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Best Jeans for 50+ Women in 2023

Dynamite denim in flattering rises, colors and lengths


spinner image Brooke Shields, Sofia Vergara and Tracee Ellis Ross each wearing jeans and walking on a city sidewalk
(Left to right) Brooke Shields, Sofia Vergara and Tracee Ellis Ross
Raymond Hall/GC Images; Hollywood To You/Star Max/GC Images; Raymond Hall/GC Images

Just in case you’re wondering, you’re never too old for jeans. Unlike daringly low necklines and mini skirts, jeans continue to provide women with a body-positive way to confidently show off their shape. And there’s a jeans style, size, fit, length and color for every size and taste from classic to trendy. Choosing the right pair is the hard part. Not sure whether to stick with skinnies or update to wider legs? Go for a high- or medium-rise? Try cropped or full-length? Here’s all you need to know.

spinner image Cindy Crawford, Julianne Moore and Courteney Cox each wearing jeans while walking outside
(Left to right) Cindy Crawford, Julianne Moore and Courteney Cox
Robert Kamau/GC Images; Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images; Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

1. Flattery comes before trendiness

The right jeans will make you feel a lot cooler and a little sexier without trying too hard. They won’t cut off your circulation, leave seam dents in your thighs or look like back-of-the-closet relics from your past. They won’t be too distressed to wear to work or dinner or require years of laundering to get a soft broken feel. As a fashion editor, I’ve done hundreds of jeans photo shoots with grownup women of every size and shape. That’s why I’ll say up front if you buy one new pair of jeans, skip the skinnies and opt for an updated style that will give you and your wardrobe a lift. Check out Tracee Ellis Ross, Sofia Vergara, Brooke Shields, Cindy Crawford, Courteney Cox and Julianne Moore to see what I mean.

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spinner image Everlane The Original Cheeky Jean in Worn-In Mid Blue; Ann Taylor Curvy Sculpting Pocket Mid Rise Boot Cut Jeans in Mid Stone Wash; Lauren Ralph Lauren Women’s Relaxed Tapered Jeans in Rangeland Wash
(Left to right) Everlane The Original Cheeky Jean in Worn-In Mid Blue ($98, everlane.com); Ann Taylor Curvy Sculpting Pocket Mid Rise Boot Cut Jeans in Mid Stone Wash ($55, anntaylor.com); Lauren Ralph Lauren Women’s Relaxed Tapered Jeans in Rangeland Wash ($125, macys.com)
Everlane; Ann Taylor; Macy's

2. Choose a rise that helps your torso

The right rise — specifically, the distance between the bottom of the crotch to the top of the waist — depends on how high up you like jeans to “sit” and where your torso could use extra inches or definition. Skip low-rises (no mid-body help there!) and go straight to medium- and high-rises. In general, medium-rises are 8 or 9 inches and sit at or just below the belly button. They’re comfier to wear for many women and elongate the torso, giving large busts extra space so they’re not crammed by the waistband. A high-rise of 9 to 11 inches sits above the belly button or slightly higher, which shortens the torso. It helps define a still trim waist, can tuck in midriff flab and solves waistband gap issues for those with a slim upper body and contrasting wider hips, butt and thighs (what used to be called a pear shape). Go with whatever rise gives your body a boost.

spinner image NYDJ Marilyn Ankle Straight Leg Jeans in Dimension; Spanx Flare Jeans in Vintage Indigo; Good American Good Leg Crop Mini Bootcut Jeans in Indigo271
(Left to right) NYDJ Marilyn Ankle Straight Leg Jeans in Dimension ($109, nordstrom.com); Spanx Flare Jeans in Vintage Indigo ($148, spanx.com); Good American Good Leg Crop Mini Bootcut Jeans in Indigo271 ($150, nordstrom.com)
Nordstrom; Spanx; Nordstrom

3. Stick with stretch

Not all jeans love curves, especially all-cotton denim without any elastane, Lycra or spandex. These stretch fibers all do the same thing, but the fabric blend and percentage of flex vary. Most jeans have either 1 percent stretch with just enough “give” to hug the body and keep the shape, or 2 percent stretch, which amps up softness and stretch. It sounds minimal, but it makes a real difference in fit at the hips, thighs and butt. Stretch jeans with built-in slimming by size-inclusive brands NYDJ, Spanx and Good American gently and strategically firm, thanks to stretch technology panels and design.

spinner image Madewell The Curvy Perfect Vintage Wide-Leg Crop Jean in Cresslow Wash; Silver Jeans Co. Women’s Suki  Mid-Rise Bootcut Jeans in Indigo; Mango Women’s Crop Flare Jeans in Medium Blue
(Left to right) Madewell The Curvy Perfect Vintage Wide-Leg Crop Jean in Cresslow Wash ($128, madewell.com); Silver Jeans Co. Women’s Suki Mid-Rise Bootcut Jeans in Indigo ($78, macys.com); Mango Women’s Crop Flare Jeans in Medium Blue ($50, macys.com)
Madewell; Macy's (2)

4. Choose a strategic length and hem

The most versatile jeans depend on a length you can wear with any shoe. Three very current lengths do exactly that. There’s ankle-length (just above or at the bone) in straight and wide jeans; crops (above the ankle) in kick flares, straight or wide styles; and full-length jeans (that puddle slightly over the shoes) in bootcut style. All pair easily with the mules, ankle boots, sneakers, sandals and loafers women keep on rotation. A last tip about hems: Frayed hems are casual and look better on light-to-medium washes, and they make DIY trims simple. Neat hems give jeans a chicer and more pulled together look than frays but require pro tailoring. Jeans length is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and individual proportions vary. Even a half inch can make jeans go from so-so to flattering, so don’t hesitate to alter.

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spinner image NOEND Denim Farrah Kick Flare Jeans in Mid Indigo; L.L. Bean Women’s BeanFlex Jeans, Favorite Fit Boot-Cut in Rinsed; Gap High Rise Stride Ankle Jeans with Washwell in Medium Indigo
(Left to right) NOEND Denim Farrah Kick Flare Jeans in Mid Indigo ($158, garnethill.com); L.L. Bean Women’s BeanFlex Jeans, Favorite Fit Boot-cut in Rinsed ($79, llbean.com); Gap High Rise Stride Ankle Jeans with Washwell in Medium Indigo ($80, gap.com)
Garnet Hill; L.L. Bean; Gap

5. Choose modified trends that flatter you

Let’s be honest. Not all buzzy jeans are worth a try, but last winter’s black faux leather jeans started things rolling. For those who’ve been living in skinny jeans and leggings, the new crop of wide-leg jeans, bootcuts and flares is an irresistible change. Available in mid- and high-rises and long and cropped lengths, their streamlined shapes are easier to wear than more extreme trends but provide a genuine update. Avoid very long slouchy jeans that puddle to the floor (not easy to walk, drive or climb stairs in), “mom” styles that puff at hips and belly, barrel jeans that curve out at the sides (who needs that?) and tricky split hems (they never lie right).

spinner image Universal Thread Women’s High-Rise Slim Straight Jeans; Everlane The Original Cheeky Jean in Artist Clay; Talbots Wide Leg Jeans in Moonlit Wash; Old Navy High-Waisted O.G. Straight Ankle Jeans for Women in Medium Wash
(Left to right) Universal Thread Women’s High-Rise Slim Straight Jeans in Black ($28, target.com); Everlane The Original Cheeky Jean in Artist Clay ($98, everlane.com); Talbots Wide Leg Jeans in Moonlit Wash ($129, talbots.com); Old Navy High-Waisted O.G. Straight Ankle Jeans for Women in Medium Wash ($50, oldnavy.gap.com)
Target; Everlane; Talbots; Old Navy

6. Update your jean colors and washes

For years, dark denim was the “work and dress-up” jean, lighter washes and white were for summer and heavily whiskered and ripped jeans were the “cool” ones. Now light, dark and white jeans are stylish all year-round, and even-toned jeans in soft sky blues have replaced holey ones. Which jeans are the dressiest? Deep indigo blues are still going to look the most polished and posh, and black jeans have become the perfect stand-ins for black pants in a classic straight leg. Try jeans in light neutrals such as taupe and beige as a more sophisticated alternative to pastels and brights, and leave the retro acid washes, ombrés and tie-dyes to the kids.

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