When the trend of the skinny jean emerged around 2007, it took most people I know a while to actually get used it. Granted, I was in middle school and had been wearing flares for so long that having a pant actually touch my leg was just completely foreign. When I did finally embrace it, however (which was definitely for the best), I instantly gravitated toward a dark wash. I couldn’t fathom wearing a lighter wash jean, and didn’t even want to try. Truthfully, it wasn’t until very recently that I realized how incredibly cool light wash denim can look with an outfit, especially when juxtaposed with darker elements.

Take this Fashionista, for example. When I passed her on campus, my mind immediately went to how effortlessly cool she looked. She wore a black and white polka-dot sweater layered under a black blazer, and of course added her winter coat for extra (and much needed) warmth. Placed on her head was a black beanie and she had also slipped on a pair of maroon Dr. Martens. Already her look was screaming campus-chic, but what really helped to bring it up an extra notch were her light wash skinny jeans.

There’s something about a lighter wash that instantly adds an element of ease to an outfit. Because they’re slightly more casual than a super dark wash, when paired with trendier and darker-colored elements, the entire look appears less forced. A worry that sometimes arises amongst people I know when considering light wash jeans is that the pants won’t appear to lengthen their legs as much as a dark wash does. The solution? Go for a higher rise, just like this Fashionista. A high rise will always create the illusion that you’re just a teensy bit leggier, so you can’t go wrong.

I sometimes feel like shopping for jeans is practically an art form, but the perfect pair of light wash denim for you is out there. I recently purchased this pair from Anthropologie and am now so excited to style mine as this Fashionista did hers. If you’re hunting for a higher rise, Madewell’s jeans never disappoint, and Urban Outfitters also offers a super high-waisted option.

If you were anything like me and were hesitant about breaking away from your tried and true dark wash jeans, there’s no better time than now to try something a little bit fresher. So go ahead and step out of your comfort zone and into a lighter wash.

What is your STYLE ADVICE OF THE WEEK?: “I would say layering. I’m wearing so many layers today; you need plenty of them for this cold weather!”