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The ELLE Guide To The Best Jeans On The Planet



Are you still searching for The One? You’re in good company. As you likely know all too well, finding a good pair of jeans is a pretty achievable feat – but finding the best jeans? Well, that’s another story.

Now, the denim divide straddles more than the classic straight-leg and the rebellious skinny: there are endless styles and shapes to consider. As street style continues to influence the runways, which in turn inspires the high street, the denim market is booming.

Brands at all points of the prestige spectrum are banking on jeans this year (M&S is betting on holding its market leader status with a bumper Spring denim range, while Loewe, Cecilie Bahnsen, Miu Miu, Dior, Valentino, Celine, Chanel – I really could go on – all sent relaxed denim down their SS24 runways) because we’re simply buying more and more.

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Of course, one person’s perfect jeans will be the next’s denim disaster, and today, there’s a whole world of options out there, each vying for your loyalty. Now, wide-leg jeans are back with a bang, low-rise waists are here for the brave, and, – for the even braver – the skinny-jean siren is sounding once again (no, they weren’t dead, just taking an extended hiatus).

So, where are those elusive perfect jeans hiding? We’ve done all the waist-wriggling and zip-wrangling to deduce exactly that. Here, see the ultimate guide to the very best jeans from the world’s finest denim brands. There’s a winner for every single style, shape and silhouette predilection, alongside expert styling and shopping advice from the industry’s most in-the-know experts. The One? Right this way…

The ELLE Guide To The Very Best Jeans On The Planet

1. The Barrel Leg Jean

a person wearing a white shirt and black boots


If there’s one jeans style set to dominate SS24, it’s the barrel leg. Sometimes called the horseshoe, this curved, voluminous design features legs that flare fluidly to the knees, before bending back in on themselves. Sounds strange, looks excellent: think cool and carefree, but smart enough to always look grown-up.

Citizens of Humanity birthed the trend with its Horseshoe Jean which, in shade Fracture, is a current brand bestseller. Similarly, Agolde’s ballooning Luna jeans are selling out across the globe, while on the high street, the likes of Cos and Arket have introduced new styles to their roster this season.

How to style

The barrel is as versatile as it is statement-making: try yours with a slender sweater tucked into the high waistband. Heels make the most of the silhouette: try a stubby kitten for the coolest result.

Dark Blue Stone Stary Jeans

Ganni Dark Blue Stone Stary Jeans

2. The Bleached Jean

the best jeans for women 2024

Monic/Courtesy of Proenza Schouler//LAUNCHMETRICS SPOTLIGHT

‘Bleached denim will be a core denim trend in 2024, as seen in the SS24 collection of Proenza Schouler,’ says Libby Page, Market Director at NET-A-PORTER. ‘They go hand in hand with oversized silhouettes to exude an effortless aesthetic.’

How to style them

Where to find the best pair? ‘New to NET-A-PORTER designer Haikure’s Bethany mid-rise, wide-leg jeans are comfortable, chic, and the ideal accompaniment to a pair of those Alaïa ballet flats,’ says Page.

Of course, if you haven’t managed to bag a pair of the most in-demand shoes of the season, you could lean into the surfer associations with a tie-dye T-shirt, or steal inspiration from the Proenza show and pair yours with polished loafers.

Ellsworth Jeans

Proenza Schouler Ellsworth Jeans

Smokey Jeans

Acne Studios Smokey Jeans

3. The Dark Wash Jean

the best jeans for women SPOTLIGHT

‘In direct contrast to the rise in bleached denim, we expect dark denim to prove similarly popular, styled alongside the Primary Palette trend, where designers injected bold, bright colours into the fashion landscape of SS24,’ says Page.

‘Masterfully showcased in Sarah Burton’s final collection for Alexander McQueen, dark denim works so well in a tailored silhouette. Pair indigo jeans with cobalt blue for a head-to-tonal approach or take inspiration from Loewe’s unexpected combination of blue styled with chocolate brown. Toteme’s Twisted Seam organic jeans are the ideal pair to incorporate into an elevated capsule wardrobe.’

How to style them

As Page mentioned, dark denim is perfect for sneaking into those office-appropriate looks. Pair yours with a black blazer, heels and a white shirt for the working week, and add a bold lipstick – classic red looks incredible against dark denim – for added impact.

Le De-Nîmes Ovalo Jeans

Jacquemus Le De-Nîmes Ovalo Jeans

'90s Pinch Waist Jeans

Agolde ’90s Pinch Waist Jeans

Straight-Leg Jeans

Jil Sander Straight-Leg Jeans

4. The Wide Leg Jean

the best jeans of 2024


For those truly horrified by the purported resurrection of the skinny, we have good news: the wide-leg jean, another Noughties relic, is also back with a bang for 2024.

‘At NET-A-PORTER, we’re seeing our customers gravitating towards oversized denim silhouettes,’ Page says. ‘The SS24 collections showcased the casualisation of fashion, which was embodied by the oversized silhouettes we saw at Loewe, Stella McCartney, Valentino, and Toteme. Loewe’s Anagram appliquéd high-rise wide-leg jeans are a cult favourite and look effortlessly chic styled with an oversized sweater and retro sneakers.

Indeed, ELLE UK Contributing Editor Naomi May is eternally loyal to her wide-leg jeans: and one particular style at that. Reformation’s Cary jeans are her perfect jeans. ‘Maybe it’s my slightly curvier shape — I’m larger on bottom than I am on top — and I have long legs, which makes finding the right fit and length in denim difficult, but the Carys balance me out the way a good pair of jeans ought to,’ she says.

