by Staff Writer
Jeans are an essential part of every man's wardrobe. In fact, the average American owns at least seven pairs. Because men's jeans are such a clothing staple, it's crucial to find the style that works for you. With so many options, finding jeans that fit your style, size, and price range can be tricky. This men's jeans buying guide is here to educate you on the differences in jeans, so you'll know how to buy jeans that don't just fit your inseam but your lifestyle, too.
Washed denim: Jeans are produced from two basic denim types. Washed denim is the most popular variety and accounts for the vast majority of jeans in production. When denim is created, it is colored with dark shades of dye. After constructing a pair of jeans, a manufacturer will wash them in order to rinse away the excess dye left over from the denim's creation.
Acid wash: Acid-wash jeans have had a roller coaster of a time in the fashion world. At points considered the peak of chic and at other times looked at as a complete humiliation for the person seen in them, acid-wash jeans have seen their share of abuse. However, if you're brave, a pair of acid-wash jeans can really shine when combined with a simple, solid-colored short-sleeved shirt.
Dirty wash: Jeans constructed from denim with a dirty wash are designed to have a well-worn look. This wash will make a pair of blue jeans appear to have been used, and used hard. Dirty-washed denim combines dark blues with slight yellow or brown tinting, creating distressed jeans with a worn-in appearance.
Stonewash: Stonewashing is one of the most popular finishes for denim jeans. This classic wash is a vital part of every guy's casual apparel collection. Manufacturers use one of two techniques to reach the traditional blue expected of stonewashed jeans. The old-fashioned way is to utilize actual stones, but many denim jeans manufacturers now use chemicals to achieve a similar effect. Either way, stonewashed jeans will give you a classic, casual look.
Vintage wash: Nothing beats the look of a pair of your favorite worn-in jeans. Of course, wearing in a pair of jeans can take years, so why not cheat a bit? Distressed jeans are created with a vintage wash, giving them the slight look of wear that everyone loves. This sort of wash will go with a large variety of shirts, but try something like a retro-style long sleeved shirt to accentuate this wash.
Raw denim: Raw denim jeans are created from material that is dyed and left unwashed after production. This gives jeans a dark look that will fade naturally, creating a look of genuine distress created by the wearer's own body. Raw denim is a favorite among many fashion-conscious consumers, and jeans cut from it are often more expensive than those constructed from washed denim.
Bootcut: Bootcut jeans are the perfect cut for any guy hoping to look fashionable without looking outrageous. This slim cut fits closely (but not tightly) with a slight flare towards the leg opening. Bootcut jeans make sense for most body shapes, too, because they balance the body well.
Relaxed fit: Relaxed-fit jeans, which are loosely cut from waist to leg opening, are great for heavier men. The roomier shape of these blue jeans won't accentuate curves and bulges like other cuts will. Thin guys should avoid relaxed-fit jeans, as this cut can look loose and sloppy on skinny legs.
Skinny: Skinny jeans are a risky bet for many men, but they have the potential to look hip on the right guy. The skinny jeans club is fairly exclusive, as this ultra-tight fitting cut can make average-to-heavy body types look even larger. This cut should be reserved for the twiggy body shape, which allows skinny jeans to flatter a thin figure. Try this cut with a trendy vintage shoe or a fashionable sneaker to complete the look.
Slim fit: For those who want the hipster style of skinny jeans but don't make the cut weight-wise, there are slim-fit jeans. This cut of jean is tapered in a similar style to skinny jeans but not to the form-fitting extreme. With slim-fit jeans, you get the best of both worlds: fashion-forward looks and comfort.
Straight cut: Straight-leg jeans are the most common cut you'll find. Neither tapered nor excessively loose, this conservative style is ideal for those who want their jeans to be simple and classic.
Low-rise: Low-rise jeans have the smallest space between crotch and waist. This rise of jeans generally sits a few inches below the belly button, so make sure to wear a shirt of appropriate length to avoid exposing your midsection. Also keep in mind that low-rise jeans tend to fit tightly around the belly area, which may not be comfortable if you have a soft stomach.
Medium-rise: If you don't feel comfortable in the hip-hugging scoop of low-rise jeans but want to maintain a trendy look, think about medium-rise jeans. The room between waist and crotch on medium-rise jeans isn't small, but it doesn't extend to the rib cage, either.
High-waisted: High-waisted jeans are a terrific choice for heavier men with fuller stomachs. The rise is enough to conceal the extra pounds that would be exposed in low- and medium-rise jeans.
Nothing can drag your style down like an ill-fitting pair of jeans. Read the our guide on men's measurements for tips on finding your measurements. Then, take a look at the Overstock™ sizing chart to ensure a perfect fit.
Published April 28, 2010
Updated November 28, 2014