Last summer, colored skinny jeans were the trend that took everyone by surprise—they were fun, budget-friendly, and easy to wear, not to mention the newest thing in denim in several seasons. For winter, colored jeans evolved into animal prints from snake to leopard to zebra. Now, for spring, denim designers have gone a step further with prints of all kinds. Pretty much anything is on the table—floral, ikat, lace, tie-dye—however there is definitely an art to wearing it. If you have long, thin legs, you can get away with almost anything, but for the rest of us, the key is looking for either an elongated, vertical print and/or a more subtle color scheme. Here are my top picks.
Balmain has been doing printed skinny jeans for several seasons, which gives the label a head start. The print on this pair was achieved by hand with bleach and strategically placed to shape the body, hence their four-figure price tag. One of my favorite parts is the concentration of detail at the knee, giving it a knee-pad effect.
Balenciaga's chevron jeans have a doubly flattering effect in that they layer on a naturally elongating chevron pattern in skinny stripes, further reinforcing the line. I am also a sucker for zip hems, which allow you to adjust the leg opening to your liking.
I can totally see Miu Miu's star-print jeans on Sea of Shoes—the colors and shape seem right up her alley. This is an example of a pair without a natural vertical line, but the scale of the print is balanced enough to still be flattering. You can tell the leg is cut well too, which helps.
Current Elliott has been one of the forerunners in both the colored and animal-print trends, so of course they are killing it with this printed stiletto jean. Somewhere between an ikat and a Native American print, this print has a curved effect that works well with the shape of the leg. I can also attest that Current Elliott jeans fit incredibly well—they're one of my go-to denim brands.
J Brand's 810 twisted twill jeans have a more subtle effect in that the print is a two-tone acid-washed affair, and the shape is J Brand's best-selling 810 cut. And if, like me, the term "acid wash" sends you running, this the pair that's sure to change your mind.
Speaking of things I wore when I was younger, I thought floral-print jeans were something that should stay in the '80s, until I saw this cute pair by Alice + Olivia. The print is definitely a throwback, but the low rise and skinny shape keep them firmly grounded in the current day.
Asos, as you'd imagine, is a fabulous place to find printed skinny jeans at very affordable prices. One of my favorite pairs on the site is this River Island heart-print jean, because the hearts are so subtle—they look like polka dots at first, which are just as fun (if not more so). I also like that these have a more forgiving black background.
These Free People Ikat jeans are similar to the Balmain pair above, in that they have a leg-lengthening chevron pattern, but they're more colorful (though still subtle) and with a summer-friendly cropped length.
I will preface this last entry by saying don't judge, but I have a similar pair of Not Your Daughter's Jeans (mine are python print), and if you can get over the silly name, they really do fit amazingly well. (My tip: buy a size lower than what you normally wear.) This lace print is understated and flattering, and combined with the super-slimming effect, they're the perfect pair for anyone who's hesitant to try the trend. The only downside is that you will immediately want to buy several more.