Table of Contents
Short guys, if you've been hesitant to get a pair of skinny jeans, now is the time to give them a try!
With workplace dress codes getting more casual, jeans have become more of a menswear staple than ever before. But the new question men face is: can men wear skinny jeans? The answer is YES, but with a few conditions.
Justin Bieber was one of the first to hop on the skinny jeans trend. Poor Justin got his fair share of hate at the time. Since then, chances are that most of the haters are now wearing skinny jeans themselves! (Teen Vogue)
When the skinny jean first hit the scene around a decade ago, they were worn by and associated with young, flamboyant teenagers. The word “skinny” had already been widely used to describe women’s jeans and it was hard for men to allow themselves the ability to try them out. However, over time, the skinny jean has evolved into the new standard fit for men as well. And to be quite honest, those who still wear straight fit jeans are living in the past.
The word “skinny” doesn’t mean you have to be built like a twig to wear them, and it certainly has lost its association with female clothing. The term “skinny fit” is more so used to describe the fit relative to slim and straight cuts. But many brands have adopted the skinny fit as their signature and don’t even use the term “skinny” in their fit description.
But what most guys don’t realize is that the change from baggy, loose fitting jeans, to modern skinny tapered jeans has been a godsend for us shorter guys! Skinny jeans will INSTANTLY make short men look taller, thinner, and younger. What began as a pop-star fashion trend has actually blossomed to become a massive advantage for men to increase their perceived height. As we will discuss, having clothes fit closer to the body and removing excess fabric will give you a more streamlined appearance. If you haven’t given skinny jeans a chance yet, and are also on the shorter side, now is the time to give them a look!
The bottom line is, skinny jeans are here to stay - and here is why; Skinny jeans will give you a more defined shape and reduce extra fabric around the knee, calf, and ankle that makes you look shorter and stumpier. The gradual slimming of the leg is known as the “taper” and it follows the natural contour of your leg and will be hugely beneficial for short men who want to give off a taller impression. At Under 510, we don’t use the term skinny jeans, but our fit likely falls into that category according to most men due to the slim fit and tapered leg. Be sure to also check out our blog 'Under 5'10 Denim Guide: The Bruce Jean vs The Kingston Jean' for an in-depth breakdown of our two most popular jeans for short men.
Notice how this jean follows the natural shape of the leg. It gets gradually slimmer as it approaches the ankle!
But not all skinny jeans are created equal and will accomplish what they are supposed to. So let’s take a closer look at how our skinny jeans will make shorter men look taller, thinner, and younger.
How should men's skinny jeans fit?
Like I said, when skinny jeans first hit the mass market, you were likely to be a fan of the Jonas Brothers if you hopped on the bandwagon. Not only were older guys not receptive to the new look, the fit was extremely tight all around the thighs, knees, and ankles and did not look good on anyone. Today, you will hear people use the term “jeggings” (after popularized jean-colored-leggings worn by women) to describe jeans on guys that look way too tight. There is thankfully a middle ground between jeggings, and baggy jeans, one that doesn’t reveal too much of the male anatomy (if you catch my drift).
One of the earliest known images of men wearing skinny jeans - the Jonas Brothers, circa 2010. Although we didn't know it at the time, skinny jeans would go on to become the new standard for the way men thought about the way their pants fit.
Here is how your skinny jeans should fit: they should be comfortable in the thighs and the seam should not be pulling or constricting your quads. But at the start of the knee, the jeans should get significantly narrower, much like your leg quite literally gets slimmer at the knee. From the knee down, the pant should gently hug your leg (or at least be close to it) until it reaches the ankle, or leg opening. The jeans should be thinnest at the leg opening. And here is a little tip: when trying to figure out how skinny a jean is going to be, take a look at the leg opening measurement often listed in the product description. That will tell you how thin the leg is going to be.
Our jeans look proportional because they aren't skin-tight. Rather, they gently hug the leg and give your frame more shape and definition.
Conversely, the reason jeans that fit like jeans of old are labeled as “straight fit” is because the leg is cut straight from the knee down with no narrowing down to the ankle. Logically, this doesn't look good on most guys because it does not follow the natural shape of the human body.
How do I know if my skinny jeans are too tight?
