For those of us who still refuse to abandon denim jeans during the hotter months, it’s more of a dedication to a look than masochism. It’s also a patent refusal to depart from a style staple that’s hard to replace when the temperature rises. Khakis are great, but you can’t wear them with everything, and you certainly can’t opt for shorts all the time, either, unless you happen to be a zookeeper or a mail carrier.
So, what’s a guy to do when a solid portion of his style repertoire looks best with jeans, but the thermometer crests 80 degrees? Well, he should be thankful that denim has evolved and that more manufacturers are creating summer weight jeans or a brilliant option, those that incorporate stretch so denim doesn’t feel suffocating. Here are our selections for warm weather denim that will have your closet and your legs breathing a sigh of relief.
Wearlight Jeans in Slim Fit with GapFlex ($56 with ‘cool')
About as close as you can get to white jeans without going full-on white, these light bleached premium denim jeans do more than look the part. GapFlex infuses the denim with stretchy Elasterrell that almost magically returns to its unstretched form over and over again, giving you the ability to move more freely, combined with a lighter weight for the summer months. The slim fit is de rigueur for jeans right now, giving you the casual but still put-together look that says goodbye to both slovenly and sweaty denim. The look of your favorite fall denim, perfectly comfortable in the summer.
Flint and Tinder Pacific Wash Jeans Slim ($128)
Look no further. Here’s your white V-neck t-shirt, barefoot, beach-walking summer denim with the right cut and color, and they just happen to be constructed from the last custom-made fabric coming out of the now shuttered Cone Mills White Oak plant in North Carolina. Not only are they hand washed for ultra softness and uniqueness from pair-to-pair, there’s built-in stretch thanks to 1% spandex. The fit is slim, but you can upsize for a bit more room, and features like herringbone pocketing, antique metal buttons, and high-quality chain-stitching make it even more special.
J.Crew Factory Stretch Driggs Slim-fit Jean in So Cal Wash ($39.95)
Good denim doesn’t scream for attention. Rather, it enhances an already well-assembled look by working in a complementary fashion. That’s exactly the role that the Stretch Driggs fills with the slim cut with the right hot weather hue, and there’s the right amount of whiskering that’s not overly dramatic. A scant 1% of Elastane might not seem like much but provides excellent stretch without making them look like a pair of leotards. No one will ever peg these as jeans engineered for summer, but when everyone else is sweating in their regular denim, you’ll be all smiles.
Banana Republic Slim Rapid Movement Denim Light Wash Jean ($118)
If you have to combine the worlds of style and activity, but you don’t want to wear a velour jogging suit, just turn to Slim Rapid Movement Denim that has more stretch than the others here with the same level of style. With both 6% Lycra and 2% Elastane, you’ll have the right stuff to do the splits even though you have zero desire to do so. Instead, you’ll be more likely to put on
the dance moves when you’re out on the town in your matching blazer. The Rev Wash is the right balance between light and dark, and the slim cut means it’s just as good dressed up as it is dressed down.
Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Byrd ($41)
Levi’s might seem traditional, but they’ve adapted with the times while remaining classic. Case in point, the 511, now with Elastane for summer stretch. This slim fit jean hits below the hip, and remains slim throughout the leg without approaching skinny territory for a clean look that’s not too trendy and a healthy distance away from straight leg. Light whiskering and a more prominent fade along the front provide some visual texture, so they’re anything but plain.
Calvin Klein Slim Fit Denim Big Sur ($50)
If there was ever a summer jean made for the ubiquitous but iconic white sneaker, it’s Calvin Klein’s Slim Fit Jean in bright Big Sur. This slim pair of jeans hits below the waist, remains slim through the leg, and then takes an extra narrow approach at the angle for that tight taper. They get the classic omega stitching in the back, as well as a subtle logo on the coin pocket. The cotton denim fabric is soft, and the added Elastane means you’re ready for movement even when the day gets hot and long.
Levi’s 512 Slim Fit Taper Uncle Henry Stretch ($49)
The cut of your jeans can make a difference between slightly relaxed to chic athletic without having to cram your bottom half into what sometimes looks like denim tights. The 512 is a more trim evolution of the 511, delivering a slimmer fit and a more tapered ankle. The result is a more slender silhouette that’s geared more for guys who don’t want to go skinny but want to upgrade the style quotient. The same denim is used for the 512, as is the 1% Elastane stretch that makes movement less restrictive.
Uniqlo Stretch Selvedge Slim Fit Jeans ($50)
Uniqlo might just have the magical combination of style, warm-weather practicality, and price wrapped up in their Selvedge denim slim fit jeans. Usually, selvedge costs way, way more than $50, and these just happen to get 2% spandex for movement-readiness. The cut is slim straight, almost universally appealing. Traditional selvedge denim with added stretch, combining authentic style and comfort. They come in five different colors, ranging from bright white to evenly dark navy, and all the hues in between should fade uniquely over time.
Shockoe Atelier Slim Kojima Lite ($235)
Dropping this much money on a pair of jeans might seem asinine when you’re on a budget, but you haven’t tried the Slim Kojima Lite. 11 oz. Japanese Collect Mills Indigo Warp is the right weight when it gets warm, and they’re appropriately soft for summer and will only become more so over time. The coloring is a beautiful, even medium blue, and the black-coated genuine copper rivets and buttons will fade nicely with the fabric. It’s a low-mid rise jean with slimmed seat and thighs and a mildly tapered leg, and the vegetable tanned patch adds some appropriate flair. Top it off with a summer-weight blazer and desert boots, and you have a tastefully casual look for a summer dinner out.