Anne had this great request:
So, I’ve tried the skinny jeans – they’re not all that great on me. Boyfriend jeans make me look kind of stumpy. Boot legs jeans are really the best fit for me but they’ve been around for quite a while. How do you make them look fresh?
As far as I can tell, the last time I personally wore bootcut jeans was in April of 2011:
But then, I am not much for jeans. I do denim bottoms but they’re frequently stand-ins for leggings and therefore skin-tight and paired with tunics. I firmly believe that bootcuts are a classic style, great on many figures, and well worth wearing despite skinnies being trendier. But I’m going to have to look elsewhere for some contemporary bootcut inspiration.
Before we dig into the photos and tips, though, a quick note about the style itself. Bootcut jeans have been recommended by stylists since the dawn of styling, and with good reason. They make most women appear tall and/or long-legged, and the slight flare at the hem balances figure volume. Bootcuts are not to be confused with flares, which have a much larger opening at the hem and read a bit more like bell-bottoms. Especially now, after years of refinement, bootcuts are relatively slim in the leg and feature a minimally noticeable flare at the ankle.
In my opinion, unadorned, dark-wash jeans of ANY style are always a good bet, and that goes for bootcuts, too. Dark washes are classic, clean, and much easier to dress up or down than destroyed, light, or heavily detailed washes. For more info on washes, fit, and a few recommendations see my abbreviated guide to denim. (Old, but still relevant.)
Now, let’s dig into Anne’s question. How exactly can you modernize a pair of bootcut jeans?
Maegan, … Love Maegan
Jeans are the classic go-to for casual and weekend wear. Doing your bootcuts with a sweatshirt and sneaks won’t do anything for them (or you) in the way of modernization, since that combination of pieces is expected and common. Choosing structured, ladylike, or fancy garments and accessories will create fun juxtaposition and also update your overall look. Sleek blazers, long strands of pearls, brooches, structured handbags, stacks of bracelets, killer heels, on-trend ballet flats, and diaphanous blouses all provide a bit of fanciness to balance the naturally casual vibe of the jeans. (For more jeans-related fabulousness, check out Love Maegan’s 30 Days 30 Ways: Jeans and a White Tee Challenge. And yes, it could be argued that Maegan is wearing flares here, but the outfit itself would work equally well with bootcuts.)
Alison, Wardrobe Oxygen
Now, see here! “Go trendy” doesn’t mean “force yourself into a peplum blouse and LIKE IT.” Trends encompass patterns, colors, and fabrics in addition to cuts, lengths, and garment types. Since bootcut jeans are a classic piece but can sometimes feel a bit dated in this world of skinnies, pairing them with tops, accessories, and shoes that seem very of-the-moment will create balance. Tangerine orange and cobalt blue are extremely trendy now, as are graphic florals and polka dots. Statement necklaces are still popular, as are scarves of just about every kind. Don’t pick a trend that clashes with your personal style. Seek something that appeals to your eye and your aesthetic sense, but still aligns with the season’s hot items.
Here, Alison has boldly chosen to do a poncho with her bootcuts. I say, “boldly” because if the poncho were crafted from brown and orange acrylic yarn and the jeans were pale, stonewashed flares she’d have given off a very Woodstock vibe. But the poncho is chic and updated, classic black and perfectly on-trend. Her bootcut jeans are a dark wash, and create a fabulous balance against the drape of the top. (Also be sure to check out Alison’s response to reader question about bootcut jeans back in 2007!)
Lisa, Respect the Shoes
Trendy and funky can have a lot of overlap, and Lisa’s sequined pullover could fall into either category. But the idea here is to steer clear of the plain, the expected, the normal, and reach for items with flair and interest. If it works for your figure, try a tunic-length top, or assemble some interesting layers that fall at different spot along your torso. Opt for outrageous platform shoes, a conversation-starting necklace, or a highly embellished blouse. Again, when we think bootcut jeans we think “casual weekend staple.” Pairing them with personality-laden tops and accessories will help update your look.
Are you a fan of bootcut jeans? How do YOU keep them looking fresh and modern when much of the world is wearing skinnies? Please, share your tips and recommendations!
Top image courtesy Gap
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