WE DO NOT CONDONE THIS BEHAVIOR! Most guys are scared of looking like this in skinny jeans. But this is NOT how skinny jeans should look on a man. (@racam7)
The biggest concern with guys, especially when trying skinny fit jeans for the first time, is knowing if the jeans are too tight. In our store, when men go from their loose, ill fitting jeans to our slim, tapered fit jeans, it is a drastic change that they aren’t ready to see in themselves. If there is one thing we’ve learned from running a retail store is that it’s really important to try to get guys to try new things. Sometimes it's extremely helpful when men bring their wives or girlfriends into the store. Their encouragement usually helps their men get out of their comfort zone!
Sometimes it takes going out of your comfort zone to find a new style that you like. Don't be afraid to try new things!
When it comes to the fit in the thighs, there is little difference between slim or straight cuts and skinny jeans in the thigh area. Most of the time, the thigh is proportional to the waist size and if you get the proper waist size, they should fit should be relatively the same no matter the overall fit of the jeans. What you want to avoid is jeans that look spray painted on - that means jeans that are tight around the entire leg from the thigh, to knee, to calf, to ankle. Here is an example.
This is an example of sprayed-on jeans - usually a tactic used by body builders to show off their physique. Most guys should want to avoid this look, and rightfully so! (legendlondon.com)
Here is another good visual - you don't want to look like you are wearing a wetsuit on the lower half of your body.
These jeans are a good look on women because they want to accentuate a small waist and long thin legs. But men need something that compliments their broader frame and upper body. When your legs look super thin relative to the upper half of your body, it won’t look right. Take a look at the below image at how these gray jeans fit: they’re snug but still have some room between the leg and the fabric and allow for movement.
Our jeans, like the Kingston jeans in gray shown here, are perfectly tailored to give you a slimming look but never looking or feeling tight.
Which skinny jean fabrics should I look for?
A really important attribute of your jeans is the fabric that comprises them. In the past few years, the fabric industry has evolved in a major way, introducing the public to brand new tech fabrics. Most importantly, new technology has allowed textile manufacturers to weave elastane into traditionally all cotton fabric, like denim. Denim that was traditionally heavy, crunchy, and rigid is now soft and stretchy, taking jeans to a totally new level of comfort and elasticity while retaining that same rugged denim look (see our Bruce Jeans).
With new advances in tech fabrics, you can jeans that look classic, but have incredible stretch and comfort. (Shown: Kingston jeans in gray)
One of the most prominent excuses men give for not wanting to give up their baggy jeans is that they are more comfortable than wearing skinny jeans. Now if skinny jeans were made from 100% rigid cotton like the ones from 30 years ago, that alibi would have some validity. However, modern jeans (like our Kingston jeans) are so stretchy and comfortable that they feel more like sweatpants or athletic wear than traditional cotton jeans! Our Kingston jeans are made from denim that comes in a four-way stretch fabric, meaning it moves up, down, left, and right. You can do squats in them without feeling the slightest bit of resistance. So when it comes to fabrics, make sure your skinny jeans have enough stretch in them so you look your best without compromising comfort.
Additionally, think about the climate you live in or in which temperatures you plan on wearing your jeans. Denim comes in different weights, with 10oz being lightweight and 14oz being on the heavier side. Ideally, you should find a fabric weight that works for as many seasons and temperatures as possible so you can get the most wear out of your jeans.
How do I know which length to buy?
Another fashion trend that has become a lot more popular is stacking your skinny jeans. Stacking your jeans means that the bottom of the jeans bunches up on top of your shoe. This is a big no-no for short guys because it communicates that your jeans are too long on you and will give the impression that you are shorter than you really are! Plus, if we do say so ourselves, all that excess fabric doesn’t look all that great on anyone.
Somehow, stacking your skinny jeans, has become a fashion trend. I wouldn't be surprised if it started with a short guy who couldn't find his proper inseam size! Luckily, we can help with that!
For the shorter man, it is important that you look like you fit into your clothes, which communicates that you are not any shorter than you should be. When it comes to jeans that means your jeans should gently rest on top of your shoes with little to no break (a break is the wrinkling of the jean or pant leg as it rests on the top of your shoe).
You don’t have to tell us, but finding jeans in the proper length has been impossible for shorter guys below average height (which happens to be 5' 10''). Most of us shorter guys have unintentionally been stacking our jeans since they are usually multiple inches too long. Thankfully, Under 5'10 has answered that call, offering jeans in inseams starting at 25 inches and extending up to 29 inches.
