What Are Tapered Jeans? (And Should You Wear Them?)

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what are tapered jeans

You can find many different jean styles these days. 

Slim fit, skinny jeans, athletic fit, etc.

And now, you see “tapered fit jeans” all over the place. It can be a bit confusing. Our new “Jeans Guide” series seeks to answer these common questions, such as:

What are tapered jeans?

Tapered jeans are jeans that follow the natural tapered shape of your legs, narrowing down from the thigh to the ankle. They give your legs a slim, natural look, without feeling too tight.

I will explain in more detail below. I’ll also explain the differences between tapered jeans and other styles of jeans, whether you should wear them, and how to wear them.

What Are Tapered Jeans?

Tapered jeans are cut to taper down each leg from thigh to ankle, meaning they get gradually narrower towards the ankle. They accentuate the natural shape of your leg, providing a comfy fit around the thighs and a slim fit around the shins and ankles.

tapered leg

When tailoring jeans to fit better, tapering has always been a common alteration. These days though, you can find a wide variety of jeans off the rack that are already cut to taper, making it easier to find a fit that works for you.

Tapered Leg vs Straight Leg Jeans: What’s the Difference?

Straight leg jeans are cut straight down from hip to ankle, meaning the width of the leg remains the same from top to bottom. Tapered jeans narrow down from hip to ankle to provide a more close fit. 

straight vs tapered jeans

Straight leg jeans were my main recommendation for the longest time, but now tapered jeans have won me over. Both cuts will flatter most body types, and you won’t go wrong with either. But tapered jeans provide a closer fit without needing tailoring. And a close fit has been what’s in style for the last decade or more. 

Tapered vs Slim Fit: What’s the Difference?

To understand the difference between tapered jeans and slim fit jeans, you need to understand the difference between cut and fit. 

The cut refers to the shape of the legs. Tapered leg jeans taper down. Straight leg jeans are straight. Bootcut jeans flare out at the bottom.

The fit is how loose or tight the jeans fit around the leg. Relaxed fit jeans are loose. Slim fit jeans are snug. Regular fit is in between.

The difference between tapered jeans and slim fit jeans is that taper refers to how the legs are cut (to narrow down toward the ankle) and slim fit refers to how the jeans fit snug around the leg. They are not mutually exclusive. 

Slim tapered jeans are jeans that both feel snug around the leg and taper down to the ankle. Most slim fit jeans do have at least some taper, even when they don’t advertise them as such. 

slim fit vs tapered jeans

Tapered Jeans vs Skinny Jeans: What’s the Difference?

Skinny jeans are another fit of jeans, but even tighter than slim fit jeans. While tapered jeans taper down from hip to ankle, skinny jeans follow the contours of the leg. 

Skinny jeans are tight around both the thighs and calves, and have a very tight leg opening. They are trendy, but can limit movement and can be hard to put on. You may find yourself pulling at the waistband trying to get the jeans over your thighs. 

Should You Wear Tapered Jeans?

So, now you may be wondering whether tapered jeans are the right option for you. So let me answer the question:

Yes, you should wear tapered jeans because they give you a stylish, tailored look that flatters every body-type. Whether you prefer a loose or slimmer fit, you can find a style of tapered jeans that suits your needs and tastes. 

Here are some benefits of wearing tapered jeans:

  • Tapered jeans provide a stylish, tailored look without needing to see a tailor. They flatter the natural shape of the legs, making you look slimmer. Wearing them, you look like a man who knows how to dress well.
  • They look good on almost all body-types. Different styles of tapered jeans work for different body-types, but the tapered legs look good on all of them.
  • They feel snug, without feeling too tight. They skim the leg rather than hug the leg, avoiding the overly restrictive feeling that usually comes with skinny jeans. The jeans provide enough space to comfortably move around in.
  • They are versatile. You can wear them in a casual setting, to wear for a night out, and if you dress them up with a blazer and dress shirt, you can even wear them to the office (provided the office allows a smart-casual dress code).
  • They are trendy. I don’t believe in blindly following trends, but tapered jeans are very on trend at the moment. Given the broad appeal and the great look that tapered jeans provide men, I predict that this trend is here to stay. 

