What Are the Differences Between the Leg Cuts on Men's Jeans?

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Your crotch is sagging, your backside looks enormous and somehow, you look shorter than you really are. Chances are, you’re wearing the wrong jeans. You don’t have to be a fashion expert to choose the perfect pair of jeans, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to know the ins and outs of jean leg cuts. An understanding of pant leg design and an honest assessment of your own body type will help you to choose the most flattering and comfortable jeans possible.


Most men are familiar with the bootcut leg design. Although bootcut jeans are made from a variety of fits, such as relaxed or athletic, they all retain a characteristic flare at the hem of the leg. Bootcut jeans have the same leg width from the thigh opening to the knee, but expand from the knee to the hem. These jeans are most appropriately worn with bulky shoes or boots that require extra space in the ankle.


Although the tapered leg is often associated with slim fits and skinny jeans, this design is also utilized in other styles such as regular or relaxed fit jeans. A tapered leg is the opposite of boot cut. While both styles use equal leg width from the leg opening down to the knee, tapered legs have a decreased width at the hem. These jeans provide more conformity to leg shape than other styles and are not appropriate for bulky shoes.


Straight-leg jeans are designed exactly as their name suggests: straight. This style uses equal leg width from hip to hem. A straight leg can be used in loose, relaxed, regular, slim and athletic jean designs, making it one of the most versatile leg styles available. Straight leg jeans are also versatile because they are easily dressed up. The sleek lines and clean silhouette of these jeans make them appropriate for dates, dinners, clubs and business-casual attire.

Body Type

Knowing your body type is more important when choosing the best jeans than following trends. Designer Brandon Svarc notes that understanding proportion is a key element in men’s fashion. Assess your body by determining if you are stocky, thin, average, short or tall. Short men should wear tapered legs, while taller men will find that medium-rise straight-leg or bootcut jeans maintain proportion. The heavily tapered legs in skinny jeans are most appropriate for thin and some average body types. Stocky, average or athletic body types can easily wear other tapered leg styles such as slim, regular or relaxed.