Dude’s Guide to Buying Jeans
It isn’t the case that you can just grab any pair of denim jeans and call it good; frankly, a men’s jeans buying guide is something that should be in all stores but it isn’t as if there’s a denim consultant you can talk to.
Well…there probably is. But that isn’t something the average person is going to be able to afford. That means having to learn about men’s fashion on your own, and that’s why this guide to buying men’s jeans is here.
This guide will dish on denim, and prepare you to purchase pants from the denim section of fine retailers online…and get – more importantly – the RIGHT jeans.
Mens Jeans-Cut Guide
First step in this jeans buying guide is jean fit, also called the “cut,” which is important as this dictates how your jeans will fit and also sit on you as you wear them. This is also important to know as the cut influences what role a pair of jeans is best suited to.
Skinny jeans are aggressively tapered, and in truth are really only best deployed on the skinniest people. If you get “chicken leg” jokes, these are for you. If your calves are the size of most of your friends’ forearms, this is the cut for you…unless you hang out with bodybuilders. This is the dominant style of the day, however, and pairs very well with trendy and fashionable footwear.
Slim fit jeans are something of a compromise but in a good way. Slim-fit jeans taper, which is very much the fashion trend in denim in recent years, but not as aggressively as skinny jeans. This allows people who have thicker legs and builds to have a bit of modern style but without having to squeeze into their trousers. Slim-fit jeans work well with just about any clothing and footwear but may stick out like a sore thumb with work boots or sturdy Oxford shoes.
Regular Straight-leg or straight cut Jeans
This cut is literally a straight line from top to bottom. Straight cut jeans were the standard for almost as long as jeans have been a thing and are still the dominant cut. They look good on all but the skinniest of guys. They never go completely out of style and frankly work so well with…basically any clothing and footwear ensemble that at least one pair should be in every man’s wardrobe.
Relaxed Fit Jeans
Relaxed fit, also called loose-fit, are “cut” to give the most amount of room possible but without being baggy. These will have a good amount of room from top to bottom and will have a good amount of room at the cuff, though not necessarily enough for a bell-bottom appearance. For the larger guy – or for that matter, the person who works on their feet rather than at a computer station – this is the cut to acquire.
Loose Boot-Cut Jeans
The boot-cut is a hybrid fit, as they fit somewhere between the straight cut and the slim fit. In essence, there is a moderate taper but also a moderate flare at the cuff. The effect is the shape of the body is adhered to but also allows for a bit more comfort. These jeans pair very well with a good pair of boots, be they fashion boots (such as a good pair of Chelsea boots) or casually wears fashionable work boots such as Timberland or Doc Martens.
The boot-cut is a hybrid fit, as they fit somewhere between the straight cut and the slim fit. In essence, there is a moderate taper but also a moderate flare at the cuff. The effect is the shape of the body is adhered to but also allows for a bit more comfort. These pair very well with a good pair of boots, be they fashion boots (such as a good pair of Chelsea boots) or casually wears fashionable work boots such as Timberland or Doc Martens.
Men’s Jean Wash Guide
Jean washes determine the color as well as how the look of your jeans will evolve as you wear them. After all, the best part of great denim is what happens as it ages and there is nothing that beats the comfort and appearance of a well-worn pair of jeans.
The “wash” refers to the treatment that’s given to a pair of jeans before they leave the shop. After the denim has been cut and sewn, it’s dyed for color. After color, the jeans are washed with a specific type of treatment to give it the desired color effect. From there, it goes to the store or online retailer and therefore to you! Each has a purpose and a place, but here is what you need to know:
Acid Wash Jeans
Acid wash is something of a misnomer, as no acid is actually involved! In fact, “acid wash” and “stonewashed jeans” are basically the same thing. The process originally was washing jeans in a drum with pumice stones or in a weak bleach chemical bath (bleach is actually a base, not an acid) to give denim a well-worn in appearance. It waxes and wanes in terms of fashion (its heyday was the 80s) but never goes completely away. They are, however, best with casual clothing.
