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Slim vs Skinny Jeans: Which Should You Wear?

Black Woman Struggling Zipping Small Jeans Lying On Sofa Indoors

In any other conversation, slim and skinny could be used interchangeably. When it comes to jeans, though, slim fit and skinny jeans are two very different styles.

The main difference between skinny and slim jeans is tightness. Skinny jeans are tighter, while slim fit jeans have a straight leg and aren’t as form-fitting. Plus, skinny jeans tend to be made with stretchier denim for a comfortable, but tight fit. Slim jeans are more structured, which makes them better for work.

With Gen-Z raging a war against skinny jeans, many of us are looking toward different styles. It’s a great time to try on a pair of slim fit jeans, so I’ve also given some tips on how to style both of these popular cuts. Let’s get into it!

What is the Difference Between Slim Fit and Skinny Jeans?

You might think the only difference between the two styles is how they fit. However, they can also differ in the denim blends and weights they’re made of and ultimately how comfortable they are.

Skinny Fit Jeans Have a Tighter Fit Than Slim Fit Jeans

One of the key differences between slim fit vs skinny fit jeans is how they fit your body shape.

Skinny jeans fit tightly to the leg, following the body very closely. They have a narrower leg opening at the bottom and are tight throughout. Some are so tight that they’re like a second skin!

Slim fit jeans are not as tight and have a straighter shape. In women’s jeans, they’ll fit somewhat snugly at the waist and through the hips. Then from the hip, they follow a straighter line and have more room in the legs. Men’s jeans in a slim fit style have a loose fit throughout. Most have a tapered leg design, but some have larger leg openings.

Skinny Fit Jeans are Made with More Stretchy Material Vs Slim Fit Jeans

Denim is made with cotton, but most pairs use a fabric blend featuring stretchier materials like TENCEL Lyocell, Spandex, or Lycra.

Skinny jeans typically use more stretch denim so they can follow the body closely. Because slim fit jeans aren’t as tight-fitting, they usually have less elastic material blended with cotton for their denim. This helps keep their shape around your legs.

Another big difference between slim fit vs skinny fit jeans is the weight of denim typically used. Skinny jeans will use lighter-weight denim, which makes them more flexible to move with your body.

Slim fit jeans will typically use heavier-weight denim. Just like with a higher percent cotton blend, heavier weight denim will help them keep the jeans’ shape structured.

Depending on the Pair, Slim Jeans Can Be More Comfortable than Skinny Jeans

Comfort in jeans comes mostly down to fit and material. With skinny jeans and slim fit jeans, certain aspects of each can make them comfortable or uncomfortable.

Because skinny jeans are tight down your entire leg, they can be quite restrictive. We all know the painful pinching that comes after eating a big meal in a pair of skinny jeans! The tightness on the legs, especially around the knees, can also make moving in them uncomfortable. That’s why it’s important to find skinny fit jeans with a stretchy denim blend.

Slim fit jeans have a looser fit, so they’re much more comfortable in that way.  However, because they typically use heavier-weight denim with less elastic, the material can be scratchy and inflexible.

This discomfort will mainly be felt at the waist, where the jeans will touch your skin the most. Buying slim jeans that use organic cotton. like the ones from our best sustainable denim brands will make your jeans a lot softer!

Which is the Best For Me–Slim or Skinny Jeans?

The best style for you will depend on your taste, shape, and lifestyle

High-quality jeans can be quite the investment, so it’s good to determine which style fits your shape and lifestyle. Below you’ll find info that will help you choose which style is best for you.

Body Shape

Your body shape or silhouette is determined by where you carry more weight proportionally. Some styles of jeans work best and are most comfortable on some body shapes and not others. Keep reading for the best jeans for your body shape!

If you carry your weight in your stomach…

Either style could work for you! Both skinny and slim fit jeans fit close to the waist and hips, especially women’s jeans. As long as you choose a pair with a cotton and stretch material blend that is high-waisted, you’ll be comfortable.

