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10 Jean Styles That Are Making You Look Older

Are your jeans a relic of the past? Here's how to know, according to stylists.

In the early 2000s, form-fitting jeans became a mainstay of fashion and a language we all seemed to speak. Fast forward to 2024 and there's no consensus on what the "right" jean styles look like. Today's most popular denim styles have just one thing in common—they're all an upheaval of the notion that form-fitting equals flattery.

If today's wider legs, baggier fits, and unexpected tailoring have you questioning your most long-held looks, you're certainly not alone. Of course, more important than hopping on the latest fashion fad is feeling good in what you wear. The key is to avoid a few notable features or cuts that can date you. Here, stylists share the 10 jean styles that are making you look older.

RELATED: 10 Shoes That Are Making You Look Older.

Skinny jeans

Young stylish girl in blue jeans with holes with big light brown handbag in hands near the shop in the city.

If there's one look that's decidedly dated at this point—marking you as a Millennial or older—it's skinny jeans.

"I'm a firm believer that if you saw a style peak pre-Covid, then it's most likely considered outdated in 2024," says Yenia Hernández Fonseca, a stylist, luxury fashion expert, and contributor to Margo Paige.

"Such is the case with skinny jeans, and while I must admit I was a big fan of them, I've now opted for a slim boot cut. They offer the same support around the hips and bum, while elongating your leg even more than skinnies ever could," she says.

Cropped skinnies

Crop anonymous male in trendy gray skinny jeans and white sneakers holding hand in pocket while leaning against colorful wall

If you like cropped denim, several styles look youthful in 2024: a wider-leg jean, a barrel-cut jean, or a relaxed straight-cut jean, for example. However, cropped skinnies are still skinnies—and are best avoided if you want to look current, the experts say.

"Truthfully, the cropped hemline just cuts your leg in an awkward length. Instead, try a horseshoe jean," suggests Fonseca. "Its structured silhouette won't drag you down because the fit is still proportionate to your body, plus the tapered ankle-grazing hem adds on to the drama in the coolest way possible."

Extremely high-waisted jeans

Woman with pearl rings putting hand in back pocket of jeans
Oksana Sikorska / Shutterstock

Hemlines and cuts have oscillated in popularity with record speed over the last few years. The rise of your jeans has seen a similar ping-pong effect—with the hive mind favoring low-rise jeans one day and high-rise jeans the next.

Jeffrey Ampratwum, a style expert and professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City, says that overly high-waisted jeans can make you look older.

"While high waist pants and jeans are lovely, jeans with too high of a waist can give the appearance of sloppy dressing," Ampratwum tells Best Life. "If the fabric [sits] way above the belly button, the bodice will appear shorter and proportions will be thrown off, thus giving an older, more slouchy appearance. Instead, keep your high waist jeans just 1-1.5 inches above the belly button."

RELATED: 8 Clothing Items That Make You Look Dated, Stylists Say.

Boyfriend jeans

Woman wearing a black shirt, ripped boyfriend jeans and sneakers posing on stairs outside in an old city

Boyfriend jeans are just a bit looser than skinny jeans, offering a slightly more relaxed style. However, Fonseca suggests taking it a step further and embracing "dad jeans," which lean into a slouchier style.

"Let's face it. Very few people looked good in boyfriend jeans," she tells Best Life. "Dad jeans are your go-to, relaxed alternative for 2024; their effortless line and comfy fit contrast perfectly with a more put-together upper, like a tweed or leather jacket. The secret is in the floor-length hemline."

Overly embellished jeans

Denim Jeans Pocket embellished with Rhinestones and Jewel.

Embellished jeans are having a moment not seen since the early aughts, but that doesn't mean that all flashy looks are created equally. It's important to consider which types of embellishments you integrate into your outfit (a simple motif or pearls or rhinestones would do) and to balance your eye-catching denim with simple clothing staples (think a white tee or button-up).

"Overly embellished jeans tend to age people beyond their years. Think of flashy details such as contrasting effects, like acid or marble washes, exaggerated rips and tears, plus look-at-me stitching and rhinestone adornment," says Fonseca. "You're more likely to see your jeans last forever if you keep these details to a minimum as they'll be easier to mix and match with other pieces in your wardrobe in the long run."

Extremely light blue jeans

Close up of a woman wearing mom jeans and a gray sweater while standing on a balcony

Dark-wash denim is on the rise, with many people preferring black or gray tones over lighter washes. Though there's certainly room for a range of denim colors, Ampratwum says that extremely light washes tend to make you look older and less current.

"Extremely light blue jeans can give off an appearance of dingy or old," says Ampratwum. "Most folks try to wear light blue jeans to 'brighten' their tone, but that is incorrect. When in doubt, go for true blue or denim jacket blue jeans," the style expert recommends.

RELATED: 12 Hairstyles That Make You Look Older, According to Stylists.

Capri jeans

A woman in denim jean capri pants holding a colorful bouquet of flowers while outside in garden

Last summer, capri pants re-entered the scene, and they were featured heavily on runways for Spring 2024 lines. However, context is important when it comes to style: Capri pants project a different style on a 19-year-old runway model than they do on someone in their 60s.

Ampratwum says that in general, he thinks capri jeans are best avoided. "Capri jeans that sit just at the chin of the leg can be distracting as it would appear better as either a jean short or long jeans," he explains. "Instead, introduce a cuff slightly above the knee cap or slightly above the ankle. The cuff will introduce a break in fabric color needed for style."

Distressed jeans

Woman wearing high waist ripped jeans posing at sunset in urban background

One look that's conspicuously missing from many roundups of today's best denim trends for 2024 is that of distressed jeans.

"A little rip here and there is fun, but overly distressed jeans are too distracting. Opt for drawing the attention to a nice pleat, crease, pin tuck, or dart for a more put-together look for 2024," says Fonseca.

RELATED: 6 Classic Clothing Items That Never Go Out of Style, Fashion Experts Say.

Jeans that are too tight in the thigh

Close up of a female leaning against a garage door wearing skinny jeans and a white t-shirt
kieferpix / iStock

Ampratwum says that especially when it comes to menswear, jeans that are overly fitted in the thigh area look dated in 2024.

"Jeans that are too tight in the thigh area will cause the pants to be pressed up against the waist and will deliver a funny or awkward walk. Instead, go for a more relaxed fit that will allow the pant break to breathe," he says.

Jeans with a too-long inseam

man wearing a black t shirt and black skinny jeans leaning against a gray brick wall
AntGor / Shutterstock

In general, full-length jeans are considered the go-to look of the year. However, it's possible to go overboard with the length of your inseam. "A long inseam can also cause awkward walking that suggests aging. Be sure to wear your size to be on the safe side of style," says Ampratwum.

The fashion expert adds that wearing pants that are too long can also create certain logistical issues. "A long inseam and sneaker pairing can actually cause you to trip while walking! The fabric will creep into the back of the sneaker or into the space between your heel and the shoe. Either cuff the fabric or hem the jean to sit just above the beginning of the sneaker near the ankle," he suggests.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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