Slim Fit jeans have the least fabric in the rear panels, and the thigh openings are narrower than the regular fit. They’re designed to hug your body. These are good for guys with tight butts who want to show their figure off, and uncomfortable and unsightly on most everyone else.
Regular Fit jeans are what most of us wear. The exact measurement varies a bit from brand to brand, but they’re made to fit like traditional blue jeans: resting lightly against the buttocks in the back, with a bit of wiggle room in the crotch. Unless you’re packing some extra weight in the butt or thighs, this is probably the fit you want.
Relaxed Fit adds fabric in the back and extends the rise a little, as well as expanding the leg openings. We tend to associate them with overweight men, but they’re just as useful for men with “footballer butt” — strong glutes and thighs paired with narrower waists and calves. A lot of athletes end up needing relaxed-fit jeans.
Understand that these aren’t very scientific terms. Each brand has their own in-house stylists, with their own idea of what a “normal” person’s butt and thighs look like.
But you can generally use some common sense and self-awareness to figure out what you need. If you’ve got a great butt and you don’t mind a little restricted movement, go for the slim fit. If you’re packing some extra weight in the rear and thighs, go relaxed. And everyone else will probably be comfortable in regular fits.
Any of those words is a clue that you’re talking about the legs of the trousers, not the seat, drop, or waist. “Taper” jeans are also sometimes called “skinny” — not to be confused with “slim fit,” which we just discussed above!
Complicated, right? But in basic terms, these describe how the width of the trouser legs change over time:
– Taper or skinny jeans do just what the name says: they taper from the opening at the thigh to the opening at the cuff. Ankle openings in the 14″-16″ range generally get called “skinny” jeans, unless they’re paired with unusually small waist/seat sizes.
– Straight or regular legs are roughly the same size from the thigh to the ankle. They’re basically a tube of fabric (well, two tubes of fabric, joined together). It’s the most classic look for jeans, largely because it was the easiest to make when people were doing everything by hand.
– Boot-cut or wide-leg jeans are, as the name implies, designed to be worn over boots. The assumption is that several inches near the bottom will be resting against a boot, rather than against naked ankle/calf. They’re made several inches wider at the bottom than the top. Worn with low shoes or sandals, they look dangerously close to “flares,” which is not a style any man should aspire to.
The shape of your body and the shoes you like to wear affects the kind of leg you want. Men with a lot of taper to their legs — like the “footballer” build we discussed above — may want a relaxed fit in the seat but a skinny leg, to fit the taper of their legs. Bulkier men with thick ankles and thighs will feel more comfortable in a regular seat andstraight legs. And workmen who wear boots, obviously, will want wide-leg jeans to accommodate them.