Jeans are a staple of modern fashion and style despite being originally intended as workwear. The way a person’s jeans fit has defined entire generations, eras, and subcultures. Jeans are constantly changing, too, from the high-waisted flares of the 1970s to the baggy styles long beloved by skaters to the heyday of the skinny jean and the broader, looser cuts that currently rule the denim world. A lot of possibilities can make your search for the ideal pair more difficult, even though having too many selections is always pleasant. Although some jeans feel like a vice grip around your butt, they may fit wonderfully on the thigh.
These days, the fit—look for pairs that are slender and slightly tapered through the leg—and the wash, which you’ll want to look as natural as possible, should be your main concerns. That entails an end to the ultra-fake “whiskering” over the thighs that were popular at the Jersey Shore bleach-heavy fades. Instead, your jeans should appear broken in, or they should be sufficiently black to allow you to do so. We’ve compiled a list of the best jeans for guys that are versatile and can be worn for any occasion; most of them are now available at your neighborhood mall.
The Best Right-Now Jeans
The spirit of the time is captured in these jeans with a ’90s influence. They aren’t just loose-fitting or sporty; they are downright saggy. To show off your sneakers, you might dress them up with a clean hem or even a slightly cropped inseam. However, if you want to go all-out ’98, wear them for just a little bit too long so that they pool over your shoes. If you want to dress them up a little, wear a casual button-shirt and loafers, or embrace the huge spirit by donning a giant hoodie à la Justin Bieber.
The Best Slim-But-Not-Too-Slim Jeans
The gap started the trend of “outstanding jeans at an inoffensive price” ten years ago, and they continue the celebration with these medium-wash crowd-pleasers. Are you concerned that your legs have too much, ahem, “strength” to fit into any of these slim-fit jeans? This pair was designed to fit the widest range of body shapes; it is neither too tight nor too loose. Not for nothing, these jeans have a hard-to-find lived-in flavor that makes them feel right away like an old favorite. That is what NBA stat geeks would refer to as an “intangible” in denim.
The Brooklyn Blue Jean
Since the 1970s, Stan Ray has been selling its American-made, tough-as-nails workwear. If you’ve ever stepped underneath some scaffolding or enjoyed a latte in your hippest neighborhood cafe, you’ve definitely seen its fabled painter’s pants. The off-white version is undoubtedly the most recognizable, but this raw denim version is possibly even better. It also gets better the more you wear them and the more you work at them. It looks great when paired with a loose hoodie and timeless shoes because it has more storage than you could possibly need and a wonderfully roomy silhouette.
If It Ain’t Broke, Go Vintage
Finally, you can purchase a fantastic pair of vintage Levi’s directly from the manufacturer. Late last year, the leading denim brand launched this website for purchasing pre-owned and vintage Levi’s clothing, following in the footsteps of companies like Patagonia and its WornWear program. It’s the simplest way to slip your legs into amazing jeans that no one else will possess, and it represents a significant step toward a circular fashion economy that should hopefully help reduce waste.
The Boot-Ready Jean
Both real-ass cowboys and Super Bowl stars favor these jeans. The hip-hugging upper block and flared hems of Wranger’s bootcut men’s jeans, which pour over a pair of boots like a denim fondue, have made them iconic. With or without a center crease, denim is a heavy, 100% cotton fabric that can hold its own on and off a saddle. Serving them with a western belt, a plaid blazer, and a pair of serious movie star sunglasses is advised if you want to go all out. Young Harrison Ford would have done the same.
Your Dad’s Favorite Dad Jean
Invest in a pair of Lees if you intend to continue riding the Dad WaveTM and don’t play about with your denim. The fit is boxy, the wash is uniform and free of any wild distressing, and the denim is tough. The price will be $30, which is crucial because, as we all know, affordability is a must for a decent pair of dad jeans.
The Best Entry-Level Selvedge Denim Jeans
Recall all those opulent denim accents we mentioned earlier. In fact, these guys arrive well laden with a number of them. Turn the cuffs over to reveal the selvage—the white and red striping that runs along the seams—and chain stitching—those little loops of yellow thread around the edge. Both of these are characteristics of premium (i.e., more expensive) jeans. You have one fantastic pair of jeans that are all set to break in like a charm when you combine those features with a consistently good, tastefully slim silhouette.
The Best OG Jeans
Without a pair of Levi’s in the mix, would a denim roundup really be considered a denim roundup? The enduring straight-leg fit of the 501s from the venerable denim retailer means that they are still just as relevant now as they were in the late 1800s. The 501s are the jeans that invented jeans. Wear them as long and as hard as you can without cleaning them—we’re talking weeks, months, or even years—until they’re nice and battered up. This is the premise behind the original Shrink-to-Fit model. Wear them in the bathtub while using a little soap, then rinse them off and let your body to air dry. The outcome? The most comfortable, attractive, and well-fitting pair of jeans you will ever own in your whole life.
The Best Stretchy-But-Won’t-Stretch-Out Jeans
Normal jeans would be stiffer than whiskey and about as comfortable as a root canal if they were this uniformly dark. These are the most office-appropriate pair of the bunch because of the ingenious use of elastic elastane in Everlane’s distinctive Japanese denim to give you that perfect indigo look without any of the sandpapery breaking-in processes. They are also impressively sag-resistant by the same standard; you can wear them every day of the week and they will never lose their attractively slender shape. Put them together with a tweed blazer, knit tie, and similarly crisp white shoes for a look that will carry you from a meeting with your boss straight into happy hour.