The Best Skinny Jeans For You, Based On This Handy Chart


As I mentioned previously (here), Spring denim is driving me kiiiinda crazy.  Not only am I not sure what to do with my awkwardly cropped straight-leg jeans….I can’t even consistently identify straight leg jeans.  Just when I decide to go back to my beloved skinnies, I end up surprised by a pair of denim that might be called skinny, but is anything but.  Yet other skinny jeans are basically leggings. Gah!  What to do?

It turns out that with a little research (and a few phone calls), we were able to pull together enough fit information to make skinny-jean buying so much easier.  And I learned exactly why I have such an easy time transitioning between my AGs and Rag and Bones (their knee-opening dimensions are similar)….yet I’m completely thrown off by my GRLFRND “skinnies”….which, according to this chart, look much more like straight leg jeans than skinny jeans.

So.  The first chart is a comparison of all of my personal favorites.  But the next two charts?  Those are based on our readers’ favorite jeans (we asked our Facebook crowd).   We split the reader favs (per reader request) into a higher end and a budget-friendly category.  I hope these help – either with future jean shopping (compare your existing favs to other brands), or maybe they’ll explain why that pair of jeans currently hanging in your closet is so darn hard to wear.  GOOD LUCK.

*NOTE:  The measurements below are inseam (left), rise (top right), then knee opening (right middle) and ankle opening (right bottom).

My Favorite Skinny Jeans, Compared


AGs are some of my forever favorites.  They’re soft, stretchy, yet somehow manage to retain their shape better than most.  No matter how many times I try to branch out, I almost always end up back in my AGs.

The Legging Ankle

The Farrah Skinny

The Mila


These jeans are the best I’ve found in the high-rise, non-stretchy denim category.  There’s something just sexy about how these jeans fit (maybe it’s the bum?).  In any case, I’ve found that these jeans tend to soften with age and break in nicely.  The one complaint I have is that the leg opening is wide – it fits me more like a straight-leg jean than a skinny.  However…I bought the Karolina petites, which has a wider leg opening than the regular Karolina skinny jeans.  In hindsight, I probably would’ve been happier with the not-petite version.





Rag and Bone’s Dre (a slouchy skinny jean) has been my go-to when I don’t feel like wearing something tight.  But their skinny jeans just fit really well (and have a really good bum).  Very similar to the AGs, but less stretch in the legs.



High-Rise Skinny


Our Readers’ Favorite Jeans, Compared

I wasn’t surprised to see Citizen’s Rockets on this list or any of the Frames.  But there were so many shout-outs for the JBrand Marias, that I’m making a mental note to try them out (they have similar specs to my beloved AGs – see how useful???).

Citizens of Humanity

Citizens’ Rocket and Avedon jeans have practically reached hero status, based on the number of rave reviews from our readers.





Frame denim is really, really soft, and I’ve been really impressed with their washes lately.

De Jeanne

Le High



Our readers have claimed – for years – that Joe’s are the best for curvy girls, or mamas with a bootie.

The Honey 

The Charlie

The Icon


This brand has quietly snuck up and become many readers go-tos.  I have a pair of cut-offs by DL1961, and can see why readers love them.



J Brand

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s never to count out JBrand.  Their jeans are consistently well made and classic.



Readers’ Favorite Budget Skinny Jeans, Compared

Madewell was interesting.  It was the only brand we talked to that gave us different knee openings and different rises for different sizes.  Truthfully, I’m not sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing.  All other brands described the difference as “negligible”.   But one things for sure:  our readers are pretty happy with Everlane’s new denim.  (And gang, we tried to get more info on Article of Society – a super-affordable crowd fav at Nordstrom – but….nope.  They had nuthin’ for us.)


Founded in the 90’s by Ron Herman and Adriano Goldschmied, the brand is known for it’s simple, retro styles.  Many of you guys raved about the line. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but this article makes a really compelling case.




Levi’s are back in a huge way, but I’m finding them a bit tricky (the fabric content really seems to matter, in terms of fit).  Julieta likes hers high-waisted and fitted….while Cams rocks the lower rise a few sizes bigger, and wears ’em slightly slouchy.  Both look amazing.

High-Rise Skinny



Team fav, reader fav – Madewell is one of our go-tos for on-trend, affordable denim.

10″ High-Rise

9″ High-Rise

Articles of Society

Readers have been raving about this affordable denim line (at Nordstrom) for years.  Cam and Scotti both agree.




The buzz from our readers surrounding these jeans has been huge.  I shouldn’t be surprised – Cams and Julieta are fans, too.




Good luck with denim shopping this Spring…(and let us know what you decide on).




    • Haha – the idea is that if you already have a favorite pair of jeans, you can quickly find new favorites based on similar numbers.

  1. This is great! However, I propose we start a movement to get inseam lengths more prominently featured in size and fit information. As a tall gal with a 30-32″ inseam, I spend most of my online jean shopping time clicking on great pictures only to dig around the sizing info and find they are too short. Oh, the heartbreak! And none of this short/regular/long mess, either! Cam, how do you find long jeans? Do you have a system or a go-to website or brand? Please, reveal your secrets!

    Thank you all for keeping me inspired!

