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Since their extreme trendiness in the mid-aughts, skinnies have had a long run in fashion. Reports of their expected exit from popular fashion began to emerge almost a decade ago, and yet, they’re still here, with loyalists holding a tight grip on what they feel is the most flattering style and designers indulging them with a crop of styles on offer at any given time.
Confusingly, with Gen Z’s coming of age, a generational debate has followed and, in some sense, relegated skinny jeans, along with side parts and the laughing emoji, as somewhat passé. (Gen Z is said to favor shapeless “mom jeans” and center parts.) And yet, the numbers don’t lie: according to recent data from the NPD Group, skinny jeans are still quite popular among women, accounting for 30 percent of jeans sales in 2021—almost as much as straight-leg jeans, which took a 33 percent stake.
“They are a style that will stick around forever,” concedes celebrity stylist Tyler Minor. “People who stay true to the skinny jean know it’s a fit that will complement their body type the best.”
Ahead, discover Byrdie’s list of the best black skinny jeans available now, along with styling advice from Minor.
Meet the Expert
Tyler Minor is a Nashville-based celebrity stylist. His clients have included Jesse James Decker and Trisha Yearwood.
Best Overall: Levi’s 501 Skinny Jean in Black Licorice
As alluded to earlier, straight-leg (also known as the mom jean) is a popular silhouette right now, especially Levi’s 501 version. However, the brand also makes a skinny version, which is a bit of a hybrid of a true skinny and straight-leg style. Per Minor’s suggestion, the style is perfect if you want to get in on the most current denim trend without wholly abandoning the skinny style. Coming in at just under $100, it’s also reasonably priced.
Size Range: 23-32 | Composition: 100% cotton
Best Budget: Everlane The Way-High Clean Front Skinny Jean in Black
Leave it to Everlane to deliver designer quality at affordable prices. The Way-High style is a quintessential, high-waisted pair of skinny jeans. It’s designed to feel like leggings and look like a pair of jeans, for the best of both worlds.
Size Range: 23-33 | Composition: 37% organic cotton, 25% viscose, 21% recycled polyester, 14% modal, 3% elastane
Best Straight Skinny: Paige Hoxton Ankle Jeans in Black Shadow
For a modern skinny from one of fashion’s beloved denim brands, there’s the Hoxton Straight style from Paige. It offers a high rise and more relaxed silhouette from the knees down, compared to its ultra-skinny sister.
Size Range: 23-34 | Composition: 54% rayon, 23% cotton, 22% polyester, 1% spandex
Best High-Rise: Reformation Harper High Rise Skinny Jeans in Black
Take your love of skinnies to new heights with this high-waisted pair from Reformation. It’s tight-fitting throughout, thanks to super stretchy denim that molds to the body and thus conjures the appearance of long legs, according to the brand.
Size Range: 23-31 | Composition: 57% organic cotton, 37% TENCEL™, 4% polyester, 2% elastane
Best Mid-Rise: Rag & Bone Cate Mid-Rise Skinny Jeans in Black
The most versatile rise is a compromise between high and low. Minor says the mid-rise on this particular style from Rag & Bone, combined with its finished hem and solid black wash, will serve you well on most occasions.
Size Range: 23-34 | Composition: 43% viscose, 33% cotton, 17% TENCEL™, 5% polyester, 2% elastane
Best Size Range: Universal Standard Seine High Rise Skinny Jeans in Black
Universal Standard doesn’t leave anyone out. The brand aims for its Seine style to be anything you want: it comes in a mid or high rise, and a regular, tall, petite, or ankle zip construction. Sizing is also very inclusive, accommodating shapes from 00 to 40.
Size Range: 00-40 | Composition: 73% cotton, 23% polyester, 4% elastane
Most Comfortable: Lee Ultra Lux Comfort Waistband Skinny Jeans in Black
These Lee jeans lead with comfort, reviewers say. They feature a soft, jersey waistband, a knit lining, and a four-way stretch material, so you feel like you’re wearing your favorite pair of leggings. To accommodate a wide range of shoppers, this style comes in short, average, and tall sizes.
Size Range: 6-18 | Composition: 83% cotton, 14% polyester, 3% spandex
Best Distressed: Good American Good Legs Crop Raw Step Hem in Black
If you’re partial to ripped denim, you’re likely to love this style from Good American. It’s from the brand’s best-selling category and features rips at the knees and a cropped, unfinished step hem for a more edgy approach to classic black skinnies.
Size Range: 23-31 | Composition: 98.5% organic cotton, 1.5% elastane
Best Cropped: RE/DONE 90s Mid-Rise Cropped Jeans in Black
Let your shoes be the focal point in a simple, cropped skinny style, like this one from circular denim brand RE/DONE. They’re cut for a mid-rise and straight skinny fit, so they offer some room from the knees down. Best of all, they’re cropped, so they’ll do well to let your ankles breathe and, of course, show off your favorite statement shoes. (Minor recommends chunky platform sandals.)
Size Range: 00-24 | Composition: 77% cotton, 22% lyocell, 1% elastane
Best Sustainable: AGOLDE Pinch Waist High-Rise Skinny Jeans in Black
Crafted from a strategic blend of materials for just a hint of stretch, this skinny jean style is everything you could want in a high-rise silhouette that’s sustainably made. The brand is known to recycle a percentage of the way they use in the manufacturing process and opt for recycled materials whenever possible.
Size Range: 24-32 | Composition: 96% organic cotton, 3% polyester, 1% elastane
Best Stretchy: Frame Le High Skinny in Film Noir
This Frame style is so beloved for its super stretchy material. It makes for a glove-like fit—a requirement for classic skinnies—and sits at the small of the waist for a high rise. The solid black wash invokes the ‘70s, rock-n-roll vibe, while the faded black style evokes Kate Moss in the mid-aughts.
Size Range: 23-34 | Composition: 76% cotton, 15% modal, 6% polyester, 3% elastane
What to Look for in Black Skinny Jeans
Minor assures that making skinny jeans feel more current can be easy. His general advice: “Stay clear of the cigarette fit and opt for a more straight skinny,” a balance between true skinny jeans and the more on-trend straight-leg style, as referenced above. Though, if you’re going for a true skinny fit, you’ll want to be sure these fit like a glove—not too tight, not too loose, as saggy skinnies are essentially counterintuitive.
The type of fabric used to craft your pair of jeans also plays a role in their fit and feel. For example, all-cotton styles are stiff, with no stretch, while jeans that have even the smallest percentage of elastane will be more forgiving. Synthetic fibers, like polyester, are moisture-wicking compared to cotton; though, they’re generally not the most sustainable unless they’re made from recycled materials. One exception to this case would be TENCEL or equivalent lyocell, which is made from wood pulp and often traceable.
What are skinny jeans?
Skinny jeans are the most fitted style on the market. Similar to the fit of a pair of leggings, they hug the body from top to bottom.
What do you wear with black skinny jeans?
Black skinny jeans are incredibly versatile and can be worn with everything from a simple white T-shirt and sneakers to a structured blazer and pumps; Byrdie's favorite pairing is actually with knee-high boots. Though, if you’re lacking imagination for the warm weather seasons, Minor recommends pairing straight skinny jeans with strappy sandals and a crop top, which can be layered under an oversized jacket in more temperate weather.
Why Trust Byrdie
Hayley Prokos is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor focused on fashion and lifestyle. She contributes regularly to Byrdie’s commerce section and has a passion for sourcing chic and practical pieces with long-term wearability. After hours of researching, she’s gathered enough insight to determine which black skinny jeans are worth buying right now.