Men’s Fashion Basics – Part 4 – Jeans
So, I’ll admit this article has been scaring me for awhile. Not because I have some sort of denim-based phobia but because guys jeans are a VERY personal preference. Everybody has their favourite style, detailing and fit, and more than that, there is such a huge variety out there that the thought of me having to compact it all down into about 600 words had me running for cover. But I persevered nonetheless…
Jeans are a MUST. They can be used to dress down or dress up just about any outfit. They’re versatile and when done correctly, you should only need to buy three or four of the right pairs to last you for a long time. The more you wear them, the more lived-in they look, giving them distinct detailing that becomes individual to you. You can wear them with a belt or not, cuffed or no cuff, with loads of pockets, with none at all… basically however you want and they will always serve you well.
However, there are a few ground rules we should cover. DO make sure your jeans fit you on your hips (see my article on fit for a full rundown), buy them in natural or neutral colours for the moment (like blacks, greys, blues) and try to stick to plain washes. All acid wash is going to do is remind everyone of a Motley Crue video.
The same goes for holes, rips and long threads; distressed jeans are popular right now and right on-trend with the whole workerwear look, but they come and go quickly and seeing as you are at the start of your journey then we should go with classic cuts and colours that will last. As for all those guys with designer brands plastered over the pockets on their arse? The last thing I want when a lady is checking out my derrière is for her to then have some other guys brand or name in her head. And neither should you!
Basic Types of Jeans
There are four basic styles of jeans you can go for and each one will present a different look to your outfit when you put them on. Over the last few years we have had a variety of new styles come onto the market like carrot cut, drop crotch, twisted etc. but these (below) are the four main types that all other varieties now modify in order to give you a different cut and feel. For this basics article we will concentrate on the originals, and from there you will then be able to diversify in the future, dependant on your preference:
Bootcut – I’m of the personal opinion that there is a strong move away from these occurring right now, with most people preferring the skinnier tucked in look when they wear their boots. However, if you don’t like that look but still love your chunky boots or have the kind of legs that get wider as they go down; these might be a style you want to look into. But remember if they start to remind you even a little bit of flares don’t buy them!
Relaxed – This just means more excess material and a slightly baggier look and a looser fit. Useful for a more casual/laid back outfit with t-shirts and trainers or when you’re lounging around the house on a weekend in your hoody.
Skinny – Nearly always named something different such as tapered, slim or tailored etc. Works for people of a more slender or youthful frame but I’m personally not a fan. With that said when it’s done right and combined correctly with other items it does work really well for some guys. If you draw inspiration from the indie scene or prefer a tailored approach to your clothes, these could be for you.
Straight – Probably the best option for most guys at the moment. They are a happy medium between relaxed and skinny, giving you some room to move while maintaining a shape and outline of your body.
Obviously, I’m not suggesting that you need to go out and buy all these styles in a variety of colours but it does give you an idea of what’s out there. What you need to do is sit down and think about what kind of jeans person you are. If your work days are dominated by suit trousers then I’m guessing your jeans are used as your casual wear to relax in. Or if you’re the kind of guy who wears jeans on a night out or in more formal occasions too, then you’ll probably need jeans that are appropriate to those settings too. What I would suggest is that every guy needs a great pair of straight dark blue jeans, a relaxed fit light blue jean and another straight pair in either grey or black in order to have some bases covered.
When going for a more laid back casual uniform, I find sticking to lighter blue and looser fit jeans works well. Don’t be afraid to let them have some detailing or ‘whiskering’ on them either, you’re supposed to be relaxing so show that you’re not scared to get them a little bit roughed up on your weekend!
On the other hand, when aiming for a smarter or formal look, a pair of darker denim jeans are a great way to dress up just about anything. Try to keep them as simple as you can which will give the other items in your outfit a chance to get all the attention. Think of them as another anchor that you won’t have to worry about, giving you more chance to experiment and build other pieces around it.
And as always here are some fool-proof ways of using jeans: –
- Taking inspiration from my article on Tee’s, a relaxed fit light to mid-blue jean paired with the V-neck or crew necks you should have in whites, greys and blacks is an easy casual weekend look. Throw on some knitwear or your favourite hoody/leather jacket for some extra warmth when heading outside.
- For a night out, try pairing some dark raw denim jeans with a white shirt, black or grey fitted waistcoat and a plaid tie. Have the waistcoat buttoned up or open, whichever you prefer, just keep the jeans simple and fitted and make sure your best shoes are on. Mine would be my black Chelsea boots.
- For the grey or black jeans, use them as a great base item for your plaid shirts. You’ll nearly always find me wearing my grey straight jeans with a white V-neck tee and a blue plaid shirt over it.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Try them with your favourite shirts, blazers, waistcoats, shoes, overcoats, jackets, Tees, cardigans, etc. Experiment and see what looks good for YOU.