There wasn’t enough money in the world to have stopped 18-year-old me from wearing a denim mini skirt year-round: tights and Uggs (I know, call yourself a fashion editor) made them winter-appropriate (ish), then sandals and T-shirts worked for the summer months. I loved them. So when I saw denim skirts cropping up in my favourite high street stores for the new season, it was giving nostalgia. I was thrilled.
The denim skirt has had a grown-up makeover for 2023. The lengths are longer (mid-calf or maxi), the shades are darker, and the overall vibe is clean. No rips, bleach wash or raw hems around here.
Of course, I was first in line to buy one, but I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t expecting it to be as tricky as it was considering they’re *everywhere*.
The thing with the denim skirt is that it’s just as tricky as finding great jeans, and we all know the slog that can be. Rigid denim is the go-to for skirts as it looks more modern and classic than a stretchy style, but anyone with an even slightly curvy shape can attest to the fact that the no-stretch factor makes the hunt even harder.
The best denim skirts on the high street in 2023
I started in COS. I spotted the perfect denim midi online but knew I’d need to try it on to be sure, so I headed in-store. I’m typically a size 12 in every brand (including COS), but reader, I had to buy a size 16 in this skirt so that it fitted nicely! I know you’ve all heard me waxing lyrical on buying clothes that fit rather than worrying about the size, and this piece is the perfect case-in-point.
We all know that niggly feeling when jeans dig into your stomach when you’re sat down so I made sure to sit and bend over in the changing room to check the fit. I also find with skirts that having wider hips means the flare of the shape then comes out quite wide, so I looked for a slim-fit style to begin with to lessen the risk factor.
Jeans are easiest to buy when you can create your perfect waist and leg length combination, but denim skirts come in standard sizing. One woman’s midi is another woman’s maxi, so bear this in mind. If you’re shopping online, always check how tall the model is and the actual skirt measurements so you can get a good idea of where it’ll fall on you.
The plus side is that while you must consider low, regular or high waists with jeans, you can have your skirt sit wherever it’s most comfortable, since saggy bums aren’t a factor.
I tried on a few others – Stradivarius had the best runner-up – but the polished, simple feel of the COS one meant it could work for the office, too.
How to style a denim midi or maxi skirt
Thankfully, my personal style has evolved since the last time denim skirts were A Thing, and I’ve found three outfit formulas that they work really well in.
It’s worth nothing that the skirt silhouette is rather boxy (in comparison to jeans, which will likely nip in at some point down your legs), so balancing your top half is key.
With a tank top and chunky sandals
Putting together a killer outfit doesn’t need to be stressful, you don’t need to overthink it. A plain white tank and some chunky sandals are one of the best ways to style a denim maxi when the weather’s hot.
With a knitted vest and trainers
This is the perfect outfit example for swapping your go-to jeans for a denim skirt and wearing it in exactly the same way. Knitted vests are perfect for fighting the late-night chill on a summer evening in a pub garden, and they’ll look great against the casual denim midi.
For a cool ’90s look, I’d recommend pairing it with chunky trainer styles like these New Balance 550s. Or, if you want something a little more clean and simple, go for sleek styles like Veja V-10s or Adidas Sambas or Gazelles.
With loafers and a striped knit
This smart-casual pairing is ideal if you work in a creative or casual environment. It’s polished yet relaxed, but be sure to choose the most elevated denim skirt you can find if this look is your vibe. Go for mid or dark denim and a long length for the chicest look.
For now, pair with chunky loafers and socks, but come warmer months, a backless pair and a cotton striped top are ideal.
With knee-high boots and a shirt
First up is the knee-high boots and shirt pairing. The easiest way to wear a denim skirt is to replace your jeans for it in any jeans look, which is why I love pairing with boots because I typically wouldn’t wear those with jeans, offering another outfit to my workwear rotation.
I wear my Skims under any skirt, and actually, they’re so useful for tucking shirts into so that you don’t end up with that unsightly bunching around your waistband. Shapewear will smooth that out and your denim skirt will sit nicely on top.