Losing a good pair of jeans is a disaster for even the toughest man. You’ve worn them everywhere, they’ve been with you through the trials and tribulations of life—and, most important of all, they’ve made you look elegant and “just right.” Just because your legendary pair of denims has become a casualty of the washing machine wars, you shouldn’t be afraid of searching out the next pair.

This guide on things to do and not to do in choosing jeans will put you on track for success without all the stresses of the stores’ fitting rooms. Before you start…

pick-jeans

Match your purchase to your purpose

This seems obvious, but think about your reason for buying the jeans. If you want dressy jeans for work ,they will be totally different from those you want for Friday night wear. Likewise, for summer you will opt for lighter styles as opposed to heavier denims that are meant for the winter cold.

Check your size

Be sure that you know your size. If you have a cupboard full of jeans, you’ll have a better idea of your size than if you only wear jeans occasionally. It’s useful to remember that jeans stretch over time, so don’t be surprised if a brand new “size 32” seems smaller than your last pair.

Measuring for size

Inside leg:

All leg lengths for jeans are based on the inside leg measurement. Measure from between your legs to the ground.

Waist:

Measure around the narrowest part of your waist, above the hips and under the ribcage—and don’t breathe in while you’re doing it!

Gentlemen, know your shape!

It’s generally true that a good pair of jeans depends on the choice of cut. And that choice depends on your shape. Don’t choose a “legend of rock” cut if you are built like a rugby player. Consider these possibilities…

Straight or regular

Discreet and neither baggy nor slim, this cut is simple, classic, and tends to suit most people.

Good labels for the straight cut are: Armani Jeans, Levi, Diesel, Boss Orange and Paul Smith.

Flared

A good option for most body shapes, this cut balances the body, being straight and tight from the waist to the base of the calf and then flared to the ankle.

The flared style appears to lengthen the leg and goes well over boots and larger shoes.

Good labels for the flared cut are: Levi and Diesel.

Slim

Slim jeans are flattering, trendy and give the rock-star look. They fall straight from hip to ankle and therefore look better on more slender bodies. How do you look in slim jeans? Only you can answer that…or maybe one of your friends!

Good labels for the slim cut are: Levi and PRPS

Conical

Conical jeans are wider around the thighs, but tighter towards the middle to create a slimmer effect in the lower legs. It’s the best cut for smaller, slender bodies and cut to fit the thigh better than slim jeans, making it a more relaxed style.

Good labels for the conical cut are: Diesel, G-Star, and Goi-Goi.

Easy or relaxed fit

These are jeans with a generous fit from waist to hem and are flattering for most bodies because they don’t accentuate awful bumps and curves. Avoid these jeans if you are one of the lucky one with slim legs; you will look better in slim or straight cut.

Good labels for the relaxed cut are: Firetrap, Levi, G-Star and True Religion.

Take a plunge into the world of “washed” jeans:

The “wash” creates the style and character of the jeans, so be aware of the three main types …

Vintage wash

These are specially treated to create the worn look that you would get after several years of hard wear.

Stone wash

This traditional wash is achieved by adding stones to the denim during washing. The stones tenderize the fibers, making them appear soft and worn. A more modern method is to create the same effect using chemicals.

Dirty wash

A method used to make jeans look really worn, the dirty wash often adds touches of yellow or brown.

Advice:

Washed jeans are fine for casual wear, but every man should have in his wardrobe at least one pair of dark blue jeans to achieve a more stylish look for dressier occasions.

Find the right “waist height”

Nearly as important as shape is the waist height, or “rise”—that is, the distance between the crotch and the waistband of the jeans.

Low rise:

This is generally a comfortable cut that sits a few centimeters below the navel.

High rise:

A good option for hiding excess weight, but beware, it doesn’t give you an excuse not to exercise.

Medium rise:

Somewhere between the previous two, this cut is very popular. It neither hides your stomach nor lets it hang out.

Follow your instinct when you buy a pair of jeans; you’ll know, deep down, whether or not a particular style is for you.

And finally…

Keep your new “favorite” pair in good condition for as long as possible with these simple tips:

  • Wash your jeans inside out with the zipper firmly closed
  • Don’t wash them too often: every two weeks will do and will prevent discoloration and also reduce the impact on the environment
  • Set the wash temperature at 30 degrees Celsius (86 F)—again, to slow down discoloration (and climate change)
  • Avoid the clothes dryer; dry jeans in the open air
  • Read the label inside the jeans for any special directions

Until next time.

Read Next: Here Is What You Should (And Shouldn’t) Do When Buying A New Suit