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3 Ways To Wear Denim In 2022

Need new jeans? Take inspiration from these women.

By Anna Saunders

Bought a pair of jeans lately?

A few decades ago, buying jeans was simple. In the late ‘80s, everyone bought blue 501s. In the ‘90s it was the bootcut jean, and by the noughties, everyone – and I mean everyone – wore skinny jeans.

Buying jeans used to be an easy choice because, basically, there was no choice. Everyone wore pretty much the same style and bought from pretty much the same handful of global denim brands.

But that’s changed. Today there’s no singular ‘it’ silhouette (least of all the much-maligned skinny jean, which now account for less than a third of all denim sales, according to new figures). Glance around any street or shop and you’ll spot women in all kinds of denim – straight-leg, wide-leg, white, black, dip-dye; not only that, but they’re buying their denim from a much wider range of brands.

“These days, more fashion labels are doing denim,” says stylist Lucy Wood, pointing to the likes of Camilla & Marc, Bassike and Toteme as brands offering jeans and jackets. “And they all put their own signature spin on it, whether it’s the shape of the leg or the hardware detailing or colour wash.”

“Whereas, traditionally, denim brands would stick to certain colours and certain cuts.”

Wondering where to start? We asked three denim lovers to be photographed in different styles. You can also shop Lucy’s denim edit.

Ali Whittle on coloured denim

Ali wears Charles and Keith clogs, a Blanca blazer and Maggie Marilyn jeans
Ali wears Blanca

Ali wears a Blanca blazer over a Maggie Marilyn shirt, with Maggie Marilyn jeans, Charles and Keith clogs and her own jewellery. 

Beauty influencer Ali Whittle was once a skinny-jean fan, but the pandemic put paid to that. “I’m loving thing a bit more oversize now, a bit more comfortable.”

With a collection of around 10 pairs of jeans, Ali isn’t afraid to experiment with different silhouettes and colours. “I love colour. I have jeans in all sorts of blues through to white,” she says, reminiscing about a favourite pair of red Ksubi jeans and a green-and-white striped pair from Holiday by Emma Mulholland. “I’m definitely into a bold statement.”

Ali wears Maggie Marilyn with Levi's jeans
Ali wears a Camilla and Marc jacket

Ali wears a Maggie Marilyn Shirt with Levi jeans and a Camilla and Marc jacket

And although she loves jeans from fashion brands, including Maggie Marilyn, she adds, “you just can’t really go wrong with a good pair of Levi’s, whether they’re new or vintage”.

Lucy says: Coloured denim was coming around again last summer and people were dabbling in white denim. The key is a relaxed fit, like a tailored pant.

Gemma Keil on dark, straight denim

Gemma Keil in a Camilla and Marc jacket and Maggie Marilyn jeans
Gemma in a vintage jacket and Levi's jeans

On the left Gemma wears a Camilla and Marc jacket with Maggie Marilyn jeans. On the right she wears her own Lanvin jacket from the Real Real (similar here), Levis jeans and her own boots. 

Whether you meet stylist Gemma Keil at work or on the weekend with her four-year-old twins, chances are she’ll be wearing denim. “It’s definitely my uniform. I wear some form of denim every day.”

And, more likely than not, that denim will be dark and high-waisted with a straight leg. “I basically own 10 pairs of jeans that look almost exactly the same,” she laughs. “I like it because I can pair it with blazers or shirting, or on studio days, just wear it with a white t-shirt. Black denim is comfortable and durable.”

Double denim is another favourite look. But she says “the jacket has to be oversized or cropped”.

Lucy says: “Double denim is all about the top or jacket. You can wear your usual jeans that you love, but the trick to making double denim look modern, rather than like a Canadian tuxedo, is to go oversize.”

Alex Park on creative denim

Alex wears Wynn Hamlyn
Alex wears Bassike

Alex wears Bassike jeans with a Wynn Hamlyn jacket (left) and Camilla and Marc jacket (right). 

As a buyer for Oroton and a successful painter, Alex Park knows a thing or two about style and creativity. She’s also a denim lover who owns more than a dozen pairs of jeans. Most are straight-leg, high-waisted and cropped.

“I have a whole drawer dedicated to just my jeans and there’s still not enough room.”

Here, Alex who loves the ease and effortlessness of denim, and is happy to wear them from day to night, wears her own Bassike jeans and a cropped denim jacket.

Lucy says: These jeans are a pretty classic shape but had a fun detail with the tie-dye. The jacket is fitted and structured.

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BY Anna Saunders

Anna is the co-founder of PRIMER, and former executive editor of marie claire. She has recently branched out into white jeans.

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