6 Best Jeans for Short Legs
Bodies come in all shapes, sizes, and combinations. Depending on your body type, this can make getting the right fit or most flattering style a bit tricky. Many with short legs find fit and styling challenging and believe some denim styles aren’t for them. But – womens denim can work for everyone with the proper cut and fit.
Short legs can be difficult to fit because a person can be average or even tall but have proportionally short legs and a long torso. Others with short legs are considered short or even petite. And there is additional confusion for many about the differences between petite and short sizing in womens jeans.
We won’t cut you short here—let’s learn more about jeans for short legs and how you can style them to be flattering.
Short vs Petite Jeans
You’re not alone if you assumed that short sizing and petite were the same in jeans. But in fact, these are two different ways of sizing denim. It’s understandable why it’s confusing—petite sizing is for most women 5’4” or shorter, while short sizes are for women 5’5” or shorter.
Petite jeans usually have:
- Shorter inseams—Your inseam is the length from the top of your leg at the crotch to the end of the pant leg.
- Shorter rises—The rise is the distance from the crotch to the waist, and most manufacturers adjust the rise assuming your torso is roughly proportional.
- An adjusted knee break—in denim that isn’t a petite straight leg, such as flare or bootcut, the denim should break ideally at or slightly below the knee.
Short jeans give women better fit options if:
- They have shorter legs but longer torsos: many short sizes have a longer rise than petite-size jeans.
- They have thicker legs: Short-leg jeans have a shortened inseam but often have a slightly larger leg opening or wider leg width.
- The knee break spot is not an issue, or the petite knee break doesn’t line up: Knee breaks on some styles, like skinny jeans, are minimal or nonexistent. In addition, some women may have longer thighs or longer calves, and the sometimes subtle difference between a petite vs short size could give them a noticeably different fit.
How to Shop for Short Jeans
If you just read about the differences between short-leg jeans and petite jeans and suddenly became wary of online denim shopping, don’t be. Of course, manufacturer variability can be the bane of any denim shopper, regardless of her size and shape. But there are some things you can do to make online shopping stress-free and fun.
You can do the measurements yourself or enlist a BFF to make it a bit easier. Knowing your measurements will revolutionize your shopping experience regardless of your size or leg length. And periodically, retake your measurements to ensure you’re always ordering the perfect fit.
Waist: Find the narrowest point of your waist above your hips.
Hips: Measure the widest part of your hips to ensure you will have enough room in the seat.
Thighs: Wrap the tape around the largest part of your thighs snugly but not tightly.
Inseam: Measure from the top of your thigh at the crotch to your ankle.
Also be sure to avoid regular cropped jeans. It may seem like a petite denim hack, but cropped jeans fit awkwardly most of the time on a petite woman. This is because the rise, knee break, or other measurements are not made for a petite body type. Instead of seeking cropped denim, search for petite jeans in your favorite styles.
Look at the Denim Construction
Denim manufacturers may make their jeans with some stretch, a lot of stretch, or none at all. Generally, people find the best fit when the denim has a little stretch—enough to flex and move with the body but not so much that the denim wears out quickly and loses its shape.
Check the Website and Reviews
One of the biggest challenges when shopping online for denim is that there can be so much size variation from one company to another. You might be a size 12 in one pair of jeans, a 16 in another, and a 14 in yet another brand. This variation can make shopping a headache. Once you’ve got your measurements, look on the brand’s website to see if they offer fit details.
For example, Democracy Clothing lists an approximate rise, inseam, and leg opening measurement to help you pinpoint the perfect fit. The brand also lists its denim as True to Size, meaning that most women order what they consider their size and get the fit they expect. And by including one to three percent spandex in the denim blend, Democracy’s jeans give and stretch without losing shape.
Finally, check the reviews for the brand’s denim. Websites may use a star rating, comments, or both, and these sections can help you to see if other wearers found the products to be True to Size.
The Best Jeans for Short Legs
Now that we’ve talked about how vital a good fit is, you may be thinking that perhaps a person with short legs can wear many more styles than you initially thought. In addition to fit, you’ll have better luck by avoiding shapeless or boxy denim. Some of the best jeans for short legs include:
- High rise jeans: Create the illusion of longer legs with high waisted jeans. You can try mom jeans or a high rise skinny jean to begin trying high rise petite styles. Also check out our article What Are Mom Jeans to learn more.
- Flare jeans: Focus on fit, and you’ll be amazed at how a flared jeans can lengthen your look. Check out our article on types of flare jeans for short legs for more information.
- Skinny jeans: Create longer leg lines with cropped or tucked-in tops. Don’t be afraid to try a cheeky jean to show off your curves.
- Wide leg jeans: Create both shape and length with a mid or high rise that fits at the top, then falls to the top of your shoes.
- Girlfriend jeans: Wear these jeans cuffed at the ankle or slightly above.
- Bootcut jeans: Wearing a pair of petite bootcuts can deliver the illusion of longer legs like flare-leg jeans.
Mid rise is perfectly fine, but try to avoid low rise jeans as they might give the appearance of shorter legs. With that said, it’s best to always be mindful of inseam length when shopping for petite jeans. Some stores may classify their petite denim styles differently than others.
How to Style Jeans with Short Legs
Try these style tips to create balance and enhance your best features:
- Try girlfriend or boyfriend jeans with nude, strappy sandals.
- Pair your petite skinny jeans with a shoe of the same color.
- Style a high rise skinny jean with a cropped sweater for a cozy look that will elongate your legs
- Long blouses or jacket hems can make your torso look much longer and your legs shorter. If you want to lengthen the look of your legs, wear a jacket and fashion top that stops above the hips.
- Belt longer tops, skirts, or dresses at the waist to create proportion.
- Mid-calf boots make legs look shorter. Opt for heeled booties or a knee-high boot in the same color as your pants.
- Choose mid or high-waisted pants to extend the line from your ankle up. Low rise pants will shorten the look of your legs.
Love your legs for all that they do for you!