How Long Should Jeans Be?

Jeans have been a wardrobe staple for decades, but you still may often wonder how long each pair of jeans should be. This can be especially confusing when you consider the many styles that have become popular. Going too short or too long can be detrimental to your look, but not to worry. We've done the work to help guide you.

  • Skinny jeans should end at the ankle bone.
  • Bootcut jeans should end 1/4 to 1/2 inch above the floor for women or 1 to 2 inches above the floor for men.
  • Flared jeans should end 0 to 1/2 inch above the floor.
  • Boyfriend jeans should end anywhere from the ankle bone to 3 inches above the ankle bone.
  • Straight-leg jeans should end anywhere from 2 to 3 inches above the ankle bone to 1/4 to 1/2 inch above the floor.

These are the general lengths for each style of jeans, but there can be differences based on your gender and style. Keep reading to learn more.

A woman wearing a white shirt and plain jeans, How Long Should Jeans Be?

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Skinny Jeans

Skinny jeans come to us from the 1960s. The very first rock and rollers were the first to introduce the trend to the world, but when more respectable celebrities and the like began to be photographed in this style of pants, it became the norm. Housewives everywhere were sporting the "drainpipe" pant.

For this style of jeans, women should purchase pairs that hit them at the ankle bone. The bottoms taper inward for a tight fit, and it's best for them to end right at the ankle bone to accentuate the smallest area of the leg and thus the curves of the legs and buttocks as well.

This may prove more of a challenge for, particularly tall or petite women. In this case, we suggest looking at stores that provide several inseam lengths.

Men should also try to purchase skinny jeans that hit at the ankle bone if they'd like a tight, curvy fit, but for a more relaxed fit, men may choose a bit longer jeans that gather at the bottoms. In either case, the jeans will rest at the ankle.

Bootcut Jeans

The origins of bootcut jeans can be traced all the way back to the 1850s when sailors began to wear pants cut and sewn to accommodate their waterproof boots.

These comfortable, easy-fit trousers fit snuggly about the thighs and bum, with a slight outward taper at the bottom. This is so that the wearer can choose more bulky footwear, though that isn't required for this style of jeans.

For women, we recommend purchasing or tailoring bootcut jeans that hit 1/4 to 1/2 inch above the floor. This depends on how much of your shoes you desire to show, and also what type of shoes you will be wearing with the jeans.

If you anticipate wearing heeled or bulky shoes with these jeans, you should perhaps go longer. However, if you anticipate wearing flat shoes such as sneakers or loafers, you should go shorter.

When looking for boot-cut jeans, men should seek to purchase pairs that will settle at 1-2 inches above the floor. Again, this will be determined by the footwear that will be worn with the jeans. For sneakers with shorter platforms, we recommend choosing to go shorter. For boots, we recommend choosing to go longer.

A good rule of thumb is to be sure that when the jeans are being worn, the heel of the shoe is visible. A little bit of gather at the bottom of the pants is acceptable.

Flared Jeans

You can once again thank seafarers for bringing about this style of trousers. Members of the U.S. Navy in the 1800s began wearing flared pants before it was cool. These had a bell-shaped cuff that could easily be slid over their boots. Then flared pants made a comeback in the 1970s, and this time as jeans.

Flared jeans are the rare exception, that can acceptably be worn hitting the floor. Especially if you will be wearing these jeans with heels and platforms, we recommend going long. But not so long that your groovy footwear can't be noticed, of course.

Now if you don't plan on wearing your flared jeans with tall shoes, you probably should go a bit shorter, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch above the floor. This will keep the heels of the jeans from being stepped on and worn down.

Check out these flared jeans we found on Amazon.

Boyfriend Jeans

Boyfriend jeans made their debut with Marilyn Monroe sporting them on the Misfits movie set. No wonder they became all the craze! This style of jeans is meant to look like a woman has borrowed a pair of jeans from her boyfriend, creating a relaxed, effortless look.

Some women may choose to purchase or tailor their boyfriend jeans to hit a few inches above the ankle bone, showing the slimmest part of their leg and offsetting the bagginess of the trousers.

