The best shoes for women’s jeans depend on the style of jeans. For straight leg jeans, chunky dad sneakers, ballet flats, and classic or lug sole loafers are all good options. Retro fashion sneakers and block heel mules also look great with crop straight and straight ankle jeans. Classy flats are a top choice for any style of jeans.
Shopping for jeans is, understandably, one of the most daunting wardrobe-related tasks that a lot of women face. Even without getting into the issues of finding jeans that fit, have a flattering cut, and that you can afford, there are details like pocket size and placement, wash, and denim composition to be considered. It would take an entire book to cover all the pros and cons of each, and perhaps another, to define all the different styles.
Fortunately, once you’ve found your perfect jeans, choosing the right shoes to wear with them isn’t all that difficult. This is because it is all about creating a well-balanced look with the rest of your outfit.
So, for footwear purposes, most cuts of women’s jeans fall into one of four categories, which I’m labeling as “skinny jeans,” “flared jeans,” “bootcut jeans,” and “straight leg jeans.”
Below, I get into more detail about which women’s jean styles make up each category and your best boot and shoe options.
Skinny Jeans, Slim Jeans, Cigarette Jeans
There are so many different types of skinny jeans that trying to mention them all would have me obsessing for a week over the styles and names I forgot to list.
Fortunately, when it comes to which shoes to wear with them, skinny jeans, cigarette jeans, slim jeans, jeggings, and all the rest of the tight jean lot get the same type of footwear treatment, which I’ve covered in detail in this aptly titled article: The Best Shoes for Skinny Jeans.
I’ve listed some of your best choices below for a quick refresher.
- Ballerina flats
- Delicate thong sandals
- Stiletto pumps
- Streamlined sneakers
- Any kind of boots, as long as the jeans are tucked into them.
- Heeled or flat ankle boots and booties can be worn under jeans, but it’s best to avoid really weighty styles and thick platform soles.
If skinny jeans have earned a permanent place in your wardrobe, then you should take a more in-depth look at which shoes and boots will work best with skinny jeans.
Also, most of these same suggestions work for leggings. I’ve covered those options in my article on What to wear with leggings.
A colorful pair of pointed-toe flats are a great option to wear with your skinny jeans.
Flared jeans are generally more fitted through the thigh area, then flare out below the knee. Hence the name “flared” jeans.
In the seventies, the most extreme flared jeans were called “bell bottoms.” They’re also often called “wide-leg jeans,” although the latter term actually refers to jeans that are wide throughout their entire length, not just below the knee.
For the sake of this article, I’m lumping all of these styles together.
So, if your jeans have a wide or flared opening, you should look for shoes that stay visible in the mass of denim pooling around your feet. Your best bets are:
- High-heeled shoes and boots
- Platform shoes and boots
- Lug-soled boots and shoes
- Any shoes or boots with chunky heels
- Sneakers (especially simple, old-school styles)
- Wedge heels
And, if you want to go head-to-toe retro, you can ignore the advice about your jeans overwhelming your shoes and pair flared jeans with a pair of flip-flops. I do it all the time.
The only real “don’t” for jeans with wide legs is trying to tuck them into anything. Ever.
A wedge sandal is a great option for pairing with your flared jeans.
Bootcut jeans have a slightly larger opening than straight-legged ones, but not enough of them that they’d be considered “flared.” And, as the name implies, they’re ideal for wearing with boots because ankle boots and the like can actually fit under the hem, which is only sometimes the case with skinny jeans.
Again, you’ll find a lot of naming and style variation in this denim category, but for clarification, I’m referring to jeans that flare out very subtly at the bottom.
This difference is important because true bootcut jeans are the most versatile when it comes to shoes. They look great with light, medium, and even slightly heavier shoes.
Consequently, they work with nearly anything; heeled boots, flat boots, pumps, platforms, sneakers, ballerina flats, and sandals.
This season, a block-heel sandal is a great option to pair with your bootcut jeans.
Boyfriend, Relaxed, Loose, and Straight-Leg Jeans
This category is the most confusing of all the styles of women’s jeans. Some of the confusion comes from people not knowing what the terms “boyfriend” and “straight-leg” jeans really mean.
For example, as a teenager, my friends and I referred to skinny jeans as “straight legs,” but what can I say? We were wrong.
Simply put, the legs are straight from top to bottom. They have no flare or real definition; skinny jeans are loose and flared, and bootcut jeans do not curve out below the knee.
Boyfriend jeans are similar to skinny jeans but tend to fit a little looser, like you borrowed them from your boyfriend. For shoe-picking purposes, both of these styles fall under the same heading, as do relaxed, loose-cut, or loose-fit jeans.
So, what do you pair with denim of such an undefined nature? Again, we go back to balance, and the way to add balance to a pair of casual, loose-fitting jeans is to opt for a pair of extra-stylish shoes, like an embellished pair of mule sandals.
Like their bootcut buddies, straight-legged jeans can handle nearly any heel height, and they play as well with trim shoe styles as they do with heavier ones.
But, unless you’re going for a really, truly, totally casual look, you might want to add a bit of definition to your outfit by choosing a basic shoe style that has a bit of extra polish to it, like simple loafers with a shiny, classic buckle; ballerina flats with studs or rhinestones; or chunky-heeled boots with a bit of a platform sole.
Check out a few of my favorite pairs of shoes that would look great with your straight-legged jeans: