'I'm a fashion editor and there's a reason you suddenly want to break up with jeans.'

They're supposed to be that one foolproof item in your wardrobe. The staple you can keep coming back to, dress up or down, pair with a "nice top" and scoot out the door.

So why are our failsafe jeans suddenly… failing us?

I've recently been on the hunt for a new pair of jeans to see me through winter, and what I thought would be a fairly straightforward search for some basic bottoms has turned into quite the denim odyssey. So if you're ready to come on the journey with me, well, buckle up (or button up?) and strap yourselves in.

Watch: Mia Freedman shares her top 10 pairs of jeans. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

I started my shopping trip feeling confident. I hit up the favourites — Levi's, A-Brand, Lee Jeans, General Pants, and tried on many pairs. I looked at the entire denim section on The Iconic (there's a staggering 2311 options for women's jeans at last count).

I yanked out all my old jeans at home and tried them on for the first time since last winter. 

But none of them felt... right. None of them, out of precisely all of them.


Zooming out from my floordrobe and crowded browser history, there's actually a broader reason for this. And it has a lot to do with having too much choice. Yep, good old decision fatigue… but for denim.

The problem is that the market is confused.

Trends in this category used to be pretty definitive. In the 70s it was all about flares; in the 90s it was baggy. In the 2000s we had low-rise and in the 2010s skinny jeans felt quite revolutionary and quickly rose to prominence.

Then, around the time COVID hit, people started seeking a more relaxed silhouette, and jeans moved away from the leg into a wider shape. We had wide and straight-leg jeans dominating for another few years, and we all breathed a (literal) sigh of relief at not having to undo our top buttons after lunch.

But now we've hit a snag. The question is, where to next?

Lots of the aforementioned brands are catering to a Gen Z appetite for super low-rise waists and baggy legs that feel new to them but bring back high-school baggage for many of us. Although we've long moved past using harmful language like "muffin top" for our midsections, I think we can collectively say that pubic-hair-skimming jeans were not a good time for anyone (except maybe Paris Hilton.)

Then there are whispers around about skinny jeans being back. A scattering of them on the runways, along with scarier styles like (gulp) capri pants and "cropped flares". The cool girls are wearing pedal pushers, apparently, and that's mildly terrifying.


But it all feels too obvious, doesn't it? Fashion is far more nuanced than that; I seriously doubt we're going to see everyone adopt skinny denim again as fast as they abandoned it. We're fickle, but we're not that forgetful.

So now we have a denim section that feels, frankly, all over the place. Where do we even start?

If you too have found yourself standing in front of a pile of ill-fitting denim pants discarded on a tiny stool of shame, you're not alone. I'm here in solidarity and sweatpants.

Because the thing is, for myself at least, jeans just don't feel right at the moment. It isn't that they aren't fitting my body right; they're not fitting my lifestyle.

There's nothing wrong with my jeans, I've gathered a dependable collection of cuts and styles. But when push comes to shove, I'd just rather wear something else.

And I think the issue is this: For around three years now, I've been living in stretchy lounge pants. First, it was due to the pandemic, and then I got pregnant and couldn't wear jeans for the best part of a year, anyway.


Those loungey pants are what I've been shopping my closet around, so I've spent my wardrobe capital on things like oversized shirts and tees, sweatshirts and chunky shoes that work back with flared knit pants.

And now I have this predicament where none of that stuff really goes with my jeans.

This might be very specific to me, but I have a feeling many of us are experiencing some confusion about where to go with denim this season. 

It used to be that you could invest in one key silhouette and sort of curate the rest of your look around it. But I can no longer tell you what that exact silhouette is.

Instead, I'm going to share the direction I think denim is ~moving~ in. And the good news is that it's pretty directional.


The jeans that stood out to me most on my shop were a straight-leg pair, in rigid dark blue denim, but with pale blue panels down the front. Two-tone jeans!

Online, the jeans I've been saving in my Instagram inspo folder are all a bit creative. I saw Elle Ferguson wearing dark jeans from Ksubi covered in tiny sparkly gems. Another look that I saved was the influencer in a pair of baggy Louis Vuitton jeans printed all over with the brand's logo. And while I lack the budget for high-end designer denim, I'm taking cues from this vibe.

Who What Wear declared the next trend in denim is a cuffed hem (Hallelujah for short women), but again, that's a styling detail more than a silhouette. It's a bit of extra that makes you look.

So my prediction is that we're now in the era of the "fun" jean. No particular cut or wash - you're looking for an unexpected twist. That could just be about an interesting seam down the front or a split at the hem. It doesn't have to mean all-over glitter. But some glitter = good. You want a jean you can pair with a plain t-shirt and feel instantly pulled together. Jeans that do a bit of the styling work for you. That, I think, is the magic of this trend.

Instead of jeans and a nice top, try reversing the equation with "top and a nice jean". Eh?

Understandably, sparkly pants won't work for every occasion. If you need a pair you can wheel out for the office or the school run that aren't so look-at-me, I've hopefully found a fix for that too.


If I have to call out a style for the season that's a safer bet in your wardrobe, it's a vintage blue, bootleg jean that could literally be from the op shop. Think the classic 80s silhouette, updated. Not too dark or too light, not too wide or too low — I reckon this might be the goldilocks of jeans.

Not only is this style versatile, but it's also approachable for much more of the population than a super skinny leg or ultra-low waist.

Of course, it goes without saying you can wear, and re-wear, any jeans you like. The only thing that really matters is that you're comfortable and you feel good.

And for me, this season, that might require a bit of glitter.

Classic jeans recommendations:

Abrand Monifa Carrie Jeans, $149.95.

Abrand Monifa Carrie Jeans. Image: The Iconic.


Ksubi Low Rider Heritage Jeans, $219.95.

Low Rider Heritage Jeans. Image: Ksubi.


Levi's 501 Original Jeans, $159.95.

Levi's 501 Original Jeans. Image: The Iconic.

Cotton On Curvy Stretch Wide Jean, $59.99.

Cotton On Curvy Stretch Wide Jean. Image: Cotton On.


Commonry The High Rise Girlfriend Jean, $119.95.

The High Rise Girlfriend Jean. Image: Commonry.


Calli Straight Leg Jeans, $109.95.

Calli Straight Leg Jeans. Image: The Iconic.


Fun jeans recommendations:

Ksubi Playback Glacier Straight Leg Jeans, $219.95.

Playback Glacier Straight Leg Jeans. Image: Ksubi.

DISSH Dale 2 Tone Denim Jean, $129.99.

2 Tone Denim Jeans. Image: DISSH.


Gorman Beatrix Beaded Jean, $249.

Beaded Jeans. Image: Gorman.


Ceres Life Soft Wide Leg Jean, $129.99.

Soft Wide Leg Jeans. Image: Ceres Life.

Zara Straight Leg Mid-Rise Rhinestone Jeans, $185.

Straight Leg Mid-Rise Rhinestone Jeans. Image: Zara.


This article was originally written for Tamara Holland's substack, Fash Chat, and has been reproduced with permission. You can follow Tamara on Instagram.

Feature image: Instagram @_tamaradavis_.

Do you buy baby or kids’ clothing? Complete this survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!