How to Wear Skinny Jeans If You're Plus Size

Plus size skinny jeans woman
Asos Curve
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Skinny Jeans - A Fashion Staple

Woman in plus size skinny jeans
Forever 21

Skinny jeans have been one of the most popular denim styles for what feels like forever. But if you’re not a stick figure, they might feel like a challenge to pull off. We are here to tell you that plus size women can look fantastic and fashionable in skinny jeans. You just need to find the perfect-fitting pair and then style your jeans the right way to balance your proportions, so you can flaunt your style, and confidently show off your body. Read on for tips on how to find your curvy body's best plus size skinny jeans, and how to style them to look amazing every day.

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Choose a Dark Wash Jean

NYDJ Sheri Skinny Plus Size Jeans
NYDJ Sheri Skinny Plus Size Jeans. NYDJ

A dark-wash skinny jean, such as the NYDJ style pictured here, is the most slimming option for plus-size women. You probably already know that wearing dark-colored clothing can visually minimize body areas, while lighter colors can make things look bigger.

Skinny jeans in a dark indigo wash are the most versatile type of jeans in any woman's wardrobe, because they can be worn with casual outfits or dressed up for fancier occasions. Or instead of dark blue jeans, you could shop for a great-fitting, inky pair of black skinny jeans, which can be styled in your wardrobe just as you would wear a black pant.

While the most sophisticated skinny jean you can buy is a dark, solid-colored pair, that doesn't mean you can't wear colored jeans. In fact, doing so can add fun and variety to your wardrobe for a confident look that's always flattering. If you're looking to streamline your figure, just skip past the pastel shades and shop for colored denim in rich, saturated hues, such as deep burgundy, forest green, or charcoal gray, to create a more slenderizing effect. 

Also keep in mind when you're shopping for skinny jeans that you may want to look for a pair without too much distressing or whiskering, which can visually enlarge heavier legs. If you love the distressed jeans trend, though, you can totally wear them—just shop for a pair with fraying that's focused around the knee area rather than jeans with heavy shredding on the thighs.

Dark-wash skinny jeans for plus sizes:

  • NYDJ Plus Size Sheri Skinny Jeans
  • Levi's Plus Size 311 Shaping Super Skinny Jeans
  • Lucky Brand Plus Size Emma Jean
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Shop for a Perfect Fit

Woman trying on jeans in store change room
Monalyn Gracia/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

Everyone, whether plus size or not, has to pay special attention to getting the right fit in skinny jeans. This often means trying on a lot of pairs of jeans, so be prepared and give yourself enough time when you go jeans shopping. What you're looking for is a slim legged jean that fits snugly around the waist and hips, without feeling overly tight when you're standing or sitting, or creating the dreaded "muffin top" effect.

Jeans should also flow smoothly over your legs, without squeezing so much that they create unwanted lumps or bumps. The right skinny jean can lengthen your legs in a way that's super flattering, so try on as many pairs as needed to find the jean that works best for you.

If you have a belly, you'll probably want to look for a mid-rise style of skinny jeans, which can help to conceal and contain your middle, but try on different styles until you find your favorite. Avoid both high-waisted styles, which visually widen your middle, and too-low jeans that don’t contain your tummy.

Do be sure to bend over, sit, and stand in the change room to get an idea how the jeans look and feel through a full range of motion. Make sure there's no underwear-revealing gapping in the waist when you sit down or conversely that you don't feel cut in half when you bend down to tie your sneakers. If you're uncomfortable in the dressing room, you can be sure that you won't be comfy in the real world—which means you haven't found the right jean yet.

So what if you find a jean that fits you beautifully around the waistline and in the seat, but the legs are too long? No problem—you can always have your jeans hems altered to hit your legs at the right length, which is an easy fix by a seamstress or tailor.

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Choose Jeans With Stretch

Silver Jeans Suki Mid-Rise Plus Size Skinny Jean
Silver Jeans Suki Mid-Rise Plus Size Skinny Jean. Silver Jeans

Skinny jeans that incorporate a decent amount of elastane (aka Spandex or Lycra) in the denim fabric can be very flattering to plus size shapes when they're crafted in a heavier weight denim. High-quality stretch jeans are generally more comfortable and flexible to walk, stand, and sit in than regular blue jeans, too, which may make these your favorite new jean. Best of all, many premium denim brands now make stretch skinny jean styles specifically designed to lift, shape, and smooth the figures of curvier women, such as these Silver Jeans in the brand's popular Suki Style.

