Jeans: the legwear of the people. Forget about your wool trousers, chinos and pleated pants – good old denim jeans will always have your back no matter what. They’re dependable, durable, versatile and practical, and they’ve been the casual legwear of choice ever since they first stepped off the job site and into mainstream culture more than a century ago.
We could gush about denim all day, but as brilliant as jeans are, they do have one rather glaring drawback. See, all of that durability often comes at the expense of comfort. Denim doesn’t usually offer much in the way of give, which puts some people off. But that’s where a pair of stretch jeans can help.
Stretch jeans provide all the benefits of regular denim but with the added benefit of a touch of elasticity. This makes them much more comfortable than regular jeans, which can feel restrictive when sitting, bending down and generally moving around during the day.
The only trouble is that there are plenty of terrible versions on the market. So, to help you steer clear of the poor quality stuff, we’ve rounded up a few of the brands we feel do stretchy denim best.
What Are Stretch Denim Jeans?
Regular denim is made from 100% cotton. It’s tough and durable, but there’s little to no give in it. Stretch denim on the other hand is forgiving and will move and stretch with the body. This is because the stretch denim fabric is typically made from a combination of cotton, polyester and often a stretchy synthetic fibre like spandex or elastane.
To look at, stretch jeans are often indistinguishable from regular non-stretch jeans. The difference only becomes apparent in touch, where you’ll notice the fabric is softer and has a noticeable degree of elasticity.
This added elasticity makes stretch jeans an excellent choice for everyday wear in casual settings. All the classic looks of denim, without the discomfort.
One of the most important things to think about when shopping for a pair of jeans is how you want them to fit. This doesn’t mean whether they’re too big or too small, but more how they sit in the body and how much room they have in the legs.
A classic straight leg is always a safe bet. It’s probably the only fit that hasn’t gone out of style in the 100+ years people have been wearing denim and it looks good with everything.
If you usually shy away from a slim leg due to how it can restrict movement, a pair of slim stretch jeans might be the answer. They’re narrow in the leg for a fitted look, but the added elasticity means they’re still nice and comfortable to move around in.
Jeans are ideal for everyday wear, but only if you buy them in a colour versatile enough to mix and match with the other pieces in your wardrobe.
You can buy denim in all colours of the rainbow, but as far as we’re concerned, classic indigo is usually the best and most wearable option. Lighter blue washes are great too. They feel even more casual, and still go with anything and everything.
Other options include black, grey and cream. Avoid anything overly bright and you can’t go too far wrong.
The Best Stretch Jeans Brands For Men
San Francisco-born denim brand Levi’s is always a reliable option when it comes to anything blue and riveted, and stretch jeans are no exception.
The historic label has been the biggest name in jeans for well over a century, which is no wonder when you consider the fact that it was responsible for the very first pair.
Today, Levi’s is still churning out some of the most popular jeans on the market – including ones that have been enhanced with synthetic fibres for added elasticity.
Uniqlo is one of the best places to pick up versatile wardrobe staples at wallet-friendly prices. The Japanese retailer does the basic stuff really well, including some very reasonably priced selvedge denim options with added stretch.
At less than £40 a pair, Uniqlo’s stretchy jeans are very accessible, making them perfect for budget-conscious shoppers who want to buy into the exclusive look of selvedge denim without stumping up a large amount of cash.
In a similar vein to Levi’s, Lee is one of the OG American denim brands. It has been doing its thing for over a century, earning itself a reputation as one of the most reliable names in the business.
If you’re after no-frills stretch denim at a reasonable price, this is one of the best-established places to find it.
While the likes of Levi’s and Lee have shaped the denim landscape in the States, in Japan Edwin has done something similar.
After the Second World War, Japan ramped up the production of jeans, using techniques and machinery acquired from the USA. Edwin was one of the leading forces in Japan’s adoption of denim, and it still makes some of the best mainstream Japanese jeans today.
Gap was founded in the late 1960s with a clear mission in mind: to make it easier to find good jeans at reasonable prices. These days, the American brand is probably better known for logo hoodies than jeans, but the blue stuff is still very much the brand’s bedrock and something it does extremely well.
Stretch jeans start at around £55 and are available in a small selection of classic, versatile colours for maximum wearability.
Parisian label A.P.C. is famous for offering a gateway to the world of raw denim. It’s raw jeans are some of the best in their price range, but as with all raw denim, they can be uncomfortable if you’re used to something a little less rigid.
Thankfully, A.P.C. also makes stretch jeans, which means you can still get the quality and fantastic fit the French brand is known for without having to sacrifice comfort or mobility.
If you’re looking to spend a little bit more, Acne Studios has some great stretch jeans to choose from. The Swedish brand is known for its fashion-forward yet minimalist aesthetic, but classic jeans have long been a key part of the Acne offering.
The stretch options are mostly slim fits, allowing you to get a form-fitting look without restricting movement, and prices are generally around £200 or slightly above.
We like the simplicity of Acne’s styling.