The Denim Dictionary – The Right Cut

Denim 1 Feature

Do you know which cut of jeans looks best on your body type? Are you sure? Think a nice shirt is all that comprises a good outfit? Look up your shape in Part 1 of The Denim Dictionary and be the best dressed man in the room.

By Emily Winter

ManDolls whom I adore more than words can express, I have to tell you something: What you were wearing last weekend, well, it was awful.

Oh don’t give me that look, even over the ether. I wouldn’t think a simple T-shirt and jeans could be visually offensive, either, but you’ve found a way. I’m sorry.

Have you ever heard of love handles? Thigh rise? Bubble butt? Inner tube?

Okay, okay, I’ll stop. But know this: extensive research (…serial dating) reveals that, yes, all you boys act and think the same. But trust me, your ManBods are all totally different*, and your unique genes necessitate, ahem, unique jeans. Alas, welcome to Part I of my two part Denim Dictionary. Print this out. It’s your ultimate reference guide to buying jeans that are the right cut (part I) and wash (part II) for your fabulous or lackluster life (hey, at least you’ll have great pants).

If you’re…


BootcutCongratulations, you are the only boys who get my blessing to wear skinny jeans—those teeny tiny pipes of denim that haven’t yet faded from fashion, even though everyone thought they wouldn’t be around longer than your last relationship. If you’re not feeling the “no boxers allowed” rules that inevitably accompanies skinny jeans, try “slim” or “boot cut” jeans. A “slim” cut (not to be confused with any other style of jeans also called “slim,” which simply means the legs are long compared to the waist and butt size) pair of jeans are very much like skinny jeans. They’re tapered all the way from the waist to the ankle, but not as much as skinny jeans. In short, you can wear boxers with slim jeans, but you’ll have to stuff them in when you put on the pants. Steer clear of “relaxed fit” pants—they’re simple too baggy for your boney ManStems. Putting on a pair will make you look like a 10-year-old who’s snuck into his dad’s trousers.


Oh cheer up, ManCandy. There’s nothing wrong with the appreciation of fine baked goods, as long as it doesn’t reveal itself in the form of a muffin top. You appetite-gifted guys want to stay away from low-rise and skinny jeans. Low-rise jeans will leave your Torso Flab available for poking, and that middle bubble simple won’t look good, no matter how flattering your shirt. Similarly, skinny jeans (even high-waisted ones) only highlight the vast difference between your waistline and ankles. A wider-legged True Religionjeans’ end will make you look more evened out and will draw attention away from your bulge. “Relaxed fit” jeans, as you probably already know, are the baggiest throughout, and draw zero attention to your bottom half. If that’s your goal, check out Banana Republic’s safe and reliable version of relaxed fit.

But just because you packed on a few well-deserved pounds in college doesn’t mean you can’t be fashionable. Try a pair of True Religion “Joey” cut jeans for a safe percent of zing. These jeans have a generous idea of the “boot cut” flare, meaning your jeans will fit you slightly snug through the thigh and knee, but will be wider (than most other boot cut jeans) in the shins and ankle to keep your silhouette proportional. Boot cuts should be chosen over straight leg for a trendy, flattering look.


Straight CutThough I recommend skinny jeans only for the appetite-challenged, if you must wear them (where’s your band playing tonight?), try skinny jeans by the brand Altamont. Their higher-waisted pants mean your average-sized ManBelly won’t get squeezed out of the top to make you look heavier than you are. Lucky for you, I recommend any and all other cuts—slim cut, straight cut, boot cut (slight flare) or relaxed fit, though relaxed is the least fashion-forward of the bunch.

If it were up to me, I’d put you in a pair with just a little flare. At trendy shops like Diesel, a regular or “classic” fit pair of jeans will have only a small flare, whereas at less trendy, more traditional stores like American Eagle, even a “straight leg” pair of jeans will probably have ample flare (since “skinny jeans” and “tapered” just aren’t in their vocabulary).


A high-waisted pair of pants is one way to make your ManStems look longer. Lucky for you, the trendy brand Mavi sits fairly high on the waist without giving that really lame’90s suburban dad vibe. Also, any jeans that are slightly tighter in the knee and flare out, like exaggerated boot cut jeans such as the True Religion “Joey” jeans, will make you look taller, too.


Mile-long ManStems aren’t a problem unless they're causing major flooding in the ankle-region. Ben Sherman slim-legged jeans seem to go on forever and may provide those extra inches you need throughout the leg. TopMan brags that its skinny jeans are cut long, but I suppose us states-bound fashionistas will have to wait until their flagship store hits New York in the fall.

Big Butt

7 for all mankindThe blogs agree— 7 For All Mankind does wonders for oversized ManCheeks. If you’re a skinnier dude with an ample bottom, I especially recommend 7’s Dylan cut to show off your thinner areas while having storage space for your… you know what. Also make sure that your pants have back pockets to distract us princesses from the vastness of your HotCakes, and avoid high pants that will just elongate an already-big area.

Small Butt

Avoid low back pockets. If you’re itty bitty bottom actually ends before the pocket begin, it will create an awkward bulge that draws attention to your mini muffins.

Concerned About Fair Labor Practices

The Japan-based brand, Good Society, prides itself on fair trade and liveable wages for all workers in their India factory. I just love it when shopping and social activism intersect, don’t you?

Generally Cranky

If you squirm and wince at the thought of hopping into a pair of stiff jeans, try the brand Chip & Pepper. They feel like sweatpants, but look totally date-worthy. Also, Kill City jeans have loads of spandex in them, so they stretch when you do.

Stay tuned for next week's Denim Dictionary Part 2, where I'll define washes; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

*I prefer not to divulge the extent of my qualifications for this knowledge-base.

For more great fashion advice for guys check out Emily's blog, Fashionable Men-tions.