One of the staple items in casual menswear is a pair of denim jeans. While it is a basic piece, wearing it stylishly can be a challenge for some gentlemenwhich is why today, well discuss how to find the best jeans for your style and your body type.
Origins of Denim Jeans
Most of us have an idea of what denim is, but not many people know where it comes from or why it was created. By definition, it is a sturdy cotton twill fabric, typically blue, used for jeans, overalls, and other items of clothing. In the late 17th century, in the town of Nmes, French weavers created a serge fabric. When this fabric was later transported to England, it was then known as Serge De Nmes. This later became the English word denim.
Meanwhile, jeans are hard-wearing trousers made of denim or other cotton substances, used primarily for informal wear. The word jeans comes from the French term for the Italian city of Genoa, Gnes. In 1873, a tailor named Jacob W. Davis was contacted by a client who wanted trousers that were going to wear well for her husband. Working with Davis, Levi Strauss was the initial supplier of denim in the USA. In the 20th century, denims blend of comfort and durability made it ideal for workwear; as an example, in the uniforms for the staff of the French National Railway.
How Is Denim Created?
Cotton is harvested, and the seeds are separated from the fibers. The fivers are spun into yarn, the yarn is dyed to a specific color, and then that yarn is woven into denim. Denim can be processed in a few different ways, which well cover here.
This is denim that has not been washed after its been dyed. The color might be more rich than any other washed denim, but the fabric will almost certainly let out extra dye when washed or agitated. By the way, our post on cheap and easy laundry hacks has a tutorial on how to color-set your denim, in order to subvert this common problem.
The term selvage (or selvedge) actually comes from two different words, self and edge, and refers to the edge of the fabric after it leaves the loom. The fabric is edged against itself, therefore making it more durable, as it will not unravel. This edge is created by continuously passing the weft back and forth through the warp. Fun fact: it actually takes about three yards of selvage denim to create one pair of jeans.
Other Components of Denim Creation
Other than the process, anotherpopular added component to denim is some amount of spandex; it adds range of motion and a lot more comfort for the wearer. Typically, youll see 1-3% being the average amount of spandex added to denim. However, you will find yourself paying for this added benefit, as the addition of spandex does shorten the lifespan and the durability of your jeans.
How Should You Buy & Style Denim?
Find Your Body Type
Understanding where you fit within the broad spectrum of body types will help you know what to shop for. There are three main body types that most men will fall into, though not everybody is going to fit squarely into just one body type. Many people will find that they have components of many of these different categories.
- The first category is the ectomorph. This is also known as Cerebrotonic. This individual is very lean with narrow chest and shoulders. They typically have very low body fat and maybe have a more difficult time putting on size.
- The second major category is the mesomorph, also known as Somatotonic. This individual usually appears muscular and appears quite strong and usually will not have a major amount of body fat on them. A narrow waist and broad shoulders is usually seen within these individuals.
- The last major category is the Endomorph, also known as a Viscerotonic. These individuals usually have narrow shoulders and carry a little bit more body fat. They may have a fuller body image and at times, may appear pear-shaped.
Paying attention to your overall body features, bone structure, and how easy it is for you to put on size and muscle will help you understand where you fit within the broad spectrum of body types. For example, I find that I usually can fit into the mesomorph category a little bit easier, as I can put on muscle and keep that off fairly easily.
Buy Based On Your Body Type
Ectomorphs, for example, have a much simpler time wearing slim, skinny, or even a more modern spray on style than people of other body types. The more endomorphic individual usually finds that a regular or relaxed fit would fit better. A straight fit might also work as long as its not uncomfortable on the hips and seat. Mesomorphic individuals have a little bit more wiggle room in terms of what they can choose for denim styles. For these individuals, muscle size and their waistline will help determine what styles they should wear. If you happen to be somebody who is more muscular and has larger thighs, but you like to wear things that are a little bit more trim, you might want to opt for something with spandex, or look for a straight fit.
Of course, being at the Gentlemans Gazette, we want to remind everyone that anything tighter than a slim fit is usually outside the scope of classic mens style. If you like to wear really skinny or spray-on styles, thats finebut do understand that they dont usually mesh too well with classic mens styling.
Choose a Denim Color
If youre anything like me, you might be somewhat surprised when you go to the storewho knew there were so many different shades of blue? Its always fine to have some fun with quirky, interesting colors, but we recommend starting with the foundational hues first.
Dark Wash or Indigo
This color is very deep, offers great versatility, and always looks great with a sport coat or a sweater. Be aware, the dye is quite rich and can transfer on to other fabrics so color setting is very important.
Medium Wash Denim
Light Wash Denim
This particular color is usually going to look best in the summer, and overall warm months. This color also tends to look a little bit more casual than its darker counterpoints.
What Should You Avoid When Buying Denim?
Its important to take a few extra minutes in that fitting room and make sure youre not seeing issues arise. Before mentioning any specific points, well caution against the so-called Canadian tuxedo of denim jeans and shirt. Style icons like Gianni Agnelli and Ralph Lauren might be able to make it work, but the average guy will simply look out of place.
Too Much Detail
A small or subtle amount of distressing in a casual outfit is acceptable from time to time, however, wearing jeans with exceptionally large holes, distressing, and strange designs are wholly unacceptable for a business setting.
Fit Is Too Tight
You dont want to overemphasize certain areas of your body. Watch out for pull lines, aggressive pattern twisting, and pocket outlines on your thighs, these are all red flags that if you see them happening in the mirror, you should either try a different size or a different fit altogether. Jeans that are too tight will be uncomfortable and are going to be more prone to tearing. Bending over to tie your shoe and having your pants ripped should be saved for a comedy sketch, not real life.
Fit Is Too Loose
Even if it cost you a pretty penny to purchase, ill-fitting jeans that are too loose will look sloppy and look like you did not add too much effort into your outfit that day. If your body type requires that you wear a looser fit, go ahead and wear them. However, wearing loose clothing just for the sake of wearing loose clothing will make you appear sloppy and dwarfed by the garment.
Where Should You Buy Denim?
- On the low end, Wrangler, Gap, and Levis all provide great options. On average, these can be found between $50-$75.
- In a market range price point from $100-$200, you could look at 7 For All Mankind, Hudson, Joes Jeans, J Brand, or AG.
- For a slightly higher price point of over $200 and up ,you could look at brands like A.P.C, Paige, Diesel, also Givenchy, Rag & Bone, Citizens of Humanity and they all provide great options.
Keep in mind, there are much lower- and higher-end options beyond whats listed, and what one person might consider a low price point, somebody else might consider an extremely high price point. Although its fine to be frugal, I always like to remember the saying You get what you pay for. If you opt for a less expensive or fast fashion pair of jeans in the beginning, youll pay for it in the long run in the lack of longevity and quality. Likewise, spending more money does not equate to having eternal jeans. All man-made garments have a lifespan, and the more you wear something, the shorter that lifespan is, regardless of what the price tag says.
If you find that you really enjoy a particular color, you could always buy multiples of said color. Similarly, if you find that you really enjoy a particular fit, it might be wise to purchase multiple colors in said fit, so that you have multiple options for outfits. Also, its very important to try before you buy. If youre unsure of some of the brands we mentioned above, whether youre browsing online or shopping in the physical store, its important to take those extra few minutes to test out your daily movements with those brands in the fitting room.
Remember that the easiest way to understand what you should be shopping for is to best understand your body type. Also, keep your style preferences in mind, as well as your budget. When all these are in check, you should have no problem finding what denim works best for you.