How to style them

Perilously oversized, floor-pooling jeans are perfect for the 2024 version of the classic Noughties combination of ‘jeans and a nice top’, as evidenced by the SS24 Valentino runway. That said, they also look excellent with a boyish bomber jacket and flats, as Hailey Bieber so often proves.

Slouchy Jeans

Marks & Spencer Slouchy Jeans

Ayla Jeans

Citizens Of Humanity Ayla Jeans

5. The Straight-Leg Jean

the best jeans straight leg SPOTLIGHT

After the great loungewear years, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the women of social media and fashion week alike turned to baggy ‘dad-style’ and vintage ‘mom-style’ style jeans for SS24 (and beyond). However, we’re now seeing a surprising return to a slimmer silhouette. Far from being skinny, the high-waisted straight-leg style has started to gain steam for 2024, and in the shadow of Quiet Luxury, a premium has been placed on classic shapes, without elastic, and perhaps with a small twist.

‘In recent years, the Nineties straight-leg jean has become a wardrobe staple that will not go anywhere in 2024,‘ Page says.

‘The beauty of straight-leg jeans is that they can look like a prized vintage pair but have been rigorously tested to ensure a great fit. Khaite’s Danielle high-rise straight-leg jeans are a hero item here and a firm favourite of Kendall Jenner. In the last three months at NET-A-PORTER, we have seen a 115% increase in searches for this style versus the three months prior.’

How to style them

Once you’ve invested in a good pair of (preferably high-waisted) straight-leg jeans, they will become your outfit-building bread and butter. Team this cut with absolutely everything, from shrunken Noughties tees to sharp blazers, mesh ballet flats to throwback wedge heels.

Val 90s Jeans

Reformation Val 90s Jeans

Criss Cross Recycled Jeans

Agolde Criss Cross Recycled Jeans

6. The Skinny Jean

miu miu aw24 skinny jeans

After years of riding high, this skinny jean fell firmly out of fashion a few years ago, retiring into the bedridden former rock star of denim. But now – and I’m sorry if this alarms you – the skinny jean is making a return. There will be no fighting it: come autumn, super-skinny drainpipes will be everywhere once more – Miu Miu has made it so, sending low-waisted, leg-hugging denim down its AW24 runway. Kate Moss is already wearing hers (paired with a vintage Balenciaga city bag, no less).

How to style them

We are wiser this time around though, and we won’t be falling into the sartorial trap that saw skinnies slip down in the style stakes previously. Where did it all go wrong? ‘Jeggings ruined the skinny jean,’ says stylist Donna Wallace, who favours a pair of Lee straight-leg men’s jeans that she’s cut off at the hems. ‘As soon as they started bastardising the denim and putting in too much stretch, it became trashy.’ So, the instruction is clear: keep it slim, not circulation-cutting, and for goodness sake, stay away from the elastane.

Le High Skinny Jeans

Frame Le High Skinny Jeans

'70s Stove Pipe Jeans

Re/Done ’70s Stove Pipe Jeans

7. The Mom Jean

a woman wearing petar petrov jeans


‘I have vivid memories of my mum wearing classic Levi’s jeans (501s, specifically) – stonewashed, high-waisted with a button fly and loose tapered legs in signature thick denim – throughout my childhood to do the gardening or take the dog on a muddy walk,’ says ELLE UK’s Site Fashion Editor, Daisy Murray. These were the ‘mom jeans‘ before mom jeans became a thing.’

‘As I hit adolescence, when replicating Kate Moss and Sienna Miller in their super-skinny Sass & Bide ‘Misfits’ (remember those?) became my ultimate goal, I would tease her about how ‘dated’ her pale Levi’s jeans were. ‘They’ll come back around one day,’ she’d say, like all mums do.

She was right: they did. Now, I wear her old favourites religiously myself: nothing feels as easy, as reassuring or as versatile as a good old pair of mom jeans. Sometimes, they really do know best.

How to style them

The mom jean looks best with a tucked-in top, so style yours with a classic white T-shirt (the ultimate off-duty pairing) or try a looser, longer boyfriend shirt twisted nonchalantly into the waist. When it comes to footwear, anything goes, from trainers to elegant heels. Right now, we’re pairing ours with a just-smart-enough thong sandal.

The Rigid Way-High® Jean

Everlane The Rigid Way-High® Jean

Mom Jeans

Marks & Spencer Mom Jeans

The Curbside Flood Jean

Mother The Curbside Flood Jean

8. The Denim Set

a person wearing a denim jacket


‘Denim sets exude power and practicality, as seen in the SS24 collections of Valentino, Stella McCartney, and Ulla Johnson,’ says Page.

‘The perfect addition to a capsule wardrobe, denim sets have endless styling options. New to NET-A-PORTER designer Destree has an elevated dark denim two-piece set that can be worn in the day with trainers or dressed up for the evening with heels.’

How to style them

The wonderful things about co-ords is that they are an entire outfit in one, meaning all you need think about is accessorising your pre-made ensemble. If, however, you decide not to go for a ready made look, find a denim jacket and jeans in a similar wash to create the same effect, and add statement gold earrings to take it from casual to evening-ready.

Denim Bomber Jacket And Jeans

CO Denim Bomber Jacket And Jeans

Upside-Down Jacket And Skirt

Alexander McQueen Upside-Down Jacket And Skirt

Snow Washed Denim Fitted Blazer And Jeans

Ganni Snow Washed Denim Fitted Blazer And Jeans
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