Men’s Jean Styles and the Body Types They Suit

by Melo! SG on November 06, 2019

The first pair of jeans were pants made from a sturdy cotton called denim and secured with copper rivets at places where they were most likely to be ripped - pockets and flies. The year was 1873 and the first client was a miner who needed functional pants that would not tear easily. Fast forward more than 140 years and jeans has grown into a multi-billion industry with so many different styles that the uninformed shopper would be overwhelmed.

We single out seven different fits for men and the body types they suit best so the next time you shop for a pair of jeans, you will know exactly what to look for.

1. Skinny

These are super tight jeans that taper at the leg opening. Close-fitting from hip to hem, they hug your thighs and calves and are usually mid-rise. The rise is the measurement from the crotch to the top of the waistband. A mid- or medium rise means the pants sits between the hip and the belly-button.

Who they are for:

If you are tall and slender with slim hips, this is the fit for you because these jeans will cling to you, showing the shape of your lower body. To balance the look and make sure you appear proportionate, top the skinny jeans with a crisp shirt or a larger t-shirt which can be tucked in because skinny jeans are mid-rise. A too-tight top with skinny jeans may make an ordinarily slim man look like a beanpole.

2. Slim

These are mid-way between skinny and straight jeans in that they offer a little more room for movement but still skim the body. They are also mid-rise but are straight from waist to hip and slim from thigh to hem.

Who they are for:

This is probably the most forgiving fit. Tight enough to give you a clean silhouette but loose enough to allow for larger legs, most men will opt for this fit. If you are lean and athletic with shoulders and waist of equal width and proportionate arms and legs – the typical inverted triangle - slim jeans should be your pick because they will accentuate your toned body. Choose one in a lighter wash so you will not look too narrow at the bottom.

If you are heavier in the middle or have a uniformed body shape (rectangle shape), this cut will also afford you room to move and breathe. If you have thighs and calves that are more muscular, though, the slim fit might be too tight. You could either up the size or try a straight cut.

3. Straight

These are the classic jeans style – mid-rise with the trousers falling straight from hip to hem.

Who they are for:

The more generous pants leg and the straight cut make this another universally favoured style. It works well for muscular body types – broad shoulders, muscular limbs, narrow waist. Yet, it is also kind to light-build men who are slender from top to bottom because this cut is roomy enough not to accentuate your thinner legs. The mid-rise will also be perfect for concealing a less-than-generous derriere. If you are slim, avoid high-rise pants that will make your behind look flat.

With this style, make sure to get the right size because a too-large pair of straight jeans can make you look larger than you really are. A darker colour for this style also makes it sleeker. Since this is the original fit, go for simplicity when you style this pair of jeans. Opt for raw or selvedge denim. Pair it with a shirt or white t-shirt with loafers or sneakers. You cannot go wrong.

4. Tapered

These jeans are looser at the top of the leg and narrows as it goes down from the knees, making them look more tailored.

Who they are for:

Because they are tighter around the calves than the thighs, they work for men with wide shoulders, narrow waists and larger legs compared to jeans that are tight all over. So, if you are muscular and want slim or skinny jeans, tapered jeans are the fashionable middle ground. They give off the illusion of slim jeans without cutting off circulation.

5. Bootleg

This is a style reminiscent of That 70s Show or, more recently, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. Bootleg jeans widen from knee to ankle.

Who they are for:

As their name suggests, these jeans are meant to be worn over boots so they are made wider at the bottom to accommodate your footwear. They are good for men with larger hips and thighs because the wider hems balance the hip and thighs making them look proportionate to the rest of your lower body. Unfortunately, this type of jeans works only if you are taller. Shorter men will look boxy and stocky in bootleg jeans.

6. Relaxed

This is a roomy style that is loose-fitting from the waist to the leg opening.

Who they are for:

If you have hips wider than the waist and thick legs like a soccer player, the relaxed fit with the same width from hip to hem is perfect for you.

7. Loose

These are the baggiest of jeans with plenty of space for thighs, legs and butt. They are usually high rise so that they nearly come up to the waist. This helps to flatten the mid-section and hold in the buttocks and thighs.

Who they are for:

These jeans are built for the man who has a wider waist, larger thighs and more generous butt and calves.

Other Factors to Consider

1. Colour

Dark coloured jeans are more versatile because they can be dressed up or down depending on the need.

2. Treatment

Your jeans can be untreated or raw and are identified by their dark blue colour. Alternatively, they can be washed in a variety of ways. Acid wash gives a stark contrast in the tones of the denim and was popular in the 1980s. Rinse wash is the most basic type of wash and helps to make the jeans softer. Mid wash is a longer wash than the rinse wash and gives your jeans a mid-blue colour. Light wash creates light blue jeans. Bleach wash creates very faded jeans. Black or grey wash is used to dye jeans into different colours. All-over tinting uses different dyes to create brown and green tints. Vintage finishing is used to give your jeans a worn-out look.

3. Ripped

Also called distressed jeans, these are jeans that have rips and tears.

4. Size

Jeans stretch a full size after 10 to 20 wears, so begin with a smaller size. In case you are baffled by the numbers on the tag, the first number is your waist size. The second is the inseam which is the measurement from the centre of your crotch down to the cuff.

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