11 Pairs Of The Best Tapered Jeans That Every Guy Needs In His Closet (If You Wanna Look Sharp)

by Barron Cuadro  |  in Casual Style

Let’s keep this brief: You’re looking for the best tapered jeans you can find. You want them to be dark denim, to fit well, and to be affordable, ideally. And if that works out, you want them in every wash of denim possible. Right?

I hear ya. If you have a smart casual style, one that often calls for jeans, an OCBD, brogues, and a sportcoat, then having a sharp pair of tapered jeans are your best bet.

So in case you’re on here wondering, “Why tapered jeans, specifically?”, here’s why:

Instead of having the same shape all the way down the leg, tapered jeans get narrower from the knee down to the ankle, resulting in a cleaner look, smaller leg opening, and less fabric bunching at the bottom.

Owning at least one pair of tapered dark denim jeans is important. You can wear it with everything from a T-shirt and sneakers to brogues and a sportcoat!

Tapered jeans are like regular straight leg jeans, but they get gradually narrower from the knee to the ankle. This style has a clean and more modern look.

My Recommendations for Tapered Jeans

Recommendation #1: Levi’s 531 and 541

One brand I always recommend (and wear 99% of the time) is Levi’s. They’re ubiquitous, affordable, and have a ton of different models that fit every body type.

For years, my favorite jeans for athletic guys was the Levi’s 541 Athletic Taper. Still a great pair, by the way. I wear the 541 model exclusively, because I’m not slim, and I have bigger legs (relative to my waist size).

A few years ago, Levi’s added a new model, the Levi’s 531 Athletic Slim Taper. I LOVE this pair for the slimmer yet still muscular-legged dudes.

Still made with a comfortable rise (no hiking up your pants), with an athletic fit in the hips, butt, and quads, but slimmer from the knee down just a touch.

Also they seem to improve the sizing in the waist. I buy my actual size now (32×30), whereas with the 541, I had to size down one to two whole sizes.

Levi's 531 Athletic Slim Jeans
$79.50 $47.70

A slightly slimmer version of the favorite athletic-cut Levi's 541

Check Latest Price
02/14/2023 08:33 pm GMT
Levi's 541 Athletic Taper Jeans (30+ colors)

The Levi's 541 Athletic Jeans fit a larger, more athletic build. Crafted with extra room in the seat and thighs and sits at the waist for a more comfortable feel. The tapered leg gives you a modern, sleek silhouette.

Shop Amazon Shop Levi's

Recommendation #2: Bonobos Athletic Fit

Another brand I love and find myself recommending often is Bonobos.

They have 5 different fits and a multitude of sizes to choose from. And the sizing is standard across all Bonobos’ bottoms, so you only have to figure out your favorite fit and size once.

From there, you can buy chinos, jeans, shorts, doesn’t matter… they’ll always fit perfectly.

Bonobos Jeans

Bonobos has jeans for any body type, with a variety of different washes and types of denim fabric (stretch, premium selvedge, etc.)

Check Latest Price

Here’s the one problem with Bonobos, however: The pants have a lower rise.

I feel like I need to keep hiking my pants up or my b-hole will be exposed. I tried several versions (slim, athletic, etc.) and I always had the same urge to pull up my pants.

It could just be my particular body proportions or build, so I suggest trying at least the Athletic fit for yourself.

Runners Up: Other Men’s Tapered Denim Recommendations

Two other options for standard tapered jeans are the Levi’s 502 and Levi’s 512. I’ve tried these on, and to me, they’re pretty slim. Uncomfortably so.

But, if you find Levi’s 541 too oversized for you, and you’re looking for something more slim but still tapered, I’d check out the 502.

Levi's 502 Regular Taper Jeans
$69.50 $55.65

The Levi's 502 Regular Tapered Jeans offer extra room through the seat and thigh for comfort and room to move, but with a leg that narrows to the ankle for a clean, crisp finish

Check Latest Price
02/14/2023 09:58 am GMT
Levi's 512 Slim Taper Jeans
$79.50 $55.65

The Levi's 512 are modeled after the 502 Regular Taper, but with a slimmer silhouette. Overall, there's extra room through the seat and thigh compared to a regular slim or skinny fit, but with a leg that narrows to the ankle

Check Latest Price
02/14/2023 09:58 am GMT

The Problem(s) With Levi’s Denim

I have two gripes about Levi’s, however.

