The best way to buy men's jeans is always to try them on in person. From Levi's to Wrangler to Southpole, every single jeans maker uses their own system of sizing and styling, which is why you can't rely on numbers posted online to determine your jeans purchase. Physically putting on the pants is the only way to be assured of buying pants that fit right.
A lot of guys have no idea what kind of men's jeans to buy, but it's really quite simple when you break down men's jeans by the basic measurements of waist, inseam, rise, hip and thigh sizing and leg build. By knowing your body sizes for all these measurements, you can establish a good starting point for choosing a pair of jeans.
The waist measurement is the first number on the label of a pair of men's pants. Waist sizing seems simple at first, but there are several factors you have to consider. The first is to make sure you are measuring at your true waist line. Your waist should be measured straight across just above your hipbones and a couple inches below your belly button. Measuring too high or low will give you an inflated number. Then second thing to remember is that jeans makers use 'vanity sizing' numbers which are usually 2 to 2.5 inches smaller than the true waist size. So for example, a pair of jeans with a 34-inch waist on the label will comfortably fit a guy with about a 36-inch waist. In a pair of properly fitted jeans you should be able to comfortably fit two fingers in the waistband.
The inseam measurement is the second number on a jeans label. This is the measurement of the inside seam of the leg from the crotch down to the leg cuff. Unlike on the waist, pants makers do not use vanity sizing on the inseam so they are closer to the true inseam measurement of your leg. For men who are looking for work overalls, they can take comfort in knowing this sizing measurement holds true for their work uniforms as well.
After figuring out your waist and inseam, you'll still have to pick and choose several other factors to be sure of finding the right fit. This is where it's very important to understand how rise, leg cut and hip and thigh build work with your particular body shape and size.
Rise is the frontal measurement from the bottom of the crotch to the waistband and the length of the rise will determine how high the jeans sit on your waist. Low rise jeans are currently in fashion, but they are not suited for all body types. Because they sit low on the hipbones, low rise jeans will accentuate the abdomen, making them ideal for those with slimmer physiques. Visually, low rise jeans also lengthen the torso and shorten the legs. This can be used to balance out your overall look if you have long legs to begin with. Medium and high-rise jeans, on the other hand, are great for guys with bigger physiques. In general, the bigger your build, the higher rise you want in a pair of jeans, because a high waist can visually slim down a belly.
Leg cut describes how the legs on a particular pair of jeans is tapered and styled. Jeans come in three main leg cuts. Tapered or skinny leg jeans are about 12 inches around the bottom of the leg and tend to emphasize the wearer's height. This makes them a good choice for shorter guys, who should avoid baggier cuts that make the legs look stumpier. Straight legs usually measure about 14 inches around the bottom of the legs and are a very versatile choice for most body types. Most guys should stick with straight legs if there is ever any doubt. Bootcut legs flare slightly at the bottom and are good for taller guys because their wider shape helps visually balance out the length of the leg. The bottom of bootcut leg is about 18 inches, and it's important not to go much over that or you run the risk of creating an unfashionable bell-bottom look.
Hip and thigh build determines how closely the jeans fit in those areas. Soccer, rugby and football players, as well as guys who lift for a hobby, tend to have well-developed leg and hip muscles. For bigger and more muscular guys, relaxed fit jeans are the right choice. Slim jeans fit closely and work well for slender men or those with naturally narrow hipbones, while regular cut jeans are somewhere in between.
The cut you choose will not only affect the look of your outfit, but also how comfortably it wears. There is no perfect cut or style of jeans, making up to you to decide what looks and feels best on your legs. If you're not sure what you like, Sears carries all sizes of men's jeans from slim to men's big and tall sizes to help you find the right pair. Test out wearing the jeans while walking, crouching, sitting and standing to find the right pair for you.