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Jeans and trousers

How jeans should fit

How jeans should fit

When it comes to denim, one size does not fit all. And we don’t just mean your waist size. Jeans have existed, in various guises, for almost 150 years; in that time they’ve been crafted in a plethora of shapes and silhouettes, from flares to dungarees, not all of which are all that easy to wear.

Getting the right fit is about more than them not falling down without a belt. ‘Size’ is how big your jeans are; ‘fit’ refers to a number of design details, from the width of the legs to the distance between the waistband and the crotch. “Every fit has things that it works well with, or body shapes that it suits best,” says Thread stylist Freddie Kemp. “Figuring out the right one for you can be the difference between jeans you want to wear every day, and a pair that you try once and then never put on again.”

So to help you put your best foot (or leg) forward, we’ve broken down the four styles you should consider (we’re assuming that you’re not a bell bottoms kind of guy). Now you’ll never be caught in the wrong trousers again.

Skinny fit

Skinny fit jeans

Photographed: Nudie jeans (£89)MVP t-shirt (£12 - throughout)

The skinny jean has been a perennial choice for teenagers throughout history, but it’s not a cut limited to those under drinking age. The key thing you need to pull them off is the same as with anything trendy – confidence. “These days, you can expect a short rise – that’s how high the waistband sits – and denim that’s tight to the skin,” says Freddie. “It follows the contours of your leg, so it’s tightest at the ankle.” But despite their popularity, skinnies aren’t a style that flatters every physique.

“Guys with slim, long legs are better off wearing the skinny jean,” says Freddie. “The denim will graze the skin, whereas more muscular guys can struggle to even get their legs in.” They chime with a certain style of dress, too. “Those with a slight rock ‘n’ roll feel are most at home in skinny jeans. They pair well with printed shirts and leather jackets.” Think Mick Jagger and you’re well on your way.

Slim fit

Slim fit jeans

Photographed: Levi’s jeans (£90)

A step up from skin-tight but no means loose, slim jeans are the most popular denim choice. And with good reason; they’re an easy-to-wear in-between that suits most shapes. The cut took off during the golden age of Westerns: Roy Rogers, John Wayne and anyone else who rode a horse and carried a six-shooter all did so in slim-fit denim. “The silhouette is the same now as it was then,” says Freddie. “They’ve got a short- to mid-rise that sits just above your hips, and are fitted to the skin but not super-tight. Like skinnies, they’re tapered to follow your legs, so are slimmest at the ankle.”

‘Slim’ is a largely subjective term, however. “Slim fit can vary a lot brand-to-brand, so it’s about finding the one that works for you,” says Freddie. “Once you have found them, they’ll be a mainstay in almost every casual look because they’re just so versatile. Slim fit jeans look great in dark navy or black and work with either smart or casual pieces. They’re as happy with knitwear and brogues as they are a sweatshirt and trainers.”

Straight fit

Straight fit jeans

Photographed: APC jeans (£135)

If you spend time on a bike or in the gym, it can be tough to fit into slimmer styles. If they’re right in the waist, they’re too tight in the thigh; if the thighs are OK, they billow around your waist. Straight jeans – “a mid rise style with the same width through the thigh and calf,” says Freddie – have long been the go-to for guys with athletic physiques. And alongside comfort, you get tradition; they’re the closest in fit to the original denims of the 1850s.

“Guys with slightly larger frames and bigger thighs suit straight jeans for a reason,” says Freddie. “There’s more room to manoeuvre and it won’t suffocate your muscles.” Important, especially if you want to avoid missing patches of hair and the blight of chafing. “You can easily slot them into smart-casual looks, as the classic shape means they match more structured pieces like blazers.”

Loose fit

Wide leg jeans

Photographed: Edwin jeans (£140)

Although slimmer fits have been popular for the last decade, looser styles are becoming more prevalent. But know that these aren’t the super-baggy versions worn by rappers and 90s skateboarders; modern versions are best for older guys, rather than teenagers. “Loose jeans – sometimes known as as ‘anti-fit’ – can wildly vary in shape and silhouette,” says Freddie. “But they’re all defined by plenty of room in the leg and a few extra inches everywhere else, too.”

How loose is loose, though? Well, that depends upon the brand, says Freddie. “There are options for a real statement wide leg, but most guys look good in slightly tamer choices. It’s simply a case of knowing what you want and being brave enough to experiment.” If you prefer to keep things safe, stick to slim or straight for now.