This appears as if the woman meant to roll up a man's jeans because they were too long, or that she attempted to make them look a bit more feminine. This may also be the length desired if the jeans are being worn with a shoe that is meant to be a statement piece.

Boyfriend jeans may also be worn as long as the ankle bone. This look seems to say that this woman is on a casual day out, and has handily thrown her look together.

The trick with these jeans is to not go too long and to not go too big. If you make either of these mistakes, they could look sloppy instead of trendy.

Take a look at these boyfriend jeans we found on Amazon.

Straight-leg Jeans

Straight-leg jeans are cut so that from the buttocks to the ankle, there is no great definition or curve. These pants began to take their place with the popularization of Levi 505's in the late 1970s, which are still available today.

Straight jeans themselves aren't exactly the essence of femininity, but they can still be worn in a way that shows off a woman's assets.

Wearing them a few inches above the ankle, for example, creates the illusion of the jean tapering inward just a bit and showing off the thinnest part of the leg.

For a man, on the other hand, the jeans should be quite a bit longer. They should at least hit the ankle bone. Though for a more polished look, men should choose straight jeans that will not gather at the bottoms when worn with the desired footwear.

How Can You Fix Your Jeans If They Are Too Long?

Jeans that are too long can easily have their hem taken up or made shorter. To do this, one can either cut and sew a new hemline themselves, or they can take them to a local tailor to be hemmed. The process is easy to complete, so much so that one can do it with a home sewing machine or even by hand.

What Can You Do If Your Jeans Are Too Short?

This depends on how much length needs to be added. If it is a significant amount of length, such as more than 3 inches, there may not be hope for lengthening the jeans.

However, if it is 3 inches or less, this may be able to be done by ripping out the seam in the existing hem and unrolling the cuff. This allows for more length. Then a new hem should be sewn into the jeans to prevent fraying and create a more finished look.

Notably, there will be crease marks on the hem of the pants that will never truly go away, but this is a small price to pay for salvaging a pair of costly jeans.

How Do You Measure Your Inseam?

The easiest way to measure your inseam is by using a pair of pants that fit you well. You can do this by taking this pair of pants and laying them flat on a bed or table.

Then fold the pants lengthwise, so that each pant leg is lying flat against the other. Make sure there are no wrinkles and that the crotch of the pants is not tucked or folded. Finish by measuring from the crotch of the pants to the hem.

Take a look at this measuring tape we found on Amazon.

Another way to measure is by having another person help you. You will want to wear tight-fitting clothing and no shoes. You should stand straight with your back stiff, and the helper will have to measure from the groin area to where you would like your hemline to be.

How Do You Know If Your Jeans Are Too Short?

Above, we've outlined all of the preferred lengths of the different styles of jeans. If your jeans hit higher than the recommended lengths, they may be too short.

There are some other ways that you may be tipped off that your pants are too short, though. If you are constantly pulling on the waistband of your jeans to make them feel comfortable, this may signify that the inseam is not quite long enough, causing the fit to be wrong and for the jeans to pull down every time you move.

Another tip-off could be if when you look at yourself in the mirror while wearing your jeans, you notice that the jeans are too tight in the groin, knee, or calf area. While this could mean that the jeans are just too small, it could also mean that the sizing is correct, but the height is not.

How Long Should Jeans Be When Sitting Down?

A man wearing a denim jacket and jeans while taking a photo

This is completely dependent on the style of jeans, how a person is sitting, and their body type. Above, we've detailed the length each style of jeans should be when the wearer is standing, and when one sits, it's acceptable for the jeans to "shorten" 1-3 inches.

In Closing

Jeans are an ever-evolving clothing piece, and that can make it a bit confusing to know at which length to wear their many styles. In this article, we have outlined the different lengths that are best for jeans by style. Most importantly, wear what makes you feel dashing and beautiful.

Want to learn more about how to wear and style your jeans? Visit these related posts:

Can You Wear A Denim Jacket With Jeans?

What Sneakers To Wear With Skinny Jeans?

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