Nothing evokes classic American style quite like a pair of jeans, so it's no surprise that the recent surge of heritage brands have all given the old standby their own twist. As a result, the market is flooded with different kinds of denim. If you’re overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Here are a few guidelines to help you navigate the racks and find something modern and classic.
1. Fit Comes First: One thing that will never change about denim is the importance of fit. It doesn’t matter if you nail everything from belt to cuff, jeans have to fit right in order to look right. Steer clear of overly skinny or baggy cuts and stick to tapered legs and medium rises instead (overdo the high-rise and you’ll look like Joaquin Phoenix in Her). When you’ve found a fit you’re comfortable with, follow through with the look: Slimmer jeans should be paired with tailored shirts to keep the look tight and consistent.
2. Embrace Color, but Mind the Wash: Denim with dramatic rinses and fades will either age you or make you look like a tourist. Modern jeans avoid frivolous accents, like the extra zippers and large pocket flaps of yore. If you’re looking to spice up your denim collection, feel free to dabble in colorful options – even winter white. Most of the hues are dark and military-inspired, which makes them far more wearable, and masculine, than pastels.
3. Cuff Carefully: The trend of selvage-edged denim encourages men to roll their jeans at the ankle. Go for it, but stick to a single rolled cuff. A double-cuff is tough to pull off.
4. Avoid Baggy Legs: The surest sign of poorly picked denim are legs that flap in the wind. Not only does it look dated, but it’s distracting, especially with dress shoes. If you want to dress up your jeans, throw on a darker wash and pair them with a blazer and brown wingtips. It’s as simple as that.
5. When in Doubt, Trust Levi’s: Nothing beats a classic pair of Levi’s 501’s. They’re roomy, flattering, and they look better with a little wear and tear. Go with any wash – the dark stonewash is especially versatile – and pass them down to your kids.