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What Are the Best Jeans for Men?

The cast of The Outsiders showcasing a variety of jeans. Photo: courtesy of Zoetrope Studios

Searching for the perfect pair of jeans can be frustrating, but if you get them right, they’ll end up being the best thing in your closet. We spoke with 30 stylish guys who care a lot about jeans — designers, retailers, podcasters, fashion writers, stylists, and other denim nerds — to hear about their favorite pairs, from classic Levi’s 501s, to styles for guys with big thighs, to some black jeans that one chef owns eight pairs of.

Best straight-fit jeans for men

Levi’s Men’s 501 Jeans
From $41
From $41
Photo: retailer

“If we’re going to talk about jeans that every man should have in their closet, a pair of good-old Levi’s” is a must, according to Amy Leverton, the author of Denim Dudes: Street Style, Vintage, Workwear, Obsession. Getting a pair of Levi’s is “almost a rite of passage,” she adds, noting that the 501 is still the gold standard. With more men telling us they live in their 501s more than any other pair on this list, that certainly seems to be the case.

Jeremy Kirkland, the host of men’s style podcast Blamo!, told us he swears by 501s, noting the rise makes them easier to dress up when the occasion calls for it. “I’ve always been a fan of higher-rise jeans versus the lower-rise pairs because I wear tailoring and sport coats, so it helps to wear something totally high.” They’re a favorite of Chris Black, who says 501s are “perfect for every occasion.” Drew Westphal, who works in digital marketing, is another fan, telling us “there’s a reason that most modern-day denim companies use the fit of the 501 to make their own jeans.” And Edgar Gonzelaz, who operates a creative studio called andafterthat in the Rio Grande Valley, says that, even in his region’s heat, “nothing beats the 501’s fit.” (If you want to get creative, Gonzelaz says he “takes the hem right off and does a slight cuff — that way, they sit right above a pair of sneakers, boots, or loafers.”)

When he’s not buying 501s, Kirkland also frequents Atelier & Repairs, designer Maurizio Donadi’s label for his line of repurposed vintage jeans. “For a while, you could just send them your old jeans to be fixed,” Kirkland says. “Now they sell a lot of repaired 501s,” like these Detroit jeans with added denim patches, exposed stitching, and a reversed hem at the break, which Kirkland calls “kind of my jam.” They’re admittedly expensive, but Kirkland points out that what you’re paying for is “the labor it takes to employ someone with a fair salary and health insurance to make your clothes.”