusive when it comes to sizing."
Material: 98% organic cotton, 2% elastane | Size Range: 23-35 | Inseam: 27 or 29 inches | Rise: 12 inches | Care: Machine wash cold, inside out, with liquid detergent; tumble dry low, inside out | Colors: Dark Wash, Light Wash, Medium Wash, Black, White
"A quick tip: length is important when wearing a straight leg, which is why cropped options can also be a good choice if needed," says Franklin.
Best Low Rise: Madewell Rivet & Thread Low-Rise Vintage Straight Jean
We know many of you may be screaming at these noughties comebacks but the low-rise jean has had an upgrade and it’s something you needn’t be afraid of. These low-rise jeans are the epitome of comfort, made from premium Japanese denim, they are interestingly soft, therefore paired with the loose-straight-leg fit, you don’t need to be concerned about feeling restricted. Dress these down with a T-shirt and loafers for casual coordination.
Material: Nihon Menpu mill denim | Size Range: 23-33 | Inseam: 31 inches | Rise: 10¼ inches | Care: Machine wash | Colors: Distressed Mid-Wash Blue
Best Designer: Saint Laurent Blue Cropped High Rise Straight Leg Jean
If there is one thing that Saint Laurent always gets right, it's a well-designed, well-crafted, and structured clothing item—and these jeans are just that. Although slightly shorter in the leg, the fit complements the body, making them an easy style to pair with pretty much everything—what more could you want from an investment piece?
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 24-31 | Inseam: 27.5 inches | Rise: High | Care: Dry clean | Colors: Blue
Best Baggy: Citizens Of Humanity Eva Distressed High-Rise Straight Leg Jean
We’re calling it: these are the best rendition of the '90s cult classic jeans on the market. Reminiscent of the vintage straight-leg jean, these light wash jeans are perfectly distressed without overdoing it, neatly tucked at the waist, and complement any silhouette. The long inseam can be worn with boots, trainers, or sliders. Plus, they come in the softest wash as to not clash with any color or print in your wardrobe.
Material: 98% organic cotton, 2% elastane | Size Range: 23-35 | Inseam: 27.5 inches | Rise: 12⅛ inches | Care: Machine wash cold, inside out; tumble dry low | Colors: Mid Denim, Light Denim
Best Carpenter: Topshop Carpenter Jeans
While less for function and more for styling, carpenter jeans are having an undeniable fashion moment, and a strong Byrdie favorite has to be these ones by Topshop. Still upholding the classic style with the belt loop, big pockets, and baggy straight leg, they sit with a looser cut and regular height on the waist.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 24x30-36x30 | Rise: High | Care: Machine wash | Colors: Bleach
Best Distressed: Zara Ripped Wide Leg Straight Jean
This style ticks a lot of boxes in the straight-leg jean department—for those of us that don’t want a fitted and more tapered leg, the wide-leg straight jean is ideal. Again, wanting something more fun in design, distressed denim is one of the easiest ways to do so. Not sure about the color but adore the style? Then this Zara option has all the above answered with this ripped wide straight-leg option. Checking off all the boxes, these jeans are equally met with the right amount of distressing.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 0-14 | Inseam: 34-35 inches | Rise: High | Care: Machine wash | Colors: Blue
Best Petite: Dr. Denim Petite Nora High Rise Mom Jean
There is nothing worse than when jeans are ill-fitting—if swamping the body, they can off-balance any outfit. So, when we tested these petite straight-leg jeans, we were sold in an instant. They still have the popular properties of a regular straight leg—high waist, tapered, and straight to the ankle—but they're made uniquely for a petite silhouette.
Material: 69% cotton, 31% Lycra elastane | Size Range: 24-32 | Inseam: 25 inches | Rise: High | Care: Machine wash | Color: Empress Blue
Best Size-Inclusive: Good American Good Straight Jean
Sometimes straight-leg jeans are either too big on the waist or too small on the hips and leg. These Good American straight jeans nail the assignment with their all-inclusive straight-leg offering. Still accommodating the high rise and straight leg, they're fit for all body types.
