My 5 Favorite Pairs of Jeans Right Now

My 5 Favorite Pairs of Jeans Right Now

My 5 Favorite Pairs of Jeans Right Now - Best Men's Slim Tapered Jeans

By Andrew Snavely, Editor & Founder

For being such a staple, finding the best jeans can be downright frustrating. For you, maybe that’s because you fall in-between straight, slim, or skinny fits, which are not standardized across brands. Or maybe it’s because even though men’s jeans are sized in inch-based dimensions such as 34×32, these days a pair’s actual measurements can be way off from the stated size on the label. This ‘vanity sizing’ makes it virtually impossible to know what size you are across brands.

I try on a lot of jeans. Budget jeans. Designer jeans. Skinny jeans. Straight leg jeans. And from the huge variance I see, I definitely understand why you’re frustrated. That’s why I’ve put together this list of my favorite pairs that I’m wearing right now – what I like about them and when I wear them.

If you’re in a place where you’re trying to up your style game, any of these would be a solid place to start. The trend right now is to have a fitted silhouette that narrows with a taper. You’ll notice I didn’t use the words slim or skinny or other denim verbiage. That’s because men of different shapes will need a denim fit that complements their bodies to achieve a fitted silhouette that narrows with a taper. For a very thin tall guy, that may mean a pair of skinny jeans best accomplishes that. For a shorter guy with dimension, an athletic fit or other looser but tapered style may be the answer.

And all of that means buying jeans online can be a pain. So for each, I’ve included the size on the label, and then the actual measurements for the waist, inseam, rise, mid thigh, and leg opening to give you a better guide on what will work best for you.

Something to consider: Every pair of jeans you own doesn't have to fit the same way. I have slimmer fits and I have looser fits, and where and when I wear these depends on the style I'm going for. And especially if you're a guy who lives in denim, you can give yourself a ton more options with different fits. For example, with a single-fit mentality, you may require all of your jeans to be able to work with your chunky Red Wings. But that looser, wider leg will likely prohibit you from dressing those jeans up with a pair of brogues and a blazer. Similarly, a pair of skinnier jeans that look great with minimalist sneakers may not be full enough to wear with a blazer because of the top-heavy silhouette that is created.

denim measurements waist inseam rise
Gap slim selvedge jeans review black
gap slim selvedge black jeans

Gap Selvedge Jeans in Slim Fit with GapFlex in Black, $108

I originally picked these up on Black Friday, they're my first pair of non-blue selvedge denim. I really love this pair – they look sharp with a black Getup for heading to some trendy event and look right at home with a more rugged Americana style with a pair of Red Wings. On a pair of blue selvedge jeans, the cuff is lighter, but on black selvedge the cuff is still black so you just get those two little white stripes, a trademark of quality selvedge denim – which adds a nice little detail to the outfit.

Like any garment made of fitted denim, they were about 5% too snug when I got them, though the waist and inseam were correct. A few hours of wear allows them to stretch and contour to your shape, the result is a comfortable, perfectly fitting pair of slim jeans.

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Labeled Size: 29×30

Actual Measurements:

Waist: 31″

Inseam: 30.75″

Rise: 10″

Mid Thigh: 8.5″

Leg Opening: 7″

DSTLD slim jeans review
dstld slim raw jeans review

DSTLD American-made Slim Raw Denim in Indigo Timber, $75

This is actually my second pair of these jeans, but not because the first pair wore out. I bought the first pair a few years ago, and still wear them – I bought the new pair to ensure the dimensions hadn't changed.

If you're new to DSTLD, they're a Los Angeles-based brand that's been around for a number of years. They focus on premium denim and essentials like tees and jackets and sell on a direct-to-consumer model cutting out the middle-man and cutting down on the price.

Some of their pieces are even made in Los Angeles, like these slim raw jeans. Slim in all the right ways without being ‘skinny,' these will wear in beautifully and look great with boots, brogues, or sneakers. With free shipping and free returns and a fit guarantee, it makes buying jeans online pain-free. See one way to style them in this Live Action Getup.

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Labeled Size: 29×30

Actual Measurements:

Waist: 29.5″

Inseam: 29.25″

Rise: 9.5″

Mid Thigh: 9″

Leg Opening: 7″

Levi's 512 Slim Taper Jeans front gray
Levi's 512 Slim Taper Jeans side gray

Levi's 512 Slim Taper in Noise Addict, $59.99

This is my new preferred fit from Levi's. You're likely familiar with the 511 slim straight, these are the same but with a tapered leg opening. These are the snuggest of the 5 jeans on the list, and I like wearing them when heading out somewhere in the evening. I'm a big fan of gray jeans of any shade, and these in “Noise Addict” charcoal can work both as a put-together-gray, or as a rugged-badass-faded-black.

As long as Gap's denim isn't on sale, at $49, the Levi's 512 on Amazon are the cheapest of the 5 – and with 2 day shipping andfree returns, picking up a pair to try is a no-brainer. See one way to wear them in my Joshua Tree Live Action Getup.

