Colour meets denim: everything you need to know

Sophie is wearing a Cosy Cotton Top in jellybean with boyfriend jeans

Whatever your personal style, the chances are you have a pair or ten of jeans in your wardrobe. We’ve talked about denim here before, but something that the good folk at Kettlewell and I get asked an awful lot is which Kettlewell tops go best with which jeans shapes. When faced with the challenge of seemingly limitless denim and t-shirt shapes, it can feel a little overwhelming to begin to work with colour as well, but I’m here to show you that putting the whole lot together can be a breeze.

Straight leg jeans are such a classic cut that it makes sense to pair them with similarly timeless top halves. For an easy smart-casual look, try pairing with a merino crew neck in winter or a simple cosy cotton stripe top. For an evening out, opt for the gorgeously drapey Daphne blouse and the Alexa biker.

Outfit 1 – Cosy Cotton Stripe Top in cornflower/light navy, Florence Infinity Scarf in dusky rose

Outfit 2 – Alexa Zip Jacket in cranberry, Daphne Blouse in pastel rose

Outfit 3 – Shawl Collar Wrap in navy, Darcey Square in blue moon

Outfit 4 – Cosy Merino Sweater in marine blue, Cashmere Gauze Stole in ocean blue

Skinny jeans are so ubiquitous now that it’s hard to think of them as an ‘extreme’ style, but they do require a little more balancing out than classic straight or boot leg styles. Longer tops are your friend here. Layer a long vest under a standard tee, or add the beautiful merino tunic for sleek longline style. Go for the Diane swing top for a change of silhouette.

Outfit 1 – Merino Tunic in deep claret, Tassel Necklace in pink mulberry sparkle

Outfit 2 – Tasha Top in charcoal, Long Vest Top in raspberry

Outfit 3 – Davina Tee in fig, Florence Infinity Scarf in grey plum

Outfit 4 – Davina Tee in dutch blue, Alpaca Shawl in mallard

The bootcut has been out of favour for a while, but increasingly it’s returning to the denim front line. So easy to wear and to balance with a variety of tops, it’s easy to see why many of us refused to abandon this wardrobe stalwart during the skinny jeans years. Pair with classic tees, or add a camisole under a shirt or wrap top if you are larger busted.

Outfit 1 – Sara V Neck  in grey plum, Cashmere Gauze Stole in dolphin grey

Outfit 2 – Cotton Jersey Shirt in navy, Lace Camisole in silver

Outfit 3 – Merino Crossover in glacier, Camisole in steel blue

Outfit 4 – Paris Textured Jacket in true red, Darcey Scoop in ice blue


The more extreme wide leg of flared jeans demands a more fitted top half to avoid accidentally landing in clown territory. Embrace the retro feel by pairing with a silky roll neck or a poncho layered over a fitted tee, or go for a simple fitted merino crew neck.

Outfit 1 – Silky Tee in true red, Multi Star Necklace in silver

Outfit 2 – City Poncho in deep claret, Silky Roll Neck in dolphin grey

Outfit 3 – Sleeveless Merino Wrap in bright navy, Silky Crew Neck in light aqua

Outfit 4 – Cosy Merino Sweater in marine blue, Tassel Necklace in charcoal sparkle

Boyfriend jeans can be worn with a relaxed top for a super casual look (go for something slouchy like the Tasha or Davina tees) but look their best contrasted with a more fitted option. Keep it simple with a short sleeve crew neck or a long sleeved silky v neck.

Outfit 1 – Tasha Top in meadow violet, Tassel Necklace in lilac sparkle

Outfit 2 – Alexa Zip Jacket in ink, Sleeveless Mock Turtle in raspberry

Outfit 3 – Silky Crew Neck in pink ice, Studded Scarf in grey

Outfit 4 – Cosy Merino Sweater in bright navy, Florence Infinity Scarf in pastel blue


New jeans, new look

headerRemember when the biggest denim decision you had to make was bootcut or straight legged? And since all straight leg jeans were basically slimmer bootcut, you were basically choosing between bootcut and bootcut? Easy peasy.

Nowadays, however, you need to know your boyfriend from your girlfriend, your slim from your skinny and your bootcut from your cropped flares (yes, really). Not only that, but you need to know exactly which tops will best set off each shape, as they all have rather different styling requirements. It’s a denim minefield.

But fear not. Because I like to keep things simple, I’ve done a round up of the top denim shapes for 2015/16 and how to wear them.

Skinny jeans


Skinny jeans have become the mainstay of women the world over – easier to wear than bootcut (no more flappy cold wet ankles when it rains, no more ‘in or out of boots’ dilemmas, no more length crisis when pairing with heels over flats), more flattering than boyfriend jeans and, frankly, easy to find at every budget.

