Cigarette jeans are making a comeback in women’s fashion. But what exactly are cigarette jeans, and how do they differ from other types of jeans?
What Are Cigarette Jeans?
Cigarette jeans are slim cut jeans that are tapered from the knee down to the hem, creating a narrow, cigarette-like shape on the lower leg. They have a close fit through the hip and thigh, but aren’t as tight as skinny jeans. From the knee down, they are narrow and fitted.
The tapered leg gives cigarette jeans a sleek, polished look. The narrow leg opening hits at or just above the ankle, keeping the look streamlined. Cigarette jeans are versatile – they can be dressed up or down effortlessly.
Key Features of Cigarette Jeans:
- Slim through hip and thigh
- Tapered from knee to hem
- Narrow leg opening, usually around 12 inches
- Cropped to hit at ankle bone or just above
- Sleek, slim silhouette
Comparing Cigarette Jeans to Straight Leg Jeans
Straight leg jeans have an even width from hip to hem, with no tapering. While cigarette jeans are slim through the hip and thigh, straight leg jeans have a looser, relaxed fit in those areas.
Straight leg jeans can be cropped, ankle length or full length. Cigarette jeans hit at or just above the ankle. The tapered leg of cigarette jeans creates a more fitted look than classic straight leg jeans.
How Cigarette Jeans Differ from Skinny Jeans
While cigarette jeans have a slim leg, they aren’t as fitted as skinny jeans. Skinny jeans cling to your legs all the way from hip to ankle. Cigarette jeans have a bit more room through the hip and thigh.
The main difference is in the leg. Skinny jeans are tight through the entire leg, while cigarette jeans taper from the knee down, creating a narrower leg opening.
So in summary:
- Cigarette jeans: slim through hip/thigh, taper below knee
- Straight leg jeans: even width from hip to hem
Cigarette jeans offer a slim silhouette with a bit more comfort and flexibility than skinny jeans. The tapered leg is flattering and elongates the leg line.
Why Cigarette Jeans Flatter Just About Everyone
Cigarette jeans have an almost universally flattering fit. The slim thighs create a smooth silhouette, while the straight leg balances proportions and adds length. Here’s who can benefit from this versatile style:
- Petite frames – The slim, ankle-grazing cut makes legs look longer on shorter frames. Cropped cigarettes have the same effect.
- Curvy figures – The contoured waist and thighs show off curves in a subtle way. The straight leg balances fuller hips and prevents gapping at the ankle.
- Athletic builds – The tailored fit flatters athletic legs without hugging too tightly. The straight leg has room through the calf for muscle.
- Straight body types – Cigarette jeans add subtle curves while the straight leg keeps the silhouette lean rather than bulky.
- Mature women – The classic silhouette is flattering and youthful for women of all ages. The straight leg opening is comfortable for aging knees and calves.
Truly, cigarette jeans are one of the most universally flattering denim styles around.
How to Wear Cigarette Jeans
One reason cigarette jeans have remained popular is their versatility. Here are some tips for wearing cigarette jeans stylishly:
Dress Them Up
Cigarette jeans easily transition from day to night. Tuck in a silky cami or satiny tank and add heels for an evening out. A cropped leather jacket dresses them up as well.
Balance the Slim Cut
The slim silhouette of cigarette jeans looks great balanced with looser or oversized pieces on top. Try them with an airy blouse, relaxed tee or slouchy knit sweater.
Show Some Ankle
Since cigarette jeans are cropped, they’re perfect for showing off a hint of ankle. Pair them with flats, low heels or strappy sandals.
Cuffing the hem adds another styling dimension to cigarette jeans. Cuff them once or twice to highlight shoes or boots.
Wearing cigarette jeans in a solid, dark wash makes elongating the leg line easy. Pair them with black or matching denim on top for a monochrome look.
Accentuate Your Shape
The contoured fit through the hips and thighs can be shown off tucked into knee-high boots or with a tucked-in top. Don’t be afraid to highlight your shape in cigarette jeans.
Also Read: What Are Straight Fit Jeans?
Finding the Best Pair of Cigarette Jeans for You
With so many brands offering the cigarette silhouette, finding the perfect pair for your body type is easier than ever. Here’s what to look for when shopping:
- The right rise – A medium to high rise is most flattering for keeping legs long. Size up for comfort if needed.
- Stretch fabric – At least 2% spandex or elastane will ensure the jeans mold comfortably to your shape.
- Proper inseam – Petites should look for 28-30 inches, average 30-32 inches, and tall 33 inches and longer.
- Slim legs – Look for a leg opening around 12 inches or less for a true cigarette cut.
- Well-fitting back pockets – They should lay smooth and flat, not bulge.
- Ankle-grazing length – Ideal for showing off shoes and elongating the leg.
Once you find the perfect pair, cigarette jeans can be integrated into your wardrobe for seasons to come. Dress them up or down to suit any occasion. Though the fashion world continues to change, the classic cigarette silhouette remains timeless.
Pairing Tops With Cigarette Jeans
Cigarette jeans call for the right tops to balance proportions. Here are some flattering options:
Cropped moto jackets and denim jackets end right at the waistline, complementing the cropped cigarette jean hem.
Tunic Tops or Longer Shirts
A tunic top or longer shirt helps give more proportion on top with cigarette jeans. Front tucks can add shape too.
Slim turtlenecks in fall and winter look sleek tucked into high waisted cigarette jeans.
A cropped boxy sweater bares just a touch of midriff above the jeans’ waistband.
A fitted bodysuit or slim tank balances the tapered jeans leg. Tuck it in neatly.
For grunge vibes, try an oversized plaid shirt layered over a cropped tank and cigarette jeans.
The Origins and History of Cigarette Jeans
Cigarette jeans first emerged in the fashion world in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They took their name from the slim, sleek shape of a cigarette.
Cigarette Jeans in the 1950s and 1960s
In the late 1950s, slim fitting pants started coming into fashion for women. As hemlines rose in the early 1960s, slim trousers helped balance out the shorter skirts.
Cigarette pants often featured front pleats, back darts and a tapered leg. They provided a slimmer alternative to wide leg pants and jeans of the era.
Teen girls and young women embraced the cigarette jean trend. The narrow legs showed off legs and created a put-together, elegant silhouette.
The 1970s and Faded Popularity
In the 1970s, fashion took a turn toward looser, relaxed fits. The wide leg jeans and pants of the decade put cigarette jeans out of style for a while.
However, cigarette jeans didn’t disappear completely. Women like Debbie Harry of Blondie kept the cigarette jean alive, though they weren’t mainstream during disco and bohemian-inspired 70s fashion.
Resurgence in the 1980s and 90s
Shoulder pads and power suits dominated 80s style, but cigarette jeans started to make a comeback later in the decade. Their sleek, slim fit paired well with oversized blazers and tailored jackets.
Brands like Lucky Brand and Levi’s created cigarette jean styles with vintage washes, updated details and stretch fabrics. The 90s cemented the cigarette jean as a wardrobe staple.
With their flattering tapered silhouette and cropped length, cigarette jeans are a wardrobe staple that can span seasons, trends and styles. They provide a slimmer alternative to skinny jeans and a more polished option than straight leg or wide leg jeans.
Cigarette jeans have moved in and out of fashion over the decades but always circle back around thanks to their leg-lengthening abilities. They can be worn dressed up or down, day or night.
Focus on finding a stretchy, well-fitting pair in a dark wash. Then style them with everything from sharp blazers to casual hoodies. Cigarette jeans’ versatility helps keep them a staple denim style.