We Just Tried the Most-Wanted Pair of Jeans on the Great British High Street

When it comes to denim trends, some are easier to wear than others. For starters, you can find a trend that works need for your shape and then decide how you'll end up styling it. But every so often, there’s a simple pair that gets us all talking, and right now, that style is the barrel-leg jean from Whistles. Like most people, when faced with the idea of the barrel shape (i.e., high on the waist, loose-fitting around the leg and slightly cropped at the ankle), we weren’t entirely convinced they'd be flattering. But thanks to some seriously stylish influencers showing us how to wear them—and a number of styles selling out entirely over multiple seasons—we decided to find out what all the fuss is about. Keep scrolling for our team’s verdict on Whistles’ cult barrel jean.

Hannah Almassi, Editor in Chief

Photo:

Who What Wear

“I always have trouble when it comes to buying jeans. Finding a pair where the waistband doesn’t gap at the back and won’t cling to my thighs (not to mention the leg length being right for my 5’1” stature) is a tall order. These are so almost there. I think I need to size down to get them snug on my waist and wear them in for the right fit on my legs, and perhaps lop an inch off the hem so they can graze my ankles as they're supposed to (here I’ve rolled them up). On another, not-about-the-fit note, brown is a really chic way to do denim this season.”

Joy Montgomery, Acting Assistant Editor

Photo:

Who What Wear

“I’ve long been a leather-trouser wearer. I find that they offer up the ideal smart-yet-stylish alternative to jeans. These Whistles iterations are one of the best I’ve tried on the high street, thanks to their flattering high-waisted fit and wide-leg silhouette. The fabric is also surprisingly light, which means they’d be suitable for spring and early summer (although maybe not high summer), and I can imagine using them to elevate my wardrobe basics, such as white tees and plain shirts. The price is pretty steep, though, and I wonder if you could find a more affordable version elsewhere (but you might just end up sacrificing fit or quality!).”

Mica Ricketts, Deputy Beauty Editor

Photo:

Who What Wear

“My go-to jean style is high-waisted with a wide or straight leg, so I was really intrigued to try this barrel-leg shape. The jeans sat at exactly the right point on my waist, and I loved the frayed finish at the hem. The shape of the leg was relaxed, yet the denim still had enough stiffness to help me feel pulled-together. Having never worn brown jeans before, I’m not sure if pairing them with a Breton stripe and sneakers meant this outfit veered into geography-teacher territory. Next time, I think I’d pair it with ankle boots and a shirt for less outdoorsy vibes.”

Emma Spedding, Deputy Editor

Photo:

Who What Wear

“I didn’t really get the fuss about the barrel-leg jeans before I tried them on, but now I completely get it. They’re very high waisted, really nip you in, and loose—but not baggy—on the legs. I hover between a size 28 and a 29, but I went for a 28 with these. I’d advise erring on the smaller side.”

Alyss Bowen, Associate Social Media Editor

Photo:

Who What Wear

“I’ve had my eye on these for a while after seeing blogger Alice Catherine rave about them on Instagram. I tend to live in jeans and trainers, and have yet to find the perfect high-waisted pair that doesn’t leave me feeling bloated after my morning croissant, but these sit perfectly on the waist and don’t make you feel at all restricted. At 5’6”, these sit perfectly on my ankle—not too high nor too low. I do feel like they may crease easily, but nothing an iron won’t sort. It’s true love for me!”

Shop Barrel-Leg Jeans