Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: What to Do With All Your Skinny Jeans

It’s an arts-and-crafts party in your pants!


If your ankles want to breathe but your drawers are full of pants that hug your leg from hip to heel then you can join me over here. Dainty denim ankle holes haven’t felt novel in a while and I’m as listless as a sloth on a temperate roof.

Maybe our ankles want some air because it’s warming up and they’re hankering to flirt with a capacious flare or a revealing capri. But deep down? I think they’ve been miffed since 2004 when we pulled on our first pair of calf-suffocating skinny jeans.

Now it’s 12 years later and we have just as many pairs stacked in our closets and they’re feeling like real bores. Sure, we could sell them, but maybe we’re a little nostalgic. Or a little hoarder-ish. Or we can’t bear to part with our favorite worn-in pair.

So today, we’re in search of a way to make them feel fresh, and I’ve got three ideas to breathe a little life into this near-morbid trend.

1. Celebrate them.


Zara jeans, Reformation top, Brother Vellies shoes, Gentle Monster sunglasses — another green cat eye here, Rebecca de Ravenel earrings, thrifted rainbow scarf

This is the skinny jeans equivalent of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” So fine, the ankle corsets will do little for our aforementioned shortness of breath, but what other pant would so humbly corporate inside a lace-up sandal? NONE!

Lacking the right lace-up? A bandana around the ankle never hurt anybody.

2. Disguise them.


Zara jeans, Reformation shirt dress, Trademark shoes, Arme De L’Amour gold cuff and SheBee skinny cuff, Christie Nicolaides earrings, MAC lipstick in “Ruby Woo”

Hypothesis: skinny jeans are the new under-layer staple of 2016, not unlike the cotton BP tank top of 2006. Control: Your skinny jeans. Variables: A shirt dress, slip, tunic or nightgown. Results: Your pants’ unassuming taper will fit under all of them like a lovable body part. That’s how desperate they are to stay in your closet.

Also: I don’t remember the scientific method.

3. Transform them.


Refurbished jeans (Madewell jeans with Levi’s jeans elements sewn on), Zara top, Repetto shoes, Gentle Monster glasses

Take a leap and make them into a new pair of pants completely. Sew the butt pockets to your hips for easy trinket-storage, cut the hems up like a cat attacked you or snip a couple inches off the front of them and let your ankles inhale that sweet almost-summer air.

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.


Get more Fashion ?
  • Love the third option!! I like the little splits on the bottom the most 🙂 I often make them myself in my jeans!
    I’ve just posted an article on my blog about the ultimate cure for dry hands.
    Interested? Check it out 🙂

    X Roos

  • Two and 3 are definitely my favorites. Those refurbished jeans are very Vetemets ;P

    • Haley Nahman


  • I was going to try and cut an older pair into a cropped length and then pull strands to make a raw edge. I feel like it’s either going to turn out really well or quite terribly, but fingers crossed for the former haha.

    • Haley Nahman

      That’s a really good idea. Get a seam ripper if you don’t have one!

    • Elizabeth Tamkin

      What you can do is cut with sharp scissors and then stretch the bottom like a rubber band really fast — they fray quite nicely!

  • Loving the last look! I’ve been on a real DIY kick lately so this could be a new project.

    • Renee Tucker

      tfg563. when. i. looked. at. the. figure. of. 6899. d .Than. I. have. no. other. choice. but. to. accept. , what. i. saw. .mi. They. have. been. doing. this. for. a. year. and. get. ride. of. their. debts. Yesterday they purchased new Aston Martin .

      Learn Details

  • I still love my skinny jeans, I think they stopped being a trend and became a classic years ago. With my body type it’s hard to pull off other cuts so for me they’re the most flattering.

    • Inkygrl

      Agreed. Skinny jeans are the only cut that really suits my body type, that is, make me look like I have any ass at all. So what will I do with all the skinny jeans in my closet? Wear them!

      • Romina

        Right, like I said in a previous post, people should´t stop or be persuaded not to use something just because is no longer “in”, flared jeans will be out in two summers or less like they were “out” before, as all the other trends…

    • Mariana


    • Anna Kalmbach

      Agreed. Outside of the “fashion world” they’re a staple!

  • Catalina

    Looks 1 & 2 are so so so great! I think I’m going to have to cop some Brother Vellies shoes for summer, you’ve made the case.

    • Haley Nahman

      They are so comfy!!

  • libs

    I can’t bring myself to embrace the jeans-under-dresses look; it’s still a little too reminiscent of what I wore as a kid, pulling jeans or leggings under the dresses I was outgrowing too quickly. It looks cool when I see other people wearing it but I can’t bring myself to feel comfortable in it … One day!!! Maybe. Instead I’ve just cut the ends of my jeans so they are ragged and the manager of the cafe where I work asks me every day if they got caught in my bike chains. No, dude, it’s fashion.

    • Haley Nahman

      Omg I love dad jokes about distressed denim.

  • I haven’t gone full jeans-under-dress yet, but I HAVE tried and loved the ponte pants-under-dress tactic and it’s my new favourite thing. Especially since said pants have ankle zips so I never have to choose between hacking them with a seam ripper or keeping them claustrophilic. Anyway, Haley you look so rad!

    • Haley Nahman

      Ankle zips under dress sounds vvv cool

    • Mariana

      Wait! Jeans-under-dress is a thing in fashion today?? I was obsessed with that look years ago, didn’t know that that trend is alive again!

  • KinksCurlsandLOVE

    I would love to see these pieces in motion!

  • Mercedes Ayala

    Hi stylish, gorgeous stranger. All your posts have been absolutely amazing thus far, your hair looks great short, and all of the styling here is making me really really jealous bb girl. I can’t wait to see more! The cut hem of the last pair is v fresh and different from all the ideas I’ve seen, I’m definitely going to give it a go.

    • Mercedes Ayala

      side note – I know you do this too. You’re getting saved into my outfits folder. It’s an honor, trust me 😉

      • Haley Nahman

        OMG. #honored

  • Vanessa

    3 definitely. Got the european skinny jeans mountain here in my home. Thanks for that situation go largely to my 3 little teenage trinkets. I have already shown this article to my middle trinket and she’s game. Merci Man Repeller
    ave added another option for your viewing pleasure; Black skinny jeans.

  • 2 and 3 for sure — thanks ladies.

  • Isla

    I always recycle my jeans. Last year I bleached and distressed a pair of grey HM jeans. Turned out really well! I am also obsessed with making cutoffs out of old jeans every summer! The only trend I don’t like is the shorter front hem which is because it’s everywhere on instagram now! But I love the idea of taking back pockets and sewing them elsewhere! Overall, great article!:)

  • Damn, I knew I should have gotten those Trademark pom pom pajama sandals. Still swooning over them months later.

  • Kseniia Korotaieva

    You never looked better, Haley, fantastic job with styling!