While you have no control over your genetic makeup, that shouldn’t stand in the way of you and a pair of good jeans. The right denim DNA is crucial to cutting a hot-to-trot profile. Yet there are some common mistakes that many men make when purchasing this classic American sartorial staple.
For starters, you just need to resign yourself to the fact you’re going to have to try on a lot of denim in order to find what works best for you. Trust us on this one, a little time invested up front will save you from countless trips to other stores when it turns out your initial purchase didn’t quite work out.
Even if you carry the better part of the jeans section with you to the dressing room, there’s still room for error. But never fear, we’re here to help. Steer clear of these denim don’ts, and heed some additional words of wisdom from jean-etically gifted guys in the know — and you’ll be flaunting those good jeans in no time.
1. Buying jeans that don’t fit
We likely don’t have to tell you that the sagging pants trend has no place here. But, even if you’re not wearing your pants slung down around your legs, there are other fit issues to consider. “Fit starts at the waist; you should be able to fasten your belt without the waistline cinching. A great classic jean will have a medium rise, so it’s not too high and tight or too loose and baggy. Guys with larger frames should stay away from super-slim or skinny fits if they are not flattering,” said Brad Andrews of Bonobos to Esquire.
Indeed, both straight and classic fit jeans are the most wearer-friendly with an average, everyman cut. But be careful that your pair isn’t too baggy below the knee, as this can result in some flare or even a retro, bell-bottom look — and you definitely want to avoid having a That ’70s Show effect. On the flip side, jeans that are too tight can be just as much of an eyesore, grabbing attention for all the wrong reasons. Skinny jeans are hyper-specific and not well-suited to many men. Go for a slim-fit if you have slim legs, but anyone with a more muscular or bigger build will need to opt for a pair with slightly more room to move and groove.
Additionally, when it comes to the inseam, make sure you know your measurements. No matter how great the rest of the fit is, jeans that are too long will translate as sloppy and pairs that are too short will simply look like they shrunk or that you outgrew them. The jeans should break about an inch over your shoe for the smartest look.
2. Buying jeans that don’t fit your lifestyle
While it’s a mistake to buy pants that don’t fit, it’s also not the best choice to purchase a pair that doesn’t fit your lifestyle. Form and function is key. If you’re a diehard outdoorsman who needs adventure-ready, performance-packed denim, then don’t pretend a pair of standard, straight legs or slim-fitting black jeans will do the trick.
We know the sheer number of denim options can be nothing if not intimidating, so it’s important to narrow your focus by ensuring that you’re only looking at jeans that jive with your personality and your needs. Ben Taverniti of Hudson Jeans said, “Look for the fit, fabric, and wash that fits with your lifestyle. Relaxed fits give freedom of movement for more active lifestyles; for the dapper guy, selvage denim gives a crisp, tailored feeling.”
3. Buying jeans that are too cheap
Now there is nothing wrong with being savvy and price-sensitive about the dollar signs of your denim, and there are many reasonably priced, solid pairs to be had. You don’t have to pay the big bucks for the brand name and the designer denim to get a solid pair of pants. But it’s also a mistake to play it too cheap with your pants. It’s far better to invest a few more dollars in a pair that will look like a million bucks and stand the test of time.
Cheaper brands generally aren’t constructed as well so they won’t have the fit or the flair that you’re seeking. Plus, they tend to mix in other less expensive fibers with the cotton, such as spandex, which will change the shape of the denim quite drastically as you wear them.
4. Buying gimmicky jeans
When it comes to jeans, good design is often minimal design that allows the true essence and integrity of the denim to shine. The best pairs take on a starring role in your ensemble simply by virtue of an impeccable fit and form. No need for a bunch of showy styling details when it comes to your pants, so kick the branded, bedazzled back pockets, overdone acid washes, and faux distressing to the curb. For the most classically handsome, versatile pairs, it’s best to stay away from all those try-hard bells and whistles. “Simple construction with good stitching and thread color — no heavy embellishments or back-pocket stitching. It’s too much of a gimmick. I’m just looking for the real deal: straightforward, masculine, and wearable,” said Matthew Saam of J Brand. And we couldn’t agree more.