For such a seemingly humble garment, jeans have gone through many, many iterations, oscillating between the distressed, fitted styles favored by 70’s punks, to whatever the hell happened to denim in the early 2000s, to the super skinny styles of the mid to late aughts. Then came the denim nerds, and with them, an esoteric obsessiveness and willingness to shell out lots of cash for the perfect pair of vintage, raw, selvedge blue jeans. Thankfully, jeans have settled down a little bit. Eminently wearable slim, tapered and straight fits have returned, with just enough stretch to keep you comfortable. But that doesn’t mean jeans have to be boring, mind you. From workwear styles to unique colors, designers are still tweaking this nearly-150-year-old garment.
One style that’s become increasingly popular is the carpenter jean. With belt loops and tool pockets, these styles add an interesting twist on the traditional 5-pocket style. But they’re not interesting the way JNCOs were interesting — carpenter jeans are classic, and have genuine workwear roots. Wear them with a graphic tee and beat-up Vans for a street-ready look. If you’d rather stick to a five-pocket style but you still want to break out of a denim rut, considering expanding your horizons beyond indigo and black. Light wash blue jeans have a throwback flair that works well with vintage running sneakers, while white or off-white jeans look great with sturdy boots and a blue denim shirt.
6 Cuts of Jeans for Men
There are dozens of denim styles for men to choose from, but let’s drill down the most wearable fits and styles.
The skinny fit is a skintight jean with either a low or mid-rise waist that looks like it’s molded to your body. The slim fit has a narrow cut that skims along the legs. Straight cut jeans are the most common silhouette. Not too loose, or too tight, these jeans can go from office to weekend. Boot cut is a straight leg jean that widens toward the ankle so it can accommodate, yes, you guessed it, boots. Tapered jeans have legs that are cut wider through the thigh and leg, and then narrow towards the hem. Athletic-fit jeans are an example of a tapered style. The relaxed fit could be called dad jeans, they’re loose cut from waistband to hem.
Now you know what’s what with the best men’s jeans, we’ve done all the heavy lifting and found the best jeans for men to add to your rotation throughout the year. These 18 pairs of jeans vary in color and cut and easily fit into what you’ve already got in your closet. Scroll through the find the best pairs for the fall transition.
1. Levi’s 501 Original Fit Jeans
Chances are that your first pair of jeans were Levi’s. These are the original jeans that are beloved throughout the planet. AKA button fly jeans, they have a regular fit at the thigh, and are cut straight throughout. Made with 100% cotton, they don’t stretch, but like any Levi’s jeans, after wearing them for a bit, they mold themselves to your body. They look stellar both rolled at the cuff and worn straight and if you’re pulling the jean on jean look pictured below, you’re going to rock it. These 501s come in eight shades, too.
2. Levi’s Men’s 511 Slim Fit Jeans
BEST FOR EVERYDAY WEAR
The 501 is an undisputed cultural icon. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the cut that works for most guys. The straight fit and stiff denim can be hard to pull off, which is why it’s the 511 that’s the secret star of Levi’s offerings. Slim, but not skinny, with a decent amount of room in the thighs, the 511 works on just about every guy. This black color works well for dressing up or for casual outfits.
3. Madewell Slim Jeans in Tile White
BEST WHITE JEANS
Tired of your regular blue and black jeans? Give white jeans a try. While they’ve become regular closet staples for many women, many men are hesitant to wear white jeans, especially because they can seem overly precious or preppy. But if you leave the dock shoes at home and instead pair white jeans with sneakers, a t-shirt and a denim jacket, you can upgrade the average t-shirt and jeans outfit. They’re not just for summer, either — these white jeans would look great with boots and a warm sweater. These jeans from Madewell have a classic slim fit and 2% stretch for comfort. Plus, they’re on sale right now, so it’s less of a risk to give this style a try.
4. A.P.C. Petit Standard Slim-Fit Jeans
BEST SELVEDGE JEANS
A.P.C. kickstarted the selvedge denim trend in the late 80s, and they’re still one of the best brands to turn to for premium denim. The slim fit is the sweet spot between skinny and straight, making this a great option for men of any age. The classic indigo color will break in and fade with wear so you can make it your own, and the button-fly style nods to classic jeans like the 501.
5. Calvin Klein Men’s Straight Fit Jeans
BEST BLACK JEANS
Calvin Klein is widely credited with helping to popularize designer jeans in the 1980s; their jeans were marketed as having sex appeal, rather than the workwear focus that brands like Lee, Levis and Wrangler were famous for. These days, most of Calvin Klein’s jeans are about the same price as Levi’s, making them an affordable designer option. These jeans have a straight fit and jet black color for a classically cool look.
6. Lee Men’s Vintage Modern Carpenter Jean
BEST WORWEAR JEANS
Lee may not get as much love as Levi’s, but they’re still one of the most legendary and storied denim brands, dating back to 1889. The brown color of these Lee jeans makes them look a bit more like workwear chinos, and the front patch pockets, hammer loop and tool pockets add to the workwear vibe of these jeans.