Material: 94.8% organic cotton, 3.7% elasterel-p, 1.5% elastane | Size Range: 00-26 | Inseam: 27.5 inches | Rise: 10½ inches | Care: Machine wash cold | Colors: Medium-Blue, Black
Best Tall: ASOS DESIGN Tall Mid Rise 90s Straight Leg Jean
On the flip side of jeans that swamp petite frames, we have jeans that are too tight and short for taller frames—styles that sit too high on the calf or are extremely uncomfortable. These ASOS jeans complement the entire leg (right down to the ankle) and come in an array of shades and sizes. They thought through the fit and structure of the jeans.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 24-38 | Inseam: 37 inches | Rise: Mid | Care: Machine wash cold | Colors: Navy
Best Slim: Mother Denim Double Hiker High-Rise Straight-Leg Jeans
Sometimes you can find that straight-leg jeans carry too much material in the leg and without going down the skinny jean route, you can be left with a small margin in-between. Not only does this pair from Mother Denim stay true to the brand, but are also the best go-between for those wanting a slightly slimmer silhouette without opting for skinny jeans.
Material: 98% cotton, 2% elastane | Size Range: 24-30 | Inseam: 31.1 inches | Care: Machine wash | Colors: Love Bombs, Mid Denim
Best White: Mango Opening High-Waist Straight Jeans
We know how difficult it can be to find the perfect pair of white jeans—either too cream or too yellow, and when styled, they can offset any other whites or creams against it. Just look at these straight jeans from Mango; the incandescent crystal white brings together any outfit instead of repelling it. If you’re going for white, be careful—these are a pair you’ll want to keep clean.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 1-14 | Care: Machine wash | Colors: White, Blue, Black
Best Black: Frame Le High Straight Jeans in Film Noir
Here lies a true wardrobe essential that fits anyone’s wardrobe. The jet-black color and high-quality construction mean you don’t have to worry about the integrity of your jeans after washing them; they'll stay as true to you in five years as the day you purchased them. These can be a trusted piece in your wardrobe that will stand the test and color of time.
Material: 91.5% cotton, 6% polyester, 2.5% elastane | Size Range: 23-34 | Inseam: 31.7 inches | Rise: High | Care: Machine wash | Colors: Black, Blue
Best Non-Stretch: Totême Organic High Rise Straight-Leg Jeans
When it comes to Totême, you are immediately assigned with quality pieces that you know will last a lifetime. Equally matching that, these non-stretch, high-waist jeans provide the perfect heavyweight inspired-by-vintage denim that creates the ideal minimally classic wardrobe item.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 24-31 | Inseam: 32 inches | Rise: High | Care: Machine wash cold; air dry | Colors: Black
Best Printed: Pull & Bear Straight Jeans With Zebra Print
Your straight-leg jeans don’t have to be ordinary. Injecting a fun print such as these cow-print jeans is the pinnacle of dressing for a good time. In a muted camel and ecru colorway, these jeans can be perfectly paired with any other basic color palette.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 0-10 | Care: Machine wash cold | Colors: Ecru, Lilac
Best Maternity: Paige Maternity Noella Straight Jeans
With side elastic gussets, this pair can grow with you through your pregnancy journey. Not letting go of style or comfort, they look perfect with either a pair of heels, flats, or slippers—so you can feel supported and comforted all day long.
