There’s a tricky balancing act in terms of summer style, especially if you’re a guy who simply can’t quit denim. How can you rock jeans in the heat? It’s easier than it sounds with a pair of summer jeans. These are jeans that are practically tailor-made for the heat, the kind that are lighter in weight, color and fabric than you might wear in winter.
What Makes a Good Summer Jean?
First and foremost, you’re going to want to pay close attention to the weight of the cotton denim being used. Summer jeans should be lighter than normal (you’ll know it when you feel it). For example, jeans made from raw or selvage denim feature a fabric weight of 15 ounces and higher. Summer jeans are going to use denim fabric that weighs substantially less in most cases.
Summer jeans should also lean lighter in color (more on this in a moment), and they should feature some stretch in the fabric, which also works to make the jeans themselves lighter.
What Colors to Look for in Summer Jeans
Fabric weight and stretch are two crucial ingredients that go a long way toward making some of the best summer jeans. But you’ll also want to look for jeans that are lighter in color.
Light wash jeans are easier to style with summer’s vibrant colors and floral or striped shirts. Because the fabric has been washed and pre-treated, you’re also ending up with a jean that weighs less in general. In short: It’s all about lightweight comfort, folks.
This all comes down to personal preference, but we here at SPY prefer jeans in lighter shades of blue — as in, garment-dyed or pre-washed jeans — but not jeans that veer into stonewashed territory. Jeans in a classic dark blue or black are acceptable, as long as the weight of the denim itself isn’t overly heavy.
Summer jeans can also go more vibrant and colorful — think shades of aqua, olive or clay — but jeans in lighter shades of blue are most commonly found in the summer months. Read on to find the summer jeans that work for you.
1. Bonobos Premium 4-Way Stretch Jeans
Want to find a pair of summer jeans featuring plenty of stretch, substantial but lightweight fabric, a pleasing light wash and tons of style? You’ve found it with these Bonobos jeans, made with 8% stretch and available in four fits and tons of sizes.
2. Mott and Bow Slim Staple Jeans
BEST BLUE SUMMER JEANS
Some guys just can’t hang up their classic blue jeans, and that’s where this pair from Mott and Bow comes into play. The key here is the medium fabric weight, which incorporates 32% elasticity for plenty of easygoing movement and style. Better still is the fact that these jeans are lightly washed for an even lighter feel out of the box.
3. Levi’s 501 Original Fit Jeans
BEST WHITE SUMMER JEAN
We all love Levi’s 501. While most people gravitate towards their standard blue washes, the white colorway is the summer star of them all. Each pair is made of 100% cotton, making them soft to the touch and durable. They have a regular straight fit, five-pocket styling and are non-stretch.
4. Mugsy Jeans Coolmax Summer Light Jeans
Sure, every set of the best jeans for summer should naturally be lightweight and easy to wear in the heat. There are companies that take things to the next level though, like Mugsy Jeans — a brand already known for making jeans with a ton of stretch. The Coolmax Jeans are closer to lightweight sweats than heavy denim, with an absurd amount of stretch and helpful summer style details like a light wash for maximum seasonal versatility.
5. Todd Snyder Slim-Fit Stretch Jeans in Medium Indigo Wash
BEST INDIGO JEANS
If there’s anyone who knows how to do a pair of all-American blue jeans, it’s Todd Snyder. Here, the key is a rich indigo wash that’s been put through the wringer (in the best way), resulting in soft stretch jeans that have substance and style in spades. The vintage fade is perfectly summer-friendly, while the 12.5-oz. weight is plenty agreeable for the season, especially given the amount of stretch you’re getting (a 15% blend of polyester and elastane).
6. Levi’s 511 Eco Ease Jeans
BEST COLORFUL JEANS
It can be fun to play with color and pattern in the summer months, particularly if you want to add a touch of flair. Levi’s makes it easy with this pair of classic 511 jeans, which are available for an agreeable price in an eye-catching shade. Keep things simple with white sneakers and a pocket tee to let the jeans do the talking.
7. Amazon Essentials Slim-Fit Stretch Jeans
Yes indeed, affordability is still the name of the game when shopping for the best summer jeans, and no one knows that better than Amazon. These slim-fit jeans feature plenty of stretch and an excellent light wash for pairing with everything from a T-shirt and white canvas sneakers to a navy polo, and the slim (but not overly skinny!) fit is flattering on most body types.
8. Tommy Bahama Boracay Jeans
BEST STRAIGHT-FIT JEANS
It’s probably true that every guy looks good in some form of straight-fit or slim-straight jeans, but it’s nice to have options in your summer denim rotation. If you’ve got a more athletic or larger build, straight-fit jeans can get the job done nicely. Tommy Bahama goes super-laidback with its classic Boracay Jeans, using just over 60% cotton and plenty of other stretchy fibers (like spandex) for a supremely comfortable set of summer jeans.