Finding the Perfect Pair of Jeans

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Thursday 14th October 2010
In this article
  • A brief history of blue jeans.
  • What's your style?
  • Get the fit.

Blue jean styles are endless — from stonewashed to sandblasted, there's a look for every SharpMan. However, the look you choose is bound to say something about your personality. Something tells me James Dean wouldn't have been caught dead in a pair of butt-crack-bearing baggies. In addition to style, the correct fit is also essential to looking fine in a pair of baby blues. If you've got it, flaunt it, but if you don't, at least create the illusion that you do.

As any good businessman knows, before diving into a project, it's best to get acquainted with what others have done before you, in order to avoid age-old mistakes. So, before we dive into fits and cuts, take a SharpGrooming look at the evolution of the blue jean:

Blue Jeans: A Brief History

According to DesignBoom.com, in the 18th century, hard labor was a way of life for many people, and workers often wore denim due to its ability to handle wear and tear. This was later true for miners in the Gold Rush. So, in 1853, Leob (now Levi) Strauss began a business selling these tough but comfortable workingman's pants.

Throughout the 20th century, blue jeans were influenced by the culture of the day. In the 1930s, jeans were popularized by cowboys, sex symbols of their time. In the '50s, James Dean-esque "rebels without a cause" chose the dungarees over preppy trousers and khakis. Later, in the '60s and '70s, youth culture (a.k.a. "hippies") helped reshape volume production of denim by adopting the bell-bottoms cut and painting and embroidering their jeans. Jeans were no longer just a comfortable, workingman's wear, but rather a symbol of the anti-war movement and of contemporary fashion. It wasn't until the '80s, however, that denim became a fashion mainstay. Suddenly, jeans were a posh purchase, thanks to hot '80s designers who used blue jeans on the runway.

The designer revolution of the '80s gave way to reinvented denim in the '90s and the new millennium. Now more than ever, denim (now found on jackets, shirts, caps and beyond), is everywhere and on everyone — from SOHO hipsters to blue-collar workers. The styles, colors and treatments vary and allow each wearer to express his individual taste depending on the style chosen. From youth baggies to college carpenters to torn-up trendsetters, there's a color, style and cut for every SharpMan. The tough part? Figuring out which jeans were made for you.

What's My Style?

There are four main blue jean cuts for men: baggy, carpenter/worker, relaxed/loose and boot cut. The fit you choose depends on your personal taste and your body type.

Baggy. Baggy jeans, in general, are not a great choice for accentuating your ass-ets. Baggy jeans tend to make slim men look lanky, and larger men look, well, even larger. The major draw of baggy jeans is the comfort. So, if you're looking for a pair of jeans in which to hang around your apartment, baggies are a great choice. For a night out on the town, or even a Saturday afternoon jaunt, stick with a more flattering style.

Carpenter/worker. As a woman, I can't remember the last time I saw a SharpMan in carpenter jeans that appealed to me. If you're in college, you have a better chance of getting away with this style than SharpMen over the age of 25. Carpenter, or worker jeans, are just that - made for working. So unless you plan to actually hang a hammer on that little flap on the leg, avoid them.

Relaxed/loose fit. Loose-fit jeans offer the best of both worlds for men; they're comfortable, but also look good. Relaxed jeans are perfect for running weekend errands, or even for work if your company allows the often-banned denim devils. Choosing the perfect fit, which will be addressed below, is very important. A wrong size or unforgiving cut of loose fits can leave a man looking short or long-waisted, and can also make the backside nearly invisible.

Boot cut. If you take one piece of advice from this article, this is it: wear boot cut jeans! Many styles of men's jeans offer a tapered leg, which can make them look like Hammer-pants (don't touch this). Boot cut jeans have a very slimming, yet flattering effect on SharpMen. These are the jeans you'd pick for a date, or anywhere you might go where jeans are allowed. If you can't find a boot cut style that looks right on you, try a straight-leg jean, which doesn't taper, but doesn't flair like a boot cut.

Get the Fit

So you've got the history down, and have figured out which style is best for you. What's next? Getting the right fit. This is crucial because fit can make or break the way a SharpMan looks in a pair of jeans.

Step One: Waist and Hang. Designers identify the waist in several ways. There's a traditional "woman's waist," which is all the way up above her belly button, a "man's waist," right below his pelvic bones, and then there are some less traditional waist styles that are lower. You want your jeans to sit at a man's waist - just below or at your pelvic bones. Any higher of a waist and your look will be reminiscent of Steve Erckel (I'm guessing he's not your style icon); too low and your look goes from hot to hip-hop. Keep it sophisticated.

Step Two: All in the Legs. Try to avoid tapered legs. This cut is generally unflattering and serves as a telltale sign of an unstylish man.

If you're a slim SharpMan - short or tall - it's best to choose a boot cut or straight-leg style, made to be slim-fitting and hug your assets in all the right spots. If you are a larger man, a loose or relaxed fit is best. While not quite as body hugging, this cut will not add extra weight. When in doubt, pull aside a female sales clerk and ask her for help, or bring your female friend along for an honest opinion.

This article last updated on Thursday 14th October 2010
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