Vintage Wash Jeans
vintage washing, like acid washing, gives denim a well-worn, predistressed appearance. Usually, a bit of rinsing or sanding is done to the denim to give the appearance of fading, especially in the areas near the knees and thighs. They go well with casual to business-casual, but don’t get too formal with them.
Classic Wash Jeans
like the classic look of blue jeans? That’s the classic wash. A bit of bleaching or lightening and that’s about it. These jeans look new and present a uniform appearance. They look tidy and go well with just about anything depending on the shade. Generally, the darker the jeans, the more formal you can dress as bright blues are a bit too casual with some ensembles.
Dirty Wash Jeans
A dirty wash is much like a vintage wash, but with a dirty wash, the goal is to accentuate brown, yellow and other dark, earthy tones in the jeans to the point that they almost look dirty. These are the dressy side of casual, as too formal a shirt or jacket will make them look out of place. However, when appropriately deployed, they pop.
Dark Wash Jeans
This is – somewhat ironically – a light treatment given to denim to make it appear darker. The classic wash lightens the colors with the chemical wash, but a dark wash is a very basic – meaning very little is introduced to the garment chemically – which produces a darker overall color. It’s like how a bit of conditioner is introduced to a piece of leather and it darkens a bit. Dark wash jeans have a bit of shading, usually a bit here and there in the points that wear. (Like the thighs and knees.) However, they also work better with more formal wear given the darker appearance, but will also change more during the course of wear. Less treatment means more effects of wearing the jeans…but the thing is that many people consider this effect desirable.
Raw Denim Jeans
Raw denim has very little done to it outside of dying. It’s colored, and that’s pretty much it. Raw denim feels tough; it’s stiff and will wear initially like a cotton duck and similar fabrics. However, as it wears, raw denim will soften and conform to the wearer, a lot like a good piece of leather. It will also darken a bit, but care has to be taken not to oversoak it – too much water or exposure to cleaning chemicals can damage the raw denim.
Jeans Pockets And Other Features
Another thing to look at when it comes to buying men’s jeans is the other features, such as pockets, stitching, enclosures, hardware and so on.
Enclosures refer to the buttons and so on that hold the pants together. This includes the waistband AND the fly. The truth is that the preference is partially up to the user – how many steps do you want to be involved in going to the bathroom? – but there are also things to look for.
Button-fly jeans are somewhat of an older style; zipper-fly jeans are really more the standard since they are much easier to operate. However, some classic style jeans still come in button-fly configurations.
As to stitching, the best practice is to match the pants to the occasion. The more ubiquitous an item, the more conservative it should be. Therefore, a pair of jeans that look good in nearly any situation should have the more conservative stitching in terms of pattern and ornamentation.
In other words…do you want a flower on your back pockets?
Don’t wear them to the office. (In fact, hang your head in shame.) If you prefer not to see stitching at all…those jeans are acceptable far more often. The classic yellow stitching on older-style jeans always looks good…except if it stands out aggressively.
Pockets are another issue to consider. The classic 5-pocket jean is so beneficial that there’s really no good reason to discount them. What about pockets beyond that? The truth is that dungarees are best as work jeans for people who labor in trades. After all, the office worker has no use for a hammer loop.
Good Denim Jeans Will Always Look Good
Ultimately, good denim jeans will always look good. A quality pair will pair well with nearly any ensemble, and a poor quality pair will not. However, does that mean that everyone should spend an arm and a leg on getting a par?
Far from it.
If you bear the proceeding tips in mind, what you’ll find is that jeans often have a function to fulfill. As a result, you want to find the one right tool….and in the world of jeans, that can be difficult. However, it will be a lot less difficult with this guide to buying men’s jeans, we are going to start buying, trying and reviewing different jeans brands over the next months. Stay tuned.
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