Differences Between Bootcut & Straight Leg Jeans

Finding the right pair of jeans can be frustrating and daunting. With so many brands, styles and colors to choose from, it can be hard to even begin to choose. While fads like bell bottoms and skinny jeans eventually come and go, two styles that have endured the test of time for both men and women are bootcut and straight-leg jeans. Which right classic is for you depends on your height, body shape and shoe collection.

Close-up of boot cut and straight leg jeans. (Image: David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The Cut

Bootcut and straight-leg jeans are cut differently. (Image: Goodshoot RF/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

The main difference between bootcut and straight-leg jeans lies in the cut of the fabric. Bootcut jeans are slightly tapered in the thigh area and widen from the knee to the hem. Straight-leg jeans, on the other hand, essentially remain the same width the entire way down the leg, from thigh to ankle, so they fit more snug around the thigh than they do around the knees and calves.


Shorten or lengthen your legs with the cut of jeans you choose. (Image: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

While you can wear either of these two classic styles regardless of your stature, you may find you prefer one look over the other based on your height or the length of your legs. Straight-leg jeans create the illusion of having longer legs for women or men who want to appear taller, while their bootcut counterparts do the opposite, breaking up leg length for anyone wanting to minimize their height.

Body Shape

Choose the cut that is right for your body shape. (Image: Janie Airey/Lifesize/Getty Images)

When it comes to body shape and size, there are definite differences in the fit of bootcut versus straight-leg jeans. Bootcut jeans tend to be more flattering on well-endowed women, with the extra width at the bottom balancing out the top, and on women and men who are larger in the hip and thigh area thanks to the forgiving wider hems minimizing the difference between the thigh and ankle width. Because the straight-leg cut hugs the figure a bit more closely, it tends to favor those who have narrower hips and thighs.

The Shoes

The shoes make the jeans. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

You might not think the shoes you wear with a specific type of jean matter, but they can actually make or break your entire look. Bootcut jeans are made for just that -- wearing boots or other chunky shoes, like wedges. Chucks, high heels or long, lean boots made to wear over your pants enhance the look of straight-leg jeans.

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