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The Fashion Memo

How to wear straight-leg jeans

L-R: Louise de Chevigny, Imaan Hammam and Carolyn Murphy

As an enduring classic, the best straight-leg jeans are a must in any denim wardrobe. But how to wear them? Here’s your expert guide to finding the perfect fit and finish – and giving them sartorial flair


No matter the season, straight-leg jeans continue to reign supreme. A forever favorite of models such as Imaan Hammam and Carolyn Murphy – who pack them to wear on repeat for off-duty wardrobes during fashion week – as well as Norwegian tastemaker Tine Andrea, this silhouette of jean is understated and versatile, making a pair an essential for your wardrobe. From puffers and sneakers to wintry shearlings and boots, there’s no look these pants can’t elevate. Sacrificing elastane in favor of rigid denim might sound sartorially risky, but once you find your perfect fit, you’ll realize that these leg-lengthening throwback styles are incredibly flattering. Our top tips? Forgo low-rise cuts for mid or high waists, and opt for a close fit around your butt and thighs to ensure the perfect slim fit on the leg – if you go too loose at the top, you’ll end up with a baggier boyfriend shape. As for your hems, fashion’s love of the ’90s is still blossoming, so go for an ankle-grazing or full-length leg.

To save you suffering from choice paralysis, we asked six of the best denim designers, from six of the most covetable labels – E.L.V. Denim, Mother, Totême, Khaite, Goldsign and Slvrlake – how they get maximum mileage from their straight-leg jeans. Over to you, Anna Foster, Lela Becker, Elin Kling, Catherine Holstein, Karen Phelps and Louise Edgley…

I love our two-tone jeans, which I see as classic but with a twist. I tend to pair them with a simple white shirt or tee, tucked in, and loafers during the day. However, in the evening, I’ll often throw on a blazer and a pair of heels to elevate the look. When it gets cold out, I pair them with a cropped turtleneck sweater, tucked in to knee-length boots and styled with a classic trench.
Founder and creative director, E.L.V. Denim
Rigid, straight-leg jeans in a worn-out wash have become my go-to. I love to style them with ankle boots and a vintage sweatshirt for a laid-back, California feel. However, I always layer on jewelry to dress it up a touch. After dark, I’ll switch to a light sweater and finish with a blazer for a relaxed evening look.
President and co-founder, Mother
Straight-leg jeans in a mid-blue wash teamed with chic flats and a classic trench coat make for the perfect uniform. Come evening, simply slip on a form-fitting ribbed top and add a prim top-handle bag; you’ll be ready for wherever the night takes you.
Elin Kling
Creative director and co-founder, Totême
My go-to combination is a bodysuit or a featherweight cashmere sweater, worn with ankle boots and a skinny belt. If it’s warm out, you can’t go wrong with a classic white shirt; undo a few extra buttons when the sun goes down.
Catherine Holstein
Creative director, Khaite
My current go-to jean is a straight-leg style in white, worn with a white top, a camel tuxedo jacket and an oversized overcoat. After dark, I’ll usually opt for black jeans paired with a simple structured top, and finish my outfit with statement earrings and trophy sandals.
Karen Phelps
Creative director, Goldsign
Our ‘London’ straight-leg jeans are my go-to; they fit and flatter the body and elongate the legs. For daytime, I love to pair them with a slim-fit knit and layer with a shirt and a long wool coat. For evening, I like to play with texture; a silk top feels luxurious paired with denim and a strappy sandal.
Louise Edgley
Co-founder, Slvrlake

The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown