The variety of men’s jeans fits can appear overwhelming, especially if you haven’t shopped for a pair in a few years. We’re in a period of menswear where we’re being presented with a seemingly boundless array of options stretching from vintage and classic to ultra-modern. Jean fits are no exception.
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Rather, they take into account skinny and slim silhouettes that have dominated since the late 2000s and encompass the revived wide legs in a bid toward Gen Z with updated Y2K style.
Added to this, brands tend to have their own wording. So you’re not stuck with something unflattering or poorly fitting, make sense of your search with the following guide:
Straight or Regular Jeans
The most common and ubiquitous tends to offer the greatest adaptability and comfort. It also tends to be the most flattering, no matter your height or body type.
So, what makes a straight or “regular” pair of men’s jeans? It’s all in the name. These jeans hit at the hips and extend with a straight line down to the ankles.
The form should be structured – these aren’t wide-legged – yet shouldn’t be too tight around the thighs that the material below your knee appears to flare out. If you’re measuring, the jeans should extend roughly eight inches around your boots.
For reference, brands will also call this fit “classic” or simply pair “regular” and “straight” together.
Paige’s best-selling men’s jean goes down a classic route with a straight fit enhanced with stretch TRANSCEND denim and a dark wash with light whiskering.
Heritage types are obsessed with raw selvedge denim. Satisfying that thirst, J.Crew’s 770 pairs the material with a straight fit offering just a touch of stretch.
Despite straight jeans hitting right where your boots begin, they’re not to be confused with a bootcut fit.
Influenced by western wear, this secondary Y2K throwback fits thinner and flares out just slightly around your ankles. The waist, meanwhile, sits higher with the assumption that you’ll tuck in your shirt.
Get modern-retro vibes from this True Religion bootcut jean adding a mix of fading, whiskering, and stitching to a medium wash.
We tend to associate Wrangler with western wear. These bootcut jeans live up to the image with more classic construction consisting of a relaxed-fitting mid-rise and minimal distressing.
Tapered jeans defined the ‘80s and most of the ‘90s before being replaced with wider-cut fits toward the end of the century. They’re back, due to denim and chinos sharing similar design characteristics. As such, smart-casual denim typically features a tapered or slim-straight cut.
What distinguishes tapered jeans? Sitting at the hips or closer to the waist, they start with a straight leg before narrowing down from the knees to the ankle, resulting in a cleaner, slimmer appearance.
Another versatile shape, tapered jeans allow for more space around the thighs. Regular tapered offers a smidge more room, while slim tapered sits closer without being full-on skinny.
A regular tapered fit adds a cleaner finish to the typical straight jean, plus some stretch for movement.
A hybrid of G-Star Raw’s D-Staq and Triple A results in a chino-like style sitting higher on the waist and adding more structure below the knee.
Slim or Slim-Straight Jeans
Despite slim tapered being one fit, “slim” jeans typically apply to a closer-fitting straight silhouette that doesn’t have bootcut’s flared hem or higher waist.
In fact, slim jeans tend to feature a slightly lower waist while hitting right at the ankle, and fit more spaciously compared to skinny construction.
In a medium indigo wash, these Todd Snyder slim jeans deliver a vintage aesthetic, courtesy of faded, broken-in selvedge denim enhanced with a bit of stretch.
These slim jeans tread close to skinny territory with a more tapered form and mid-rise, plus a hint of stretch for a more comfortable, adaptable fit.
Now moving in a more modern direction, relaxed jeans deliver more room from the hips on down with a straight fit and wider width. Body type matters: Relaxed tends to look baggy on slimmer forms, and appears more comfortable if you have a wider or more muscular build.
A more easy-fitting style, these relaxed jeans with a touch of stretch and pre-washed, softened fabric widen the traditional straight fit.
The classic Levi’s straight fit offers more width without compromising versatility.
Despite the name, “athletic fit” isn’t stretchy, gym-ready denim. Instead, this name is given to relaxed tapered men’s jeans. The hybrid form offers more space compared to regular tapered around the thighs and gives some definition from the knee down.
Offering some stretch, these Madewell jeans provide extra room while still hitting above the ankle.
Banana Republic specifically designed its Travel Jean for movement, using a softer material that’s manufactured with less water.
Wide-Leg or Loose Jeans
Although true JNCO fits have yet to return on a wider scale – you still will find them in production, though – loose jeans tred into bona fide Y2K territory.
These men’s jeans begin around the hips, perhaps dipping down slightly, while offering more room with a straight or even flared form all the way to and past the ankle. Modern style rules dictate some structure, while retro sensibilities call for the denim to bag around your shoes.
This is the mature version of the loose jean, designed with more of a straight fit and room from the hips on down.
A style referencing the ‘90s is free of stretch and allows the black denim to bag around the ankles.
Skinny jeans emerged as a result of the ‘80s revival in the 2000s. At that point, however, the construction changed from the stiffness of 100-percent cotton to distinctively stretchy and flexible due to a touch of spandex or polyester added to the fabrication.
Today, men’s skinny jeans – including ultra-skinny and spray-on fits – highlight every curve from the waist on down to the ankle. They’re ideal for tucking into boots and offer a more visible contrast against looser-fitting camp shirts.
An extra dose of stretch denim allows these low-rise Nudie jeans to offer a skinny fit without a restrictive sensation.
Rag & Bone trimmed off an inch or two to transition its F-1 jeans into skinny territory, seen here with a lighter wash and fading.
Don’t Forget About Rise
Along with fit, men’s jeans further take the rise – or how high the garment sits on or above your hips – into account. Terms include:
- Low rise: These jeans sit below the hips and have returned to menswear after over 15 years of dormancy.
- Mid-rise: The most common rise, mid-height jeans sit right at or slightly above your waist and flatter the greatest number of body types.
- High waist: Emerging in response to the number of pleated silhouettes out there, high-waist jeans – called “high-rise” on rare occasions – sit at or just slightly above the natural waist.