You might not believe it. The dudes who go on Take Me Out might not believe it. Our comment section definitely doesn’t believe it. But spray-on denim’s reign is coming to an end. The super-skinny jean had a good run, though, outlasting its back-combed, early-noughties acolytes. It was the denim of choice as they first picked up guitars, swapped them for synths, then swapped their synths for spreadsheets and jaded stories about having their music dreams crushed by the guys in corporate.
So, now that the skinny jean’s hung up its dreams of the big time, you should consider retiring it too. The drainpipe is a trouser designed for strutting across stages, not over to the photocopier.
But what to swap in? Well, your pins will be pleased to hear that this season, comfort is king. Which means roomier cuts, softer fabrics and less risk of an accident if you bend to tie your shoe. Of course, to men who’ve lived in second skins for the past decade, change can be scary. So trust our crib sheet on how to give yourself some breathing room, in style.
Where the skinny jean tapers from your hip, straight legs fall, as the name suggests, straight down. Which gives you more room in the thigh and seat, plus prevents that intimate meeting of sweat, skin and selvedge when the temperature creeps up.
“It’s been coming through in high-waisted and boyfriend-fit womenswear jeans and now guys seem to be following suit,” says John Mooney, menswear creative director at ASOS. They’re boyfriend jeans that actual boyfriends can wear.
A looser leg is good everywhere but your shoes, so avoid puddling unless you want everyone to know how into Linkin Park you are. “I’d always recommend a slight crop,” says Mooney, “or even a raw hem.” Slice to length at your ankle bone and let your denim fray naturally. Just be sure to regularly take scissors to any over-enthusiastic threads before they start sucking up puddles.
Mastered the straight leg? Pins basking in that breeze? Time to step it up. The full leg sits higher on your waist, which means a wider leg as it drops to your ankle. “They reference that whole 1990s revival,” says Mooney. “So they’re great in stone-washed blues, especially with a classic white tee.”
To avoid falling back two decades too early, look for boxy shapes; couple a roomy leg with a muscle-fit tee and people will wonder when your shore leave’s up.
Again, that generous leg risks gobbling up your trainers. So if your trainer game is strong – or you’re just back at it again with the white Vans – make space to show them off. “Go for a crop, or a pinroll,” says Mooney. “And sport them with a classic pair of adidas: Stans, Superstars or Gazelles, especially suede.”
Anything too sleek will make the trousers look like wind socks, so keep those Rick Owens kicks for your street ninja get-up.
The Miracle Grow that’s fed SS16’s formal trousers has found its way into denim labs too. For those used to the comforting embrace of tight denim, this will feel like you’ve stepped into a pair of wedding marquees. But considering everyone from E. Tautz to Craig Green and J.W.Anderson has sent a pair down the LCM runway, you’re in good company.
Picking the right shade makes it easier to pull off more material by shifting things more formal. “Try black denim instead of indigo and make it smarter by keeping your upper half clean and close to the body,” says Mooney. Cropped jackets and fitted tees balance out what lies beneath. “Your jeans should be your only oversized proportion.”
Bow-Legged (Tapered) Jeans
Bow-legged jeans curve out from your hip then in from your knee; if you lie them flat, there should be more space between your legs.
“Generally with the bow you also get a drop crotch,” says Mooney. “They feel a touch more urban and you can retain the full length, no crop needed.” A slight taper from the knee to ankle helps stop the jeans swamping your shoes.
Bow-legged jeans partner best with streetwear staples. “They look great with Nike Air Max and a hoodie,” says Mooney. Black should be your dip-a-leg stop, but they play well with different washes. “Marbled effects can show the leg shape more than others.”