Move Over Mum Jeans: The Hottest Denim Trends to Watch for in 2021

Jeans are a staple of everyone’s wardrobe and that’s not likely to change any time soon. Denim is the one wardrobe essential that’s pretty much guaranteed not to go out of style.

What does change every season is the style of denim that’s currently on-trend. Mum jeans, cropped denim jackets, and denim overalls all had their moments in 2020.

Will these trends continue into AW 2021? If the runways were any indication, some brand new looks and some familiar ones will be quite popular.

These are the hottest denim trends of 2021.

Distressed Denim

Ripped jeans, fashionably ripped, of course, are back in for 2021. Jeans with giant frayed holes, jeans with small perfectly frayed rips, jeans with worn thin spots even though they’re brand new.

Basically, if your jeans look like you’ve had them for 15 years and worn them during some extreme activity, they’re trendy in 2021.

To save some cash, you can artfully distress a pair of jeans you already own. Or if designer jeans are your thing, you can pay for jeans that have been professionally distressed. 


To go along with the resurgence of distressed jeans, patches are a new trend in 2021. So your wardrobe can include jeans that have holes on purpose and jeans that have patches over holes instead.

On the runway, designers showcased patches in a lot of ways.

Some went full-on patchwork, creating jeans out of several swatches of differently colored denim. Others opted for subtle patches a shade or two off from the rest of the jeans with intricate stitching. Brightly colored patches were also seen all over the runway.

If you’re looking to make a bold statement in 2021, definitely try out the patchwork jeans trend. If you want to try patched jeans in a more understated way, opt for some jeans with small patches over typically ripped areas like the knees, thighs, and back pockets. 

For DIY types, get creative and add some patches to a pair of jeans you already own. 

Pleated Jeans

The new hot style for 2021 is pleated jeans. These jeans have distinctive pleats on the front, usually right below the waistline.

Some designers kept the pleats simple with just a couple with indistinct stitches. Other designers opted for intricately stitched patterns on their pleats.

No matter how the pleats are presented, the effect is the same: a cinched waist look that flatters any body type. Most of these pleated jeans are high-waisted, so the pleats draw attention to the contrast between the waist and the hips. 

Many of the pleated jeans on the runways also had a wider leg. Paired with the high-waist, these pleated jeans screamed chic vintage, which is another hot trend for 2021. 

Pleats were also seen on more modern jean cuts like skinny jeans. So no matter what kind of jeans you like to wear, you’ll be able to find pleated ones you love. 

Pleated jeans pair perfectly with a t-shirt or blouse that you can tuck in so the details on the pleats can be seen.

Wide-Leg Jeans

Remember those JNCO jeans that all the goth and raver kids wore when you were in high school? Don’t worry, those aren’t the wide-leg jeans that are coming back in 2021. Thank God.

But wide-leg jeans are a major denim trend for 2021. The wide-leg jeans that dominated the runway all had a very tailored look to them, like wide-leg pants. Most designers paired the wide-leg with a high-waist, making these jeans the ultimate in style and comfort. 

Wide-leg jeans are also flattering for any body type because they create their own lines rather than hugging the lines of the body. You can look taller and sleeker in a well-tailored pair of wide-leg jeans.

Bootcut Jeans

If you’ve been disappointed that your skinny jeans don’t quite work with your favourite pair of boots, then you’ll be happy to know that bootcut jeans are coming back. These jeans have a slight flare from the calf down, which means that they fall elegantly over any pair of boots. 

The flare of bootcut jeans is also perfect for women whose calves just cannot be comfortably contained by skinny jeans. Looking at you, Crossfit babes.

Vintage Denim

The hot aesthetic in 2021 can be described as “thrift store”. Not a la Macklemore in 2012; a la that chick you see at the farmer’s market every weekend. 

Look for denim that looks like it’s already been worn in. We’re talking faded, light washes. There was even some acid-wash on the runway this season. 

The point is if the denim looks like your parents wore it to an Aerosmith concert in the ’80s, it’s the perfect look for 2021.

Skinny Jeans

Skinny jeans aren’t going anywhere this season (much to the disgust of teenagers on Tik tok). Skinny jeans are one of the longest-lasting trends in modern denim, and it doesn’t look like these jeans are fading off the scene any time soon (So there, Gen Z’ers!).

Why? Because they create the perfect silhouette, and they pair with just about any shoe, top, or accessory.

In 2021, high-waisted skinny jeans will rule the scene. They’re perfect for tucking in a blouse, pairing with a crop top, or creating a smooth silhouette under a graphic tee. 

Which 2021 Denim Trends Work for You?

Which of these 2021 denim trends should you try out? The great thing about all the 2021 trends is that they work for pretty much anyone.

Looking for comfort and style? Wide-leg jeans.

Tired of skinny jeans? Go for a bootcut. Especially in winter, styled with a heeled ankle boot.

Have a pair of jeans you almost donated to charity because they’re kind of trashed? Embrace the distressed look or add some patches.

AW promises some superb denim styles, so try out whatever speaks to you. You’re sure to rock it.

For more style tips, check out the Fashion section of our site.

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