Material: 64% cotton, 17% modal, 17% poly, 2% elastane | Size Range: 23-35 | Inseam: 26 inches | Rise: 9.5 inches | Care: Machine wash | Colors: Black Willow
Best Fit: Agolde '90s Pinch Waist High Rise Straight Jeans
We consider the perfect pair of straight jeans to fit every part of the body and these jeans by Agolde are the answer. They're not too high-waisted that they cut into your side after lunch, but high-waisted enough to complement all silhouettes. The inseam gathers just below the ankle in a sleek wash that isn’t too blue or too grey. Worn with heels, boots, trainers, or flats, you can guarantee a look as soon as you put these on.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 25-30 | Care: Machine wash | Colors: Navigate, Portrait, Endless
Best Unique Detailing: MM6 Maison Margiela Double-Back Straight Leg Jeans
Maison Margiela is known for its interesting take on denim; the brand has an array of styles and designs that make for the perfect denim piece in the wardrobe, and one stand-out for the Byrdie team is these double-backed straight-leg jeans (because two pockets just aren’t enough). Designed to be equally flattering on the front as well as the back, these are the perfect piece to match with any white T-shirt and leather boot for an easy-dressed down look.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 24-31 | Inseam: 27.5 inches | Rise: High | Care: Machine wash | Colors: Blue
Best Classic: Ksubi Brooklyn Jean Stella Mid-Rise Jeans
A true, true blue can be so difficult to find with so many washes either being too light, too dark, or with a stark grain or distress. Sometimes you may just want the perfect-fitting blue jean. Enter the Brooklyn Jean by Ksubi, with a subtle blue faded wash in all the right areas, it's a shade you will continually find yourself turning to.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 23-31 | Inseam: 29.1 inches | Rise: Mid | Care: Machine wash | Colors: Mid-Blue
What to Look for in Straight-Leg Jeans
Quality & Weight
“A good straight jean consists of thick weighted denim," says Minor. "Most premium quality denim will be a little stiff at first, but after wearing them for a while the stiffness fades and the denim almost molds to your body. This is what most people consider the break-in period. It's also important to take note of the stitching. Double stitching and chain stitching are a great indicator of quality in jeans."
Each individual will be different when it comes to how they want their jeans to fit; some prefer a little stretch while others prefer a more rigid fit. You can determine a pair's composition without trying the jeans on in two ways. If physically holding the pair of jeans, a gentle pull on the leg both in width and length is telling of the give. However, if purchasing online, looking at how much elastane is woven into the fabric will give you a rough guide as to how stretchy a pair of jeans are around the body. Those that prefer more give should opt for a material composition with elastane as opposed to more rigid styles that are often 100 percent cotton.
Fit & Rise
Those that prefer a high waist should opt for a rise (from the crotch to waist) of at least 12 inches. Styles with a short inseam (which sit on the calf or above the ankle as opposed to full-length) provide the perfect cropped option for versatility. However, you rarely find a perfectly fitted item straight off the cuff, and the best-kept secret is to tailor your clothes to suit your body and frame. When it comes to your straight jeans, don’t compromise on the leg fit—you need to walk around and feel comfortable and confident most importantly. You can always alter the length and also how it fits on the waist.
What Are Straight-Leg Jeans?
A slightly more relaxed fit than skinny jeans, straight jeans have a wider leg opening and continue in a straight cut towards the ankle. Slightly narrower below the knee, some styles can taper towards the ankle depending on the style.
Can You Wear Ankle Boots with Jeans And How Do You Style Them Together?
Straight jeans are incredibly versatile and can be worn with every style of shoe and boot. If wanting to wear an ankle boot and straight jeans together, then opt for a skinnier-fitting boot that hugs the ankle or calf, this way you are creating the perfect proportion between the jeans and boots.
What’s the Difference Between Straight-Leg And Bootcut Jeans?
The main difference between the two is that from the leg opening, straight jeans continue in an uniform cut to the ankle and can slightly taper under the knee. However, bootcut jeans often flare out towards the ankle and are often shorter in length.
Do I Wash My Jeans After Each Wear?
“Denim was created to be utilitarian; it wasn't meant to be washed with every wear," Minor explains. "Wash your jeans as little as possible and wait until they look or feel soiled. It's also OK to wash them if they have stretched a little too much. When this time comes, wash them inside out in cold water."
How Do You Keep Jeans From Fading Color?
It is normal for jeans to slightly lose color over the years, you can always re-dye your denim. “To avoid losing too much color, try shopping for lighter denim alternatives that already have a faded look," Franklin suggests.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie Contributor Nateisha Scott has years of experience in fashion, working with some of the best brands and magazines. With trouble in the past finding the perfect pair of straight jeans, she has tried them all and narrowed down her favorites that come highly recommended.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any straight-leg jeans from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.