Denim jeans have been around for what feels like forever (since the 1930s to be precise), but they’ve changed a lot since they first surfaced. We saw them with ultra wide-legs until the ’60s, flared in the ’70s, acid-washed in the ’80s, high-waisted in the ’90s, low-waisted in the ’00s, skinny through the 2010s and straightened-out by 2020. Now, we’re lucky enough to have all these different pairs to play with and no matter what shape we go for, they’re guaranteed to be one of our most staple wardrobe pieces. When it comes to styling, the options are endless, but who more fitting to get inspired by than the stylish celebs from the iconic decades in which these jeans originated? Here’s how to get the look…
- The Wide Leg Jean – Katharine Hepburn, 1930s
Women wearing trousers was a major statement back in the mid-1930s so, when Katharine Hepburn wore a pair of wide-leg jeans on set, it was pretty controversial. Word on the street is that after someone confiscated them from her dressing room, she walked around in her pants and refused to put on any more clothes until someone returned her jeans to her. Recreate Hepburn’s relaxed tailored look by styling a silky shirt with a pair of light wide-leg jeans and trainers.
- The Flared Jean – Jane Birkin, 1970s
Actress, singer, model and forever fashion muse: Jane Birkin’s mix of Parisian and London influences always resulted in the most effortlessly-chic outfit ensembles. Alongside Californian star, Farrah Fawcett, she made the relaxed flared jean an absolutely essential wardrobe piece during the ’70s and usually opted for a bohemian approach to styling: think a frilled white blouse with accent accessories in earthy tones.
- The Mom Jean – Debbie Harry, 1980s
As the Maimi-born star of the huge ’80s band Blondie, Debbie Harry was always known for her rock and roll ways and her style suited this vibe to a T. The 505 Levi’s jean, which had a slightly tapered leg and a distressed acid-wash, were her on-stage shape of choice – they are what we now refer to as the classic mom jean. To emulate her rock-chic look, go for double denim with grungy add ons.
- The Skinny Jean – Alexa Chung, 2000s
Jumping forward a few decades – it was into the ’00s and 2010s when the skinny jean became the new must-have, thanks to the rise of indie-pop and OG model off-duty style. It’s easy to achieve that classic Cara Delevingne street style look with an oversized T-shirt and some chunky buckled boots. But if you’re after something a little more ‘mod’, look to our favourite British It-girl Alexa and pair a faded black pair of Jamie jeans with some preppy loafers and a vinyl trench.
- The Dad Jean – Kendall Jenner, 2020s
…And we’ve arrived at the present day! Recently, we’ve seen jean silhouettes straighten out and extend from cropped styles into full-length legs. Both the editor and dad jean fall into this category and are favourites amongst the supermodels of the moment. Take cues from Kendall this season and pair yours with a slick turtleneck, a cropped bomber and a cute ’90s handbag.