The tide has been turning away from skinny jeans for….let me think…six years now? Seven? Which is noteworthy because that happens to be (roughly) the same amount of time it took bootcut jeans to die. Skinnies will likely hang in there a little longer, however, for a few reasons. One big one?
If you’ve ever spent months trudging through snow (and then the resulting muck as the snow melts), I’ll bet you’ve spent a decent amount of time in skinny jeans. They’re clutch with snow boots (especially tall snow boots) in a way that non-skinny jeans just…aren’t.
Straight leg jeans, mom jeans, flare jeans — these are really tricky styles to wear once there’s snow on the ground. Personally, I tend to put all flared denim away for the winter because there’s nothing more annoying than wet, muddy hems dragging on the ground. The other types of non-skinny jeans, however…
Straight-Leg Jeans vs Skinny Jeans: A Winter Coat & Boots Try-On
So I did that thing I do: That thing where I lock myself in a room and try on all of the jeans/boots/coats possibilities and see if I can make any of my straight-leg jeans work with any of my winter boots and coats. And since we’re spending the entire winter up in Vermont, the only coat and boots I happen to have with me are the warmest, most serious, winter-ready that I own. So if any of these boots & coats can work with my straight-leg jeans…then there’s hope for our dressier pieces as well.
rag & bone Nina skinny jeans | MOTHER Tomcat straight-leg jeans
For this exercise, I tried on all coats and winter boots with my MOTHER Tomcat straight-leg jeans (also available at Nordstrom). I’ve found (during my copious amounts of “research”) that if I had to identify one pair of non-skinny jeans as the most ‘foolproof’…the Mother Tomcats come close.
BUT! For the purposes of comparison, for the sake of argument (Gen Z be damned)…I also tried on these winter coat/boot combos with my tried-and-true rag & bone Nina skinny jeans (horizon wash). Just to, ya know…see.
Straight-Leg Jeans With Duck Boots: UGG Adirondack
Let’s start on a high note, with a boot and coat combo I already know works with non-skinny jeans: Duck boots. I first talked about this pairing in my article, Outfit Ideas for Winter Walks.
These boots, UGG’s Airondack boots, are my most-worn pair this winter. They’re similar to L.L. Bean’s classic duck boots — which makes them seriously versatile — but they’re fully lined in shearling (even in the footbed) and are delightfully warm. They’re basically as warm as my trusty Sorel boots…just shorter (and lighter weight).
rag&bone Nina skinny jeans (26) | Mother Tomcat jeans (26) | boots | coat (xs) – also in olive | hat
The lower profile of the boot seems to work with the straight-leg jeans! And the short puffer still gives me a little shape.
So. Let’s compare this combo with a taller winter boot…
Straight-Leg Jeans With The Biggest, Warmest Winter Boots: Sorel Caribou Boots
Same basic outfit, but instead of the lower profile UGG Adirondack boots, I’m now wearing my giant Sorels.
rag&bone Nina skinny jeans (26) | MOTHER Tomcat jeans (26) | boots | coat (xs) – also in olive | hat
Clearly, it’s not great. But…there’s already something about my Sorel Caribou boots that scream IT’S COLD LEAVE ME ALONE soooo….
I’d still probably wear ’em.
Now, let’s keep testing this theory with a combination I’ve been wearing the heck out of: big boots and a ski jacket. I primarily wear this to tromp around the backyard (deep snow, peeps) while ooohing and aahhhing at my boys launching themselves off of their homemade ski jump.
rag&bone Nina skinny jeans (26) | MOTHER Tomcat jeans (26) | boots | ski jacket** (s) | hat
There’s something about the combination of a jacket that hits at my hips WHILE excess fabric bunches around my calves that is…not great.
Straight-Leg Jeans: With My Long Puffer Coat
If a jacket that hits at the hips isn’t great with non-skinny jeans…what about my long Lolë puffer? The one I turn to when it’s seriously cold? Since I really (really) want this coat to work, I tried it on with boots I know look cute with these jeans: UGG Adirondacks.
rag&bone Nina skinny jeans (26) | Mother Tomcat jeans (26) | boots | coat (xs) | hat
My first thought? DAMMIT.
But upon a second look (I AM writing this article over several days)…I no longer hate it as much as I did the first time. Again, there’s an element here of I AM WARM I CARE NOT and the long puffer basically hides everything (a solid strategy), sooo…??
I think I like it. V. nonchalantly cool.
Straight-Leg Jeans: With My Hiking Boots???
OK, since we are (theoretically) heading into spring in the next month or so…what about hiking boots? My Danner hiking boots are waterproof and great for mucky snow-melt days — maybe they’ll look cute with straight leg jeans? AND — if they do — there are a ton of winter hiking boots available, which might give us another — desperately needed — option for non-skinny jeans and winter boots.
