A wardrobe staple for centuries, the iconic jeans for men were invented in 1871 by Jacob W Davis and patented by Davis and Levi Strauss in 1873. They were first developed as sturdy workwear made especially for heavy industrial workers and farmers across America who often faced seams bursting in regular cotton pants.
The design of the classic denim has also changed several times. The earliest version of jeans for men consisted of two pockets on the front, one at the back, and a button fly. The little watch pocket that is common in today’s design was first added a few years after the oldest jeans were mass-produced in the late 1870s. The typical five-pocket design was finalized much later - in the 1900s.
Almost a century later, the jean still retains its charm. The jeans have moved on from industrial usage to becoming acceptable for almost all occasions. You can find your typical jeans in a variety of fits, materials, and silhouettes. Trends bring back old fits every few years. But with the different types you are bound to encounter in the market, here is a comprehensive guide to understanding the various types of jeans for men.
Know Your Fit
Whenever you hear the term ‘fit’ being used in the context of clothing, it usually refers to the shape of the apparel and how well it will hug your body. There are numerous fits when it comes to jeans for men. The most common are:
The classic bootcut jeans were created to fit over a pair of cowboy boots which is why the shape of the denim is straight through the hips and thighs and flares out a bit at the hem. You may find slight variations in the shape – the flare could be wider or narrower, but there is a flare nonetheless. The waist rise will often be high-rise in classic bootcut, and you can also find low-rise bootcut in modern versions.
These are classic jeans for men that are not too wide or slim. It runs perfectly straight from the hip to the ankle. A great choice if you are unsure what to buy, the classic straight-leg jeans may also be called regular straight by some brands. It is a wardrobe staple as it is great for everyday errands and goes well with a classic button-down shirt.
As the name suggests, the slim straight is a variation of the straight-leg jeans. The difference is that it fits closer to the legs than a regular straight fit. Also called slim-fit jeans, they are slimmer on the upper half and straight past the knees. If you have a muscular body, the slim straight enhances the quads. The waist rise is slightly lower on these jeans.
Another version of the straight leg, the relaxed straight, is baggier and has much more leg room. For skinnier people, the relaxed straight might be a venture into a slightly wider leg category; for average people, the relaxed straight is the most comfortable fit.
The tapered is a great choice of jeans for men who like the apparel to stick closer to their legs than the slim straight, enhancing their legs. Tapered denim is trimmed at the thighs and narrows down towards the ankle. There are two main versions of tapered-leg jeans – slim taper and relaxed taper.
If you are a muscular man and want to show off those quads, the slim tapered jean is the perfect choice for you. Even narrower on the thighs and sticking to the legs past the knees, the slim taper is made to enhance the build of the leg. The waist rise is low, somewhere at or below the hips.
Relaxed taper is the perfect jeans for men who want a comfortable, baggier fit that is not touching the thighs yet tapering down to the ankle, creating a slight cone shape from the thighs to the hem. These are ‘roomier’ and made for men who prefer denim that accentuate the shape of their legs but also want an unrestricted range of motion.
These are the classic ‘baggy’ jeans that were flying off the shelves in the early 2000s. The wide-leg baggy jeans are back in style, thanks to Gen Z popularising Y2K fashion and prioritizing comfort. As the name suggests, the wide-leg jeans are much wider than regular denim and provide the most comfort and breathability. If styled right, the wide-leg jeans can be the next fresh fashion item in your closet.
Different Types of Materials
Now that you know the various types of jeans, you should also be aware of the various materials that jeans for men can be found in today to ensure you buy the right fit in a suitable material.
The terms jeans and denim are often interchanged because jeans are commonly made of denim fabric. Denim is made from 100% cotton in a twill weave, making it extremely sturdy, robust, and versatile. There are two main kinds of denim – raw denim and stretch denim.
It is made from 100% cotton and is left unwashed after dyeing. Raw denim is stiff to the touch and might shrink after the first wash. Since it has not been treated in any way, there is zero distress, patterns, or colour variation on the jeans when they are new. However, they may develop unique creases and fades over time. Raw denim is dark and offers a more rugged, authentic look.
This kind of denim is made from a mix of cotton and synthetic spandex or other elastane fabric to give it stretchiness. Since the jeans are stretchy, they are suitable for people who like a fitted look. If you lead an active lifestyle and want jeans for men that provide more range of motion, go for stretch denim.
Jeans for men come in a variety of washes as well, such as acid wash, stone wash, bleach wash, and so on. The main purpose is to soften the harsh fabric and give the jeans a contemporary look. Try on different types of pairs and choose the one that looks most flattering on your body. You should have at least 2 pairs of jeans - in blue and black since they pair well with all outfits and suit most occasions.