THERE'S more than one reason why jeans are among the most worn items on the planet.
Find the right pair and they’ll be easy to wear to the office, on the weekend, on dates and to the pub with friends.
They can be dressed up with tailoring, or down with hoodies, and are comfortable too, especially if you go for a stretch denim pair. Jeans are a wardrobe staple, and have been for the better part of a century.
First introduced at the tail end of the 20th century, denim jeans were originally designed for miners and labourers on the west coast of America. Brands like Levi’s, Lee and Wrangler competed for the toughest, most durable pairs that were designed to take a beating.
Denim cotton itself is a hard-wearing fabric, ensuring jeans wouldn’t rip easily for those in the mines, while pairs were often double and triple-stitched at the seams, with rivets holding them in place.
Jeans slowly morphed into something else entirely in the mid-20th century. Worn as a counter-cultural statement, jeans were favoured by bikers, hippies and skaters later on, beloved for the casual look they offered as well as the all-day comfort of the fabric once it was broken in.
Today, jeans are a laid-back essential, as cool as ever and easy to combine with all manner of other classic pieces. From what to look for to the best jeans for men, here’s all you need to know.
What to look for when buying jeans for men
If in doubt, go dark
If you’re looking to buy just one pair of jeans, it’s best to keep it simple, and dark.
Dark denim in the form of navy or black is easily the most versatile. Find one in a tapered fit and you can literally wear them every day, and with practically anything.
A dark blue pair of selvedge denim jeans can be worn with a T-shirt in spring, a polo and lightweight jacket when it’s cooler, or a chunky roll neck and pea coat when it's colder still.
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You can smarten them up with a tailored jacket and Oxford shirt, too, making them ideal for wearing to casual offices.
Fit is arguably the most important aspect of any trouser purchase, and it’s no different with jeans.
The way they fit is down to personal preference to an extent. If you’re unsure, you should look for a pair of straight tapered jeans, which have more room in the seat and thigh yet taper gently down to the hem. These are universally flattering and will suit most body types.
For a more relaxed look you can of course go baggier, which gives the jeans an even more casual, skate-inspired feel.
The best jeans for men, at a glance
- Best affordable jeans for men: Lee Men's Straight Fit MVP Extreme Motion Jeans
- Best classic jeans for men: Levi's 501 Original
- Best value jeans for men: Uniqlo Selvedge Stretch Slim Fit Jeans
- Best black jeans for men: Nudie Jeans Gritty Jackson Dry Black
- Best luxury jeans for men: Non Standard Jean
Levi's 501 Original
- Levi's 501 Original, from £38 at Amazon – buy here
Levi’s has long been the benchmark for denim jeans.
The brand first started making them in 1853, and has since outfitted everyone from gold miners at the turn of the 20th century through to James Dean and Marlon Brando.
Its 501 cut is the original and best, with its straight fit, medium rise and, in this case, dark blue denim. It’s been made to the same pattern for decades and continues to be popular among those who want classic, easy-to-style jeans.
This is the kind of pair you could wear with virtually anything, from slim white tees to unstructured blazers and shirts.
Lee Men's Straight Fit MVP Extreme Motion Jeans
- Lee Men's Straight Fit MVP Extreme Motion Jeans, from £27.42 at Amazon – buy here
Lee is another of the big denim names, having been around since 1889.
Well-regarded for its denim jackets, shirts and of course jeans, Lee is a surefire bet if you’re after classic pieces that are made to last.
While its straight fit, indigo denim is among the best out there, it also does a range of more experimental fabric blends, with this pair being a prime example.
Offering incredible comfort and an impressive range of motion, they come with a classic fit, but the denim they’re constructed from is made up of a unique mix of cotton, lyocell and elastane, meaning they stretch and move with the body rather than against it.
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Nudie Gritty Jackson
- Gritty Jackson Dry Black YD,
£105£84 from Nudie Jeans – buy here
Nudie is one of the brands that helped put Sweden on the style map.
Its jeans have long been among the best out there, particularly when it comes to fit and fabric.
This pair comes in a regular fit, with a mid-rise and a tailored leg, while the black cotton used promises to age beautifully.
Uniqlo Selvedge Stretch Slim Fit Jeans
- Selvedge Stretch Slim Fit Jeans, £39.90 from Uniqlo – buy here
When it comes to value, it’s hard to beat Uniqlo’s denim. The Japanese brand’s selvedge jeans combine style with affordability, and the fits are on point too.
This pair comes with stretch denim for added comfort, while details include chain-stitched hems, which provide an artisanal touch.
M&S Tapered Fit Stretch Jeans
- Tapered Fit Stretch Jeans, £26 from M&S – buy here
M&S has expanded its denim range recently to include an array of fits, from slim to loose.
This pair comes with a tapered leg, while the black denim is blended with 1% elastane for a slight stretch.
Wrangler Texas Medium Stretch
- Texas Medium Stretch,
£90£63 from Wrangler – buy here
One of the big three denim companies alongside Levi’s and Lee, Wrangler has been in the game since 1904.
This pair of jeans has a classic regular fit with a zip fly, mid-rise and straight leg, with the denim itself endorsed by the Better Cotton Initiative, for a more sustainable finish.
Spoke Original Denim
- Original Denim, £99 from Spoke – buy here
Spoke prides itself on its fits, promising to find you the perfect cut regardless of size or body shape.
For its classic jeans, the brand has sourced a 12oz denim, which has been given a light enzyme wash to bring out the subtle fades.
Gant Arley Regular Fit Jeans
- Arley Regular Fit Jeans,
£100£50 from Gant – buy here
Purveyors of good quality, well-designed, prep-inspired clothing, Gant has long been the choice for those in the know.
For its Arley jeans, expect a regular fit, mid-rise and comfort stretch denim, which will only get better with age.
Non Standard Jean
- Standard Jean,
£160£120 from Non – buy here
With its tapered fit and mid-rise, this is a classic pair that’s easy to dress up or down.
Look out for details including clean, fully felled seams, as well as the white selvedge line on the turn-up of the hems.
Levi's 512 Slim Tapered Jeans
- 512 Slim Tapered Jeans,
£100£50 from Levi's – buy here
If you’re after a more faded pair of jeans, Levi’s has you covered there, too.
This 512 pair comes with a slim tapered fit for a more streamlined appearance, while the light wash gives a retro, ‘90s feel you can combine with loose tees and sweatshirts.
How much do jeans for men cost?
If you go to a high-street store, then you can pick up a pair of jeans for as little as £20 (potentially even cheaper, if you shop the sales), but jeans are an item that can wear out quickly, so we'd recommend investing in quality.
That doesn't necessarily mean spending upwards of £100; Levi's has regular sales that take the price of its jeans down by 50% or even more, so you're bound to find something affordable in your size.
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Where to buy jeans for men
With billions of pairs sold every year, jeans are available from almost every single fashion retailer on the planet. However we'd recommend visiting:
- Nudie Jeans
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