How much stretch is enough stretch for a plus-size jean? That's up to you, but typically, a jean with 2 percent or more elastane will offer better figure-shaping benefits and be less prone to bagging out with wear.

Plus-size jeans with 2 percent or more spandex:

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Style Them With The Right Tops

Forever 21 Plus Size Skinny Jeans
Forever 21

In real life, almost nobody — except maybe off-duty supermodels — completely avoids the muffin-top dilemma when wearing skinny jeans. That's one of the reasons that wearing a trapeze-style tank top, a pretty, billowy blouse, or a long, loose tunic with your skinny jeans is such a great idea for plus size women.

Wearing a top with volume also balances out your body's proportions by drawing attention to your upper half, making your lower half appear slimmer. You can always choose a shirt that’s long enough to cover your backside if that gives you more confidence.

Here are more tricks for choosing a top to wear with skinny jeans that flatters your figure:

  • To flaunt an hourglass figure, layer a thin, colorful belt over a long tunic top to cinch in your waist.
  • Wear a regular, button-down shirt untucked and layer a tailored blazer on top to create a feminine, hourglass body shape. Add a necklace to create more visual interest on your upper body. This is a great ensemble for the office.
  • Go ahead and wear a sweatshirt for casual style. The volume will balance your skinny bottoms. Just pay attention to your accessories: Adding high heels and a statement necklace keeps this simple outfit looking stylish rather than sloppy.
  • Slim your torso and camouflage a tummy by pairing a peplum top with your skinny jeans.
  • Belt a long, colorful cardigan over your skinny jeans for a confident, figure-flattering effect.
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Wear a Jean Jacket With Skinny Jeans

Forever 21 Plus Size Skinny Jeans in Grey
Forever 21

For a trendy outfit you can wear shopping with friends or picking up the kids from school, try pairing your favorite dark-wash skinny jeans with a classic jean jacket. Choose a jacket in a lighter or bluer wash than your dark jeans or pair a blue jean jacket confidently with charcoal gray jeans, as pictured here.

You can also pop the color of your jacket or add a printed scarf to draw attention upward toward your face and away from your lower half. This is a great trick for curvy women wanting to try skinny jeans because it adds volume and interest up top while keeping you looking classic and stylish.

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Wear a Dark Blazer With Black Skinny Jeans

Mango black plus size jeans and blazer

Slimming black jeans and a black blazer are a sophisticated fashion combination for work or social occasions. You could wear a traditional blazer but consider how confident and edgy you'll look in a real or faux leather blazer, such as this Mango style, that you can also layer over all your dresses for instant polish. Choose a jacket that hits your body at the lowest point of the hip to extend your torso and give you some coverage in the back when you're wearing skinny jeans.

Black skinny jeans for plus sizes:

  • NYDJ Plus-Size Alina Black Super Sculpt Jeans
  • James Jeans Plus Size Twiggy Jean in Black
  • Seven Plus Size Black Jeans
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Play With the Double Denim Trend

Mango plus size skinny jeans

Plus size women can wear the fashionable head-to-toe denim look. The key to flattering your curvy figure in this trend is choosing denim separates in different washes and keeping the slimming darker wash on the bottom.

When shopping for a chambray shirt, look for one that skims over your curves; avoid tent-like tops that make you look boxy. Wear a lighter denim-look shirt over your favorite dark-wash skinny jeans or choose a patterned top to create interest above your waist and distract from a heavier lower body.

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Wear the Right Shoes With Skinny Jeans

Madden Girl Women's Ohnice Dress Pump
Madden Girl Women's Ohnice Dress Pump.

Skinny jeans are great for elongating your legs. Keep that long, lean line going by wearing nude-colored heels. Or choose shoes that closely match the shade of your jeans in black or navy.

You will look best in high heels with skinny jeans, but you can also wear flats if that's more your style. Whether your shoes are heels or flats, you'll want to choose a pointed toe style (rather than rounded toe shoes), to create the most slimming visual effect for legs.

Here are some ideas for shoes to wear with skinny jeans.