Slim v. Skinny Jeans: A Clarification

September 19, 2010 · 22 comments

in Apparel, Tips

From some of the questions I’ve been asked lately, it seems some of you gents are unsure of what’s considered “slim-fitting” versus “skinny”. When I say choose a slimmer-fitting pair of jeans you may imagine something like this:

Slim v. Skinny Jeans: Way-Too-Skinny Jeans

Don’t get it twisted. I don’t want men walking around in jeans like that, as I believe that degree of snugness should only be worn by the ladies.

In reality, I mean something along the lines of:

Slim v. Skinny Jeans: Slim fit jeans

Slim v. Skinny: It’s all marketing

You have to understand that these terms are generally used for marketing, and most of the time,  both “slim” and “skinny” are used interchangeably.

For example, the Levi’s 511 Skinny Fit or the 484 Slim Fit from J.Crew looks good on most men with a slimmer build and legs. They also tend to fit the same (as far as I could tell, seeing as though I couldn’t pull either of them past my rock-hard calves,) but one is called slim, the other, skinny.

For men such as myself with slightly bigger thighs and calves, the Levi’s 514 Slim Straight model provides that fitted look… whereas if you threw the 514s on a guy with a smaller build, it would look like a pair of baggy jeans.

For the truly muscular who are searching for that tailored appearance but can’t imagine squeezing into these previously-mentioned models (Tommy from TBTYH comes to mind), something like the Levi’s 501 may be your jam.

That make sense?

Ultimately, it’s all about fit.

Don’t be fooled by a brand’s naming conventions on their pants. Another example of inconsistency would be the Dockers D-1 “Slim Fit” khakis. Sure, they’re called slim fit, and if you compare it to their other models, they are relatively more slim. After trying them on myself, however, they’re not nearly as tailored as I prefer, and that’s coming from me, Mr. Buff Quads. You can imagine what they’d be like on a guy with a much slimmer build.

(Disclosure: After checking out the site, seems there are various types of D-1 fits, and some appear slimmer than others, though I only tried the pair I linked to above, so I can’t say much regarding the other models.)

What’s a man to do?

Know your body type, familiarize yourself with the different cuts of pants by trying a variety on, and find a pair that suits you best. You don’t want anything too tight or restrictive, but you do want a pair that appears tailored and lacks the extra unnecessary material that gives off a baggy appearance.

What are your sticking points when it comes to buying jeans or pants? Do you have trouble honing in on your best fit? Let me know.


Barron is the founder and editor of Effortless Gent, a site dedicated to helping guys figure out what looks best on them. He's based in San Francisco. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

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