For one, their sizing and fit is inconsistent. So if you have three pairs of Levi’s 541 in a 32×30—the exact same size and model—there’s a good chance they’ll fit differently.

Second, they seem to change model numbers often. So don’t be surprised if Levi’s discontinues your favorite model the second you discover it.

(It’s also possible they have a similar fit, they just changed the naming convention)

The first pair of tapered Levi’s jeans I bought years ago was the 508. It’s been phased out since (the 541 is the closest replacement). And this isn’t the only example of Levi’s changing model numbers. I’m sure if you Google it, you’ll find plenty of stories.

Levi’s has solidified their offering of tapered models. however:

All of these models have stretch denim fabric options. Typically it’s a 98/2 cotton/elastane blend, which is ridiculously comfortable. I always recommend at least 98/2 blend nowadays.

For the denim purists, there are rigid, non-stretch versions as well.

Other Recommendations

As of 2023, there are plenty of other brands offering tapered or athletic fit denim jeans. This is great for us guys, because now we have options that aren’t just Levi’s.

Here’s a list of other great tapered fit denim jeans worth your consideration, at a variety of price points.

  1. AG Jeans - Tapered Fits
    Starting at $198

    AG always impresses me with their sheer range of denim washes and fits. Their Wells model is a relaxed tapered fit, and their Owens model is an athletic fit, with more room in the seat and thigh, but still tapered to the leg opening.

    Shop Tapered Fit Shop Athletic Fit
  2. American Eagle Flex Baggy Jean

    Another option from AE is these Flex Baggy Jeans, which is described as having extra room in the thigh and a slight taper at the leg opening. To me, that sounds like a standard athletic tapered pair of jeans.

    Check Latest Price
  3. American Eagle AirFlex+ Athletic Straight Jeans

    You may write AE off as a teen brand, but they actually have a great selection of denim. I like their athletic straight model, which to me, still has a slight taper without being overly skinny. But if you have slim legs and need that extra slimness, they also have a standard athletic fit that tapers even more.

    Check Latest Price
  4. COS Regular Fit Tapered Jeans

    COS always has its eye towards fashion trends without making it feel like you're going overboard. These tapered jeans are slightly looser, with a nice taper to the ankle as you'd expect.

    Shop COS
  5. Goodfellow & Co. Athletic Fit Jeans

    Athletic fit and tapered fit are often synonymous. This pair from Target house brand Goodfellow & Co is great for the price, available in many washes and sizes.

    Shop Target
  6. Flint and Tinder All American Stretch Tapered Denim

    Classic 5-pockets in a 12oz Cone Mills denim with unique-to-F&T details cut, sewn, and washed in LA.

    Shop Huckberry
  7. The Unbranded Brand Tapered Fit Denim

    From the owners of Naked & Famous Denim, Unbranded positions themselves as premium quality, well fitting selvedge denim without the excess hype, expensive ad campaigns, and large markups. They have a selection of tapered jeans in different washes and fabric weights.

    Shop Unbranded
  8. 3Sixteen CT-100x Classic Tapered Denim

    The 3Sixteen CT-100x is the perfect high-end tapered pair of denim. Nice high rise, more room at the seat and thigh like a straight leg jean, and a slight taper from the knee down without being overly aggressive.

    Shop 3Sixteen
  9. Madewell Vintage Taper Jeans

    Higher 13" rise, relaxed through the hip and thigh, and a taper down to the leg opening. Made from a 99/1 cotton elastane blend. The perfect tapered denim.

    Check Latest Price
  10. Levi's 541 Athletic Taper Jeans (30+ colors)

    The Levi's 541 Athletic Jeans fit a larger, more athletic build. Crafted with extra room in the seat and thighs and sits at the waist for a more comfortable feel. The tapered leg gives you a modern, sleek silhouette.

    Shop Amazon Shop Levi's

What Are The Best Tapered Jeans For Your Body Type?

  • Have a bit more to spend, and want something unique from a storied brand? Go with 3Sixteen’s CT-100x.
  • Don’t have much to spend, but still want something unique and well-made that’ll set you apart from the typical Levi’s variety? Go with The Unbranded Brand.
  • On a budget? The tapered denim from Target’s Goodfellow & Co is a great option

A Summary of Levi’s specific recommendations

That’s it! Happy jeans shopping.

What’s changed?
02/11/2023Added more recommendations from a variety of different brands
03/06/2022Updated text to reflect change in recommendation preferences, added and updated secondary recommendations
2015-2021Several rounds of link updates
03/15/2014Original publish date