If you carry your weight in your legs…

Slim fit jeans are the way to go! Slim fit jeans have wider pant legs, which will be more comfortable, especially while trying to bend your leg. If you like to wear skinny jeans to avoid bagginess, try a pair of slim pants with a tapered fit for a more narrow leg opening.

Skinny styles have narrow legs that could cause you to feel restricted and pinched. They can also rip at the crotch more if they’re too tight on your thighs.

If you carry your weight on top or evenly throughout your body…

Slim fit jeans are perfect to bring a bit more balance to your silhouette! Especially when wearing a looser style of t shirt, skinny fit jeans can look imbalanced.

A slim fit jean brings more substance to your lower half. They have a tailored, tapered fit that looks stylish and put together. You can pair them with a billowy blouse or tight shirt without your proportions getting out of whack.

If you carry weight on your hips…

Skinny jeans will emphasize all of your curves without overwhelming your proportions.  High-waisted styles are especially great to highlight your narrow waist.

Slim pant styles will fall straight from your hips, which in your case is the widest part of you. Avoid any bagginess by wearing skinny fit jeans to follow your body’s natural curvatures very closely.

Lifestyle

Your everyday routine, frequent events, and how much you do in your jeans can also determine which style works best for you.

Skinny jeans are excellent for casual looks or nights out thanks to their tightness. While they wouldn’t be work appropriate in most offices, they’re great for hanging out with friends or on date night. If you do a lot of walking, make sure to find a skinny jean with lots of stretch to allow movement.

Slim jeans have a more tailored, structured look thanks to their typical heavier-weight non stretch denim. This makes it easier to dress up for business casual outfits. Also, because the fit is looser, they’re more comfortable to wear when sitting at a desk. The heavier-weight denim also makes them great for hard manual work because it’s more durable than a lighter-weight pair.

Below you’ll find a few more tips for styling both styles.

How to Style Skinny Jeans

For some skinny jeans styling tips, read below.

Tip 1: Cropped Skinny Jeans with Ankle Boots

Works great as a casual look, but can also be made dressier with smarter boots
Wearing either short or rolled-up skinny jeans like Everlane’s Way-High Skinny Jean with ankle boots can be worn casually like pictured above. Or you can dress it up with Chelsea boots and a dressier shirt or blazer for a night out to a nice dinner.

Tip 2: Wear Skinny Fit Jeans With a Plain White Tee and Canvas Shoes

Madewell Men's Classic Skinny Jeans
We love these skinny jeans by Madewell (image by Madewell.com)
This is a great outfit for a night out to a brewery, pub, or dive bar, especially when wearing black skinny jeans like Madewell’s Men’s Classic Skinny Jeans. If you want to stand out, wear a shirt with bold colors, but a crisp white tee looks classic and put together.

How to Style Slim Fit Jeans

Here are a few different ways to style slim fit jeans.

Tip 1: Slim Jeans Work Great With a Casual Shirt and Sneakers

Outerknown Ambassador Slim Fit Selvedge
A great casual look that works in many situations
Pairing slim fit jeans like the Outerknown Ambassador Slim Fit Selvedge with a casual t shirt and canvas shoes is a comfortable outfit to spend the day running errands. Choosing a dark wash pair dresses the outfit up more for the office’s casual Friday or date night.

Tip 2: Consider Pairing Slim Jeans With a Button-Up Shirt for the Office

Slim fit jeans with button-up shirt
Considering pairing your slim fit jeans with a shirt or blouse

Wear slim fit jeans with a button-up shirt for a great business casual outfit. For women, choosing a black pair like Outland Denim’s Lucy Jean in Ink will dress up the outfit even more with a tucked-in shirt and blazer.

Skinny vs. Slim Jeans: The TLDR Lowdown

The biggest difference between slim fit jeans and skinny fit jeans is tightness. Skinny fit jeans are tighter throughout the entire pant leg with a narrower leg opening than slim fit jeans. The denim weight, stretch fabrics blended with the cotton, and comfort of skinny fit jeans and slim fit jeans all have slight differences depending on the pair.

Both pairs are really useful to have in your closet. Even if you’re a minimalist, most people find that having three to four pairs of jeans is the sweet spot.

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