Straight leg jeans are denim pants that are cut so that the diameter of the leg opening is almost exactly the same from the knee down to the ankle. They differ from flare jeans and that begin to widen at the middle of the calf and bell bottoms that begin to widen at the knee. They also differ from skinny jeans, which actually decrease in diameter from the knee to the ankle.
Styles of jeans are usually indicative of eras as they are a major wardrobe staple, especially in the West. The 1960s and 1970s, for example, were a time when almost everyone wore bell bottom jeans. The skinny style of jeans began to become popular in the middle of the 2000s, taking over after flare style jeans were popular for quite a while.
One thing that differs with straight leg jeans is that they have not gone in and out of fashion as much as the other styles. This is probably because they are worn by many people for utilitarian purposes. While urbanites, fashionistas, and hipsters may wear jeans for a specific look, there are plenty of people who wear jeans because they are durable. Such people often have to wear durable clothing to stand up to the sort of work that they do on a regular basis. As such, the style of jeans is not as important as the function.
For this reason, although flared or tapered styles may go in and out of fashion, straight leg jeans are almost always easy to find. Denim companies that specialize in high-end fashion jeans may not sell this style every season. However, more moderately priced denim companies almost always keep at least one straight leg style in their product line. Companies that sell denim to people who are more interested in the function and durability of denim clothing than the style may only sell this type of jeans.
The major differences among straight leg jeans usually have to do with the length of the inseam. There are some styles that are a bit shorter and others that are a bit longer. Boot-cut jeans, for example, are a variety that are designed with an inseam that is a specific length so that the bottom of the jeans fits well about a boot. This is a design feature that most likely began with a utilitarian purpose and, at times, has become fashionable.