Finding the right men’s jeans can be hard. Blue jean style is ubiquitous, but it’s easy to get lost in the weeds with unsatisfactory materials, outdated looks, sizes, and shapes that don’t work for your body.
The result? You either look like an aging, out-of-touch relic wearing shapeless pants that were never stylish or some clearly self-conscious guy in the bar who’s trying too hard to fit into jeans that are too skinny. And either way, you’re chafing.
Men’s fashion and lifestyles alike continue to evolve.
I hunted down the best stretch denim jeans for men, seeking to solve fashion/functional woes. I’m right there with you — no longer do I keep stacks of identical carpenter jeans in my armoire, nor do I squeeze myself into the skinniest pants I can find in a tragic effort to look hip.
Stretch denim jeans for men are here to stay; use this guide to help you pick the right pair for your lifestyle, fashion sense, and budget.
- Most Durable: Levi’s 511 Slim-Fit Stretch Denim Jeans
- Best All-Around: Boulder Denim 2.0 Men’s Slim Fit Stretch Denim Jeans
- Cheapest: Wrangler Authentics Comfort Flex Stretch Denim Jeans
- Most Expensive: Nudie Jeans Lean Deans Stretch Denim Jeans
- Most Accommodating: GINGTTO Skinny Stretch Denim Jeans
- Stretchiest: American Eagle Men’s Airflex+ Jeans
- Best Value: Izod Men’s Comfort Stretch Jeans
- Best New Brand: Mugsy Jeans
- Best Skinny Fit: Lee Performance Series Extreme Motion Jeans
- Most Traditional: Levi’s 569 Loose Straight Fit Jeans
The Best Stretch Denim Jeans for Men
When it comes to denim jeans, Levi’s is a genuine article. Literally — company founder Levi Strauss and his tailor patented the style in 1873. The “original riveted” work pants have become a worldwide icon over the last 150 years, and Levi’s still enjoys a perch near the top of the jeans food chain.
I’m inherently skeptical of incumbents, so men’s Levi’s stretch denim jeans were right in my crosshairs. I wanted to know if the company kept up with the competition and whether its traditionally-anchored product would stand in our environment of evolving needs and fashion.
Levi’s 511 Slim-Fit Stretch Denim Jeans For Men (more or less) pass the relevancy test. Right away, the indigo wash and bronze stitching of my “Clean Darks” attracted me. When I pulled them on, one word came distinctly to mind: rigid. Levi’s 99:1 cotton-to-elastane ratio delivers exactly what it promises: a pair of men’s jeans with stretch denim that wear traditionally, designed to conform to your shape over time.
So I tried to make them conform. Make no mistake: Levi’s 511’s will not be comfortable on day one. For me, the feeling lasted into day two, then week two, then week four, and so on. This didn’t strike me as a bad thing necessarily, because I knew the pants were made to last. Their impressive construction testified to their durability — stout hems, no loose stitches, a solid zipper. Eventually, I realized I needed to take drastic break-in measures, so I wore them for a day of snowboarding.
Though employees at my chosen Lake Tahoe-area ski resort more or less openly laughed at me, the stress-test did the trick. After 11 or 12 rides, a handful of high-speed wipeouts, and a wash, the jeans felt considerably less restrictive (even though they still looked sharp).
It’s hard to beat the proven brand name and classic style of Levi’s. Choose 511’s for a traditional feel in bulletproof stretch jeans. Read the in-depth review here.
99% cotton, 1 % elastane
Available in 40+ colors and washes
Classic Levi Strauss & Co. label and button
Fits true to size
Long break-in period
Tight, flat front pocket
Boulder Denim 2.0 Men’s Slim Fit Jeans are the softest stretch jeans for men I have ever experienced. At the same time, they’re some of the toughest. The material mind-blowingly stretched and felt soft against the skin. As well, Boulder Denim features accommodating pockets and forgiving seams.
I wore Boulder Denim jeans on Epinephrine, a 2,000-foot rock climb outside Las Vegas, Nevada. The stretch denim pants had already passed my personal litmus test of “is it comfortable to drive in them?” (Anybody who has worn uncomfortable jeans knows it can be excruciating). I wanted to know if they would perform over the long haul.
83% cotton, 15% polyester, 2% elastane
Available in slim fit (4 colors) or athletic fit (7 colors)
Lifetime warranty on construction elements
Fits large compared to others
- BrandBoulder Denim
- Model2.0 Men’s Slim Fit Jeans
Extreme stretch and comfort
Two “fit” options accommodate various body shapes
In the United States, Wrangler is as synonymous with denim jeans as its counterpart Levi’s. Started in 1947 by a laid-off overall maker, the brand immediately found a secure footing in American cowboy culture.
Fast forward 70 years, and the brand has widened considerably — it now makes hiking pants, flame-resistant workwear, and denim dresses and jumpsuits for women. Wrangler Authentics is the brand’s bid at extreme affordability and comfort (indeed, a descriptive blurb on the company’s website, titled “Making Comfort A Priority,” uses the word “comfort” seven times in five sentences).
