For all its wardrobe-staple status, men’s denim is a potential minefield. For every perfectly-fitting pair, there’s an abundance of style slip-ups. While the abundance of styles, fits, finishes and colours is enough to give any man a headache, choosing the ‘right’ pair of jeans is simply a matter of knowing what style suits you best, and what is occasion-appropriate. And here’s what you need to know:
From flared to fitted and bootcut to slim leg, jeans now come in all manner of fits. It makes for a diverse choice, certainly, but it can also complicate the selection process. Thankfully, for the sharply-dressed man, it’s simply a matter of choosing between the three most flattering styles.
A. Straight leg
Also known as relaxed fit or comfort fit, straight leg jeans are the most conventional style and, as such, often the preferred choice for the average man.
Due to the absence of any tapering to the denim on straight leg jeans, however, they lend themselves to just about any body shape. As straight leg jeans are – as the name implies - cut straight through the hips and down the legs from the waistband, though, they work particularly well on men whose hips are slightly narrower than their shoulders.
B. Slim leg
Generally favoured by the younger man, slim leg jeans — which are often described as tapered or tailored fit – are similarly diverse in their suitability. Don’t confuse them with skinny fit, though – they are notably different. They are not nearly as tight around the thigh and calf, and are looser around the ankle, too.
Choose your slim leg jeans well and they can be very flattering. They are ideal for men with larger thighs, for instance, as the taper towards the ankle creates a slimming visual effect. On shorter men, meanwhile, the lower waistband works, visually, to lengthen the torso, adding a few fictitious inches.
C. Skinny fit
If you’re old enough to remember black-and-white television, skinny jeans —which also go by names such as spray-on and super-slim fit— are perhaps best left on the shelf. They’re wildly popular, certainly, but tend to look best on ultra-slim frames, rock stars, fashion students and those with single digit body fat percentiles.
If you’re tempted, be warned: skinny jeans are indisputably casual, so won’t blend well with smart tailoring pieces. Instead, they’re best paired with trendy trainers and longline T-shirts. Like we said, best left to the kids!
As with your suit, your jacket and every garment that you’ll ever wear, the importance of the correct fit cannot be over-estimated. Even if you’ve been buying the same size of jeans for years, it’s worth getting measured. A quick word with the shop staff and you can get your waist and inner leg measured in minutes.
And if that sounds like too much hard work, consider the following: when next shopping for denim, try on one size smaller than you might normally wear and see how they look and feel. You might be (pleasantly) surprised. And if you’re wondering how loose or tight to look for, you shouldn’t be able to put more than two fingers in the waistband.
When it comes to jeans length, the rules are more fluid. Ideally, though, aim for a pair of denims whose length sits just a fraction lower than the ankle, giving a stylish look.
Most contemporary denim will incorporate a small amount (usually 2%) of Lycra or elasticity to them, which allows for enhanced stretch and, subsequently, comfort. Given the choice between some stretch and no stretch, opt for the former every time – it will prolong the life of your jeans and optimise their comfort.
If in doubt, stick to dark colours for your jeans. White can work wonders on the Côte d’Azur, of course, while lighter shades of blue have an undeniably summery vibe; but dark denim can be worn just about anywhere and is ideal for a day-to-night transition. It’s also great for concealing pesky stains. In short, it’s always a safe bet, whatever your age or body type.
No matter how much (or little) you’ve spent on your jeans, they should be treated appropriately and washed as little as possible. If and when you do need to wash them, though, be sure to turn them inside-out, and wash them alone (or, at a push, with jeans of a similar shade to prevent any pigment bleeding) and at a cold or lukewarm temperature.
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