Guide to Finding the Best Shoes for Skinny Jeans


Singer CeCe Segarra found a pair of brown heels that go well with her patterned skinny jeans.“Singer CeCe Segarra found a pair of brown heels that go well with her patterned skinny jeans.Christopher Polk/WireImage/Getty Images

When it comes to skinny jeans, there’s good news and there’s bad news. If you have the right kind of tall, boyish figure, they look spectacular: Think goddess with just enough tomboyish appeal to avoid appearing unapproachable. However, if you have ample curves and a short frame, skinny jeans are like a denim sign pointing out your figure shortcomings.

Wherever your figure lands on the scale of awe-inspiring or awful in skinny jeans, choosing the right accessories is the key to enhancing — or camouflaging — your attributes. You probably already know that a figure flattering top can soften your look and draw attention away from your hipline or thighs. What you may not know is that the under-sung superstar of skinny jean accessories is the right pair of shoes. You should sing their praises loud and long. The right shoes do something structurally important after you slide, stuff and cram your way into a pair of skinny jeans. They help create balance. Whether you’re tall and willowy or short and curvaceous, an inspired shoe choice will make skinny jeans look like they’re the right choice for you.

Skinny jeans never stay out of fashion very long, so having a reliable strategy for dealing with the look can save you from walking around in camouflage gear while explaining to your main squeeze that you aren’t wearing sexy jeans because you have a rash — or an allergy to denim — or an irrational fear of rivets (or useless pockets).

Let’s take a look at some shoe styles that rock a pair of skinny jeans. There are bound to be a couple of options you haven’t considered that’ll make you glad you invested in a pedicure.


  1. Best Shoes for Skinny Jeans: Respect Your Figure
  2. Best Shoes for Skinny Jeans: Boots Are Made for Walking
  3. Best Shoes for Skinny Jeans: Heels Make the Difference
  4. Best Shoes for Skinny Jeans: Sporting Athletic Shoes

Best Shoes for Skinny Jeans: Respect Your Figure

Here’s the reality: Women with tall, straight, boyish or "coltish" figures look great in skinny jeans, leggings and just about anything else that benefits from an angular silhouette. Long, lean women were made for skinny jeans. Their minimal curves require less of a balancing act top to bottom. It’s no accident that models are tall and thin. Those clean lines emphasize the clothes because there are fewer figure features to get in the way.

You don’t necessarily have to be rail-thin to wear skinny jeans but it helps. Well, seriously, the look isn’t that unforgiving. To pull it off when you have hips and a bust worthy of lacey undies, you need to create an outline that balances your hips, thighs and bust line. This is usually accomplished with a longer or looser shirt, blouse or jacket (hoodie or sweater).

Another way to create balance is with your shoe choices. Don’t scoff; this really works. Skinny jeans narrow to the ankle in a way that looks like they’re pointing at your feet. The eye is drawn down, down, down until it lands on your tootsies and what you’re wearing on them.

To make your hips less noticeable or deemphasize an ample bust line, use your footwear to advantage. If you’re shorter or fuller, tall boots will balance your more bodacious assets. High heeled pumps will work, too, by making your legs look longer and more sculpted. If you’re tall and slender, a simple shoe like a ballet flat will emphasize your long legs and narrow thighs. Even booties or mid-calf boots will work nicely if your legs are long enough.

These are just a few options. On the next pages, let’s get to the heart and sole of skinny jeans to discover the best way to outfit your feet for this teeny-weenie fashion craze.

The Dollars and Cents of Jeans

Jeans wars are a take-no-prisoners battlefield between competing denim styles. Every year there are new combatants, and the consumer decides the winner. There’s big money at stake, too — and we don’t just mean your wardrobe allowance, either. Jeans are a $50 billion a year industry according to a report on fashion data site EDITD.

Best Shoes for Skinny Jeans: Boots Are Made for Walking

Ankle boots can add glamour to skinny jeans and work best if they're the same color family as your jeans.“Ankle boots can add glamour to skinny jeans and work best if they’re the same color family as your jeans.Danny Martindale/WireImage/Getty Images

If the skinny jean had a sole mate, it would be the boot. From a practical perspective, tight-fitting jeans lose the extra folds of material that can make some boot styles look sloppy or even like an afterthought. They also angle to a nice pair of boots like an advertisement for the crown prince of elaborate footwear. All boots aren’t created equal, though. Boots come in a range of heights, heel lengths and styles, and choosing wisely will balance your shape in skinny jeans and show your legs to the best advantage:

