"professional" jeans for a programmer
November 18, 2007 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Calling all jeans experts -- tailored/neat/professional-looking jeans for a guy: custom? tapered leg? brand? other advice? I want to show him off!

My delightful man has just worn out three pairs of jeans simultaneously! Oh, golden fashion opportunity! As I write this, he is at the mall, doubtless picking up yet another pair of slightly-baggy Levi's. I'd like to do better.

We are both mid-30s. I read some earlier threads (no pun intended) on jeans here, and based on such advice, we looked at some Diesels and other jeans at Nordstrom. Shouldn't have been surprised to discover that we are Not That Trendy.

Very fashionable jeans are probably out of the question. Even I am not comfortable with the uneven thigh-highlighting fading that seems to be part of all "modern" jeans; he likes the waist essentially at his waist, thank you very much, and boot cut just looks ridiculous to us; none of this would go with the rest of the wardrobe anyway. Still, I'm hoping to achieve subtle fit and quality improvements to this wardrobe staple.

He wears jeans every single day. He works as a programmer, so it's OK, but I think it's reasonable to try for jeans that look more... tailored? fitted? neat? But not too obviously out of line with the general programmer aesthetic.

Sooooooo... With his permission, I'm currently working up some custom jeans on the LandsEnd.com site. Going for the indigo color with the contrasting stitching, though I wish they wouldn't have contrasting stitching. Lighter colors have matching stitching, but I think the dark blue would be good.

He wanted the fifth "coin" pocket. Fine.

He wants straight leg rather than tapered. I can kind of understand this; I found an earlier AskMe thread that indicated that tapered was out. But based on a few images I've seen, straight leg looks baggy and sloppy to me, and he's a skinny guy! We usually get 31" waist and 32" inseam.

Other info: He's also become a recent CrossFit.com addict, and his thighs, while generally skinny (though he's always been fit), seem to be getting bigger.

He pretty much refuses to consider wearing other types of pants (especially khakis). Maybe corduroys sometime. But we're focusing on jeans now.

Can anyone recommend jeans that fit well and look "professional" [I'm hoping you can infer the actual meaning of "professional" from the above description]. Interested in your color recommendations, brands, style details (straight vs. tapered), and so forth.

If you think this is not achievable, I'd be interested in one or two comments to that effect, but I'd still like to do the best we can.
posted by amtho to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If he's not trying to be a trendsetter then straight leg for sure - I've seen a few people wearing, and pulling off, tapered legs round here but it certainly had an ahead-of-the-wave feeling.
posted by muteh at 11:51 AM on November 18, 2007

I would avoid tapered all together. Also, skinny legs unless you are super fashion-forward. It's not a flattering look for most. Even though you may think that a straight or boot cut jean has a lot of extra fabric below the knee, it really doesn't. Straight rather than tapered is tons more flattering. A straight leg follows the hip line to the ankle. It creates a nice, pleasing line. If he wears a tapered leg, the focus will be on his muscular thighs, and tapered jeans can make one look shorter. (I'm a woman, and like a bootcut jean because I think it makes me look slimmer. It balances out the hips.)

I agree with you, amtho. I like a dark jean. I think it looks dressier. Something like this JCrew straight-leg jean is nice. I think jeans that sit a bit lower on the waist are good. These "Classic fit" jeans that sit on the true waist aren't as flattering. I think you have to go out and about and try some on. Good luck with the custom jeans, that sounds cool.
posted by LoriFLA at 12:08 PM on November 18, 2007

Based on what you said, I'd recommend going for boot cut jeans, as they are pretty presentable and don't really fall in the fashionably faddish category. You'll have to try different makers for fit, but I really like Gap's selections, as they fit me pretty well and don't look ridiculous.
posted by General Malaise at 12:09 PM on November 18, 2007

I'm a fan of Levi's 514 jeans. They are straight-legged with a slim fit. I've seen some nice colors in that style, too. No fading, just a good weathered look. The waist is a little lower than on some jean styles, but I don't think it's too obnoxious.
posted by otolith at 12:18 PM on November 18, 2007

basic levi 501s are probably what you want. a straight leg is good, so is a subtle boot cut. tapered pants flatter no one. darker is always better than lighter.

here are some good, basic jeans from the gap. i love gap jeans.
posted by thinkingwoman at 12:23 PM on November 18, 2007

G-Star is a good step-up from Levi's, but can be kinda expensive unless you luck into a sale. A good mid-range upgrade would be Lucky Jeans.
posted by spilon at 1:57 PM on November 18, 2007

Seconding otolith - the Levi's 514 fits us skinny guys well and doesn't have that obnoxious fake fading. They can be had with or without a slight stretchiness, which makes them even more comfortable. The color I liked best was called "Oil Slick", dark and a little green, but they discontinued it.

If he's used to the waist right below his navel, they'll feel low at first, but they're hardly low-cut by current fashions.
posted by nicwolff at 2:19 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for these suggestions - I'll definitely look into the 514's.

Has anyone had experience with custom jeans ordered online? Particularly Land's End?
posted by amtho at 7:29 PM on November 18, 2007

If you wear jeans every day, you should make an investment there. Sure, you'll spend more money up front, but your cost-per-wear will be far less than if you buy Gap or some other less-expensive jeans. Stick with blue denim, not too light, not too dark.