7. Naked and Famous Super Guy Jeans
BEST SKINNY SELVEDGE JEANS
As the brand and fit names imply, Naked and Famous takes a slightly subversive, off-beat approach to the often self-serious world of selvedge. The Super Guy fit is Naked and Famous’ skinny fit, and they have a dark wash that’s made to break in and fade with wear. They’re made in Canada. Unlike most skinny jeans, which incorporate stretch, these jeans are 100% cotton — you’ll probably want to give yourself a few minutes to get into and out of them.
8. Polo Ralph Lauren Hampton Relaxed Straight Jeans
BEST PREPPY JEANS
If you want to wear white jeans but aren’t ready to go full-on Miami, these jeans from Polo Ralph Lauren have an off-white, tan-like color. They have a straight fit that gives them more a relaxed look, and they’re made from cotton with a little elastane for comfort. The tan color pairs well with brown shades and other earth tones.
9. Uniqlo Selvedge Slim-Fit Jeans
Uniqlo proves that just because they’re selvedge, doesn’t mean they have to be expensive. These slim-fit selvedge jeans cost just one Ulysses S. Grant (ahem, $50) and they feature the red piping detail on the cuff that’s distinctive to selvedge. These are available in white, black or indigo in a variety of waist sizes and two lengths.
10. J. Crew 484 Slim-fit Jean
BEST LIGHT WASH
J. Crew cleverly labels their wash styles by year — the one year wash is still dark blue, the two year is a little lighter, and so on, mimicking the effect of years of wear, right off the rack. These jeans are the five-year wash, so they have a vintage-looking light blue color. Unlike some light blue jeans, these don’t have aggressive distressing — the light whiskering and fades look classic, not trendy, staying true to J. Crew’s design ethos.
11. BDG Solid Black Dad Jean
BEST BLACK JEANS
Black jeans can go just about anywhere. Celebs have even worn them on the red carpet. While we don’t suggest you throw these on for your next black-tie event, we suggest pairing these relaxed-fitting five-pocket jeans with a hoodie or an oversized tee. Feeling fancy? Cuff the jeans, throw on a pair of loafers and a corduroy button-up for your next date night.
12. Levi’s Stay Loose Carpenter Pants
BEST RELAXED JEAN
These olive-colored relaxed fit jeans are a great example of the workwear trend. Heck, there’s even a side pocket that fits a hammer or screwdriver if you’re really trying to fit the part. Made of breathable cotton, you can wear them with a classic pair of Chuck Taylors or rolled-up with a handsome pair of boots this fall. They also come white, tan and a really stylish brownish-red number.
13. ASOS Design High Waisted Jeans in Vintage Wash Blue
The 90’s high-waisted jeans are back. But, how high is high? The waistline on most high-waisted jeans will hit a bit above the navel. Done in a mid-wash blue, these jeans have the same width from waist to hem. They’re great with a graphic tee, your favorite college crewneck or an open flannel with a white tee underneath. We suggest you get these a little shorter than you would regularly, they look pretty cool as high-waters.
14. DKShin AW Selvedge Jeans in Tom Ripe
NFL running back Andre Williams first started in footwear and then created this premium denim company. All of the jeans in his line are made from high-quality Japanese selvedge. What is selvedge, you ask? Well, it’s denim made on a loom, and the resulting product is a tightly woven and narrow jean. These button-fly cotton jeans are also unsanforized so expect about a 10% shrinkage after their first wash. The dark wash and timeless five-pocket style transcend trends. Whether you wear them today or 10 years later, they’ll always look on-point.
15. Travis Matthew Legacy Jeans
BEST GRAY JEANS
Boasting a stretch waistband, these gray jeans were designed for comfort. They’re cut like a classic five-pocket jean and made from a lightweight cotton blend. They’re definitely a bit more moveable than your go-to pair, which is pretty cool if you need to do a bit of walking in these. Wondering how to dress them? They’ll look equally handsome tied with a bomber jacket for a night out on the town or even a blazer when you’re feeling a bit more formal. The Legacy jeans also come in black, charcoal and indigo blue.
16. Everlane Athletic 4-Way Stretch Organic Jean
While these are only slightly tapered at the leg, we love these jeans from Everlane for their organic qualities and their massive ability to stretch when need be. The brand’s denim factory recycles 98% of its water using reverse osmosis filtration which is amazing, and the jean itself is made from 94% organic cotton. The stretch will have you asking how the hell these are jeans, but the look and style will never have you asking questions. They’re comfortable, great for the environment and look amazing with any tee, sweatshirt or button-up shirt.
17. BDG Extreme Destructed Skinny Jean
Come on, you can’t hate on a good-looking pair of ripped jeans — they’re stylish as all hell. Show off some skin with these destructed skinny jeans that rip well above your knees. The wash is pretty light but looks good paired with any casual tee or flannel shirt. Wear these with your favorite beat-up sneaks to complete the somewhat damaged look and strut the streets like you paid $70 for a pair of jeans that look like they’re already falling apart, but, fashionably.
18. Levi’s Western Boot Cut Fit Jeans
BEST BOOT CUT JEANS
Designed to accommodate cowboy boots, these Levi’s have cool touches like ergonomically shaped pockets, a double inseam, and a reversed yoke that’ll highlight your butt. That alone could make them the best jeans for men. Who doesn’t want to look like they’re rocking a dump truck? They’re made from cotton and have the ability to stretch as far as the eye can see. If this color ain’t your style, you can also buy them in the lighter wash.