Decade after decade, the popularity of denim never fades.

But jeans do change with the times.

In one of jeans' periodic fashion swings, the most stylish denims now are the skinniest.

Skinny jeans and their natural offshoot — jeggings — are hot topics these days.

Skinny jeans, which are made with mostly cotton and some stretch material, hug the body and taper narrowly along the leg to the ankle.

Jeggings, a jeans-leggings hybrid, carry stretch and skin-tight fit a step further with 65 to 85 percent cotton combined with one or more stretch fabrics, said Jeremiah Young, owner of Marcasa Clothing in downtown Billings.

Jeggings also are made from fabric that is thinner and softer than traditional jeans, said Meghan Schuster, denim specialist with Dillard's in Rimrock Mall.

Jeggings allow more freedom of movement and don't bind at the waist as conventional jeans sometimes do. The waist usually sits a little higher on the waist, particularly in the back for a more flattering fit.

Another distinction is that some jeggings have stitching suggesting a faux front pocket, but the two back hip pockets are real.

Casual jeggings may be topstitched in a contrasting color, such as yellow thread on blue denim.

Dressier jeggings have the same color stitching as fabric, Young said. Paired with a sequined or lace top and high heels, they are fit for fancier occasions.

Depending on the season, jeggings can be worn with flip flops, high heels, ballet flats or tucked into boots, Young said.

Contrary to what you might think, you don't have to be ultra thin to wear jeggings.

“Anything that follows the body is flattering,” Young said.

If you have great legs, but a less-than-perfect waistline, pair jeggings with a flowing top, he suggests.

The long-over-lean look is popular with skinny jeans, too, said Nicole Brown of Herberger's. Long sweaters and tunics that reach to mid-thigh are favored by jeans wearers of all ages.

Skinny jeans still are favored over jeggings by Dillard's customers, Schuster said.

Skinny jeans come in a variety of shades of denim blues and black. Washes that make a new pair of jeans look like it has been worn for years continue to be fashionable.

Some jeans have undergone distressing that artfully wears away patches of the garment.

Although jewels, rhinestones, sparkly beading and heavy stitching have embellished the back pockets of many jeans recently, a cleaner, less-decorative look is coming in for spring, Young said.

If skinny jeans or jeggings don't suit your style, there's a pair of jeans that does. Jeans are going in a 100 different directions.

Some have slim legs but flare at the bottom of the leg. Boot cuts flare out at the bottom enough to fit over a boot.

Nineteen-sixties bell-bottoms also are making one of their recurring appearances.

In Billings, jean prices range from as high as $150 and down to about $30 for a basic pair of Levi's.

It's no mystery why so many people love jeans.

Herberger's Brown says that jeans remain the number one choice for casual wear because of their comfort.

Durability is another factor.

A good pair of jeans looks better with age and lasts for years.

Westerners with a long jeans-wearing tradition also embrace them for their versatility.

“In Montana, you can go anywhere in jeans,” Young said. “The governor wears jeans.”

For more information, contact Mary Pickett at mpickett@billingsgazette.com or 657-1262.

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For more information, contact Mary Pickett at mpickett@billingsgazette.com or 657-1262.