This Is the Year You Learn to Love Comfy Denim Again
Date nights are fleeting. Comfort is forever.
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For more than a decade, menswear heads have been obsessing over the weight and “rawness” of their jeans, which basically means that rather than coming off the rack feeling, uh, wearable, they’re more akin to the Tin Man’s pants, and it is up to you to spend the next four weeks breaking them in. What follows is an excruciating process that will literally leave dye all over your socks and shoes (don’t wear white sneakers!) as well as pinch, poke and scratch the hell out of your inner calves and thighs, but it will all be worth it at the end, because you’ll have a pair of comfortable jeans that have developed all sorts of cool creasing and distressing while uniquely conforming to your exact body type.
And it works, more or less. Dark, crisp raw denim looks really good, and thanks to its starkness and simplicity, you can pair it with pretty much anything in your closet, from a plain white T and some knockaround boots to a blazer and your best pair of brogues.
But guess what: You don’t always have to impress someone. Especially if they’re only seeing you chest up on a Zoom call, or bundled up from ankle to neck. In 2022, you need to pick and choose your battles, and if that means some work from-home denim Monday so that Tuesday’s suit doesn’t hurt as badly, so be it. Leave the stiff, starchy denim on the rack or in the drawer, and instead embrace comfortable jeans: washed, worn-in denims in roomier cuts and flexible fabric blends.
Will they look as good at happy hour? Maybe not. But they’re infinitely better for watching football, chopping wood, and drinking beer, along with any other unnamed pursuits. Below are 12 pairs of comfortable jeans that fit the bill.
Madewell Slim Everyday Flex Jeans in Keasler Wash
A classic light wash jean in a timeless slim cut for guys who aren’t quite ready to go full Jerry Seinfeld. Don’t worry: thanks to a blend that includes 2% elastane, they’re super flexible and movement-friendly all the same.
Gap Slim Jeans in GapFlex with “Washwell”
We’re not entirely sure what “GapFlex” is, but it has the root flex in it, and the material includes lycra and a generous helping of polyester, so we’re gonna guess it’s alluding to the fact that these jeans are very, very pliable (that’s going to be a theme on this list). Plus, you can feely (slightly) better about copping a pair, since Gap’s Washwell program means less water and less waste went into make this denim.
Duer Performance Denim Relaxed in Black
Duer is a company that specializes in “performance” denim for “doers,” which basically means people who are doing things that you wouldn’t normally do in jeans, like riding a bike or wearing them in summer (their “weightless” summer denim is truly a godsend). This pair is extra stretchy, but relaxed and laid-back — exactly how we want our pants to fit in 2022.
Outerknown Statesman Relaxed Fit: Selvedge
You know Outerknown: Kelly Slater, sustainability, too expensive, etc. I usually only shop them during their huge warehouse sales, but I’ll make an exception for their S.E.A. denim, because it’s guaranteed FOR LIFE. These ones are cut from a 13.5-oz. Italian cotton selvedge denim, and between their ultra-roomy fit and worn-in feel, they’re the only pants I wanna toss on.
J.Crew 1040 Athletic-Fit Stretch Jean in Resin Rinse Japanese Denim
Japan has replaced America as the world’s most sought-after denim fabricators because they can afford to care about things like quality and craftsmanship, rather than simply cranking out as many sheets of fabric as is robotically possible each day. These ones are in J.Crew’s new-ish “athletic” fit, which is roomy in the seat but still has a decent taper at the ankles. Remember: dad jeans are back, but bootcut jeans are absolutely still lame as fuck.
Flint and Tinder All-American Straight Stretch Denim
Despite being cut from a sturdy and durable American-made fabric, Flint and Tinder’s Selvage Jeans still manages to offer comfort by way of built-in-stretch that helps to support one’s body movements, meaning you can wear them all day long sans any discomfort. We’re partial to this wash for it’s signature antique metal buttons, chain-stitched hem and distressed coloring.
Levi’s 541™ Athletic Taper Flex Men’s Jeans
If you’re a Levi’s guy, you probably already know which “number” you prefer, but if that number is 501 or 511, maybe let loose and try something with a little more breathing room this year? It’s just an idea. A very comfy, flexible idea.
Buck Mason Stretch Cord Ford Standard Jean
If you’re not a “jeans guy”, Buck Mason’s Cord Ford is the perfect middle ground between a word-appropriate chino and a snappy spandex-infused jean. It’s not even really a jean, as it’s constructed with a 1% elastic —for the give, of course — 14 wale stretch cord. But they’re so comfy that we’ll let it slide.
L.L. Bean Standard Fit BeanFlex® Fleece-Lined Jeans
Fleece-lined and stretch might feel to to opposite ends of the denim spectrum, but L.L. Bean’s patented BeanFlex® makes it work. Flannel-lined jeans are perfect for those freezing days where both warmth and comfort is a necessity, especially if you can actually walk in them
Everlane The Slim 4-Way Stretch Organic Jean
Every man needs at least one pair of black jeans, because no one will notice if you wear them two days in a row and more importantly, they go with everything. Seriously: everything. You may think your blue jeans do that, but spend a week mixing and matching your wardrobe with a pair of black jeans, and you may never return.
Uniqlo Ezy Ultra Stretch Jeans
While they’re not on sale now, chances are they will be in the future, so you’d be wise to keep an eye on Uniqlo’s Ezy Ultra Strech Jeans. But hey — we’re not that mad about the $50 price tag either. Especially when you could run a damn marathon in these things.
Acne Studios Slim-Fit Tapered Stretch-Denim Jeans
A really cool pair of jeans that absolutely nail the ’90s-throwback formula that has been de rigueur for the last few seasons. It’s the details that make them: conspicuous white stitching, medium rise and a larger-than-normal cuff opening (but not so much as to veer into bootcut territory, which can be a stretch if you don’t commit). If you’ve been thinking about trying your hand at the whole normcore thing but aren’t sure where to start, this is a good entry point.
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