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Labeled Size: 30×30

Actual Measurements:

Waist: 30″

Inseam: 28.75″

Rise: 10″

Mid Thigh: 9″

Leg Opening: 6″

Gap Athletic Taper Jeans review red wing moc toe gray tshirt mens style
Gap Athletic Taper Jeans review

Gap Athletic Fit with Gap Flex in Resin Rinse, $69.95

For those gents with wider thighs, I'm about to make your denim shopping much less frustrating. In the last couple of years brands across the price spectrum have started introducing “Athletic Fits” which offer a slim, tapered silhouette with more room in the thighs and knees. Easily the loosest fit on the list and a saving grace for #menwhosquat but don't let the branding fool you, if you're a huskier guy Athletic Fit may also provide you with the breathing room you want without having to succumb to straight or relaxed fits.

I have two pairs of Athletic Fit jeans from Gap and dig them. I find Gap's slim to be just a smidge too wide for me these days, and the Athletic Fit offers a nice compromise when I want a pair of slim jeans that still fit over a pair of chunky boots or when I know I'm going to have a long day and want to ensure comfort.

Buy Now

Labeled Size: 29×30

Actual Measurements:

Waist: 30.5″

Inseam: 29″

Rise: 10.25″

Mid Thigh: 9.5″

Leg Opening: 7″

Flint & Tinder slim jeans
Flint & Tinder slim jeans

Flint & Tinder American-made Slim Stretch Selvedge Denim in Indigo, $118

These American-made jeans are quality all around. A fantastic modern fit and construction, and made of the famed (but now closed 😣) Cone Denim White Oak selvedge. I've had selvedge jeans in the past, but these were my first pair that are truly slim. Their slim, tapered shape allows them to easily be dressed up with oxfords or boots, making them a smart style investment for their near universal versatility.

Get them while you can, if sizes are dwindling, also check out Flint & Tinder's slim in dark indigo.

Buy Now

Labeled Size: 29 (32 standard inseam)

Actual Measurements:

Waist: 29″

Inseam: 29.75″ tailored

Rise: 9.5″

Mid Thigh: 9.5″

Leg Opening: 6.5″

Do you have a favorite pair of jeans right now? Keep the list going in the comments!

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.

  • MoJoseph

    American Eagle Flex jeans are the most comfortable jeans I’ve ever owned.. and pretty affordable too! GapFlex are a runner-up. If you can’t tell, I despise the rigidness of raw denim haha.

    • Toro


      my Levis 541s are my all time favorites – never worn a more comfortable pair of pants

      • Peter Marcus

        Levis can GFT. They donated money to anti-gun Bloomberg organization Anytown for Gun Safety.

  • Joshua Ness

    I’m a big fan of RSQ jeans sold by Tilly’s. A few different fits, but the New York slim-straight cut is my favorite. Can sometimes get them on Amazon.

  • Kevin Banks

    I’m going to check out those Levi’s 512s. My current favorite is the Banana Republic Slim Rapid Movement Denim Grey Wash. Nice fit, good color, very comfortable.

  • Matt Tilka

    Gustin cone pima summer in straight fit. Raw denim that’s softer than most. Detailed measurements on the website

  • Zac Silk

    I’m really liking Uniqlo’s stretch Selvedge. As well as Gap’s stretch Selvedge I’ve been wearing in their raw resin wash for most of the year.

    I’d like to see Levi’s bring the noise addict colour to the U.K though. I’ve luckily stocked up on dark grey jeans, but that colour really works well.

    As for what’s next, I’ll be trying Gap’s worn dark wash for the warmer months as I look to transition to lighter denim, either washed or raw denim that I’ve faded mysef.

  • Joseph Padilla

    Uniqlo is my jam for stretch selvedge denim. In fact, they inspired me to do the selvedge game moving forward. Now, I have two more selvedge jeans: one in black with Abercrombie (their stretch selvedge is hella great!) and one in button-fly indigo with Gap (it’s as authentic as I have gone so far.) Always great to have one pair in indigo and one pair in black for versatility.

    • Zac Silk

      Have you checked out their grey jeans? I’ve seen them online and I’m thinking of grabbing a pair. Looks like a uniform grey that you can dress up:

      • Joseph Padilla

        Now that you mentioned it, I always would be a fan of a charcoal jean. Don’t like ‘em light because I’m not into lighter-colored bottoms and always like them to be nearer my black jeans in color.

        • Zac Silk

          Please let me known if you end up giving them a try, I’d really like to know if they’re worth the investment.

          • Joseph Padilla

            If it’s close to black, GO FOR IT! It’s the more professional yet just as edgy brother of the black jeans.