AG Jeans are very high quality and very comfortable, and don't look too trendy.

Mavi jeans come in a good range of fabrics and styles - and once you pick a style you like, they can get it for you in any fabric.
posted by charlesv at 7:33 PM on November 18, 2007

Tapered jeans/pants of any and all kinds should be banned from this planet. Seriously, even the people that can pull them off would look better in a straight leg or boot cut.
posted by whoaali at 7:47 PM on November 18, 2007

2nding Mavi's. They're amazing. I used to like my jeans to be pretty baggy, but the Mavi's actually fit (look immensely presentable), and are amazingly comfortable.

I would also throw Lucky's into the mix.

There are plenty of torn faded jeans at these two places, but I don't think it'll be too hard to find a pair that aren't.
posted by hue at 8:06 PM on November 18, 2007

I fit this profile pretty closely so I recommend you do what I did: go to Nordstrom Rack (Nordstroms discount store, they always have way more jeans than at a regular Nordstroms it seems, and "200 dollar" jeans cost around $100 there) and try on every pair of jeans you can. I look for jeans that fell just a tiny bit too tight, then I wear them to loosen them up a bit and avoid washing them as much as possible (this makes them tighter and makes the fabric seem rougher). Another thing to remember is that most "stylish" jeans come with a 36" in-seam, so ignore it if the legs are too long and get them hemmed at the tailor or dry cleaner for $10. The pair I like the most is True Religion Logan style with the fruity pocket details removed, the fabric feels soft on the legs and my female friends have assured me they look stylish :).
posted by hamhed at 8:56 PM on November 18, 2007

I would suggest getting off the shelf jeans that fit well rather than custom ones, but that's just me.

I'm a skinny guy, so I have a hard time finding jeans that fit well. I don't like Levis 511s or 514s, though other people in the thread seem to like them a lot. 501s are great, but are a little wide for my taste. I know you say you don't like boot cut, but I think 517s are a great cut.

H&M has some nice stuff that is reasonably priced, but I don't think their cuts look good on skinny guys. On the other hand, one of my friend who is a little thicker looks great in their jeans.

I don't know if cost is an issue, but some of the "fashionable" (and expensive) jeans at the really high end are pretty simple and I think would look for the aesthetic you're going for. While he doesn't sound like someone who would be into wearing jeans for months without washing (as a lot of people do with these jeans), the Skull 5010s are simple, pretty high quality, and classic (but expensive).

See here, for example. Self Edge and similar stores carry a bunch of denim that's expensive, but produced in small quantities, and without the "fake distressed" stuff that you dislike. Of course, with wear, the jeans take on their own personalities, but that's something else entirely (and if you don't wear them "raw", you won't get super dramatic fades for a while).
posted by PandaMcBoof at 9:34 PM on November 18, 2007

I actually used to be a denim buyer for Macy's, and Mavi was one of my accounts. Most of their stuff is still made in Turkey, and its really high quality for the price.

Personally, I've recently converted to Ernest Sewn - definitely check them out if you can.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:46 AM on November 19, 2007

nthing everyone who recommends straight leg and bootcut jeans. those cuts will never go out of style.

also nthing a dark wash, a rinse, or raw denim. remember to always wash your dark jeans inside out for color retention.

for skinnier guys, i would recommend going with higher end brands because their fits are usually cut narrower and more fitted for their target market.
posted by violetk at 1:02 AM on November 19, 2007

I also recommend Lucky's. Plenty of variety for skinny dudes, and nice enough to be "dress jeans."
posted by doppleradar at 6:22 AM on November 19, 2007

After posting this question on jeans I eventually settled on Levi's 514s. I get the preshrunk but not stone-washed ones (the really dark blue ones) and wear them in over time. They have lasted really well for me and after a year of breaking in, they're amazingly comfortable. I'm saving up for some Edwins or Sugarcanes, but for now, I can wear these to work, or with a jacket and tie and come off as reasonably dressy, but they're not so expensive I feel bad about wearing them to work around the yard or car. The cut is good for a reasonably thin tall guy and the fabric seems to be better (maybe just less abused) than some of the more mainstream Levi's. Note bene: I tend to actually wear boots a lot, so the boot cut doesn't bother me, but I feel slightly "billowy" wearing them with tennis shoes.

If you'r eup for spending serious money on jeans (ie. $300+) this forum is indispensable.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:26 AM on November 19, 2007

For the money, you just can't do better than a pair of APC Rescues. $140 for French selvage (made with narrow shuttle looms instead of large industrial looms) in raw denim (dark indigo that will subtly fade with wear over the course of months) with no obnoxious back-pocket stitching. APC vanity-sizes a little and they stretch a little more, so I think he'd need to get them in a 29" waist. Context is one of the few retailers in the US that carries them, but it looks like they're waiting on another shipment from APC.
posted by brozek at 11:22 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

I love Nudie Jeans they come in all shapes and sizes and the fit is perfect and the denim is top notch. The fit guide at the website is super helpful, it shows you exactly how the jeans look in 3D on real people.

Not to sound too snobby, but I can't think of anything less cool than custom fit Lands End jeans.

(but I'm a wee bit of a jeans snob.)
posted by Mr. Ugh at 1:05 PM on November 20, 2007

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