What Are Bootcut Jeans? How to Wear Them? A Complete Guide

Bootcut jeans have become a wardrobe staple over the past few decades, transitioning in and out of popularity. Recently, we’ve seen the revival of bootcut jeans on the runways and streets, proving their versatility and timelessness.

But what exactly are bootcut jeans and how do you wear them? This complete guide will give you a deep dive into the history, styling tips, and reasons bootcut jeans continue to thrive in fashion.

What Are Bootcut Jeans?

Bootcut jeans are characterized by their fitted look through the thigh, with a slight flare at the bottom hem starting below the knee. This creates a versatile straight leg to relaxed bootcut shape, balancing comfort and style.

Bootcut jeans are medium to low rise, hitting around the hips. The name “bootcut” comes from their design specifically made to fit over boots, dating back to the late 1800s when Levi’s first created them for cowboys.

Compared to skinny jeans, bootcut jeans offer more room through the leg while remaining fitted at the waist and hips. The bootcut silhouette creates balance, accentuating curves rather than hugging the leg.

This makes them universally flattering for all body types. The extra room at the hem allows you to show off your shoes rather than tucking them into skinny jeans. Overall, bootcut jeans have an easygoing aesthetic that can work for day or night.

What Are Bootcut Jeans?

The History of Bootcut Jeans

Bootcut jeans first emerged in the late 1800s, created by Levi Strauss & Co. specifically with a wider leg to fit over cowboy boots. They remained popular with cowboys and ranchers well into the 1940s and 50s.

In the 1960s and 70s, musicians like Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones brought bootcut jeans into counterculture as a more relaxed everyday style.

Bootcut jeans became mainstream in the late 1990s and early 2000s, adopted by pop stars like Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez. Low rise bootcut jeans paired with crop tops defined fashion in the early 2000s. However, when skinny jeans emerged later that decade, bootcuts faded from popularity.

In 2022 and 2023, we’re seeing the revival of bootcut jeans on the runways and streets. Contemporary labels like Khaite, Mother, and frame have reimagined bootcuts in modern fabrics like stretch denim and linen.

Celebrities like Katie Holmes, Kendall Jenner, and Dakota Johnson have embraced vintage and vintage-inspired bootcut styles. The return of bootcut jeans represents the cyclical nature of fashion drawing inspiration from different eras.

The History of Bootcut Jeans
Jennifer Lopez Says Bootcut Jeans Are Here To Stay

How to Wear Bootcut Jeans

The versatile nature of bootcut jeans allows you to wear them for casual daytime looks, elevated evening outfits, and everything in between. Here are some tips for styling bootcut jeans:

Casual Daytime Looks

  • Pair with sneakers or flats and a t-shirt or tank top for an effortless weekend vibe. Add an oversized button-down or denim jacket on top.
  • Tuck a fitted turtleneck into high rise bootcut jeans with white sneakers for a pulled-together casual outfit.
  • Create contrast with an oversized sweater or hoodie and low rise bootcut jeans. Finish with boots.
Image of casual outfit with bootcut jeans, sweater and boots

Elevated Evening Looks

  • Choose dark wash bootcut jeans with a silky cami and blazer on top, complete with heels for dinner or a date night.
  • Style high-waisted bootcuts with a cropped bustier or bodysuit and strappy heels for a night out.
  • Balance the volume on bottom with a fitted wrap top and wedge heels. Add jewelry for a polished touch.
Image of evening outfit with bootcut jeans, cami and blazer

Year-Round Outfits

  • In warmer months, pair your bootcuts with espadrilles or sandals and a breezy peasant top.
  • For winter, create a monochrome look by layering bootcut jeans with boots, a turtleneck and overcoat in similar shades.
  • Opt for black bootcut jeans with a moto jacket and booties for an edgy fall outfit.

No matter the season, bootcut jeans offer great versatility. Play with rise, wash and styling to make them work for any occasion.

Why Bootcut Jeans Flatter All Figures

Bootcut jeans have grown in popularity over the decades because they are universally flattering. The slight flare balances curvier hips and thighs, while elongating the leg. The medium to high rise creates a smoother silhouette at the waist.

Here’s how bootcut jeans can flatter different body types:

  • Hourglass figures: Bootcut jeans balance curvy hips by adding volume to the lower leg. The fitted seat and thighs prevent gapping.
  • Rectangular figures: The flare at the ankle creates the illusion of curves on straight figures. The narrow leg opening slims athletic thighs.
  • Pear figures: Bootcut jeans add balance by diminishing the look of wider hips. The tailored fit through the thighs prevents sagging fabric.
  • Petite figures: A slight flare helps elongate the leg line on shorter frames. Pair with heels to maximize the lengthening effect.

Bootcut jeans have grown in popularity over the decades because of their figure-flattering qualities. The versatility of rise, color, and fabric means you can find the perfect pair to complement your shape.


From their origin as functional workwear to mainstream fashion staple, bootcut jeans have demonstrated versatility and staying power few other garments can claim. Their leg-lengthening qualities and balance of fitted and flared make them a vintage-inspired style that flatters all body types.

As current fashion continues to reimagine bootcut jeans, they remain just as relevant today as that first pair created for cowboys well over a century ago. This complete guide shows how to wear bootcut jeans for any occasion and style. Find your perfect pair, and embrace the comeback of this always flattering denim silhouette.

What do you think? Do you wear bootcut jeans? Share your favorite outfit ideas in the comments below!

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