Easy Guide to Buying Men’s Jeans and Getting the Perfect Fit

Guide to Buying Jeans

Invented in 1873, denim jeans have remained a wardrobe staple for generations, always on trend and cementing their place as a timeless fashion icon.

From workwear to casual chic, jeans have evolved to cater to diverse styles and body types, making them a versatile choice for any occasion.

However, finding the perfect pair of jeans is difficult, especially for dads juggling multiple responsibilities with no clue about fashion.

I speak from experience.

What’s more, what we mean by the word ‘jeans’ has changed over time. They used to be a hard-wearing material that could last for decades. Now, most pairs are more stretchy elastic than denim, fit too tightly, and barely last a year.

This comprehensive guide will show you how to get jeans shopping right, helping you to embrace your style while ensuring maximum comfort and confidence.

Hopefully, you won’t look a wally in them either.

Understanding Fit

When it comes to jeans, the fit is paramount.

A well-fitted pair can accentuate your best features, while an ill-fitting one can leave you feeling uncomfortable and self-conscious.

The key to achieving the perfect fit lies in understanding denim construction and how it interacts with your body shape.

Jeans are meticulously crafted with four essential elements that determine their overall fit: leg shape, rise, length, and fabric. Mastering these pillars will equip you with the knowledge to navigate the denim aisles like a pro.

Leg Shape: Defining Your Silhouette

The leg shape is the foundation of any great-fitting pair of jeans.

It is defined by three measurements: thigh, knee, and leg opening. These measurements are taken with the jeans laid flat and then doubled to account for both legs.

  • Thigh: Measured at a right angle just below the crotch, including a bit of fabric from the back of the leg to capture the full width.
  • Knee: Measured 35 cm (14 inches) down the inseam from the crotch.
  • Leg Opening: The measurement across the hem.

The combination of these measurements creates the overall leg shape, ranging from skinny to relaxed fits.

However, brands often have their own interpretations of these fits, so you need to try them on or measure them against a well-fitting pair you already own.

Rise: Finding Your Comfort Zone

The rise is the distance from the crotch seam to the top of the waistband, encompassing both the front and back rises.

Jeans are designed with a curved back rise, hugging your figure and providing a flattering fit.

  • Low Rise: Sits below the natural waistline, offering a relaxed and casual look.
  • Mid Rise: The happy medium, striking a balance between comfort and style.
  • High Rise: Sits at or above the natural waistline, elongating your silhouette.

Selecting the right rise is crucial for comfort and overall appearance, as it determines where the jeans sit on your body.

Length: Mastering the Break

The length, or inseam, is the measurement from the crotch seam to the leg opening.

A well-fitted pair of jeans should have a subtle break, where the front of the hem rests on top of your instep, and the back grazes the floor when worn without shoes.

While trends like cropped legs and cuffing have gained popularity, the length of your jeans can significantly impact your overall look.

A longer inseam can create the illusion of height, while a shorter one can make your legs appear stumpy.

No one wants stumpy legs.

Fabric: Fit and Style

Denim fabric has evolved beyond its traditional 100% cotton composition, incorporating stretch materials like spandex or elastane for enhanced comfort and mobility.

Stretch denim offers unparalleled flexibility, allowing for a more tailored fit without sacrificing movement.

However, purists argue that rigid, non-stretch denim maintains an authentic denim look and fades beautifully over time.

The choice between stretch and rigid denim ultimately comes down to personal preference and the desired fit.

I would always go for something with less stretch and more durability if I had the choice – we’re buying jeans, not leggings, right? I won’t judge you if you don’t agree, though.

You big girl’s blouse.

Body Type Considerations

Dad Wearing Jeans

While understanding the four pillars of fit is important, it’s equally important to consider your body type.

Each body shape has unique characteristics that require specific considerations to achieve a flattering and comfortable fit.

It might take a bit of experimentation, but it’s worth it. Your body type is unlikely to change drastically, so once you have it locked down, it’s a skill for life.

Average Build: Embrace Versatility

If you’re blessed with an average build, finding well-fitting jeans should be a breeze.

From slim to relaxed fits, most styles will complement your proportions.

Opt for a slim straight or tapered fit if you have muscular thighs, and steer clear of skinny fits unless you’re aiming for a youthful vibe.

As a Dad, you probably shouldn’t be putting yourself in the ‘youthful’ category. Life has moved on my friend, accept it.

Shorter Stature: Elongate Your Frame

For shorter men, the key is to create the illusion of height, or at least not to draw extra attention to your size.

