6 Denim Trends That Will be Huge This Year (and 1 to Leave Behind in 2022)

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There will always be a special place in our hearts for skinny jeans and high-waist mom styles, but if you’re looking for pants that feel a bit trendier, those may not be the best jeans to reach for. There are some classic cuts that will see you through every season, year after year, without fail, but the swankiest silhouettes tend to be more fashion-forward—and often more likely to garner you a heartfelt “omg, where’d you get those?” from friends and strangers alike. The six denim trends on this list definitely fit into the latter category (although some could potentially fit in both, making them doubly worth the investment). Plus, we share one style that’s best left in storage for the time being.

What Are the Best Places to Shop for Denim?

There are approximately 4,000 denim brands on the internet (we exaggerate, but there are a lot), and it can feel incredibly overwhelming trying to wade through all the options. But there are a few helpful tips that can help you whittle down the list to find a brand or store that works for you. First, consider budget. If you’re looking to splurge, there are lots of celeb-approved brands, like Mother denim, with the positive reviews to back-up that must-have status. On the flip-side, there are also great places to find more budget-friendly jeans, like American Eagle Outfitters or & Other Stories, that won’t fall apart or sag after just a few wears. Next, consider doing a quick Google search to see what brands are recommended for your body type. Because the folks making the best jeans for petites may not be the same as the folks making the best jeans for plus sizes—or flat butts or long torsos or those over 5’10”. Our final piece of advice: Read all the reviews you can. Scroll through those comments to find people with similar body types and see what pros and cons they felt compelled to write about. You can even search for the same style or brand at multiple retailers (Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Revolve, Shopbop, Anthropologie, etc.) to get even more input that will make you feel more confident you won’t wind up back at the post office making returns.

Now, onto the top denim trends of 2023 you’ll want to add to cart ASAP.

11 Fashion Subscription Boxes That Are Actually Worth It

Two woman stand next to one another, both wearing dark-wash wide leg jeans that pool a bit over their white sneakers
Christian Vierig/Getty Images

1. Wide-Leg and Puddle Jeans

You may have already heard of puddle pants—a trend that began in 2022 and even garnered the approval of Kate Middleton—aka pants that pool around the ankles in a way that looks chic rather than sloppy. Well, the trend has carried over to the world of denim now too. Wide-leg silhouettes with a ‘60s/’70s appeal were already growing in popularity heading into 2023, and will continue to be a top pick for the foreseeable future. So we suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see the extra-long puddled fit trending too, especially with comfortable shoes still reigning supreme (rather than heels). Our advice? Opt for a pair that just barely skims the ground to ensure you look polished and not disheveled.

A woman walks down the street in a cropped burgundy jacket, light wash barrel leg jeans and burgundy ankle boots
Claudio Lavenia/Getty Images

2. Barrel-Leg

Think of this as a cool update on your beloved straight-leg jeans. Barrel-leg silhouettes (sometimes called balloon-leg) bow out around the knee before cinching in again around the ankle, much like the shape of a barrel. We find they look most flattering in vintage washes with a mid- to high-rise and that hit right at your ankle. Pair them with either tucked in tops or cropped jackets and either minimalist sneakers, pointy-toe flats or ankle boots that come up to just brush the bottom of your hems.

Olivia Culpo walks through London in a blue, red and yellow windbreaker, light wash cargo jeans and orange heeled sandals
Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

3. Cargo

Much like puddle pants, cargo styles have been trending for some time now, so we’re unsurprised to find them popping up in denim materials for 2023. The best versions lean toward minimalism rather than piling on all the pockets and pulls and zippers, oh my! As for what to wear them with, either lean into the Y2K vibes with scarf tops, mesh tees or cropped cardigans, or opt for sleek sporty styles, like the colorblock windbreaker and coordinating crossbody and sandals pictured above.

A woman wears a black jacket with light wash jeans that feature a split hem
Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images

4. Split Hem

Another trend that got its start in a different material, the split-hem silhouette first appeared on leggings and trousers, and has since evolved to include jeans as well. These are a great alternative to both wide-leg and boot-cut styles as they offer the same sort of kick at the bottom, just with a slimmer fit up top. Our favorite way to wear them is with heels or boots to really show off your footwear—that split in the material feels almost like a stage curtain allowing the shoes underneath to steal the spotlight—but they can also look cute with chunky sneakers or loafers if that’s more your style.

Fashion designer Eva Lutz wearing a white blouse with black flower print, dark blue high waisted and wide leg denim jeans, white sneakers and sunglasses during a street style shoot.
Streetstyleshooters/Getty Images

5. Very Dark Washes

Indigo denim, that has more of a trouser vibe than classic blue-wash jeans, is a great way to work denim into a more formal wardrobe. The super-deep hue gives the utilitarian fabric a posh lift that looks fabulous with tailored blazers, office-appropriate blouses and pointy-toe heels. Expect to see these ultra-rich washes in just about every silhouette, but especially wide-leg, flare and straight-leg cuts.

A woman wears a black cropped leather jacket over a dark wash denim midi skirt and knee-high black leather boots
Christian Vierig/Getty Images

6. Midi and Maxi Skirts

Last year’s miniskirts have officially been replaced by midi- and maxi-length silhouettes (thank goodness), and that includes denim styles. Our favorites have a straighter fit—not too fitted nor too flared—and a darker, uniform wash, but we’ve also seen two-tone maxis and washed gray styles that look mighty chic. Pair them with knee-high boots in winter (for maximum warmth around your legs), then have some fun with loafers, flats and strappy sandals once temperatures start to rise.

A red spray-painted X appears over a photo of a woman wearing cropped, straight leg jeans that hit mid-calf and are paired with cap-toe heels and a white cropped jacket
Claudio Lavenia/Getty Images

7. Don’t: Cropped Cuts

We’re not talking about jeans that hit right at or just above the ankle. The jeans we’re passing on in 2023 are those that barely cover half the shin, be they straight-leg or flared. With the return of Y2K fashion, you might expect the clam-digger cut (or even capris) to also be making a comeback, but this is one silhouette that seems to be firmly stuck in the early aughts. For now, we say keep your cropped jeans in storage to make room for the trendier pieces above.

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Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...