If this is the first time you are being offered jeans in an inseam less than 30 inches (traditionally the shortest inseam you can find off the rack) and are unsure of what your inseam is, here is how to find it:
- Put on a pair of jeans that you own and note the length indicated on the tag
- Put on sneakers or boots and cuff the jeans at the hem upward to your desired length (I recommend that it gently rest on the top of your shoe or boot)
- Using a measuring tape, record how long the cuff is
- Subtract that length from the tagged length of the pant
Example: If you are wearing a size 30 inseam and the length of the cuff is 3 inches, you are in fact a 27 inch inseam, which you can find in all jeans and pants from Under 510.
How do I find the right waist size?
Now that you know your inseam length, you also need to know your waist size. What’s important to know about skinny jeans is that the width of the leg is proportional to your waist size. So as you go up in waist size, the width of the leg becomes “less skinny”, so to speak.
As I said earlier, a lot of guys who haven’t made the change to skinny jeans are wearing waist sizes that are far too big on them because it is “more comfortable”. Being that jeans of today are more comfortable than ever due to the stretchy nature of the fabrics, you should likely size down on the waist. If you order a waist size that is too big, you probably won’t get the proper fit on the leg.
Finding your waist size is easier than you think, and here is how to do it:
- Take a measuring tape and wrap it around your waist (it's easier if you get a helping hand)
- Take note of where the measuring tape overlaps
- Subtract 4 from the inches recorded. That is your waist size for pants
Also consider that some pants run differently, due to multiple factors (such as fabric type, brand, etc.) and you may have to deviate from your waist size one way or another. This is one of the main reasons why we offer free shipping and free returns; this way you can order multiple sizes of each item so you can experiment and find your correct fit. Also make sure to read the Under 510 product descriptions where we recommend sizing up or down on each pant. Our comprehensive sizing page has additional information you need for pants inseam sizing and shirt sizing as well.
Which color of skinny jeans should I buy?
If this is your first time buying skinny jeans you may want to try specific colors that will look more mature and appropriate for dressing up or down. Usually dark colors look better for most guys whereas lighter colors are more difficult to dress up and give off a more youthful appearance. Lighter washes, can come in shade variations including acid washed, stone washed, or sun faded, and are more punky in look. Additionally lighter colors are usually more suitable for the summer time color palette, while dark washes look great all year round.
As a general rule, jeans in light washes are more casual and harder to dress up - especially if they have rips in them! (Levis)
On the other hand, dark washes are a lot more versatile and can be dressed up much more easily with a button down shirt or blazer. Also dark colors like black and indigo make you look slimmer and more proportional whereas light colors often give you a bulkier appearance. Here are some jeans from Under 510 that are fan favorites due to their versatility. Notice how you can wear them with a t-shirt or dress them up with an oxford button down shirt.
Caring for your skinny jeans
A much neglected area of menswear is actually caring and maintaining your clothing. Lots of guys do not have time to wash their clothes, and send them to the cleaners, or allow their spouses to wash their clothing for them. But with almost all clothing, if you throw your clothes in the dryer they will shrink considerably. Guys also mistakenly attribute shrinkage to poor quality fabrics, but this is far from the truth - extreme heat will not only shrink almost any fabric but it will damage the fibers and cause the fabric to deteriorate.
When it comes to washing your skinny jeans, we always recommend washing on a cool cycle to preserve the color and retain fit. (likeaglove.com)
The best thing to do is to wash your jeans on a cool cycle and air dry them. This will preserve the original color of the jeans and also prevent them from shrinking. If you have the space for it, a drying rack is definitely a worthwhile investment not only for your jeans but for all of your clothing.
To prevent your clothes from shrinking, always air-dry them! The dryer will not only shrink any fabric, but also damage the fibers and cause unnecessary decomposition of your clothes! (istock)
To sum this all up, skinny jeans have become the new normal and should be appreciated by men, especially shorter guys, for their ability to make them look taller, thinner, and younger. Clothing that has less excess fabric and fits closer to the body will give you a far more flattering shape. If you are apprehensive about trying a pair of skinny jeans on for yourself, try to keep an open mind and try some jeans in darker washes that might be easier to transition into. Make sure to try on multiple sizes before making a decision too!
As always, we love to hear from our community of shorter guys! If you have any questions or recommendations, please send us an email at email@example.com or call us a 516-295-5900 any time!