Bootcut or Skinny jeans for petite or smaller women? This is a subject which crops up quite often and it’s one that I find myself repeating quite a lot, so I thought to myself, why not put it into a blog post here on The Jeans Blog? I’ve weighed out the pros and cons of both styles and given my history with them too!
I’m going to start with a little back story about my love for bootcut denim when I was first getting into premium jeans back in 2004 as it’s relevant to this question. So, when I first developed my crush on designer jeans over a decade ago, I was instantly drawn to Rock & Republic as a brand, opting for bootcuts as a first choice. Skinny jeans hadn’t really gotten popular at all and most brands were always releasing bootcut or flared jeans in their lines, so given the fact that I didn’t have many options, bootcut jeans were my go to for premium denim by default.
I always had issues though when buying new bootcut premium denim as my legs are on the shorter side. My leg length with a flat foot is about 30-31 inches, so my legs are not long at all, and given the fact that premium denim always used to come with model length inseams at around 35-36 inches, it required a lot of hemming! I always found myself hemming off about 6 inches of my jeans, sometimes 4 if I decided that particular pair was for heels, but with this annoyance of not being able to wear the jeans straight away also came the appearance issue too. I don’t know if you have noticed, but when you hem that much length off bootcut or flared jeans, they tend to lose a lot of the flare and can almost become similar to a straight leg jean. These were two issues that always used to irritate me with bootcut jeans and it wasn’t until I actually tried on a pair of skinny jeans, years later, that I realised bootcut jeans had also been swamping my frame and making me look bigger and shorter than I actually am.
Being that I am on the smaller side (despite being 5ft 4″ tall, I have a long torso and short legs), I don’t have much hip width and the fact that there was so much fabric around my calves really made me look bulky and overwhelmed. I didn’t know this at the time as I didn’t know any different given the fact bootcut jeans were all I knew, but the moment I tried a skinny jean, my life was enlightened!
Now I’m not saying that I hate bootcut jeans or they are awful, they definitely aren’t and they definitely have their place in the denim world and quite rightly so, but skinny jeans for someone like me were a blessing. I could actually buy them and not have to worry about hemming them! Even if they were too long, a little bit of stacking at the ankle was ok and you could always tuck excess fabric under too, so I could wear them straight out of the mail! I also noticed that it was easier to move in them, I was able to wear them with all of my shoes and boots, so I no longer had pairs hemmed to certain lengths for specific shoes, and they never, ever got wet when it rained! I hated the fact that bootcut jeans always soaked up water to beyond your ankles when it was wet outside, and living in England, that was often!
Ever since I tried my first pair of skinny jeans, I have been hooked on them and they are all that I wear. I love them as skinny as possible now as I find the tighter they are on your legs, the slimmer you will look as it shows off your body shape rather than hide it. Luckily skinny jeans have literally taken over the denim world and they exist as a staple, more so than a bootcut jean now, and I love that they come in varying lengths. My go to choice now is ankle skinny jeans. These are supposed to be cropped and worn shorter, but on someone like me, they are actually full length! I have gone into detail about this in a post about finding skinny jeans for petite women, so check that out!
Conclusion: Both bootcut and skinny styles are great, and it does generally come down to personal preference, however my answer to the question is always go for skinny jeans if you are petite or smaller. They are easier to wear and come with way less hassle than a bootcut does, plus they wont hide your body and they will be flattering. Bootcut jeans have their limits and skinny jeans don’t, so you can wear them all year round, with any footwear and literally with anything. I find them the most flattering on smaller women – nobody likes too much excess fabric flapping around! If you do want to go for a wider leg look, my recommendation is a skinny flare, that way you still show off your legs down to your knees, and you can put on some really high heels and hide them under the flare, giving your legs the appearance of about 4-5 inches more length! Ladies, which do you prefer? It would be great to share your opinions and thoughts too!
Great article – but what about for us big girls? I have shied away from skinny jeans, cuz I am an unskinny size 16, but I’m tall (5’9)and I also have a long torso and short legs (32). Usually I do Straight leg or slight flare, but recently bought some skinnies that fit, but not sure if they really are flattering or just showing how hippy I am. Sigh.
It’s a good question. I personally think that skinny jeans on curvy ladies can look really good, especially if you tuck them into boots! It’s all down to the styling. Worn with a nice tunic or shirt and some wedges for Summer is a good way to style them too, but definitely tuck into boots for cooler weather. Try it out and see? You are welcome to send over photos if you would like, for me to take a look ([email protected]) but if not, see how you get on with different stylings.
Hey Lorna, love your blog!
Any advice on a good pair of denim skinny jeans for me – 5ft inches, 29 leg lenght and prefer ankle grazer skinny jeans as tight as possible! If I can invest in a good pair of raw denim or premium I would but it’s hard to find the perfect pair/brand!
5ft 4 inches **
Hi Sho, what type of rise do you like the most? I know some great jeans which would be ideal, but it depends what rise you are looking for!
Mid rise i guess! 🙂 Any black jeans as well as denim – open to both! 🙂
My options would be these! Plus, Shopbop have their sale right now! Up to 25% off with the code GOBIG15
I just found your blog while googling for jeans that doesn’t make me look short!
I’m short too, and my inseam is even shorter than yours! (I can only wish my inseam is 30 inch! Mine’s only 27!!)
