10 Ways to Look Skinnier in Jeans

Fashion Tricks for Looking Slimmer in Denim

You can't always hit your goal weight -- but you can look skinnier in jeans right this minute. Most women rely on jeans as a wardrobe staple, often reaching for them when we don't feel comfortable squeezing into other wardrobe options. But looking skinny in jeans can be a bit of an art -- it's not as simple as just buying a pair of skinny jeans. I've put together this list of fashion tips to help you choose the right pair of jeans -- the ones that will make you instantly look like you've lost weight. Here's my go-to guide to looking skinnier when you wear jeans.

01
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Choose a Dark Wash Jean

Woman wearing dark jeans
Lise Gagne/ Vetta/ Getty Images

Blue jeans come in various washes (also called rinses or color treatments), ranging from white, pale blue and dove greys, all the way through dark indigo, charcoal and inky black. There are also pastel jeans and rich colored denim washes to choose from. If your goal is to look skinny, you'll want to select jeans from the darkest end of the color range. Slim-fitting, dark wash jeans in a deep indigo or black rinse are not only slenderizing but also more versatile for wearing with both casual and dressy tops.

Do keep in mind that dark denim jeans require some care to launder, as they are manufactured with a heavy dye that can bleed into other clothing when washing. Watch this About.com video on how to wash dark jeans for tips on the best way to prevent fabric dye transfer. You can also read my advice on the best way to wash your jeans to keep them looking new for longer.

Paige Hoxton High-Rise Straight Leg Jeans
Paige Hoxton High-Rise Straight Leg Jeans. Paige Denim

High waist jeans have gotten somewhat of a bad rap, thanks to old-school, ugly versions. When worn correctly, though, high-rise jeans are nothing to fear and can actually do wonders to make you look instantly thinner. This works because a well-fitting, higher-rise jean elongates the lower body, tricking the eye into seeing a leaner you. This style also holds in the tummy, smooth the hip line and eliminates the risk of muffin top.

When shopping for high waist jeans that make you look skinnier, keep a few basic principles in mind. You're looking for a pair with a waistband that hits directly above your belly button, comes in a dark wash, and has a classic one-button, zipper closure. Avoid like the plague any jeans that sit higher on the body, come in a button-rise or have an elasticized waistband, all of which puts you squarely in dreaded mom jeans territory. Take a look at some styling options for high-rise jeans and see how you can make this style work for your body type. More »

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Pay Attention to Length

AG Stilt Rolled Cuff Skinny Jean
AG Stilt Rolled Cuff Skinny Jean. AG Denim

When you're dressing to look skinnier in jeans, do pay attention to length. Dark wash jeans that end an inch or two below the ankle will elongate your body, especially when paired with the right shoes (see below). When I go jeans shopping, I always make a point to bring along the shoes I usually wear with jeans, to get an accurate picture of the length. If you want to switch between flats and heels with your jeans, buy a (longer) length that will accommodate the heels while still hitting just below the ankle. You can always roll up your jeans stylishly when you wear them with flat shoes. Check out my guide to some cool options for cuffing your jeans.

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Shop for a Perfect Fit

Lucky Brand Charlie Skinny Jeans
Lucky Brand Charlie Skinny Jeans. Lucky Brand

I find that more than any other item of clothing, ill-fitting jeans can visually pack on the pounds. You'll look your leanest in jeans that are neither too tight, nor too baggy. Skinny jeans should hug your hips, bottom and legs, for instance, without squeezing them too tightly. Boyfriend jeans should be more straight-leg than baggy in cut if you're trying to look skinnier, whatever your body type. Everyone will benefit from a waistband that firmly but gently holds in their middle, without cutting into the waist and creating an unattractive muffin top effect.

Knowing your correct jeans size is important when you go denim shopping, of course, but there's also no substitute for trying jeans on and assessing the fit honestly, as sizing can change between brands. For a skinnier look in jeans, also check the garment label for the spandex count. Stretch denim jeans with between one to four percent spandex will offer a more body-hugging silhouette than regular jeans, while also providing flexibility and movement. Learn more about what to look for in stretch jeans.

