What Are Boyfriend Jeans?
Boyfriend jeans have recently become such a favored fixture in the denim world that experts predict the style will be popular for a long time.
And while a few pairs may have once been taken from those proverbial boyfriends, the style has since come into its own.
But with so many denim styles and cuts to choose from these days, you might wonder what exactly boyfriend jeans are and how they differ from mom jeans, dad jeans, or girlfriend jeans.
We’ll break down some of the signature features of the boyfriend jean and how you can create effortless style and comfort when styling your pair.
So What Are Boyfriend Jeans?
Boyfriend jeans are a style of womens denim that resembles your boyfriend’s go-to pair of jeans. While some women may have simply borrowed or slipped into their partner’s relaxed, worn-in jeans, most women are buying jeans specifically cut to fit a more feminine figure. When you’re looking for boyfriend jeans, you’ll likely spot these distinct features:
- A lower and relaxed rise
- Cuffed ankles
- Longer back pockets
- A gently tapered leg
- Often distressed, with a well-worn look
- Less hip curve
And while nowadays you’ll see boyfriend jeans in every wash and color, the most ‘traditional’ look is the faded lighter blue with tasteful wear spots on the thighs or knees, and maybe even chewed up hems.
If you are interested in learning about the other types of womens jeans, be sure to check out our blog articles on:
The History of Boyfriend Jeans
Marilyn Monroe probably didn’t call her pair ‘boyfriend jeans’, but many denim lovers trace the origin of the boyfriend jeans’ relaxed, slouchy fit back to her iconic outfits on the Misfits set in the 1960s. Those older Millennials and Gen X also recall the grunge of the early- to mid-90s, and while borrowing the boyfriend’s jeans then was more of a niche style, it did happen.
But boyfriend jeans really came into focus in the 2000s when Katie Holmes, then married to Tom Cruise, wore his jeans while out and about in New York City. Paparazzi often snapped photos of her in slouchy, slightly baggy jeans on her petite frame. Soon after, other high-profile stars like Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Jessica Parker began sporting them too.
Once manufacturers realized that women were interested in the looser comfort and lived-in feel, they pivoted to creating boyfriend jeans specifically for women, but with very subtle detail differences to make the fit more comfortable on the female-presenting body.
What Body Types Look Good in Boyfriend Jeans
Hallelujah for denim’s popularity because it means there’s a boyfriend style jean out there for every kind of body. Some boyfriend jeans include a small percentage of lycra or other materials that give them subtle stretch. And pocket placement is crucial since moving the pockets by just millimeters can flatter a body shape even more.
While traditional boyfriend jeans tend to sit at midrise or slightly lower, higher-rise styles are available now. Some will also have a more pronounced curve through the hip, while others are a straight line from waist to thigh. Straight lines and ‘no stretch’ materials tend to flatter athletic figures, while slight hip curves and extra stretchy materials flatter cuvier body types.
If you are slimmer and your goal is to give the illusion of curves, then baggier, more traditional boyfriend jeans are right up your alley. Hourglass and pear-shaped bodies look fabulous in a more fitted, tailored-cut boyfriend jean with a mid to high waist.
Don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t pull off a boyfriend jean with curves. You can—it’s all in the details. Feel like you’re more the apple shape? Go for boyfriend jeans with a bit more taper to show off that leg line, with a cuffed hem.
While we don’t specifically carry boyfriend jeans at Democracy, we carry many different types of womens jeans that compliment all body types. Here are some of our favorites:
How to Style Boyfriend Jeans
Boyfriend jeans are all about comfort! If you keep that in mind, you won’t overthink the styling. First, consider your fit goals, and look for boyfriend jeans that offer those features. What many love about boyfriend jeans is the worn look, so a comfy t-shirt is always a winner. But if you want to balance the relaxed fit, boxy look of the jeans, a cropped t-shirt or structured statement jacket will elevate the style.
Remember, the wash and level of distress can draw attention to or minimize your lower half. If you’re looking to create a more narrow or slimming look while still enjoying the comfort and ease of the boyfriend fit jean look, go for a darker wash and gentler amount of distressing. Slimmer or more petite figures may want to balance their look with a lighter wash and more obvious distressing.
What Shoes to Wear with Boyfriend Jeans
Your shoe choice can significantly alter your overall look. A pair of Converse or cross-trainer sneakers complete the relaxed, disheveled vibe. But you can also counter the informal feel of boyfriend jeans with a block-heeled sandal or heeled bootie that will lengthen the leg.
Platform sneakers remain a popular choice with distressed boyfriend jeans. They combine the relaxed feel of a sneaker with the leg-lengthening effect of the added inch or two.
And while the combination might not be the most comfortable footwear choice, wearing a classic pointed pump heel with cuffed boyfriend jeans, a t-shirt, and a long coat delivers incredible style.
Another excellent footwear choice for boyfriend jeans, especially in cold or messy weather, is a structured biker boot. But when looking for boots, booties, and high-top sneakers, you may need to try a few before finding the right ankle height. And look at the styles with your leg cuffed and uncuffed to see which is more flattering.
Boyfriend Jeans Are for Everyone
If you tried boyfriend jeans a few years ago and were disappointed, it’s worth a second look. More cuts, washes, and rises mean you’re much more likely to find a fit that flatters you now. And you can find tons of great photos showing how people of all shapes and sizes have styled their boyfriend jeans to look great.
Don’t miss out on this comfortable jean fit. It’s showing no signs of going out of style, and you can definitely find easy ways to fit boyfriend jeans into your denim repertoire.