The 5 Essential Jeans Styles That GQ Editors Swear By

At the top of the American menswear canon sit humble blue jeans. But finding the right pair of jeans for you can be a tricky proposition, given the near-limitless selection of fits and washes you’ll encounter out in the world. Straight, slim, athletic, flared, bootlegged, high-waisted, scattered, smothered, covered—it’s tough to know what works with both your body type and your style. 

So for the debut episode of the GQ Recommends Show (right down there), we assembled what we think are the five most essential jean styles of right now, and broke them down point-by-point. You’ll hear exactly why our editors love them and how to style them, and get some moodboard inspo direct from some of the most stylish men on the planet. Give it a watch to determine the jeans fit—or fits, plural—that’ll match up best with the rest of your closet. 

And if you see something you like, click the “Shop the Look” button to scope out our favorite pairs of each fit (which are also very helpfully listed out below). 

Watch The GQ Recommends Show: Our 5 Favorite Jeans Fits Right Now

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1. The Straight Leg Jean

If you’re looking to hit the reset button on your denim collection, start with the original silhouette: not too wide, not too narrow, cut straight from the hips all the way down to the ankle. Try ’em with a slick leather jacket and your toughest boots.  

Levi’s 501 original fit jeans

The jeans that invented jeans are every bit as stylish, dependable, and versatile now as they were in 1890.

Left Field Chelsea Vidalia Mills 14 oz. jeans, $198

Left Field makes jeans the old-fashioned way: beefy and rugged and ready to take a beating.

2. The Slim Straight Jean

A touch slimmer than a true straight leg, with the slightest bit of tapering past the knees. Looks great with an equally fitted tee, or cleans up nice with a button-front shirt and necktie on date night or casual Fridays. 

Levi’s 505 jeans

Once you’ve mastered the 501, you can move on to the just-the-teensiest-bit-slimmer 505.

Buck Mason “Maverick” slim jeans, $145

Every man alive looks good in a pair of slim black jeans, and Buck Mason’s verison is about as definitive as it gets.

3sixteen ST-122x slim tapered jeans, $230

Thanks to its unique black-and-indigo denim, these Japanese-woven, American-built bangers will fade beautifully over time.

A.P.C. Petit Standard jeans

Menswear heads have long considered A.P.C.’s jeans the ideal introduction to raw denim for a reason: it’s reasonably priced, perfectly cut, and built to last.

3. The Flare Jean

Yup, the ‘70s are back. Whether you’re after an understated bootcut or a full-on hippie bell bottom, flared jeans are an advanced denim maneuver well worth attempting. 

Levi’s So High bootcut jeans

Major ’70s energy at a majorly affordable price.

Celine Homme “Dylan” jeans

A subtle flare and cut-off hems boost these straight to elite grail status.

Kapital flared distressed embellished jeans

The official jeans of the NBA tunnel.

4. The High-Waisted Jean

With tucked-in shirts more in vogue than ever, hiking your jeans right up to your navel makes more sense than ever. These pairs, specifically cut for the look, will accentuate the length of your legs and give that fancy new belt of yours plenty of room to shine. 

Lemaire sailor jeans

No matter what you’re wearing up top—tees, button-downs, sweaters, whatever—be sure to tuck ’em in.

5. The Skater Jean

Even if you’re not out on the streets landing kick-flips, you can still wear and appreciate the jeans designed for doing so: spacious enough to move in, cropped just enough to keep your cuffs from getting caught on your board. 

BDG skate fit double knee jean

Those double knees will come in handy when you fail to land that Pop Shove It 360 for the 90th time.

Supreme regular jeans

Real heads know that the best Supreme joints are the ones that don’t sell out right away—and the New York skate brand’s covetable denim absolutely qualifies.

Rag & Bone RB21 “Mick” jeans

Comfortable relaxed cut, gorgeous natural wash.


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