I have been trying to look for a bootcut for ages, but I haven’t found one! I have tried premium brands, cheap brands, high street brands.. nothing works!
I have the same problem as you do.. the “flare” looks all wrong when I try to hem them. And if you’re cutting off 4-6 inches, I’m cutting off 8-9 inches! LOL..
Like you, ankle skinnies are my favorite… even cropped jeggings (28 inch!) are full length on me! LOL..
I’ll stick to skinnnies. Though I’m still looking for a pair of bootcuts – just for the sake of owning one.
I haven’t yet found a pair of bootcut jeans with such a short inseam, but I do think that Lotus Petite Jeans might do them! Maybe have a look and see!
Try Maurice’s for bootcut jeans in X Short or Short.
This is awesome! Thanks, Lorna!
Here is my “challenge question” to you . . .
I recently found my favorite pair of jeans ever – not designer, though. Ann Taylor Loft “Modern, Skinny Jeans.” They are on the softer side (I loathe “scratchy” jeans, especially since I can NEVER put my jeans in the dryer – doesn’t matter what brand they are.) I have a smaller waist with wide ethnic-girl hips (sigh) and these jeans are miraculously flattering!
But here is the issue – they look awful with sneakers. It is because of the principle you indicated above – skinny jeans on gals with wide hips look best tucked into boots! After wearing the jeans several times, and confirming that I did, indeed, love them, I literally ran into Ann Taylor Loft asking if they came in boot cut or flare. (They don’t.)
So . . . is there such a thing as “skinny on top, boot cut on bottom”? 😉
This might actually depend how tall you and what your size is. If you’re quite petite and curvy like you say, no flat shoes will look any good with the skinny jeans as they will stunt the appearance of your legs. Especially if you have more curvy hips, they need to be balanced out. I would probably stay away from the bootcut for sneakers as well if you’re petite, purely because it will overwhelm your figure with flat shoes like that and make you look quite outdated too, it was a popular look in the 90’s or early 2000’s. Which sneakers are you trying? Are they quite big? 🙂
You are a doll for responding, Lorna – thank you!
First of all . . . my mistake. I sent this question to the wrong post on your blog. I am not actually petite – I’m 5’6″. My feet are a size 7-8, though, so they actually look small compared to my hips!
Oh ok! I didn’t realise you weren’t petite 🙂 Are you trying them with Converse type sneakers or which other ones?
Yes, Converse type sneakers – basic, in other words. The same problem also occurs with these jeans and ballet-flat type shoes!
THANK YOU for any guidance you can give!
It probably is because of the hip to shoe size ratio. If you don’t have model length legs and really small hips, sneakers can look weird paired with skinny jeans when you have curves as they don’t balance out the ratio. But at the same time, I think bootcut jeans with flats or sneakers can look really sloppy and not very smart, like it’s a bit outdated. Have you tried a really slim sneaker, something like a New Balance 410? I wear those with my skinny jeans and they look ok as they are slim. But you might be better suited to just boots if your hips are curvy. Did you want to send me a photo at all so I can take a look? Email is [email protected] but if not, that’s no problem!
I hv a issue my height is only 4ft 11 inches and shape of my legs are not straight and when i wear jens it not looks very good.
which jeans style suits me .
Hi, what do you mean by not straight legs? What size do you wear?
Hi, Please suggest a good pair of skinny jeans for me..I am only 4ft 11inches and weigh around 120..I don’t mind premium brands or otherwise as long as I can get a pair that fits me well…
Hi, this depends on what you’re looking for. High waist, low rise, skinny, straight etc? What colour?
So reading about jeans I have read so many things so I am 5 ft 2 inches 27 leg length and 224 lbs so I have of course a belly so I wear full rise I have thighs I read never to wear skinny jeans I was told to wear straight cut and after I have to hem bootcut please Suggestions
It really depends on your body shape and how you style them. Skinny jeans can work for anyone, it’s all about balancing out the proportions of the outfit. I would recommend taking a look at the jeans for body shapes article I wrote for a book, it’s here: https://thejeansblog.com/jeans-advice/find-the-perfect-pair-of-jeans-for-every-body-shape/
I would also recommend tucking them into boots with a floaty top up top, that balances it out as well.
What kind of cut do you recommend to wear with sneakers or flats?
I’m just getting into premium jeans, but I’m 5’1” 30” inseam… aaaannd I was in high school in the early 2000’s and definitely rocked the flares/wide leg jeans with sneakers look lol I also really like the Hudson jeans flap pocket but 34”/35” inseam is a dealbreaker!
I would probably recommend skinny jeans mostly, they work well with flats on petite women!
What do you think about not hemming your too long bootcut jeans?
I really like wearing jeans that are way too long on me, I like the look when the jeans cover my feet and I like walking on my jeans hem when I’m not wearing shoes, and the way the backside of the hem looks like after a whiile.
PS. love this blog 🙂
Glad you love the blog and enjoy it 🙂 That’s always lovely to hear!
From a fashion or smarter point of view, I think it’s always good to have clean hems, however chewed up hems were what I always had in the 90’s, ha ha. They were always so long, dragging across the floor, it’s just personal preference. If you like them that way, that’s your call. Some brands like MOTHER and Citizens of Humanity even make jeans with chewed up hems at the back, to imitate that look that was popular back then!