When you think about light wash denim, perhaps your mind drifts toward outlandishly faded high-rise jeans — think “Seinfeld.”

But the best men’s light wash denim couldn’t be farther from those retro styles.

If you read Effortless Gent on the regular, you know how much we love to recommend and wear a pair of slim, dark denim. It’s a tried-and-true essential that makes every guy look great — that’s all there is to it.

And yet, as temperatures rise, we’re all about trading in your dark wash denim for a pair of the best men’s light wash denim — done the right way, of course.

Some of our favorite brands are putting serious time and effort into crafting slim-fitting, investment-level light wash denim that will only get better with age.

Don’t think you’re painting yourself into a corner by wearing light wash jeans — you can wear them the same way you’d wear your favorite pair of dark denim. Good pairings include Oxford shirts with suede chukkas, or a henley with white leather sneakers. Simple as that.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about the denim that’s worth buying and wearing all season long.

Benzak Denim Developers Slim 13oz. Denim

Benzak Denim Developers

The thing with a pair of the best men’s light wash denim is that … well, it doesn’t have to be full-on light wash, 1980’s style-denim. This pair from Benzak Denim Developers toes the line nicely, featuring exceptional Italian Candiani denim (one of the world’s best denim makers), plus an agreeable slim fit.

These are the perfect business casual jeans for spring and summer, yet the wash makes them casual enough to wear on the weekend with a crisp white tee and brown leather boots. $55

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Raleigh Denim Workshop Graham Pilot Denim

Raleigh Denim Graham Pilot Jeans

If you don’t want to verge too far off the path of stylish indigo denim, a light wash option like the Pilot in Raleigh Denim’s Graham fit is the way to go. These are an investment-level pair of light wash jeans you’ll have for years to come.

Even better, they feature 1% stretch for extra comfort and mobility. We’d wear these with a white Oxford shirt and tan suede chukkas any day of the week, in nearly any style situation. $245

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orSlow Slim Fit Denim Pants

orSlow Denim

If you’re a guy who tends to favor the classic over the trendy — which you very well might be, seeing as that’s what we’re about at Effortless Gent — then these orSlow Denim Pants are for you.

The light wash is, again, light without going over the top. And this pair is made from premium Japanese denim, in a slim fit — the “two-year” wash means they’re broken in to start, but you can still add plenty of your own character to them. $287

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Todd Shelton Pro Soft Mid Denim

Todd Shelton Pro Soft Mid Jeans

As we’ve said before, not every pair of light wash denim has to veer into full-on “dad jeans” territory. Another fine example of this? The New Jersey-made Pro Soft Mid Jeans from Todd Shelton.

They’ve taken great care in crafting an investment-quality pair of denim that wears well with their essential, custom-made casual shirting — there’s no better spring and summer uniform, in our opinion. $265

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Flint and Tinder Stonewashed Jeans

Flint and Tinder Stonewash Jeans

If you’re not yet familiar with the Flint and Tinder line from our friends at Huckberry, we’d suggest you acquaint yourself — and quickly. The Stonewashed Jeans shown here come in two versatile fits (Slim and Straight), and we appreciate the American-made construction and high quality.

These light wash jeans work as ably with a tan slub T-shirt and white leather sneakers as they do with an olive Oxford shirt and brown leather brogues. $128

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Levi’s Vintage Clothing 1947 501 Jeans

Levi's Vintage Clothing 501

Is there a better option for a pair of the best men’s light wash denim than Levi’s? Not quite — perhaps with the exception of the rest of the picks on this list, that is.

The Levi’s Made & Crafted line amps things up a notch, revisiting classic heritage styles and upgrading them for the modern man (that’s you). The 501 is utterly unimpeachable, and this update is even better. Wear these with white leather sneakers and a garment-dyed pocket tee for breezy spring and summer style. $298

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