Since I’m thinking spring, I even busted out a prettier puffer coat.
rag&bone Nina skinny jeans (26) | Mother Tomcat jeans (26) | hiking boots** | pink puffer** (xs) – more sizes here | hat
Know what? I can live with this. I miiiiight mess around with the cuff a little bit (it may not need to be that aggressive), but I wanted to play around with the cropped jeans concept to make sure this would work for the taller mamas, too.
I think it does. The key seems to be getting the right socks. And I’ve had the best luck with socks that have some variation in tone (a marled knit or a subtle pattern) AND matching your socks to your jeans. That seems to be the winning combination.
**Sustainably made. Also, if interested in the Danner hiking boots, take 15% off with code THEMOMEDIT.
Let’s Try That Hip-Length Winter Coat Again….
Instead of my giant Sorels, I first paired my hip-length coat with my go-to duck boots. Still not great. I then paired my black ski jacket with an even smaller profile boot (my winter hiking boots). Better?
MOTHER Tomcat jeans (26) | olive ski jacket** (s) | black ski jacket (6) | hat | UGG Adirondack boots | Sorel winter hiking boots
All hope is not lost. There are, legitimately, a few seriously warm winter boots that do look good with straight leg jeans. Personally, I found winter coats to be a bit trickier — specifically hip-length winter coats. However, I remember struggling with skinny jeans initially, too. There’s something to be said for allowing our eyes to adjust to new silhouettes over time.
The Most Foolproof Snow Boots To Wear With Straight-Leg Jeans
How are you guys wearing non-skinny jeans in cold, snowy, wet, or otherwise mucky weather?
Oh hey, Pinners…
The skinny jeans are the clear winner each time. Why are we trying to force the straight leg look so hard? Why do we care what Gen Z’ers say?? Our mothers certainly weren’t taking fashion advice from us when we were 13. This Gen X’er bought her first pair of skinny jeans about 17 years ago, they’re obviously here to stay and for good reason. Do I love a great straight leg? Absolutely! But straight legs have their place and with snow boots it’s not. Straight leg and birks? Sign me up! Anyway, love the post!
Yes, Melissa! I agree100%! I am into the non-skinny jean thing but certain fashion just doesn’t work during winter. Thankfully, spring is coming.
I think a looser lower leg demands a slimmer boot shaft so that the pants can go over them instead of being scrunched up on top of them. I live in WV where we have real winters, and I’ve found that I like to wear my duck boots (which are unlined Sperrys, pretty basic but whatever) tied more tightly so that my jeans just go over them. I’m a 90s girl, so it’s easy for me to remember how we used to style our straight legs and relaxed fit jeans. I just bought a pair of Docs (the classic 8-hole) and I’m finding I just need to remember how we did it in high school when we just wore them underneath our pants. The slimmer shaft can also work for cropped flares and cropped wide legs too.
New Englander here- and one factor not discussed is that without the seamless seal provided by skinnies and well fitting boots, you’re going to get a draft up your pants. I prefer no way for air to penetrate hip to toe. So if skinny jeans are truly “out” next winter, I’ll just be wearing fleece-lined leggings.
We seem to be in a sweet spot where we can wear whatever style jeans we want, and I hope that continues. I definitely prefer skinny jeans with winter boots. They keep me warm and don’t overwhelm my frame when I’m wearing heavy winter gear. On the other hand, I find looser styles to be much more comfortable when it’s warm out, so I like experimenting with new silhouettes, too.
Agreed- I love straighter, looser styles, but as a Vermonter I’m keeping skinnies for winter days necessitating taller boots (we still have 3+ feet of snow here). Our post office has a sign asking people to take off their microspikes at the door, so I feel pretty confident no one around here cares what type of jeans I’m wearing when it’s really cold! 🙂 Can’t wait for warmer weather to bring out the looser, breezier styles and cute shoes again.
For me, one of the only saving graces of loose jeans is that it is more comfy to wear fleece lined leggings under looser leg jeans than under skinny jeans. That said, if I am hanging out in yard with kids or actually hiking, I am often wearing fleece lined leggings anyway, not any kind of jean.
To be honest I kind of skimmed over this so far (I’m supposed to be working, oops), but at least in the case of the two pairs of hiking boots, I actually preferred them with the straight leg over the skinnies, by quite a bit!
Straight leg pants with hiking boots feels very on trend right now—I bought mine this year because of how they styled them at Alex Mill.
As another commenter noted, why not just fleece lined leggings? In my opinion, far warmer and more comfortable then any pair of denim (especially any pair with holes in them) in very cold weather… and, a slim/skinny silhouette that works with any winter boot or coat. While denim may have an edge in the ‘fashionable’ quotient in said outfits, given freezing temperatures and the amount of bundling/layering involved anyways, it’s a negligible lead… enjoyed the post!
I can see retiring my skinnies when the weather warms up, but right now I have 4 pairs of Old Navy warm-lined Rockstar jeans that I wear in rotation and all others just have to Wait.
Haha – you had me at “warm-lined”. 🙂
I actually love the straight leg, rigid denim with everything. Every look you styled is great with the straight leg denim!