#GentlemenTip: A Guide to Dignified Denim
They are the uniform of everyday, the go-to item in the wardrobes of people from all walks of life. But despite their extraordinary popularity, many of us find buying jeans a baneful experience. And with the growing selection of men's denim available, shopping through them can be overwhelming.
It's true, a great pair of jeans can transform your whole wardrobe. Yet, finding a brand, or brands, that work best for you can be challenging. When you find them, make the investment– and it may not be a bad idea to get a few pairs (or simply make the mental note for next time you're shopping).
With all that in mind, I’d like to give a #gentlementip and share “A Guide to Dignified Denim.” These are three key things to keep in mind with your search.
First and foremost is how your denim fits– it is the dignifying factor. It’s the difference between James Bond and just Bo-bo the clown. Denim, like most trousers, are typically measured by waist and inseam (Width x Length). The inseam is the inside of your leg from top to bottom. Knowing the measurements of your waist and inseam is half the battle. If you're uncertain on the correct measurements, visit a tailor or get your measurements at a department store. Most denim retailers will have someone available to do this as a courtesy (some retail specialist can even look at you and tell your correct measurements).
For your waist, don’t let the denim be too loose–especially being that denim has the tendency to expand slightly after wear. Go for a snug fit that isn’t too restraining. You’ll be glad you went a size down once you break them in for yourself (achieving a perfect fit over time). Great denim tends to age well and will look and feel better over time.
When it comes to the inseam, or length, that's a totally different story. If you're anything like me, finding your inseam and waist together in a pair of jeans can be very challenging. If not, you are fortunate! I've personally found success with jeans that are sold with a standard inseam of 34'' to be tailored to customer.
Secondly, the denim cut is an important thing to look for. Picking the cut will depend on your build and physique. So take my advice: use the dressing room! Don't just grab jeans and go, or else you will most likely end up back at the store to return them (after you went home to try them on and found they did NOT work out for you). At certain places, retail employees can help you understand the cuts of a brand and point you in the right direction. You may end up favoring one over the other, but here are a few popular cuts that work for most anyone (the sleek, the athletic, or even husky build, etc.).
Well tailored in the thigh, loose in the ankle; an all over well tapered jean (but not too skinny, gentemen). Yes, you can be like Mick Jagger or even David Beckham in these pants. Or, maybe you just want to look great for that special someone on date night–pairing them with a nice button down and a blazer.
It is what it's called. A straight cut from top to bottom. Looser in the thigh and ankle, the straight cut provides a clean look with a more comfortable feel. You could still pull off the rock star or model athlete in these (and they are still appropriate for date night with the right accompaniment, or just the relaxed athletic look).
Comfortable in the thigh, tapered from the knee, slightly flaring out at the ankle to accommodate your choice boot. The name of this cut should indicate which footwear this cut best pairs with–but it is not to be limited to just your "boot." They pair great with a blazer and loafers for the casual work look, yet still able to complete a retro look– being just the right jeans for that 70's dance party.
Determining your cut choice really depends on how you regularly wear your jeans. Keep in mind each cut will fall on your footwear differently. For example, the Slim cut, (which has become increasingly popular) modestly falls at the ankle, allowing your shoe to shine in the context of your outfit. On the contrary, the Straight cut isn't as generous to your shoes as it is to your thighs. And the Bootleg cut subdues the shoe at your ankle entirely. Your shoe selection can help steer you in the right direction for denim cut options. From experience, I'd recommend trying on jeans and also seeing your shoes on with them (get a true feel of how a cut fairs). Some folks have made the mistake of trying on jeans and looking at them in a mirror without their shoes on (only to be disappointed later when seeing them with their shoes on).
Finally, the denim wash, also known as a rinse, is another important factor. This can all be alot to take in, so let's keep it simple. Without getting into colour denim, let's address four timeless washes.
This wash is a stye staple and should be in every modern gentleman's wardrobe. It pairs well with really anything. Darker denim can be casual or dressy and even slimming. Wear these for date night, meeting the client, meeting the parents, or any other dress casual occasion to effortlessly make a good impression.
Dark denim ends up this over time. Yet due to how stylish this wash has become, many brands pre-distress their denim. It looks awesome, but honestly, I'd rather let my denim age on it's own as it naturally does (call me a purist). However, I've been guilty of purchasing a faded wash a time or two. These jeans can bring an edge to your business casual attire and are also great all around recreationally–especially for rock stars.
This wash is a sure summer staple to pair with all types of fun colors (also looks very fresh and clean with white). Wear them to the beach, but maybe not the cookout–especially if you eat bbq as messy as I do. Depending on the shade of the light blue, you may want to avoid a lack of contrast. Try to keep the contrasted colors for the accompanying top and footwear strong to avoid an outfit that is "blah" or "meh" (this rinse isn't as versatile as dark denim).
The wash voted most likely to get a pass on the red carpet accompanying a tuxedo– and you wouldn't even notice, that I'm actually wearing denim. Black denim is another essential rinse to have in your wardrobe rotation. Almost as versatile as the dark denim, they provide stark contrast to almost any color. Wear this rinse for all occasions you'd wear your dark denim–because they're just as classy... and also could complete a gothic (if you're into that kinda thing).
Being taller and thinner seems like a curse when shopping for jeans. I used to settle for long enough jeans with the caveat of a bigger waistline–looking like I stole dad's pants. Or other times I'd find the right waistline but not the necessary length–let's just say slightly high waters. Then I'd also find a mediocre compromise of waist and length: yes, baggy high waters (sponge bob square pants comes to mind). Whereas with brands that sell their denim by waist size only, the inseam is usually 34" for the length to be tailored to customer (assuring a perfect fit). These brands can be pricey, but for someone requiring at least a 33" long inseam while having a smaller waist of 30" (some brands I even go 29" to break them into that perfect fit after wearing), I've found them to be worthwhile. Having much personal success with brands like these, I tend to go in that direction with my denim shopping.
I've also found great deals on brands like these through websites, factory outlets, and even clearance racks at department stores (my recent favorite spot for discounted high end denim is GILT). There's just something about getting high end denim at 50 to 80% or off. Whether finding deals, or paying retail, you’ll probably never regret buying a pair of high-end denim jeans. They fit better, last longer, and ultimately make you look better. However, with all respect to frugality, there are also brands that provide decent denim jeans sans excessive spending.
Best wishes in finding your denim gentlemen. Feel free to share your success stories and finds through your social networks and hashtag #misterearlgrey