Michael recently told me that “many men seem to think it’s okay” to wear “light blue ill fitting” jeans, which I’m not even sure is true, outside of a certain type of slightly senior citizen tourist and/or airline traveler. Maybe this is just the story I tell myself in order to feel better. But if it needs repeating, here. No to this:


I can't help it that "ill-fitting jeans" brought up pictures of right wingers. But it's possible that there's a correlation.


Can we all agree that baggy, mid-rise jeans in that terrible color is unflattering, just objectively? Great, moving on.

I am not sure that IBC’s demographic has been led so astray, but I did get to thinking in general about men and jeans. Just like men and shorts (see my post from last April), there seems to be some basic confusion among the brotherhood about how to take the jean game to the next level. So, a PSA — and if you’ve got it all worked out, consider doing the public good by reposting and sharing with your less savvy brethren. I salute you.

1. Almost everyone looks good in “slim fit” jeans.

If you are in decent shape and of average-to-slim build, these are the jeans for you. (I, unfortunately, cannot speak to the needs of bigger men, as this is not my department. But cursory research suggests larger fellows might fare better in low-rise jeans; no matter your girth, good fit is everything).

Slim fit jeans (not skinny) touch the legs all the way through, but don’t make them look like sausages:


Acne jeans.


A guy working it:


From the Sartorialist.



Also, yes Peter Burke:


From Dapper Lou.


From Dapper Lou.


Also okay, for the fainter of heart, are “classic fit”  jeans:


By Diesel.


I mean, you’re not really taking a risk here, but they’ll look just fine. Get that business hemmed or roll it up unless you want to walk on your pants (you don’t).

What about relaxed fit?


2. That being said, nothing’s wrong with skinny jeans. As long as you remember Chanel’s rule.

I see a lot of skinny gentleman in skinny jeans, and that’s okay. If you are over the age of 25, this officially becomes a “look,” which means you’re in the somewhat-dangerous woods of “workwear” and other “could-easily-become-a-costume” territories.


Nice try, but take one thing off. Or maybe two.


Are these jeans skinny or slim? It’s hard to tell. Either way, success:


From Dapper Lou.


Also, this guy:


From the Urban Gentleman.


Pro-tip: are you a rock star? Or at least in a band? That’s helpful.

3. Your tailor is your friend. 

I was heartened by a recent statistic that 35% of men are under 5’8. Also, Boston is a short city for mysterious reasons, so I am often moving among guys about my size. Even so, I took so much shit in college for getting my jeans hemmed and otherwise tailored.

Who’s laughing now, dudes? Not me. My black Levi’s no longer have that weird butt that seems to come standard, and I never walk on the bottoms of my jeans and tear them all up like a teenager.


Here I am in those jeans, on the far right. I would have taken one thing off (my gloves) but it was winter in NH and I was damn cold. Photo by Kareem Worrell.


4. Dark denim is most definitely your friend.

Dark denim is the most versatile of  dye. You probably know that you can dress it up or down, but here’s a good example of up:




And down:



Which isn’t to say you can’t dress up a brighter blue:



But, again, that’s graduate level work.

5And if you are brave, you can indeed pull off light denim. Though it may look simple, it is the most advanced of jean arts, not for elastic waistbands.



Light denim is super casual, best for beach bumming and cut-offs. It helps to live in LA, or look like you do.


About Thomas Page McBee

Gentleman first, always. James Dean is my patron saint, poet is my gender. More about me here:


  1. Michael von Braithwaite

    Some great advice for bigger guys here:

    Outtake: “Cedric’s pants here are a little baggy, but they’re fine if you have a lot to hide. I just think you should get them altered so that you don’t have all that bunching on the bottom. You may have to buy a bigger size to fit your waist, but then the pants end up too long, usually guys just wear them baggy on the bottom, but you really should get them tailored. Many retail stores offer tailoring when you purchase clothes from them- high end stores like Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks, and maybe even Bloomingdales.”

    Number one take away for men of all shapes and sizes… TAILORING IS YOUR FRIEND.

  2. carrieleilamlove

    I would like to add my two-cent denim addendum for all genders: Just say no to contrast stitching! Makes it way easier to dress jeans up but you can still dress them down, and leaves you more room for accessories since contrast stitching, especially on back pockets, is really it’s own accessory. I know from experience it can be hard but if you pay attention brands at almost every price point will have a tone-on-tone option.

  3. Interesting! I am not opposed to contrast stitching in small doses, but completely agree that it is its own accessory and being aware of it is very important.

  4. Michael von Braithwaite

    Contrast stitching comes and goes, but simple and clean is here forever.

  5. Billy

    I’m interested to hear your opinion about cuffing. Personally, I think that the guy in the Sartorialist picture above seems to do it tastefully such that the selvedge seam is exposed, but conversely, I look at the rolled up cuffs in that Diesel picture and I get angry. Does that make me a jerk?

  6. Billy, you are a graduate-level denim man, and you should do what you damn well please. I am with you that the Diesel cuffing is ugly, but it has to do with the fact that “classic fit” jeans flare out at the bottom, which is kind of dumb to begin with, so there’s all this floppy extra fabric. That’s why I advocate slim fit, but if you are going to do classic, you kind of have to cuff or you’ll look ridiculous. But maybe tailoring is just a better option? Either way, as a short guy I prefer to not have to cuff my jeans, because I feel like it makes me look shorter. I do think slimmer jeans look way better cuffed, and if you are going to do it, you should OWN IT, like with anything.

IBC LOVES your brain, and we encourage thoughtful, lively discussion. We will, however, moderate comments that are abusive or disrespectful. Stay classy!

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