Opt for mid-rise jeans with a straight leg, as they elongate your frame and balance your proportions.

Avoid low-rise and relaxed fits, as they can make your legs appear even shorter.

If a wizard approaches you about a dangerous journey through Middle Earth to destroy a ring, you need to re-assess your choices.

Taller Builds: Maintain Balance

Taller men should aim for a balanced look by selecting mid or low-rise jeans with a slim or regular leg.

Avoid high-waisted styles, as they can make your legs appear disproportionately long. If your torso is particularly lengthy, a higher rise can help elongate your legs.

Then you’ll get people calling you ‘Crouchy’ and asking you to do the robot, which isn’t ideal.

Larger Frames: Comfort and Style

For men with larger frames, whether muscular or carrying extra weight, comfort should be a top priority.

Low-rise jeans with a tapered or relaxed fit can provide ample room in the thigh and seat areas, preventing the dreaded “spray-on” look.

Or even worse, an embarrassing rip down the backside when you bend over.

Opt for heavier fabrics, as they drape better and are less revealing.

Slender Builds: Accentuate Your Assets

If you have a slender build, you have the freedom to experiment with various fits and styles.

Lucky you.

Any rise or leg shape can work for you, but avoid super-skinny fits, as they can create an unflattering, pencil-like silhouette.

Bulkier fabrics can also help add visual interest and prevent your legs from appearing too thin.

Try Them On

Trying on Jeans

Once you’ve identified the fit that suits your body type, try on the jeans you like before making a purchase.

This step allows you to assess the overall comfort and appearance, ensuring that the jeans meet your expectations.

Like I said earlier, different brands have their own ideas about the different styles and fits, so no two pairs are the same even if they look to be on paper.

Instead of relying solely on the size tag, focus on how the jeans fit your body.

If trying on isn’t an option, measure the jeans against a well-fitting pair you already own to determine the correct size.

Remember, denim stretches with wear, so aim for a snug but comfortable fit when trying them on for the first time.

Pay for Tailoring

If your jeans require shortening or minor alterations, it’s best to seek the expertise of a professional tailor.

A skilled tailor can preserve the original hem and ensure that the fit remains intact, even after alterations.

If you are someone who spends a lot on your wardrobe, tailoring is probably a good idea even if you think the jeans you have bought fit ok.

They can take a pair of well-made jeans off the factory line and tweak them to make them 100% perfect for you. The style will remain the same, but they will feel and look perfect.

For those seeking an authentic chain stitch hem, many denim enthusiasts recommend specialized tailors or denim repair shops that offer this service, rather than a generalist.

Back Pockets: The Effect on Your Butt

While often overlooked, the placement and size of back pockets can significantly impact the overall appearance of your jeans.

Pockets placed closer together can create the illusion of a slimmer backside, while larger pockets can have the opposite effect.

Additionally, the amount of “noise” or detailing on the back pockets can draw attention to that area.

You might like that idea, you might not, it’s not for me to say. Nevertheless, this is the impact noisy back pockets can have.

If you prefer a more understated look, opt for clean, minimalistic back pockets.

Age-Appropriate Styling

Age Appropriate Style

You’re getting old, pal.

As you navigate the different stages of life, consider whether your chosen denim style aligns with your age and lifestyle. While trends come and go, certain styles may not transcend age gracefully.

Be honest with yourself, are you really rocking the same look as the 21-year-olds out on the town? Or are they pulling faces as you walk past.

For instance, while skinny jeans may have been a staple in your younger years, they may not be the most flattering or age-appropriate choice as you enter your forties or fifties. Even if they are ‘in’ with the younger crowd.

Instead, opt for styles that exude confidence and maturity, allowing you to embrace your evolving sense of style.

In other words, grow old gracefully. You don’t want to be like one of those 55-year-olds still walking around with an Oasis haircut, do you?

Online Shopping: The “Pull 3” Trick

In the age of e-commerce, online shopping has become a convenient option for purchasing jeans. It’s going shopping without having to talk to people – what’s not to like?

However, it can be challenging to gauge the fit and sizing without trying clothes on, so it can turn into a laborious process of constantly sending things back.

To mitigate this issue, employ the “Pull 3” trick.

When shopping online, order your estimated size, one size up, and one size down. This approach allows you to try on multiple sizes and return the ones that don’t fit in one go.

Yes, it will cost you 3 times as much to begin with, but you get that money back provided you return the unwanted items.

Remember to familiarize yourself with the retailer’s return policy though, as some may not accept returns on sale items or partial orders.