Straight leg jeans are one of those enduring denim styles that really never went out but are very of the moment right now. If you enjoy keeping your closet fresh, you might have purchased a pair only to feel overwhelmed at how to style them.
One of the most common questions I receive is what shoes to wear with straight leg jeans. Most people are surprised to hear that straight jeans can go with (almost) any shoe!
The secret isn’t the “right” shoes but rather a knockout, versatile pair of straight denim. To that end, I included a straight jean shopping guide and my favorite pairs at the bottom of the post.
Keep reading for all the shoe styles that go straight leg jeans—modeled by me!
Shoes to Wear with Straight Leg Jeans
I find styling boots with straight jeans the most challenging. Nailing proportions can be a puzzle! Whether you’re working with ankle booties, chelsea boots, or western boots, the key is an inseam that complements the height of the boot.
I like my straight jeans to stop an inch or two below or above the top of the bootie to ensure the denim doesn’t bunch or compete with the shaft.
If your straight jeans have a really relaxed leg opening, try a pair of slim shaft or pointed-toe booties. This balances the untapered cut, in combination with belting, tucking, and a strong shoulder.
Lug, Chelsea, and Combat Boots
When pairing chunky boot styles such as lug sole and combat boots, I use the same guideline as above (keeping the inseam a few inches below/above the boot).
For cold weather, I love the look of full-length straight jeans lug boots, but any length that doesn’t bunch on the boot will look great.
Flat sandals are my go-to for warmer weather and pair easily with cropped, ankle length, and full-length straight jeans.
In my experience, there’s really no way to go wrong and everything from strappy sandals to birkenstocks, sporty sandals, and slides pairs well.
With full-length jeans, you may find yourself wanting to roll the hem to how a little ankle, and that’s fine too.
Flats of all kinds, from loafers to backless mules to ballet flats, look so chic with the relaxed leg opening of straight jeans.
I like creating a classic look with a simple t-shirt, button down, or crewneck sweater and dainty jewelry. Layer a blazer and you’re all set for a chilly evening or the A/C.
Sneakers and Slip-On Sneakers
Simple white sneakers are a shoe style I keep on rotation all year. For a casual look, I love pairing straight jeans with a slim sneaker (this helps elongate the legs).
A few pairs I have that work well include Sam Edelman Ethyl, Common Projects Achilles, and Golden Goose Superstar.
A darker, non-distressed pair of straight leg jeans is easily dressed up with a heeled sandal, pointed toe pump, high heel, kitten heel, or slingback.
Any of the above can also dress up a light wash or distressed straight jean, but for that I like to make sure other fabrics in the outfit are slightly elevated (silk, satin, leather, etc.).
How to Find Straight Leg Jeans That Go with Almost Any Shoe
If you want to wear straight jeans with (almost) any pair of shoes in your wardrobe, finding a versatile jean is key! It’s easier to find jeans that go with most shoes than it is to remix your shoe collection to accommodate one style of denim.
Here’s what to look for when shopping for versatile straight jeans:
- Ankle Length: The exact inseam will vary based on your height, but look for pairs that hit at or just above your ankle bone. Cropped straight jeans are great for summer but don’t go with many shoes, and straight jeans that extend past the ankle can bunch on certain shoes. I’m 5’9″ and like straight jeans with a 28″-31″ inseam.
- Fitted Through the Thigh and Gently Relaxed Through the Calf: The key to a versatile straight jean for most women is a close fit through the thighs and an untapered leg opening. The slim upper balances the volume of the style while the wider opening allows for shoes with a variety of shaft heights/widths. Leg openings that work for me are 12.5″—16.5″.
- Mid or Dark Wash: I tend to get the most mileage out of mid- and dark-wash straight leg jeans. They’re easier to dress up than light washes, although those can be elevated with sharper accessories (pointy toe heels/flats, heeled ankle boots) and a top with a dressier fabrication.
My Favorite Straight Jeans
- Washed black for everyday (also come in blue)
- Taper slightly through the calf
- Inseam suits most shoes
- Size down if between sizes
- Relaxed, distressed wash
- Full length (I like to roll mine with some shoes)
- Especially good with heels and heeled boots
- Size down if between sizes
What Are Straight Leg Jeans
Straight leg jeans have a straight up and down cut through the pant leg from waist to hem. They can be dark or light, baggy or slim fit, and low-rise, mid-rise, or high-rise. They’re available in cropped, ankle length, and full lengths.
The main difference between straight leg jeans and skinny jeans is that the hem of straight leg denim is not closely tapered. Slim straight jeans, like Madewell’s perfect vintage jeans, may taper the leg opening slightly, but a true straight cut will leave more room around the leg opening and mid to lower calf.