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The Best Jeans for Women Over 50 in 2024

Cool denim for grownups in flattering styles for all


spinner image Julianne Moore, Sofía Vergara, Cher, Regina King and Lisa Rinna wearing jeans
(Left to right) Julianne Moore, Sofía Vergara, Cher, Regina King and Lisa Rinna.
Photo Collage: AARP; (Source: Photo by Gotham/GC Images; Photo by Bellocqimages/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images; Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Warner Music; Photo by RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images; Photo by MEGA/GC Images; Getty Images (2))

You’re never too old for jeans, but your jeans may be too old for you. There’s a not-so-quiet revolution brewing in jeans-land as more women shed skintight skinny jeans and jeggings for looser, body-friendly styles. Updated jeans with boot-cut, flare, straight and wide legs are dialing up comfort and fashion. Do you wonder if wider-leg jeans will make you look wider too? Which rise is most flattering? Ankle, crop or full length? Should you opt for denim in white, black or a blue wash? Here’s all you need to know.

spinner image Kyle Richards, Oprah Winfrey and Carla Bruni Sarkozy wearing jeans
(Left to right) Kyle Richards, Oprah Winfrey and Carla Bruni Sarkozy.
Photo Collage: AARP; (Source: Photo by Bellocqimages/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images; Photo by PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images; Photo by Marc Piasecki/WireImage)

1. Flattery before trendiness.

The perfect jeans will make you feel a lot cooler and a little sassier without showing your lunch. They won’t squeeze your thighs and calves, leave muffin-top bulges hovering above the waistband or make you long to take them off at the end of the day. They’ll go with all your tops, tucked and untucked, pivot from ballet flats to sneakers and feel softly broken-in, even in dark blue washes. As a fashion editor, I’ve done hundreds of jeans photo shoots with grownup women of every size and shape. That’s why I’m encouraging you to break away from your usual jeans and try a new style. It may be way more flattering than you think and will certainly update your wardrobe. Check out Oprah Winfrey, Sofía Vergara, Cher and Julianne Moore in some of the roomiest and trendiest jeans around to see what I mean.

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spinner image Universal Thread Women’s High-Rise Sailor Wide Leg Ankle Jeans in Cream; Gap Women High Rise Stride Wide-Leg Ankle Jeans in Medium Indigo; a.n.a. Women’s High Rise Flare Leg Jean in White
(Left to right) Universal Thread Women’s High-Rise Sailor Wide Leg Ankle Jeans in Cream; Gap Women High Rise Stride Wide-Leg Ankle Jeans in Medium Indigo ($90, gap.com); a.n.a. Women’s High Rise Flare Leg Jean in White ($50, jcpenney.com)
Courtesy: Target; Gap; JCPenney

2. Choose a rise that works with your bust and torso.

The rise is the distance from the bottom of the crotch to the top of the waistband. Ignore extremes like low rise and extra high rises and figure out where you like the waistband to sit. This will either be a medium or a high rise. Medium-rise jeans like the Time and Tru Women’s Mid Rise Bootcut Jeans with Side Vents in Winter White ($20, walmart.com) are about 8 to 9.5 inches and sit at or just below the belly button. They give the torso more midriff space so those with a large bust don’t feel their breasts are sitting right on top of the waistband. High-rise jeans like the Universal Thread Women’s High-Rise Sailor Wide Leg Ankle Jeans in Cream or Navy Blue ($28, target.com) and Maeve The Ettie High-Rise Crop Wide-Leg Jeans in Riviera Wash ($98, anthropologie.com) run about 9 to 11.5 inches and sit just above the belly button or a little higher. They tuck in midriff flab, define the waist and solve waistband gap for those slimmer on top, wider on bottom (what used to be called a pear shape). Choose whichever rise gives your proportions a boost and remember the exact measurements for medium and high rise do blur a little from brand to brand.

spinner image Gloria Vanderbilt Shape Effect Women’s High Rise Pull On Flare Leg Jean in Sonoma Valley; J.Jill The Boyfriend Jeans in Chelsea Wash; Chico’s Travelers Pull On Cropped Jeans in Skyway Indigo
(Left to right) Gloria Vanderbilt Shape Effect Women’s High Rise Pull On Flare Leg Jean in Sonoma Valley; J.Jill The Boyfriend Jeans in Chelsea Wash; Chico’s Travelers Pull On Cropped Jeans in Skyway Indigo
Courtesy: JCPenney; J. Jill; Chico's

3. Stick with stretch denim.

The best jeans comfort your curves with a blend that includes elastane, Lycra or spandex — stretch fibers that add flex to the fabric. All-cotton jeans may sound appealing, but they feel stiff, lack stretchability and take years of laundering to soften up. However, most jeans now have at least 1 percent stretch. That’s enough give to hug the body and keep your jeans in shape. Some, like the J.Jill The Boyfriend Jeans in Chelsea Wash ($89, jjill.com), have 2 percent spandex, which amps up softness and stretchiness even further. Pull-on stretch jeans like the Chico’s Travelers Pull On Cropped Jeans in Skyway Indigo ($90, chicos.com) and Gloria Vanderbilt Shape Effect Women’s High Rise Pull On Flare Leg Jean in Sonoma Valley ($48, jcpenney.com) have wide elastic waistbands and a fashionable look, but they’re a quiet trend. You may not see them on Facebook or Instagram, but thanks to a combo of stretch, design and style, pull-on jeans make normal weight fluctuations easy to deal with and give untucked tees and button-downs a smoother line at the belly.

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4. Choose a practical length and the right hem.

The best jeans now, regardless of style, are of a length that works with your shoes. Many women — especially the under 5-foot-2 crowd — and those who now live in flats year-round, can count on ankle-length jeans that stop at or right above the anklebone and crops that are shorter and stop an inch or two above the ankle. Both pair easily with ballet flats, sneakers, loafers and strappy sandals to show off your shoes and your trim ankles. Others prefer the leg-lengthening illusion of full-length jeans that graze the tops of feet or puddle over your shoes. Whether straight, boot-cut or wide, longer lengths optically add inches to the legs, especially when teamed with wedges, chunky heels or kitten heels for extra lift and extension. Puddling (where pants pool on the ground) is in, so wear full-length jeans with flats and flip-flops too if you like the look. Just don’t overdo the excess to avoid tripping on the hem. Check out the Ellos Women’s Plus-Size Crop Bootcut Jeans in Light Stonewash ($57, target.com), H&M Women Slim Straight High Ankle Jeans in Light Denim Blue ($38, www2.hm.com/en_us/) and Lands’ End Women’s Mid Rise Denim Wide Leg Ankle Jeans in Lafayette Blue ($80, landsend.com). A tip about length and hems: Jeans length is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Leg proportions vary and altering the length by even a half inch often improves the glide of the jeans leg so it doesn’t buckle or look bunched up. Frayed hems make DIY trims simple, but they’re casual and look better on light to medium washes. Neat hems require pro tailoring, but they give jeans a chic, pulled-together look.

spinner image Mango Women Crop Flared Jeans in Medium Blue; Loft High Rise Straight Jeans in Vintage Mid Indigo Wash
(Left to right) Mango Women Crop Flared Jeans in Medium Blue; Loft High Rise Straight Jeans in Vintage Mid Indigo Wash
Courtesy: Mango; Loft

5. Look for modified versions of super trends.

Let’s be honest, statement jeans — like those with extremely wide legs and exaggerated flares or big cuffs — get social media attention. But modified versions of new styles work better for real life, real wardrobes and real bodies over 50. Those reluctant to give up “skinnies” can get a less clingy update with straight-leg jeans like the Loft High Rise Straight Jeans in Vintage Mid Indigo Wash ($90, loft.com). For a wearable wider leg, try a cropped kick flare like the Mango Women Crop Flared Jeans in Medium Blue ($50, mango.com/us). You’ll get an on-trend appearance but retain the shapely (and familiar) fit at waist, hips and thighs. Another way to dial up volume at the hem is with a trouser-cut jean that’s tailored and cut wider at the lower leg like the Draper James Women’s High-Rise Wide Leg Jeans ($50, kohls.com). Unlike old-style trouser jeans, these skip pleats for a flattering fit and offer a dressier, work-appropriate silhouette.

spinner image Lee Women’s Legendary Straight Jeans in Tigers Eye; Old Navy Women High-Waisted OG Loose Jeans in Dark Wash; Everlane’s The Way-High Curve Jean in Cocoa
(Left to right) Lee Women’s Legendary Straight Jeans in Tigers Eye; Old Navy Women High-Waisted OG Loose Jeans in Dark Wash; Everlane’s The Way-High Curve Jean in Cocoa
Courtesy: Lee; Old Navy; Everlane

6. Update your jean colors and washes.

For decades, dark denim was the work and dress-up jean, lighter washes and white were for summer and distressed jeans with rips were the edgy ones. Now light, dark wash and white jeans are stylish all year and soft medium blues with a subtle even vintage wash have replaced rips as cool. Jeans in earthy shades of beige, khaki or brown like Everlane’s The Way-High Curve Jean in Cocoa ($128, everlane.com) and Lee Women’s Legendary Straight Jeans in Tigers Eye ($35, kohls.com) have been added to complement wardrobes that tend toward warm neutrals and brown/tan accessories rather than black. Which jeans are the dressiest? Black and darker blues like the Old Navy Women High-Waisted OG Loose Jeans in Dark Wash ($45, oldnavy.gap.com) look the most polished and posh, and white jeans like the Lauren Ralph Lauren Super Stretch Premier Straight Jeans in White ($115, macys.com) look sophisticated paired with black or navy and brighten an otherwise dark wardrobe. Start shopping!

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