Whether you go for ultra skintight or a more tailored style, keep your skinnies working for you by following our essential tips:

  1. Don’t be afraid to wear your skinnies with ankle boots and trainers as opposed to tucked into the once-essential equestrian/biker boots.
  2. For the ultimate 2015/16 look, pair your skinnies with a pair of over the knee flat boots for an off duty look that oozes style.
  3. Keep your top half either slightly baggier (read: my favourite top of the season, the tasha top) or longline than you would with other jeans styles, or add a long camisole under a normal length t-shirt for extra layering points. If you’re worried about the bodycon nature of skinny jeans, a cardi coat or long wrap can help skim over any lumps and bumps.

Boyfriend jeansboyfriend


These were the essential shape for summer 2015, but they have proved themselves slightly harder to work into a winter wardrobe, due to their most flattering look involving displaying a significant amount of ankle under rolled up cuffs (brr!). However, keep them ready for milder days with our three simple rules:

  1. Try them slightly rolled up with chelsea or other fitted ankle boots, to keep the same leg-slimming illusion that was provided by exposing your ankles in the summer.
  2. Keep your top half fitted – this is even more important now that you don’t have that flash of slim ankle at the bottom. Boyfriend jeans can look somewhat shapeless and styleless with no fitted area in your outfit. I love a 3/4 length sleeve top with boyfriend jeans (the slash of forearm adds a similarly slimming effect to a flash of ankle). I’m a particular fan of the cotton boatneck, or if you can’t bear to miss out on long sleeves the long sleeved slash neck adds a hint of tailoring to offset the more casual bottom half.
  3. Alternatively, throw the style rule book clean out the window and pair your boyfriends with this season’s it-coat – the cocoon/car/drape coat. The extra volume on top needs to be well tailored to keep this look modern, and it isn’t overly forgiving of the less than lithe among us, but if it works for your style, it will look fabulous.

A note on girlfriend jeans: They’re basically the same as boyfriend jeans. Yes, I get that they have a slightly more fitted waist, and are slightly more tapered/cropped, but basically we’re talking sloppy loose jeans, and the same rules apply as to boyfriends. Don’t stress too much about the difference, just try on a few pairs of each and go with whichever one suits your shape better.

Bootcut jeansbootcut

Yes, the bootcut has entered the building. This season’s bootcut will call itself, among other things, a skinny flare, a slim bootcut, a modern bootcut and a million other polite ways of reintroducing the one time official ‘mum-jean’. The good thing about boot cuts is that (soggy ankles in winter notwithstanding), they are super easy to wear with lots of ‘standard’ tops.

  1. My favourite footwear under bootcut jeans is a pair of slightly battered and faithful sneakers, but you can make them work for winter ’15/16 by pairing them with flat or high heeled chelsea boots – just make sure they are long enough to deal with the heel!
  2. These jeans are great for adding a slightly 70s-flares vibe to your outfit without actually, you know, wearing flares – pair with a roll neck under a pea coat, or add a poncho for relaxed style.
  3. For a less statement look, pair these jeans with classic hip length tops – the marl semi scoop is perfect for winter warmth and style, while the lace satin shirt gives a bit of prettiness to an everyday look (layer this shirt over a silky scoop neck for winter warmth without bulk)


Often more tailored than their original 70s antecedents, modern flares are sometimes scarcely distinguishable from bootcuts, although their slightly more retro vibe gives them the edge. Read on to style yours to perfection:

  1. As with bootcuts, pair these with sneakers for dressed down style.
  2. For maximum leg-lengthening magic (the real strength of these jeans) go for a generous length (nothing worse than flappy flares) in a dark denim wash, and add block heeled boots.
  3. Don’t be afraid to add a retro-inspired top to these retro-inspired jeans. The sophie blouse keeps things floaty and relaxed, or a roll neck adds the perfect balance to the wider leg shape.

A note on cropped flares/bootcuts: Yes, they really are A Thing this season. The only time I have seen them work is on the bambi-legged and youthful, and very definitely paired with heels (either courts for evening or high heeled calf boots for daytime). This is the ultimate fashion forward look, and needs a bold style and a bolder pair of heels to carry it off.

Slim jeans


Once seen as a neither-here-nor-there poor relation to the skinny jeans, slim (or straight leg) jeans seem to have become somewhat acceptable of late, perhaps because the rise and rise of the ankle boot resolves that whole ‘should they be tucked into boots or worn over the top?’ issue. Keep your slim jeans looking sleek with three steps:

  1. Think of slim jeans as extra-forgiving skinnies, and try the same styles of tops – long line layering tops, a long camisole underneath standard length tops, and tunics can also work well – the zoe tunic is interesting enough to add a bit of zing, without making your outfit too try-hard.
  2. You can also style these jeans as a somewhat simpler version of boyfriend jeans – roll up for a small cuff and pair with your favourite ankle boots.
  3. Keep your look simple and elegant with a plain classic fitted t-shirt and a blazer – these are the ultimate smart-casual jeans. Pick your best neckline, but I am a particular fan of Kettlewell’s square neck and long sleeve v neck tops. If a softer neckline is more flattering for you, try a semi scoop.

As usual, details of all items shown can be found on the Kettlewell Polyvore page