The Grown Up Way To Style A Denim Skirt

It's time to reconsider the must-have item of my school days.


The denim skirt is ultra-nostalgic for me. In the aughts, it was a status symbol among the girls in my school, particularly micro-minis from Abercrombie & Fitch or Hollister, styled with colorful (and often layered!) polo shirts with popped collars. Looking back, it's incredibly cringeworthy, but a fashion moment I relished nonetheless. As my style has matured, I've never quite approached denim skirts with the same zeal, that is, until their recent resurgence. The fashion industry's fixation with all things '90s and '00s is one reason I've found myself zoning in on how to style denim skirts again. Still, nostalgic-leaning styling cues aren't as in line with my classic and minimal aesthetic. It wasn't until I spotted them on the Spring/Summer 2020 runways and later on those of Fall/Winter 2020/21 that I legitimately felt myself reconsidering the must-have item of my school days.

After witnessing a handful of fresh denim skirt outfits on the Alexander Wang, Givenchy, Stella McCartney, and A.P.C. runways for spring and summer, it became clear that mini, midi, and maxi denim skirts were all key players for warm-weather dressing in 2020. The trick was to go against my middle school inclinations (i.e., bright colors and not-so-subtle accessories). Instead, tempering denim skirts with minimalist pieces like boxy blazers, tailored tops, and sleek shoes and bags, all in neutral tones, was the ticket. Then, the Fall/Winter 2020 collections convinced me that midi and maxi denim skirts would remain go-to's in my wardrobe throughout the transitional season, and into autumn. Instead of sandals and tanks, I'll take cues from the Celine, Balenciaga, and Tom Ford runways, and reach for sharp tops, tailored separates, and sleek boots.

Alexander Wang Collection 1 2020. Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
A.P.C Spring/Summer 2020. Richard Bord/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Since summer fashion is still in swing, a denim mini is a perfect foray into the trend. Shopbop's fashion director, Caroline Maguire, suggests one with modern detailing like an asymmetrical hem or deconstructed silhouette, but with simple extras for elevated style. "I love how designers are reinventing a classic. Alexander Wang, R13, and AGOLDE have offered novelty takes on the style," she tells TZR. "Let the skirt be the standout piece! I like to style mine with a white tee and blazer for a modern take. For an outfit that works day-to-night, I would style a mini with a balloon sleeve top and flat sandals."

Tom Ford Fall/Winter 2020. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Balenciaga Fall/Winter 2020. Estrop/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Another denim skirt suggestion you can rock before summer slips away is one that tends more relaxed and casual, which you can try with an above-the-knee cut or longer style. "Opt for a ribbed tank, an open button-down, and your favorite sunnies," Maguire says. "Don't forget to layer your accessories — this look pairs perfectly with a great anklet and arm party!"

If, like me, you've recommitted wholeheartedly to the denim skirt trend, keep scrolling for more stylish outfits ideas inspired from Instagram. Plus, shop the edit if you're in the market for a new skirt or styling piece, and keep these in rotation through the transitional season and fall.

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How To Wear A Denim Skirt: With A Tee + Button-Down Shirt

Take a cue from Maguire's playfully polished take on a denim miniskirt by styling yours with a white T-shirt and bright blazer. Add in a chord bracelet and anklet as fun accents.

How To Wear A Denim Skirt: With A Tie-Dye Tee + Sneakers

While the weather is still warm, go trendy with a touch of sport by styling a mini denim skirt with a tie-dye tee, sneakers, and a gold pendant necklace. When the chill sets in, swap your tee for an oversize hoodie.

How To Wear A Denim Skirt: With A T-Shirt + Blazer + Sandals

As Maguire explained, a denim skirt looks effortlessly chic when paired with wardrobe basics like a white t-shirt, blazer, and sleek sandals. For extra polish, finish with a leather belt and layered necklaces.

How To Wear A Denim Skirt: A Denim Jacket + Knit Top + Sneakers

Double denim always feels relaxed and cool, especially with a skirt in the mix. Style yours now and through the transitional season with sneakers, a knit tank, and a delicate gold necklace. Come fall, swap your mini for a midi or maxi silhouette.

How To Wear A Denim Skirt: With A White Jacket + Tee + Mules

Another double denim outfit to try before summer's end is head-to-toe white. An oversized jacket gives a classic pencil skirt style a fresher feel with a casual tee while a pair of mules in black set off the light look. If you're the type to continue wearing white after Labor Day, swap your sandals for closed-toe mules, sneakers, or boots, and your tee for a more substantial knit.

How To Wear A Denim Skirt: With A Cropped Tee + Tall Boots + Gold Jewelry

A long denim skirt is the perfect between-season take with a cropped tee and tall leather boots. For a contemporary finish, pile on the gold jewelry.

How To Wear A Denim Skirt: A Bodysuit + Tall Boots

Bodysuits are the perfect piece for achieving a minimalist look, and denim skirt outfits are all but exceptions. While it's warm, team a seamless white style with a dark-wash denim midi and sandals for chic contrast. As the weather cools, swap for tall leather boots and finish with a gold bauble or two.

How To Wear A Denim Skirt: With A White Blouse + Vest

Western vibes, but make it ultra-modern with a long denim skirt, voluminous white blouse, and sleek black vest. For final touches, a chainlink bag and sharp sunglasses are unexpected.

How To Wear A Denim Skirt: A Graphic T-Shirt + Chunky Boots

Give head-to-toe black the denim skirt treatment with a grey-wash maxi, a black graphic tee, and chunky boots. A pair of modern pearl earrings and a sleek mini bag will steer this look in a polished direction.