You can’t blame designers for getting experimental with jeans. “Denim is just a sturdy form of cotton, so it can be used in place of almost any other material,” Italist CEO Diego Abba says. Adventures in denim can start out somewhat tame, like the Givenchy, Valentino, and Chloé handbag handles that swap it in for leather. A few clicks away, the looks get wilder and weirder. Denim can coat a pair of Coperni platform clogs one minute, and be sliced into an exaggerated high-low micro miniskirt by Sami Miró the next. Sometimes denim is so expertly warped, shredded, sculptured, and generally reimagined, it’s no longer recognisable as the same material behind simple pairs of jeans. (Just check the latest Y/Project runway for proof.)
But when the focus turns from the runway to real life, the best fall 2023 denim trends are still true to the fabric’s utilitarian roots. Street-style trends in New York, Milan, and Paris this fall have included denim work shirts and A-line maxi skirts; in stores, slim, slightly cropped hemlines are bringing focus back to easy, understated styling. Really, this season’s reigning denim trends emphasise versatility and a wear-with-anything approach, from comfortably flowy wide-leg jeans to hardworking denim outerwear. A resurgence of sexy, ultra-low-rise jeans may be the lone, but not unwelcome, exception.
Shop the six most noteworthy—and wearable—fall 2023 denim trends ahead.
One of fall 2023’s biggest denim trends isn’t even a pair of jeans. Designers from Alexander McQueen to Zimmermann brought back the early-’00s denim skirt in midi and maxi lengths, and street style welcomed the reappearance with open arms.
I’ve tracked the return of long denim skirts since last February’s New York Fashion Week. To me, what’s kept the revival fresh are the variations in hem lengths and finishes, as well as the varied ways insiders are wearing them. I’ve seen everything from straightforwardly Y2K takes with wraparound gas-station sunglasses and baby tees to a quiet-luxury-esque styling with a ribbed turtleneck sweater and ballerina flats.
Loewe Two-Tone Denim Skirt
Ganni Denim Skirt
Agolde Leif Skirt
Considering the Shoe
What do Sandy Liang ballet flats, Jamie Haller loafers, and Martine Rose x Nike or New Balance x Miu Miu sneakers all have in common? They’re samples of the niche It shoes of 2023—pairs that this fall’s denim hemline trends won’t leave hidden.
Slightly cropped jeans in straight and kick-flare silhouettes are the resounding style for insiders who value their fall shoes as much as their denim. Ultra-wide legs and barrel jeans are still very much present and accounted for—these are simply the alternative for a more tapered fit that’s still distinct from a skinny jean.
“At the moment I am loving any denim that features a slight crop. Loafers are everywhere right now, and it’s such a fun way to incorporate a pop of colour with a sock,” says Grace Na, founder of denim-focused brand Pistola. Her favourite for showing off her footwear is a high-rise, cropped boot-cut jean. “I find that most boots work best with—go figure—a boot cut. Our Ally jean is perfect for this.”
At Madewell, creative director Joyce Lee has introduced two new styles with slimmer legs, including a ’90s straight jean (her personal favorite). “It’s super cheeky and flattering,” she says.
Pistola Ally High-Rise Vintage Ankle Boot
Madewell The Plus ’90s Straight Jean
Paige Claudine Jeans
Everlane The Original Cheeky Jean
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Lower Low-Rise Jeans
The long-simmering return of low-rise jeans is not going anywhere for fall 2023. According to Italist CEO Abba, Glenn Martens’s Diesel has the pairs with the most appeal. “The label’s runway presentation showed low-rise denim styles that the brand is classically known for, as well as modern interpretations with sheer panels, integrated belts, multi-pocket cargo styles, and even super low-rise ’60s-inspired styles,” he says. “In other words, Diesel brought some sexy back to denim.” Equally enticing pairs showed up throughout Fashion Month street style, with doubled-up low waistbands, hip cutouts, and raw waists. At retailers, you can find a mix of experimentally distressed pairs and laid-back options in a dark wash.
Diesel D-ark Jeans
Sami Miro Vintage Porterhouse Raw Waist Jeans
Agolde Low-Rise Baggy Jeans
Rag & Bone Dre Low-Rise Boyfriend Jeans
The Trench Coat (Denim Version)
There’s an enduring quality to trench coats that makes them feel slightly out of place in a trend conversation, even in a season when designers like the trench-centric Burberry and recent Banana Republic collaborator Peter Do played with the style. But classic outerwear cut from denim is having enough of a moment to call it a trend.
Street style throughout Fashion Month brought out versions by the likes of Ferragamo, styled over—you guessed it—jeans. Then, Taylor Swift created an instantly sold-out moment when she wore a trench by Los Angeles label EB Denim over a Reformation sweater dress for dinner with Sophie Turner. (It is available on the brand’s direct site, FYI.) Classic trench coats can come off as overly preppy or as private-investigator-core if they’re not styled just right; these denim trenches bring something much more relaxed and easily styled to the silhouette.
EB Denim Webster Trench
Ferragamo Button-Front Long Denim Trench Coat
Wide Wide-Leg Shapes
A pair of Rag & Bone jeans (the Miramar, specifically) went viral on TikTok earlier this year for not actually being a pair of jeans. It’s really a trompe l’oeil wide-leg pant with the appearance of denim and the stay-in-bed-all-day feel of sweatpants. Little did TikTok viewers know, there was already a trending silhouette that is comparably comfortable and made from actual denim.
Ultra-wide-leg jeans with puddle hems were the denim style du jour in Paris Fashion Week street style this season. They serve the dual purpose of taking up a lot of space while also feeling like a cotton blanket across your legs. There’s inherent drama in the exaggerated shape of each pair—most designers call theirs “extreme” wide-legs—so these are best styled with a more understated top.
Made in Tomboy Benny Oversize Wide Jeans
Khaite Isla Wide-Leg Jeans
Free People Equinox Wide-Leg Trouser Jeans
The Utility Shirt
Making a head-to-toe commitment to denim isn’t something to overthink. Street style throughout Fashion Month included a rise in workwear denim shirts and coordinating jeans, modernised with flashy new accessories like Loewe’s squeeze bag or a pair of Alaïa netted flats.
“Utility and function is key when I look at my approach to denim, and I’ve always loved a denim-on-denim look,” Lee says. Her team designed a denim workwear shirt in multiple washes to pair with Madewell’s jeans; other interpretations range from an extra-oversize take at the Frankie Shop to a DL1961 shirt with silver buttons made for coordinating with fall 2023’s metallic trend.
Just make sure to double up with more denim whenever you wear your favourite: “Denim is definitely a thing this season, especially when you combine more than one denim piece,” Abba says.
The Frankie Shop Dallas Oversize Denim Shirt
Madewell Plus Denim Button-Down Collar Oversize Shirt
DL1961 Faye Shirt Fisher
Related article: 20 Fall Outfit Ideas To Steal From Street Style
Good American Denim Shirt
This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US.