Slim Fit vs. Skinny Fit Jeans: Which is Best for You?


It all comes down to tightness.

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I’ve long been a big fan of skinny jeans—I think they look great! But I’ve been experimenting with looser styles recently and my most recent denim purchase was a pair of slim-fit jeans.

At first, the difference felt enormous: I actually had space between my legs and the denim! But after getting over the initial unfamiliarity of the looser jeans, I realized that the two styles are closer than I thought.

If you’re also considering a pair of these pants, here is all you need to know about the difference between slim fit and skinny fit jeans and pants.

What’s the Difference Between Slim Fit and Skinny Fit?

The biggest difference is between slim fit and skinny fit jeans is that skinny fit jeans stretch around your legs and taper at the ankle, while slim fit jeans leave a small amount of room between the denim and your legs. The result is that skinny fit jeans are tighter than slim fit jeans.

The image below shows a clear example of the difference. You can clearly see that the skinny-fit jeans stretch around my legs while there is no stretch in the slim jeans. The slim fit jeans do still follow the silhouette of my legs by narrowing in towards my ankles, however.

Skinny jeans vs slim jeans front
The Brdwlk

But that’s not the only difference. Skinny fit jeans are typically made from stretchy material. The denim is blended with a stretchy synthetic fiber like elastane to add some stretch. This helps them fit close to your legs without being uncomfortable.

Some slim-fit jeans have added stretchy fiber too. But its there to add to comfort rather than to help the jeans stretch around your legs. And many slim jeans will forgo this extra material and be 100% cotton.

Are Skinny Jeans Tighter Than Slim Fit?

Yes, skinny-fit jeans are tighter than slim-fit jeans. Skinny jeans will typically stretch around your legs while slim-fit jeans leave some space.

One of the biggest areas where you’ll notice this is around the crotch. Skinny jeans tend to be cut with less room in this area so it feels much tighter. Slim jeans will often be more forgiving here and leave a bit more to the imagination.

Skinny jeans vs slim jeans back
The Brdwlk

You’ll also notice that skinny jeans are much tighter around your calves than slim jeans. Read more about how to wear skinny jeans here.

Are Skinny Jeans More Uncomfortable than Slim Jeans?

It’s easy to see how the tightness of skinny jeans could make them uncomfortable. But this usually isn’t the case, at least in my experience. Because skinny jeans are very stretchy, they are actually super comfortable. Wearing a pair isn’t as restrictive as you might think.

Think about how athletes often wear tight leggings. Rather than restricting movement, the close fit and stretchiness of the materials actually improve performance.

That’s not to say that slim-fit jeans are uncomfortable. In fact, they can be very comfortable. Just not necessarily any more so than skinny-fit jeans.

Slim Fit vs. Skinny Fit vs. Tapered

Tapered is just a term that refers to the jeans or pants getting slimmer as they go down your leg. All skinny jeans are tapered to some extent as they follow the curvature of your body.

Slim-fit jeans are often tapered too, just not quite as much as skinny jeans. You can also buy slim fit jeans that are straight, however.

One of the benefits of tapered jeans is that they clearly show off your footwear. Jeans that are tapered cover almost none of your shoes or sneakers. This is especially pronounced with skinny jeans, where the tightness means they often lie above the ankle.

It’s also possible for wider fits of pants and jeans to be tapered. A pair of jeans could start off loose around the waist before tapering in towards the foot. A good example of this is a pair of sweatpants that is loose around the thighs but tight at the ankle.

The opposite of slim and skinny fit jeans are baggy jeans. These are loose jeans that don’t follow the shape of your legs at all. Discover how to wear wide-fitting denim here.

So, Which Should You Buy: Skinny Fit or Slim Fit Jeans?

Ultimately, the choice comes down to your preference. If you want jeans or pants that fit as close to your body as possible, then go with a skinny fit. If you want jeans that still offer a slim silhouette but don’t cling to your legs, then go with slim fit.

Skinny Fit Examples

Gray bomber jacket black jeans shirt
Black Denim Jacket Check Shirt Skinny Jeans Jeans
Distressed Jeans Leather Jacket
Navy Sweater Beige Jacket Blue Jeans
Layered oversized shirt
Navy Sweater Black Denim Jacket Indigo Jeans

Slim Fit Examples

Blue gilet white trousers
Bomber jacket boots and raw denim
Flannel shirt dark jeans

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Duncan Elder

Duncan is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Boardwalk. He's a menswear writer who has spent the last 15 years developing his own sense of style, which lies at the cross-section of mid-noughties indie and Uniqlo-inspired minimalism.

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