A Definitive Guide to All the Different Denim Lengths

Shopping for jeans (including the right jean length) is one of the greatest banes of my existence. OK, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but I know you’ve been there before, too: lobbing eight pairs of denim over your shoulder, marching to the dressing room only to find that surprise! none of them fit; seeing the price tags and breaking into a cold sweat which only makes trying on your next pair more difficult; having a moment of impending doom after you squeeze into a pair, only to panic and wonder how the hell you’re going to get them off.

On the other hand, one of my greatest joys in life is finding a pair that fit like a glove, squeeze me lovingly in all of the right places, and become an automatic grab for just about any occasion that I need to wear pants.

With the basic guideline that you should probably be able to comfortably zip or button up the jeans comes the other style-based guidelines of how exactly different styles of jeans are supposed to fit. Add the struggle of not being able to try jeans on in-store and I’m sure a lot of us would agree—finding the right denin fit can be a bit overwhelming. So let’s start with the basics: jean length. From inseams to cropped to ankle to regular-length, we’re covering it all so that your next adventure to find your favorite pair of jeans can be that much easier.


The importance of inseams

First of all, let’s talk inseam. Inseam is our friend. Basically, the inseam is measured from the bottom of your zipper (your crotch, if you will) to the opening of your pant leg. When it comes to figuring out where you want the bottom of your jeans to hit on your leg, this measurement is the key to success. You can either measure it on yourself or measure a pair of pants that you already have that fit like a glove.

The denim experts at Nordstrom break jean lengths down into four groups: cropped, ankle, regular-length, and tall. After you measure your inseam in inches, the world of denim is your oyster.



Inseam length: 26″

Where they hit: Between the mid-calf and ankle

Cropped jeans are the perfect summer staple and one that we reach for time and time again. They are basically a fancy rebrand of the original Capri jean fit yet are somehow a bit elevated. They’re a bit shorter than ankle jeans and usually hit one to two inches above the ankle. Wear them with strappy sandals, mules, or sneaks for the perfect casual look.



Inseam length: 27″-29″

Where they hit: Slightly above the ankle

Ankle jeans are most typically designed to fall at the ankle or just above. They’re super versatile and great for year-round wear. With a fit flattering for all seasons and the ability to wear just about any type of shoe with it, having a sold pair of ankle jeans in your wardrobe is an absolute must.



Inseam length: 30″-31″

Where they hit: Below the ankle, right before your foot begins

If you’re looking for jeans that’ll cover part of your shoe and ankle (hello, trendsetter), regular-length jeans have your name all over them. Rock them with sneaks, heels, combat boots, and beyond for a low-effort, on-trend look that’ll bring your inner-’90s self to the forefront.



Inseam length: 32″ or longer

Where they hit: Below the ankle, right before your foot begins

Tall goddesses among us, if you’re not into cropped jeans, you know the struggle of finding denim long enough to feel like they’re ankle or regular-length. Thankfully, a lot of awesome brands have tall jean options so that your denim can fit just the way that you want them to. On the other hand, if you have not-so-long legs, you can opt for tall jeans with a pair of heels to achieve a more elongated look. 

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