  • Ankle boots – Also called booties, ankle boots can add glamour to skinny jeans. They tend to truncate the leg if they aren’t a monochromatic choice for your outfit. If you’re already tall, that probably won’t be a problem, though. The term ankle boot is a bit of a misnomer here. The tops of these short boots can hit from just above the ankle to four inches or so higher up the leg. The shorter the ankle boot, the less foreshortening its effect will be on a petite or ample figure. Ankle boots with higher heels are somewhat more figure flattering than flat styles, and an uncluttered boot will help create a longer silhouette, too.
  • Mid-length boots – One of the harder boot lengths to wear with most clothing is the mid-calf or mid-length boot. It tends to make a woman’s legs look shorter and emphasize her hips and thighs. For slender, tall women, this can showcase a lean build. If this is you, a slouchy boot with a little extra leather or suede (or a cuff) as part of the styling can look dramatic. For the rest of us, a longer or shorter boot style is usually more flattering.
  • Tall boots – This works with almost any body type and is a natural for balancing a full figure. Tall boots are also slimming and tend to break up the body "shape" emphasis of skinny jeans to focus more on style and less on anatomy. If you’re breathing a sigh of relief, you’re not alone.

There’s another unexpected advantage to wearing skinny jeans with a pair of boots. If your jeans are a bit long in the leg and tend to bunch around your ankles, a boot will cover the extra fabric, so no one will ever know.

Best Shoes for Skinny Jeans: Heels Make the Difference

You can create a longer, straighter and more attractive profile by wearing a high-heeled shoe.“You can create a longer, straighter and more attractive profile by wearing a high-heeled shoe.Elisabetta A. Villa/Getty Images

When you’re trying to look good in skinny jeans, high-heeled shoes are your best friend. They do more than just make you look taller; they also help make your ankles appear thinner, and your calves look more sculpted. One big problem with skinny jeans is that they don’t hide much. If you spend all your time at the gym, this is probably great news. If, however, you prefer quality time at the bakery, the body parts you aren’t so fond of will be front and center. This includes your backside, hips, thighs, calves, ankles – – just about anything from the waist down.

You can create a longer, straighter and more attractive profile by wearing a high-heeled shoe. It doesn’t seem as if a higher heal would make that much difference, but it does. It increases the molded look of your legs and raises your derriere somewhat. It helps improve your posture, too. High heels will also make a slightly dressier statement than a pair of athletic shoes or ballet flats. All these refinements are noticeable in skinny jeans.

The shape and style of the heel you choose is important too. A streamlined shape works best. A bulky shoe tacked onto a severely tapered jean can make your feet look huge. Think circus clown, and you’ve got the idea. From behind, an exaggerated stiletto heal will also tend to emphasize wide hips or heavy thighs.

One popular look pairs a pointy toe with a medium heel. It’s a slimming option that complements almost any figure. Where color and pattern are concerned, keeping your choices neutral will make your legs look longer. If you already have long legs though, skinny jeans are an amazing vehicle for showcasing your high-heeled shoe collection. Whether you like your shoes in bold colors or pastels, a pair of heels will look like jewelry on your feet.

Best Shoes for Skinny Jeans: Sporting Athletic Shoes

Actress Pauley Parette rocks a pair of Converse sneakers with her skinny jeans.“Actress Pauley Parette rocks a pair of Converse sneakers with her skinny jeans.Noel Vasquez/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Athletic shoes and sneakers sound like a natural with skinny jeans, but you’ll run into problems if you just throw on your favorite lace-ups and head out for a day of casual fun. The universe of athletic shoe design can be complex and maybe even a little intimidating. If you’ve ever had to put new shoelaces into a pair of high-tops, you know what we mean.

A big, complicated athletic shoe can be a lot for a pair of tight pants to carry without looking bottom heavy. Add two-toned styles, spangles, puffy padding, or thick soles, and you might as well wear woodland creature-inspired fuzzy slippers on your feet.

When you want to wear an athletic sporting shoe with skinny jeans, less is almost always more. Some enterprising shoe fashion DIYers leave the last two laces on their shoes undone, tuck the loopy bow end under the shoe’s tongue and tidy up the sides to create a minimalist look. If that approach doesn’t sound very comfortable or sturdy to you, these tips will help you pair your sneakers with skinny jeans for a casual and carefree look:

  • Wear shoes with thin soles. There’ll be less bulk to deal with.
  • Look for tinted soles. You’ll lose that white bottom layer for a more streamlined look.
  • Drop the eyelets and laces in favor of slip-on shoes. They’ll still be functional, but look sleek and sassy.
  • Go for a low profile shoe that hugs your foot, especially if your figure can’t be described as willowy or waiflike. That’s most of us, so don’t feel singled out.

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