What more could you ask for in a pair of jeans? 

What Style Is Right for You?

As I’ve already mentioned, tapered jeans can come in different styles, and which style of tapered jeans is right for you depends on your body-type. 

Slim tapered jeans are a great option for skinny guys and guys of average size, but they are not the best jeans for men with big thighs

Muscular guys who hit the gym frequently will find slim tapered jeans too tight. They are better off going with athletic fit tapered jeans. 

Athletic fit jeans, despite what the name suggests, aren’t just a good option for muscular men though. Chubbier men tend to find them very comfortable as well. 

They are also good jeans for short men, as they help make the legs look longer. 

Where to Buy the Best Tapered Jeans for Men

Jeans are a stalwart in the fashion industry and you can buy tapered jeans from almost anywhere these days. But there are some stores that do jeans a little better than others.

Below are some of my favorite stores for tapered jeans:

  • Levi’s: Has a fantastic collection of tapered jeans in various styles from slim-fit to regular fit to athletic fit. 
  • Diesel: A good option for men looking for trendier styles, who don’t mind a designer jeans price tag.
  • Bonobos: While more known for their chino pants, Bonobos also provides quality jeans with different fits and tapers.
  • Wrangler: A classic jeans manufacturer specializing in jeans for working men. They tend more towards classic straight cut jeans,but they have a few good tapered options.
  • Everlane: They offer quality jeans through ethical manufacturing, and they offer them for a reasonable price. 
  • Lee: Another classic jeans brand providing quality denim. They have tapered jeans ranging from slim fit to regular fit.
  • Gap: A good option for men on a budget, as they often have some sort of sale going on.
  • Uniqlo: Another decent option for men on a budget. 

How to Wear Tapered Jeans

You can wear tapered jeans much in the same way you’re used to wearing jeans. You can wear them in a casual outfit with a t-shirt and white sneakers, or you can dress them up with some business casual shoes, a button-down shirt and a blazer. 

Here are a few basic ideas for outfits that utilize basic wardrobe essentials

For a casual spring/summer look:

Summer Jeans outfit casual

Wear your tapered jeans with…

  • White canvas sneakers and a canvas belt
  • A plain white or plain colored t-shirt or polo shirt
  • A pair of sunglasses
  • A summer hat

Easy enough, right?

For a smart-casual spring/summer look:

Summer jeans outfit smart casual

Wear your tapered jeans with…

  • Brown suede Chelsea boots, chukka boots, brogues or loafers and matching belt
  • A white shirt, tucked in.
  • A pair of sunglasses
  • A breezy light-blue blazer 

For a casual fall/winter look:

Fall jeans outfit casual

Wear your tapered jeans with…

  • Leather chelsea boots with matching belt
  • A grey sweater or cardigan
  • A plain t-shirt or button-down shirt underneath
  • A leather jacket or bomber jacket in fall (or any other men’s fall jacket you like, except for a denim jacket)
  • Any casual winter coat in winter

For a smart casual fall/winter look:

Winter jeans outfit smart casual

Wear your tapered jeans with…

  • Leather chelsea boots or dress boots with matching belt
  • Navy of charcoal blazer or cardigan
  • White or light blue dress shirt
  • A trench coat, pea coat or wool overcoat
  • A scarf

What Shoes Go with Tapered Jeans?

You can wear tapered jeans with almost any kind of shoes. They are as versatile as regular jeans. 

For example, you can wear tapered jeans with:

  • Sneakers
  • Desert boots
  • Loafers
  • Brogues
  • Derby shoes
  • Boots

If you’re the kind of man who frequently wears boots though, you may need to be careful that you select a pair with a wider leg opening, so the boots fit inside. 

Wear Tapered Leg Jeans for a Slim Natural Look

Tapered jeans look good on men of all body shapes. Tall, short, thin, large or muscular, it doesn’t matter. Tapered jeans look flattering.

If you don’t have a pair of tapered jeans already, I highly recommend you get one. 

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