Lucky Brand Lil Maggie Jeans Rear View
Lucky Brand Lil Maggie Jeans Rear View. Lucky Brand

If the way your rear end looks in jeans is a concern in jeans, pay careful attention to the back pocket construction when you're shopping for a new pair. The right design can minimize your bottom for a skinnier look, while the wrong back pockets can make it look terrible. I've put together a must-have guide to the jeans back pockets that flatter different body shapes, so you can find the best pair of jeans to flatter your butt and make it look skinnier. More »

Joe's Jeans the Honey Curvy Bootcut Jeans
Joe's Jeans the Honey Curvy Bootcut Jeans. Joe's Jeans

Shopping for jeans is a lot easier and takes less time when you start out knowing which styles flatter your figure -- and which to not even bother with. For example, a woman with a well-proportioned hourglass figure will want to choose a different style of jeans to play up her assets (and camouflage other body parts) than will a pear-shaped woman, or one with a boyish, athletic shape. I've taken the guesswork out of figuring out which jeans will flatter each body type, with my figure-specific guides to choosing the best jeans for your body. More »

Old Navy Skinny Jeans and Ankle Boots
Old Navy Skinny Jeans and Ankle Boots. Old Navy

To look skinnier in jeans, it's important to finish your look with well-chosen footwear. The right pair of shoes can elongate your legs right down to your toes, while an ill-considered pair can make your legs look stumpy. For the leanest look in jeans, pair a dark denim pair with a black or other dark-colored shoe. Pointy high heeled shoes or boots will give you the most leg extension for a longer, slimmer silhouette. If you're self-conscious about your feet looking big in pointy toe shoes, just choose a shoe with a shortened point, rather than a longer one. Learn more about what shoes to wear with various jeans styles.   More »

j-brand-jeans-photo-ready-mid-rise-super-skinny-onyx.jpg
J Brand Photo Ready Jean. J Brand

If you've ever wished jeans came with built-in Spanx, you're not alone. While shapewear is definitely useful in reining in lumps and bumps under clothing, it can be hot and uncomfortable to wear under heavy denim. Some denim designers have paid attention to women's needs in this area and developed innovative jeans that feature body-shaping panels, stretch fabric technology, and ingenious stitching that makes you look like the skinniest version of you. Take a look at my guide to the body-shaping jeans that will make you look skinnier in denim.  More »

Victoria Beckham boyfriend jeans
Victoria Beckham boyfriend jeans. Victoria Beckham Denim

Investing in a high-quality jean can be a great way to look your best in denim. Premium-quality jeans not only last longer but typically fit the body better and can help you get that skinny look in jeans. You don't necessarily have to buy expensive designer jeans, though there are tricks for finding high-end jeans at bargain prices. If you want jeans that make you look like a million bucks, take the time to learn how to spot superior-quality construction, which can sometimes be found in less-expensive jeans labels as well as designer brands. Take a look at my guide to shopping for high-quality jeans.   More »

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Use Color to Minimize Problem Areas

mango-jeans-white-blazer.jpg
Wear lighter colors on top with jeans to play down your lower body. Mango

Dressing to look skinnier in jeans means paying attention not only to your pants but your entire outfit. You can easily play down larger body areas -- and pull attention to your best features -- by playing with color in your outfit. Since dark colors have a minimizing effect, for instance, you can create an overall slimmer silhouette by creating a monotone outfit in dark skinny jeans and a similar-colored dark top, finishing your look with black high heel shoes. Keep your outfit from looking dull by adding a statement necklace or beautiful scarf. This not only creates visual interest but this fashion trick pulls attention up toward your face, taking the emphasis off your lower body. What if you've got heavy arms but you're proud of your slim hips and legs? Try wearing lighter jeans (maybe a fashionable grey pair) with a darker, long-sleeved top.