  • DaveD

    How are the front pockets on these? Deep enough for all your stuff? They’ve got to be able to hold at least wallet, keys, phone, pocket knife and loose change. I know some jeans like Unbranded are notorious for having tiny front pockets. I’ve got a few pairs of older (maybe 5 years) GAP straight selvedge before they added the stretch and they are great. But since they seem to change every season, I can’t vouch for the new stuff.

    • Andrew

      For me this is how I do it and all of these work for this: Front right: Keys, Airpods, knife / Back Right: Wallet / Back Left: iPhone 7 Plus while walking, or Front Left otherwise.

      • DaveD

        Cool. I have a wallet, zippo, Uncle Henry stockman (had since I was a kid), and Olight S Mini flashlight in my front left, keys, change, and chapstick in my front right, Nexus 6P in back left and Leatherman Wingman in back right. My newer GAP selvedge and some Levi’s 513 have shallower front pockets and it can be annoying trying to carry everything I do. But I consider all this stuff essential and use all items frequently.

        • QuestionMark

          you need a purse dude!

  • Ethan Kirkmeyer

    I second MoJoseph on the AE Flex Jeans, I have a pair and they’re great. I also got a pair of selvedge jeans from a place here in Nashville called Imogene + Willie’s and can vouch for those as well. They’re a little stiff, as some have pointed out, but they do feel top notch. I guess it just depends on what you like. Being a small thin guy (5’5”, 135 lbs) I tend to wear skinny cuts and they work great.

  • dcjakel

    For travel, Levi’s 513 Slim Straight in color Stealth (Grey), 65% cotton, 33% polyester, 2% elastane. Comfortable for long flights, always clean looking and quick-drying. Never leave home without them.

  • Serafin

    Right now my favorite pants are my cheap-o black rinse maxflex straight leg from Old Navy. $15 on sale.

  • SalPic

    No love for BR Rapid Movement? Gotta wait for a sale of course, but DAMN are they great.

  • Paul H.

    I need Athletic Fit in just about everything. Anything slim and they’re skin-tight and very uncomfortable; even regular fits are too constricting around the butt/crotch. I feel like my best bet for finding jeans to wear with sneakers/boots/brogues/etc. is to find which brands’ Athletic Fits have wider leg openings and just wear those with chunkier footwear.

  • Christopher Miller

    I almost exclusively wear the Levi’s 511 skinny straight jeans. They fit very well and after wearing them for a couple hours they are perfect. I’m interested in a pair of Selvedge Denim jeans. I saw the Cone Mills article and I was wondering if there is a real advantage with fit or is it just the feeling of wearing an American classic?

  • Justin Gutoski

    Great post! Any good picks/suggestions for a lighter wash jean for the upcoming spring season?

  • Mark David

    Everlane. Everlane. Everlane.

  • FreedomRules

    Nothing fancy here. I love my Apt 9 Premier Slim-Fit Stretch Jeans.

  • rogun

    Nother great post Andrew! I have those Gap slim selvedge jeans in indigo and they are great. Imo, they run big in the length and the waist, but the length just adds a couple of extra inches for cuffing. I’ve had mine for around 6 months and still haven’t washed them, but hopefully they don’t shrink much, because I struggle to find raw denim long enough to cuff. I had to size down 2 in the waist, to a size I haven’t worn in decades. All the slim fit jeans from Gap seem to fit me great now, so I’m loading up.

    I have some Kaihara black selvedge jeans from BR (ie Slim Black-Wash Selvedge Jean) that have a slim fit. The fit is similar to the Gap Kaihara selvedge you mentioned and I went with them for the white weft, which I prefer.

    I also have a couple of 512’s, along with some 501 Skinny’s, which I think is nearly the same jean, at least with the fit. I still haven’t gotten around to trying DSTLD, but those look great!

  • Ari Sem

    I have worn the same pair Uniqlo Skinny sretch selvedge jeans 5 times a week for the past 6 months and they still look great. In that time I’ve traveled to the U.K., France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Mexico and all around the U.S. and they’ve held up extremely well.

  • Derek Thomas

    The black Gap Selvedge Jeans are on sale for $76!!
    Such a great deal!

  • rychastings

    uniqlo selvedge is great when its on sale

  • Adam Kappel

    Curious about the Gap Athletic Fit. I’ve noticed that a good bit of Athletic fit jeans I’ve had in the past don’t taper nearly as much as I’d like them to. That could be due to my size (33/34×29) but it can be pretty frustrating. I definitely have larger thighs so they typically fit great at the top.

    • Andrew

      If you can’t find a tapered fit you like you can have a tailor taper then further.

  • Stunt Zombie

    I might be a bit late, but have you noticed a difference in durability in the jeans that use 1 or 2% spandex?

    • Andrew

      I personally haven’t noticed one.

      • Stunt Zombie

        Good to hear. I just picked up a pair of those DSTLD jeans, so I guess I’ll get to find out

  • QuestionMark666

    DSTLD has the absolutely worst customer service of any online retailer I have ecer experienced. NO PHONE, won’t respond to repeated emails. misaddressed a package and blames it on the customer!