98% cotton, 2% spandex
Available in 10 colors and washes
- BrandWrangler Authentics
- ModelComfort Flex
Comfortable wear and good stretch
Reported quality control issues
Nudie Jeans is for real. The Swedish jean maker works hard to position itself as the jean company of the future, from its commitment to organic cotton to its philosophical marketing approach. (“Your lifestyle and all you’ve done during the past months will make a mark on your jeans. They will tell your story,” the website says.)
A pair also costs quite a bit. So, are the jeans worth it? From what I can tell, yes. Reviews of fit and construction are off the charts.
Whatever Nudie is doing with its organic cotton, it’s apparently doing it right — Nudie seems to last.
98% cotton, 2% elastane
Available in 24 colors and washes
Repair service available
- BrandNudie Jeans
- ModelLean Deans
Solid customer reputation
Ethical company standards
GINGTTO Skinny Stretch Denim Jeans for men look like the perfect solution: finally, a super-skinny stretch jean for men that elasticizes to fit all body types. It even comes in various colors and distress levels (some understated, some outrageous) and is unironically modeled by a shirtless bodybuilder.
GINGTTO is funny, and I’m not sure if it’s intentional. The written marketing ranges from intelligible to gibberish, and the photography can exhibit a surrealist meme flair (check out “you can wear on LEG DAY” or “CASUAL SUIT SHORTS”).
Available in 14 colors and washes
Aggressive skinny fit
Available in distressed/destroyed
- ModelSkinny Stretch
Extreme stretch accommodates all body types
Manufacturing consistency issues reported
American Eagle Airflex+ Jeans are AE’s flagship entry in the men’s stretch jean market. The clothing maker has maintained a degree of trendiness since the ‘90s with a wide array of products, from cologne to swimsuits to cheap decor.
So, can it make men’s jeans? Apparently, yes, very stretchy ones. Its Airflex+ material impresses some, and occasional deep sales are enticing (the relaxed fit straight leg version price is reduced on AE’s website as of this writing).
96% cotton, 3% polyester, 1% elastane
Available in 15 colors and washes
Wide range of fit styles available
- BrandAmerican Eagle
- ModelMen’s Airflex+
Unproven denim brand
When I think of the Izod brand, I think of a place where denim jeans are generally frowned upon, if not altogether banned: the golf course. A brief google search reveals that the company was born across the pond from the land of blue jeans in London — albeit started by an American on vacation.
So what can we make of Izod’s entry into the men’s stretch denim jean market? First of all, people who like them seem to really like them. Positive reviews tend to be surprisingly verbose and generally highlight affordability (these jeans may go on sale quite often — one reviewer ordered three pairs after noticing the price) and comfort.
98% cotton, 2% spandex
Available in 10 colors and washes
- ModelComfort Stretch
Comfortable, looser fit
Expensive depending on size and color preference
Can be sensitive to wear
Mugsy Jeans is a homerun. The Chicago-born jean maker started in 2015 with blue, black, and selvage options, anchoring itself on comfortable stretch jeans for men in classic style with a constructed crotch for men (more room where you need it).
Check out Mugsy’s funny, self-aware promo from 2016 to learn the basics of how Mugsy accomplishes a pair of jeans “more comfortable than riding a unicorn bareback through the milky way.”
Cotton, rayon, spandex
Available in 17 colors and washes
Made in the USA
- BrandMugsy Jeans
Stretchy and comfortable
Roomy crotch for men
Made in America
Only available through Mugsy website
Classic jean maker Lee weighs in on the men’s stretch denim market with its Performance Series Extreme Motion Jeans. It’s a familiar specimen: affordable jeans designed for all-day comfort with basic styling.
The Extreme Motion line’s claim to specificity is its Extreme Flex waistband, which “adapts to your body for extreme comfort.” As well, its 81/18/1 material is “exclusive,” made from “four-way stretch fiber blends” to maximize the range of motion.
81% cotton, 18% polyester, 1% spandex
Available in 14 colors and washes
Extreme flex waistband
- ModelExtreme Motion
Soft, comfortable wear
The 569 is Levi’s Loose Straight Fit Jeans. A bit of a rare bird these days (when was the last time you saw anyone wearing loose jeans?), the 569 still has its niche with men who want a jean with extra room in the seat and thighs.
Levi’s 569 promises roominess, not bagginess. Its “modern, laid-back fit” is catered to satisfy those who aren’t on board with the skinny-jean aesthetic. These jeans are a decent deal on an alternative fit style from the brand that started it all.
99% cotton, 1% elastane
Available in 23 colors and washes
- Weight1 Pound
Roomy but not baggy
Wide range of color and wash choices
How I Chose Entries for This Test
Denim jeans for men exist on a broad spectrum of pricing and style, so it was my priority to display that with these product choices. I field-tested choice models with opposing styles/history and featured a wide range of entries from elsewhere in the industry by pairing common sense with research.
