These days, the thought of putting on a stiff pair of jeans (let alone a real pair of pants) feels like a whole job on its own. Luckily for us guys, stretch denim has become a lot more common. Brands are catching on that consumers want to be comfortable with some room in the legs and seat.
In this article we’ll discuss what makes stretch jeans actually stretch, when and where to wear stretch denim, and round out with a rundown of nine of the best men’s stretch denim jeans under $150.
What Makes Stretch Denim Stretchy?
As you may have guessed, the fabric composition is what actually gives stretchable denim its defining characteristic. Most brands have added some form of elastane, spandex, or other synthetic into their fabric to create their version of stretch denim.
While you can find unwashed, starchy, “raw” denim with stretch fibers woven in, most pairs have also been pre-washed to soften them up even more.
You’ll typically see stretch denim in the range of 1% – 4% ‘stretch’, with the lower end being just a bit more comfortable while maintaining shape and 4% being more form fitting and softer. While this doesn’t mean brands are offering stretch pants for dudes, even that little bit can make a noticeable difference in your denim moves with you instead of clinging to you.
Why Choose Stretch Denim?
Comfort. Plain and simple. These jeans aren’t going feel like wearing cardboard for the month-long (or more) ‘break in period.’ They’re also a little more convenient. For the most part, you won’t have to play mind game with how much the waist and thigh will stretch. You won’t have to stick them in the freezer to kill germs and stop your whiskers and honeycomb fades from being ruined in the wash. Additionally, if you’re into a slim or skinny fit, the stretch denim will help retain a fitted shape without your legs feeling like sausage casings.
Some may dig the fades and whiskers, but others may just want a solid pair of jeans. Which is just fine by us.
When Should You Wear Denim Jeans With Stretch?
It may be time to replace your old jeans entirely. Stretch denim is going to play more often to the casual or smart casual end of the spectrum. However, this isn’t too different than your normal denim style rules, and you should still take the shade of the denim into account. Lighter is more casual; darker is more formal.
We also recommend sticking to the 1-2% stretch range if you’re on the hunt for your first pair. The stretchier you go, the more body contouring and forming you get. This may actually work against what you’re going for.
Our Best Men’s Stretch Denim Picks
1. The Perfect Jean
The Perfect Jean offers a not-too-skinny, not-too-loose slim fit jean with “four way, dynamic super stretch fabric. As soft as a baby’s bottom and stretches so your nuts ain’t crushed.” That catchy tagline, along with a wide range of comfortable jeans, are all we can really ask for in a good pair of jeans. Shop here
2. Dearborn Denim
Dearborn Denim offers a variety of washes and fits in their stretch denim. The fabric blend is a mix of cotton, polyester, and elastane to give you the stretch you want. We’re fans of the variety they have. Shop here
3. Mugsy Jeans
Mugsy Jeans pride themselves on the softest, sweatpant-like denim. That’s what we love to see. They also have a nice variety of washes and colors to choose from. Unlike many brands, they only have one fit. It’s more of a slim-straight, so do consider sizing down if you prefer a more fitted look. Shop here
4. Mott & Bow
Mott & Bow (Bow as in boat) also boasts comfort. What sets them apart is their at-home try-on program where you can try a few sizes and fits before making a final decision. They’ve got a wide variety of both fits and washes, but tend to run slimmer through the seat and hip. However, they have a unique program allowing you to order multiple sizes to get your best fit. Shop here
5. Express Hyper Stretch Denim
This one was a bit of a surprise for us, but Express has certainly stepped up their recent denim game, especially when it comes to stretch denim. They are soft and allow for great range of motion without feeling like a stiff pair of jeans. We encourage you to try them out! They will run fuller in the waist and quite slim through the leg. Shop here
6. Levi’s Stretch Denim
We’d be remiss would be remiss of us not to mention Levi’s. The original denimheads have caught on to the stretch denim trend as well. The Classic 511’s have some great stretch to them without being too skinny or form fitting. Shop here
7. Madewell Men’s Skinny
This one was another surprise for us. Many people don’t know Madewell has a men’s section at all – much less men’s stretch denim. But we’ve tried these on and are pleased to report they’ve got some great stretch as well as a little more heft to them. This should satisfy the crowd seeking more of the true ‘jean’ feel. But, they also feature a moisture wicking fabric great for summer wear. Shop here
8. Warp and Weft
This creatively-named company not only makes comfortable, stretchy denim, but recycles 98% of the water they use to manufacture it. They also skip the chemical bleaching process to use a in-house ‘Dry Ozone’ technique. Chalk that up as a double win for us. Shop here
9. Alday Denim
Alday Denim is newer on the men’s stretch denim scene, but we’ve tried them and they definitely have stretch without even feeling like jeans. Like at all. These are a looser, but not quite ‘wide-leg’ fit. This further enhances both their comfort and the desire to keep them on all day. Shop here.
Stretch Jeans for Men Wrap Up
This is our list, but we want to know if you have tried any other stretch denim that has made your top 9 as well. Let us know in the community section of the site (link below), especially if you think we missed a pair.
Most importantly, when you’re looking for more stretch in your jeans, consider how much movement you want and the fit of the jeans. Our best recommendation is to try a few variants to figure out what fit and feel works best for you.
Have more questions about stretch denim?
In addition to sharing your recommendations, please also feel free to ask your question in Men’s Stretch Denim Jeans discussion our online community. We have 100s of style experts & clothing aficionados ready to help you!