    • I am so with you at 5’9. Skinny ankle jeans (I don’t care which kind) are either capri’s or just at the wrong part of the ankle. I got those AG jeans that were the rage during the Nordy’s sale this summer. Love them BUT they go so high up on my calf that when I sit down they get stuck and I am constantly tugging at them. My calves are very tiny so they slide right up. Don’t even get my started about the ankle booties…lol. Bird ankles with gabbing ankle boots pair with too short anile jeans. Just wrong.

    • I totally agree…I am 6’2” and I buy almost exclusively Madewell taller jeans (I absolutely love the 10inch!) in part because I know they will be long enough although I’m always annoyed they don’t carry them in store.

  2. I own a ton of jeans in all price ranges, and Madewell are my favorite hands down. They fit me well and keep their shape. I do own a pair of Joe’s jeans that are temperature controlled. They are amazing in the Summer.

  3. Did you look at percent of spandex/stretch in each Jean? I have athletic legs but the AG jeans have perfect stretch and keep their shape all day…love them. I can barely move my leg in my rag and bone jeans, would love to see that info included!

    • Agree. I have big legs and the AG are so good. I love their Contour 360 styles as well. I can’t look at Rag and Bone… my legs wouldn’t fit! 🙂

    • I would’ve loved too, but the amount of spandex varies not just by jean style, but by the wash. So it was a whole big complicated mess. But I hear you.

  4. Do you have any info about how these would compare to the Loft or Gap jeans? Honestly, even your under $200 jeans are out of my price range. Would you consider doing a under $100 section? Thanks so much! Congrats to Scotti and your whole family on the baby!

    • Yes please, also! For instance, I have loved Old Navy jeans for years, but currently they have so many styles with so many very-similar-but-not-quite-the-same names that my head spins just looking at their website. As a SAHM in a one-income (for now) household, with two kids in travel sports (read: crazy expensive), I am on a super tight budget! I know I’m not the only one!

    • Ok – let me look into this. The tricky part with the lower cost jeans is that the sizing is pretty inconsistent. Even Madewell jeans drive me kinda nuts: I can try on two pairs of the exact same size and they often fit differently (the inseam seems to range greatly). But let me reach out to some retailers and see if I can get measurements. If we can get them, we’ll throw a chart together….

    • Also worth measuring Kut from the Kloth at Nordstrom-the only brand that consistently works for me. In looking at this chart, I realize the reason I have such a hard time finding jeans is because of the narrow knee openings of many. Maybe I can try some of the larger knee openings in this chart. This would be a helpful measurement for retailers to include.

  5. This article is outstanding. I recently bought Rag &Bone jeans because of your recommendation (and on sale) and I love them. Now I’m on the hunt for more “expensive” jeans but wanted to try a different brand with similar dimensions. I love this article. Maybe I’ll try the more budget brands too since the dimensions are researched for me. Love this article. Thank you.

  6. Wow!! I can’t even imagine the amount of time that went into researching this! I’m a Madewell jeans girl. I like wearing the High Rise Slim Boy Jeans a size or two smaller than my normal size. Feels like a nice cross between a skinny jean and a boy jean. The fabric is a little more substantial, more cotton, less spandex.

  7. This is great but , just so you know, skinny jeans look horrible on those of us with really skinny legs aka chicken legs! Please do something similar on non-skinny leg jeans.

  8. Oh all the questions I could have about this post…what shoes are you wearing with the Karolina jeans?!?! LOVE and WANT!!!

  9. THANK YOU for acknowledging the craziness of the word “skinny” jeans now being attributed to jeggings!!! What the heck?! So confusing. I’m glad I’m not the only one throwing my hands up in the air.

  10. Thanks for the info! One brand I love but wasn’t included- 7 for all mankind. Their Josefina has been a go-to, but I’m interested in their new b(air) line.
    In the meantime, I’m going to try out some DL1961s…

  11. Thank you!

    I’m studying this closely. I wish brands would make these data more available for consumers. I love garment measurements! When I’m lucky enough to find them, I definitely use the info to make sizing decisions online.

    As someone with larger-than-average knees and calves, I have started buying straight jeans to wear as skinnies because I need the extra calf room.

  12. Question: Are high waisted jeans on their way out soon?? I’ve never seen high waisted jeans look good on anyone….40 years ago or today! Frustrating hunting through store only to find the right wash and length but then notice it’s high waisted. Other than a 90 lb childless teenager, Anyone with a belly is spilling over the jeans on top! Ugh. Just waiting for that trend to pass!!!!

  13. This article was amazing and very helpful. It must have taken a lot of time and thought. I just ordered some of the AG jeans for a spring update, they are my usual go to and the mid rise and farrah high rise were all too low cut in the back. It just seemed odd as they usually fit me so well. I am really into Frame so ordered a few pairs of those, hopefully they will work better.

  14. Great info, thank you. It’s interesting that rag and bone would rank so well. I’ve never had a good experience with them. Very tight around the thighs, baggy in the butt and waist. And I have to size down quite a bit compared to other brands. I’m short with an athletic build.

  15. Need sizing advice, please! I am a constant size 27 in AG Legging Super Skinnies. I am curious about the Farrah’s from AG. Would I still be a 27 in them? Sometimes with a higher rise, I feel like some jeans you might need to go up a size. Should I stick with the 27’s for the Farrah, too? Thanks!

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