Lowest price point? $14. Highest? $250.
You get the idea.
Why You Should Trust This Guide
I’ve always had trouble finding clothes that fit. I was a small kid, and now I’m a small adult (5’6”, 125 pounds), so clothes generally aren’t made for me. At the age of 8, I played for my first baseball team, and ever since putting on that size “L” jersey (I vividly remember it hanging past my knees), I have hated wearing clothes that don’t fit or aren’t functional. It’s impractical at best, humiliating at worst.
That being said, I’m all about jeans. Finding the right pair is magical: they’re cheap, durable, and suitable for a wide range of occasions. I rock climb, skateboard, work, drive, travel, visit restaurants, watch TV, walk my dog, cook, and occasionally play golf (poorly) in jeans. During testing for this guide, I even snowboarded in a pair.
So whatever size you are, I respect your need for clothing that fits and works for you.
How I Tested Each Entry
To me, exposure to stress is the most important component of a stretch denim jeans test. To the clear disgust of many ski resort employees, I wore a pair of Levi’s 511’s for a full day of snowboarding (11 total lift rides). Then I subjected Boulder Denim jeans to Epinephrine, a notoriously abrasive 2,000-foot rock climb outside Las Vegas, Nevada.
From there, I wore the jeans regularly in casual, everyday scenarios. I tested for five criteria: 1. comfort/feel, 2. stretch (measured by a range of motion), 3. durability, 4. fit and sizing, and 5. utility (pockets, etc.).
Features to Look for in Stretch Denim Jeans for Men
Fabric profile is the first thing to look for in men’s stretch denim jeans. Generally, all stretch jeans are constructed from cotton textiles woven with low percentages of synthetics like rayon, polyester, or elastane.
The higher the cotton content, the more traditional the jeans will feel.
Adding more synthetic materials to jean textiles makes them stretchier and softer to the touch. This can produce a trade-off in the pants’ lifespan: if you wear highly synthetic jeans that fit you tightly, the elastic can stretch permanently, making the jeans appear wrinkled.
Intuitively, the fabric also thins as it stretches, meaning very stretchy fabric can be less abrasion-resistant than thicker, stiffer material.
The most important factor in choosing a pair of men’s stretch jeans is the feel. If you feel good about them, you’ll wear them. That counts for a lot — whether you’re wearing a $25 pair or a $125 pair, wearing your jeans over and over again will drive home their value.
Stretch Denim Jeans for Men FAQ
Q: What are stretch denim jeans?
A: Denim is a cotton-based fabric, often dyed with indigo. Many stretch denim jeans are made from textiles, including cotton and the stretchy synthetic fiber elastane (branded as Spandex). Some include polyester or rayon for added stretch.
While all denim jeans will stretch over time, some are designed to stretch right off the shelf.
Q: Will 100% cotton jeans stretch?
A: Yes and no. Often, jeans with higher cotton content are built for durability, and the material will conform to your body over time.
So, technically, yes, 100% cotton jeans will stretch. However, any jeans made from fabric with more synthetic fibers will stretch more easily.
Q: Should I buy stretch denim jeans a size smaller?
A: It absolutely depends on the brand. Stretch denim jeans are built worldwide by a massive array of jean makers, meaning sizing can be tough to standardize.
Most brands offer a recommendation for fitting or a sizing chart — follow that.
As a last resort, follow the rule that the more stretchy the fabric, the more you can size the jean down.
Q: Does Levi’s make stretch jeans?
A: Technically, yes. Levi’s jeans are not the stretchiest I’ve ever worn. Though Levi’s makes a few styles with “flex” fabric, its 99/1 fabric profile is the same across the entire brand. Levi’s is classic jeans designed to shape their wearer over time.
Q: Do stretch denim jeans get looser after washing?
A: Eventually, yes. However, they can even shrink after the first wash. It all depends on the fabric profile. The more cotton (denim) in your jeans, the less you should wash them. Fibers like polyester and rayon hold up better to repeated washing.
Trade knowledge suggests three principles: wash your jeans sparingly, hang-dry them when possible, and wash only with cold water. Check out Levi’s recommendations (see the link listed under "Sources") for how to make your jeans last.
Q: How much does denim stretch?
A: The short answer: about 3% to 5%.
The long answer: it’s really complicated (nerd out on the cool article from ScienceDirect listed below under "Sources").
Because “denim” exists as a broad spectrum, giving an exact number in this context would be misleading. Some jeans will stretch several centimeters from the thigh when pulled; others won’t budge.
Q: Does stretch denim fade?
A: Absolutely; all dyed fabric fades. Synthetic fibers generally hold color longer than natural ones; the more polyester and elastane in your jeans, the longer their color will hold up in the wash.