- Strike a pose
- Rhinestone cowboy
- Watch the waist
- Going gothic
- Rock on
- Knee high
- Perfectly prep
- Acing acid
- West coast casual
- Regal wearer
- Oversized and awesome
- All about overalls
- Mix and match
- Fun with flares
- Dressed-up denim
- Cool and quilted
- Uniquely undone
- Denim queen
- Rugged and well-groomed
- Cooler cuffed
- Red-carpet cool
- Centre stage
- Monochrome magic
- Parisian chic
- A screen dream
- Rocking rust
- Edgy and electric
- Straight-up sex appeal
- Belly baring
- Sporty spice
- Gone wild
- Cool as a cucumber
- Ultimate fashion star
Fashion fads come and go, but donning denim has never gone out of style. Over the years, jeans have experienced a wild sartorial ride. Here are some of the most memorable looks.
Strike a pose
Who says bell-bottoms can’t be dressy? Back in the day, actress Elisabeth Sladen made the casual wear look fancy by pairing the wide-legged jeans with boots and a silk tie. It was a bold look in the ‘70s.
Bedazzled denim is a trend that started in and around 1969 when embroidered pants made an appearance on men at Woodstock. In the decades since, it’s been a shining example of how to style denim for women. American singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn rocked the style in 1975.
Watch the waist
A great way to accentuate the waist when wearing bell-bottom pants? With a rope belt and a pair of clogs. It was one of the most popular ways to style flares in the ‘70s.
Goth glam fashion became a trend in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and denim took its cue from the look by streamlining the pant and cropping it closer to the ankle. Dark eye makeup and hair completed the style, as seen here on English punk rock musician Gaye Advert in 1978.
Rocker chic was and will forever be personified by Debbie Harry and her Levi’s 505 jeans.
A unique way to warm up a denim overalls look? With leg warmers! It’s not a style statement you’d expect, but English actress Leslie Ash made it work in 1979.
This look worn by Kylie Minogue in 1988 received an A+ from millions of people in the ‘80s when denim tailored for the Ivy League became all the rage. Key components of the style included oversized sweaters and tasselled loafers.
Peak ‘80s was epitomized by acid-washed denim. The rocker look donned by Paul McCartney’s stepsister Ruth was transformed into chic clubwear with the help of bold accessories like white heels and gold jewellery.
West coast casual
Drew Barrymore knew how to rock a Canadian tuxedo, and took the look from grunge to California cute with the help of a black cropped top and choker.
Princess Diana wasn’t the first person to wear riding boots over a pair of jeans, but she certainly was one of the first to make it this chic. It was one of the many times she donned denim in her role as a Royal.
Oversized and awesome
Call this denim look whatever you want—oversized, baggy, tough—it was a style that came to symbolize the ‘90s. No one wore it better than TLC, who paired the trend with another look from the decade, tie-dye.
All about overalls
Janet Jackson rocking overalls with a black shirt and ballcap was a unisex look every woman tried to copy in the ‘90s. The singer made the tough look feel feminine with a dab of red lipstick and gold accessories.
Mix and match
Though this pic of Elizabeth Hurley and her sister is from the ‘80s, it showcases some denim styles that are still very much en vogue today—from the acid-washed skirt to the distressed denim. It’s a good example of how to mix and match varying styles with terrific results.
Fun with flares
Sweet and sexy flares made a comeback as we started the new millennium with the help of cropped tops and platform wedges. Jessica Simpson captured the look at a press event.
A popular way to dress up denim in recent decades has been with an off-the-shoulder shirt. It’s an elevated way to wear the Flashdance-inspired upperwear. American singer-songwriter Kelly Levesque made the style even more sophisticated with pointed-toe boots.
Cool and quilted
Patchwork denim paired with a lace corset and a denim beret? This ‘90s look spilled over into the early aughts thanks to style statements like this one by Christina Aguilera. Even the belly chain and tassel necklace scream over-the-top pop.
If anyone could make overalls look different and unique, it was surely Victoria Beckham, known at the time as Posh Spice. She made the trend of leaving denim overalls unbuckled a thing.
We will forever bow down to the queen of the denim tuxedo, Britney Spears. No one rocked it more, better, or more dynamically than she did.
Rugged and well-groomed
There were two ways to wear denim in the ‘50s: rocker and preppy, two styles seen in Happy Days. The Fonz aced the former by pairing his pants with a classic leather jacket, while Richie rocked denim by rolling it at the cuffs.
Rolling the cuffs of jeans was nothing new by the time this shot of actress Stacy Dorning was taken in 1976, but the look went from ranch to real-world with the help of a few preppy accessories: a denim vest, striped socks, and Chuck Taylor high-tops.
The ‘90s were a time when denim was all the red-carpet rage. Donned with Timberland boots, oversized vests, and sweatshirts, it screamed casual chic. B*Witched was able to capture the look perfectly at the 1998 MTV Europe Music Awards.
Bob Marley will forever be the father of the denim tuxedo. It was his go-to look while performing his legendary reggae tunes in concert.
Paul McCartney is a lesson in how to make head-to-toe blue look good: by mixing and matching different shades of the colour together. He is seen here wearing classic denim flares at home with his wife Linda McCartney.
If there was anyone who could make denim look chic and elegant, it was Sophia Loren. She paired dark denim flares with a bright blue shirt and smart accessories to elevate everyday attire to something fit for a night out in Paris.
A screen dream
Teen male heartthrobs in the ‘80s wore two things: boot-cut jeans and an oversized denim jacket. Marty McFly (a.k.a. Michael J. Fox) completed the cool and casual look with a worn pair of Nike kicks and cool aviator glasses.
Denim hasn’t always been blue. Rust-coloured pants were all the rage in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. The look was typically dressed up with dapper accessories like loafers, blazers, and dress shirts.
Edgy and electric
The ultimate way to show you lived a punk-rock lifestyle in the ‘80s was by wearing acid-washed jeans with spiky hair and an oversized jacket or vest to match. Bonus points were given to those who added a studded accessory to their ensemble.
Skateboarding culture dictated much of the fashion styles in the ‘90s. It was a craze embodied by skater pants—extremely oversized denim bell-bottoms that were often paired with sneakers and a wallet chain. It was a look both men and women flocked to.
Straight-up sex appeal
Richard Gere set the standard for sexy denimwear in the ‘70s thanks to his penchant for pairing denim shirts with skinny-legged jeans pre-American Gigolo. The look is considered a beloved classic today.
There was one way to show your masculine side in the ‘70s and ‘80s: by wearing tighter-than-tight denim shirts that were undone to the navel. It was very “James Bond,” and no one wore the look better than James Caan.
Fun and playful, Farrah Fawcett proved bell-bottoms could be worn in a variety of ways, including for sport. Here she rocked the pant style with a pair of Nikes and a red sweater.
Kevin Bacon kept his ‘80s go-to look fancy and Footloose by pairing a classic pair of Levi’s with a ribbed white tank top. Costume designers reportedly sought to highlight his assets by cinching the jeans at the waist.
Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson showed the world how to make head-to-toe denim seem sexy in the western hit Giant. It was a style many rocked after the hit movie’s 1956 release.
Cool as a cucumber
James Dean, the ultimate rebel, showing off some of his best assets. He was the first gent to make rocking denim look so sophisticated.
Ultimate fashion star
Céline Dion has become one of the brightest fashion stars of the 21st century, and this pic proves why. There is no one who could rock so many trends in one place (like high-waisted jeans) and make it all look good.