10 Ways to Look Skinnier in Jeans

Fashion Tricks for Looking Slimmer in Denim

Woman wearing blue jeans and black sunglasses

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images


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 slimmer in jeans can be a bit of an art — it's not as simple as just buying a pair of skinny jeans. We've collected the best fashion advice on what to look for when you go jeans shopping, to help you find that perfect pair of jeans that make you look like you've instantly lost weight, whenever you put them on. Check out our time-saving, figure-enhancing guide to how to look skinnier in jeans,.

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Choose a Dark Wash Jean

Woman wearing dark blue jeans and Chanel purse

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images


Denim jeans come in a wide range of washes (also called rinses or color treatments), ranging from white, pale blue, and dove grey, all the way through dark indigo, charcoal and inky black. There are also pastel jeans and playful colored denim washes to choose from.

If your goal is to look slimmer in jeans, you'll want to select a denim shade in the darkest end of the color range. Slim, well-fitting dark wash jeans, in a deep indigo or black denim wash, are not only slenderizing, but also super versatile for wearing with both casual and dressy tops.

Do keep in mind that most dark denim jeans require some extra care to launder, especially when you first bring them home, as they are typically manufactured with heavy dyes that can bleed into other clothing when washing.

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Say Yes to a Higher Rise

Street style in dark jeans
High rise jeans are slenderizing. Christian Vierig/Getty Images

High waisted 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 helps to hold in your tummy, smooth your shape along the hip line, and eliminates the risk of muffin top.

When shopping for high waisted jeans that make you look skinnier, keep a few basic principles in mind:

  • You're looking for a pair of jeans with a waistband that hits directly above your belly button
  • Shop for a jean in a dark wash, as directed above — deep blues and black jeans are your best friends
  • Jeans that come with a classic one-button, zipper closure are best for holding in a tummy

You'll also want to be aware of what not to wear, if you want to look skinnier in high waisted jeans. Avoid like the plague any jeans that:

  • Have a button fly
  • Are constructed with an elasticized waistband
  • Don't include at least 1% of stretch (Lycra or Elastane) in the fabric

Get more outfit ideas here for styling high waisted jeans.

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Pay Attention to Length

Street style jeans and white booties
Wear low heel shoes with long hem jeans to look slimmer. Kirstin Sinclair/Getty Images

When you're dressing to look skinnier in jeans, do pay special 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. (Pointy toed shoes will elongate your legs, while round or square toed footwear can make your legs look stumpier).

When going jeans shopping, it' s always a good idea to bring along the shoes you will wear most often with the 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 jean that will accommodate your favorite high heels, while still hitting your leg below the ankle.

Also keep in mind that you can always roll up longer jeans stylishly, when you wear them with flat shoes.

Check out these flat shoes that look amazing with skinny jeans.

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Shop for a Perfect Fit

Street style woman in white blouse and skinny jeans
Perfect fitting jeans. Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

More than any other item of clothing, ill-fitting jeans can visually pack on the pounds. That's why it's essential to make sure you're buying jeans that fit you exactly right.

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. If you want to shop for deals on designer jeans online, try to find the exact style you're considering, so you can try it on in person first. Once you've verified how the jeans style fits you, then you can go ahead and order it online with confidence. 

Generally, you'll look your leanest in jeans that are neither too tight, nor too baggy. Here are a few go-to rules to follow, when buying various types of jeans:

  • Skinny jeans should hug your hips, bottom and legs, 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.

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 (aka Lycra or Elastane) will offer a more body-hugging silhouette than regular jeans, while also providing flexibility and movement.

Check out our essential stretch denim guide.

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Don't Forget to Check Your Rear View

Rear view of woman in jeans
Check your rear view in jeans. Christian Vierig/Getty Images

If the way your butt looks in jeans is a concern for you, you'll want to pay careful attention to the back pocket construction when shopping for a new pair of denims. The right pocket design can minimize your bottom for a skinnier look, while the wrong back pockets can make your rear end look terrible.

These jeans back pockets will make your butt look amazing.

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Choose the Right Fit for Your Body Type

Street style in plus size jeans and statement necklace
Plus size jeans outfits from curvy fashion bloggers. Beauti Curve

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.

Browse our guide to choosing the best jeans for your body.

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Wear the Right Shoes

Street style woman in boyfriend jeans
Here's how to get shoes right when you wear boyfriend jeans. Christian Vierig/Getty Images

To look skinnier in jeans from head to toe, it's important to finish your oufits 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 shorter and thicker.

For the leanest look in jeans, try pairing a dark denim jean 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.

Get ideas for the best shoes to wear with skinny jeans

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Buy Jeans That Act Like Shapewear

Street style woman in skinny jeans
Stretchy spandex jeans are form-fitting for a sexy fit. Christian Vierig/Getty Images

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 also be hot and uncomfortable to wear under heavy denim pants.

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.

These body-shaping jeans will make you look skinnier.

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Upgrade to Higher Quality Jeans

Street style Prada purse
Wear a designer bag to dress up basic jeans. Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Investing in a higher quality jeans brand can be a great way to look your best in denim. Premium quality jeans not only last longer but typically fit a woman's body better too, and can help you get that skinny look in jeans that you crave.

You don't necessarily have to buy expensive designer jeans, though. There are plenty of great 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.

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Use Color to Minimize Problem Areas

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.