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There might not be a men’s style essential that gets more work day in and day out than the classic blue jean, and that’s with plenty of good reason.
The best men’s denim has workwear roots and a handy five-pocket design, with sturdy cotton denim building the foundation of a pant that every guy can find useful.
When French workers needed sturdy pants, they wore cotton denim. When pioneers needed rugged workwear, they wore denim. And now, when you need a crisp, classic-yet-casual, dependable and durable pair of pants, you should be wearing a pair of jeans.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Styles of denim ebb and flow, like other men’s clothing trends, but if you find the right pair for your body type (which is why we’re here today), you’ll have secured a classic, daily style staple. And while there are all kinds of different colors and washes, there are a few keys to get right before diving in further.
The simple answer is that denim should suit your body type. Most guys look great in a pair of slim-straight jeans with a mid-rise: Jeans that rest comfortably on the hips, without too much excess fabric through the thigh or around the calf, or at the ankles.
Aim for a middle ground: Your denim should fit neither too baggy, nor should it be so slim that you’re unable to move around (rock stars need not apply). Guys with a slimmer build tend to look good in slim or (sometimes) skinny jeans, while those with more bulk should look for jeans with either slim-straight or classic in the description.
When in doubt, check out the measurements for the leg opening – slim-straight jeans typically boast a leg opening of about 15-16 inches. Numbers aside, opt for comfort and a streamlined look.
When shopping for a classic pair of denim, a tried-and-true shade of dark blue is going to flatter every guy. Dark blue jeans have been a menswear shopping staple since the days of James Dean, while light wash jeans tend to look more flattering in the warmer months.
Avoid stone wash or acid wash jeans unless it’s the extreme ‘80s you want to channel.
And for more casual situations – like a concert or a weekend night out on the town – dark black or grey jeans can provide an edgy, yet crisp, look.
Neutral colors like tan or olive, the kind you might find on your favorite chinos, are also acceptable style moves when shopping for jeans, yet here’s the key… When in doubt: Go sharp and classic with dark blue jeans.
It’s acceptable to wear jeans just about anywhere these days, unless the gathering, occasion or dress code says otherwise (as with formal wear, evening wear, weddings or funerals).
Leave the jeans at home for your next big meeting, but in short: A business casual office is an acceptable place to wear a pair of well-fitting, dark blue jeans. In fact, jeans are a staple of business casual attire. But there’s still that crucial question: Which style of jean is best for you?
There’s lots of terminology in the denim world, but don’t let it confuse you: Here’s a handy, quick guide to popular men’s jean styles.
Flint and Tinder rightfully dubs its denim the “All-American Jeans,” and they seem to hit the mark in every way. There are fits ranging from Relaxed to Slim, in a range of dark washes with cool, casual fading. Stretch fabric makes them soft and durable right out of the box.
This New York brand promises designer-quality jeans for less. They offer three fits (Slim, Straight, Skinny), a range of colors from dark blue to light grey, and a handy, free home try-on program. Pairs start around $100.
It wouldn’t be a piece on the best jeans for men without mentioning American denim pioneer Levi’s, which brought the style to the masses. Today, they outfit rock stars and stylish guys everywhere with iconic styles like the slim-skinny 511 and the ultra-timeless slim-straight 513 fit.
Remember those chinos you know and love? Bonobos put that same knowledge in terms of fit and fabric to the test with its premium-yet-accessible line of jeans, and its All Season Jeans are lightweight enough for summer and versatile enough for winter.
Ultra-handcrafted, expensive yet beautiful raw denim is the name of the game with Raleigh Denim. These American-made jeans are tough as heck, exceptionally well-made and yes, pricey. They offer five useful fits to suit every body type.
You can trust Buck Mason to make super-soft, comfortable henleys and tees, and a pair of the brand’s jeans – in a perfectly faded wash with agreeable, classic fit options – helps round out the perfect casual ensemble. The Ford Jeans in particular boast a mid-rise and timeless, tailored fit.
Kato tastefully blends the modern (stretch fabric) with the old-school (selvedge denim) in a way that only Japanese denim brands can dream up. These four-way stretch jeans come in fits like a classic Straight cut or Slim Tapered, along with two other styles.
America’s preeminent menswear designer goes to locales like Japan to source high-quality fabric, and also makes denim in the United States’ newfound manufacturing HQ, Los Angeles, to deliver durable, rugged yet slightly dressy jeans. Pair them with a Todd Snyder blazer.
Searching for eco-conscious denim? Look no further than surfing legend Kelly Slater’s Outerknown, which uses organic cotton and sustainable production methods to cut down on waste in the denim industry.
The proper blend of affordability and quality is deeply ingrained in Everlane’s mission, and they boast everything from four-way stretch classic-fit jeans to athletic-fit and skinny options in shades ranging from jet Black to pleasingly faded indigo.
Filson takes the workwear roots of denim to another level in the modern age with its carefully crafted, deep indigo blue jeans. You can wear these out in the field to take on, well, actual work, and they’ll look just as stylish at your local watering hole.
Contemporary designer denim can sometimes go too extreme (too skinny, too ripped up, too distressed) but Rag and Bone solves that problem with four reliable fits in rich, neutral colors. Keep in mind that these jeans will run you more than $200.
When you shop Taylor Stitch jeans, you’re shopping subtle, simple yet stylish denim. Select from two fits (Slim or the more classic Democratic), and a range of fabric options, including washed organic selvedge and edgy, faded black jeans.
You could say that long before L.A. became a denim mecca, PAIGE was laying the groundwork out West for stylish, long-lasting denim. Today, they offer up contemporary, trim-but-not-too-tight jeans in five fits, with ultra-soft tees and denim shirts to match.
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