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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 13 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. Duer Performance Denim Jeans
Duer’s Performance Denim Jeans are the most comfortable jeans on the planet. Full stop. We fell in love with Duer this past year after testing out these jeans, which we’ve found incomparable in comfort to anything else we’ve ever put on our body. Think about the moveability of your coziest sweatpants matched with the blue jean color you’ve been wearing since you could put on pants and you’ll get Duer. You can even do a split if you want. Or, can, for that matter. We love them so much, we named them our favorite jeans of the year in the 2021 Man, our end-of-year product awards.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. BDG Dad Jean
BEST BAGGY JEANS
Baggy jeans are back, boys, so it’s time to ride out this wave for as long as we can. Baggy jeans have been out of style for the past few years when the rise of skinny jeans came about, but recent trends have put baggy jeans for men back on the shelves. This calls for a big “hell yeah” not only because they’re cool but totally comfortable. Pull off the baggy look yourself with these good-looking dad jeans from Urban Outfitters.
9. Uniqlo Slim-Fit Jeans
Looking for a good-looking pair of jeans that won’t break the bank? Well, you found ’em. These slim-fit jeans cost just one Ulysses S. Grant (ahem, $50) and they come in three different colors for all types of jean wearers. Uniqlo is a hell of a trustworthy brand, too, so even though they’re cheap, we can assure you they’re not cheaply made.
10. 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.
11. 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. Plus, look at that price drop.
12. ASOS DESIGN Stretch Slim Heavy-Ripped Jeans
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 slim jeans that rip all around. 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 $60 for a pair of jeans that look like they’re already falling apart, but, fashionably.
13. 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.