For a few years there, trying to find the best jeans for men felt a lot like getting into fancy wines. Point of origin suddenly mattered: was the denim milled in Japan or America? There was confusing terminology to learn—raw, selvedge, ring spun—and a whole whack of weird rules to follow, like never washing your jeans for the first six months. Oh, yeah, and the price tags on these artisanal dungarees were not unlike what you’d find on a well-aged bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape: wallet-busting.

Thankfully, stylish dudes in the know have mostly moved on from that level of denim geekery. Jeans are back to just being jeans: knockabout, utilitarian, the kind of thing you can dress up on a dinner date or pull on for a hungover Sunday without a second thought. More corner store beer than fine wine. As long as they look good, who cares how much they cost? You think Dennis Hopper ever wondered if his jeans were chain-stitched by hand? Of course not!

These days, your chief considerations should be fit—look for pairs that are slim and slightly tapered through the leg—and the wash, which you’ll want to appear as natural as possible. That means no more Jersey Shore bleach-heavy fades, with all that uber-fake “whiskering” across the thighs. Instead, your jeans should look like you broke them in yourself—or be dark enough that you actually can break them in yourself. To give you a head start, we’ve tracked down all the go-anywhere, do-anything, all-around best jeans for men under $100—most of which you can pick up, right now, at your local shopping mall.


The Best OG Jeans

Levi’s 501 ’93 straight jeans

Would a denim roundup even be a denim roundup without a pair of Levi’s in the mix? The first name in blue jeans have taken their iconic 501s and modernized them juuuust a pinch—think less “painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa,” and more “putting free wifi in the Louvre.” The silhouette here is meant to mimic jeans from the early ‘90s, but it’s pretty much bang-on for 2021: they sit a little higher on your waist, with a timeless straight leg fit that hits the ideal middle ground between old-timey railroad worker and calf-circulation-averse emo frontman. Beyond that, you pretty much know what to expect here: five pockets, hardy denim (with a hint of stretch for comfort), au naturel wash that’ll look damn good with everything you own. Classic American jeans served up at a classic American price.


The Best Slim-But-Not-Too-Slim Jeans

Gap slim jeans with GapFlex

Gap kicked off this whole “quality jeans at an inoffensive price” movement a decade ago, and they keep the party rolling with these medium-wash crowd pleasers. Worried you’ve got too much, ahem, “power” in your legs to squeeze into any of these slim-fit jeans? This pair was engineered to look great on the broadest range of body types: not too snug, not too loose. Not for nothing, there’s also a lived-in character to these jeans that’s hard to come by—they’ll feel like a familiar old fave right from the jump. That’s the denim equivalent of what NBA stat heads would call an “intangible.”


The Best Entry-Level Selvedge Denim Jeans

Uniqlo stretch selvedge slim-fit jeans

Remember all those highfalutin denim details we mentioned up top? These guys actually come fully loaded with a bunch of them. Flip up the cuffs, and you’ll find selvedge—that’s the white-and-red striping running up the seams—and chain stitching, AKA those tiny loops of yellow thread along the circumference. Both are hallmarks of high quality (read: more expensive) jeans. Add to that a perrennially good, tastefully slim silhouette, and you’ve got one fine pair of denim—all ready to break in like a charm.

Remember all those highfalutin denim details we mentioned up top? These guys actually come fully loaded with a bunch of them. Flip up the cuffs, and you’ll find selvedge—that’s the white-and-red striping running up the seams—and chain stitching, AKA those tiny loops of yellow thread along the circumference. Both are hallmarks of high quality (read: more expensive) jeans. Add to that a perennially good, tastefully slim silhouette, and you’ve got one fine pair of denim—all ready to break in like a charm.


The Best Stretchy-But-Won’t-Stretch-Out Jeans

Jeans this uniformly dark are normally stiffer than moonshine and about as comfortable as a root canal. Thanks to a clever infusion of stretchy elastane, Everlane’s signature Japanese denim gives you that pristine indigo look—which cement these as the most office-appropriate pair of the bunch—without any of the sandpapery breaking-in period. By that same measure, they’re also surprisingly sag-resistant: you can wear them every day of the week, and they’ll never lose their flatteringly lean shape. Pair ‘em with a tweed blazer, knit tie and equally-crisp white sneakers for a fit that’ll take you from a meeting with your boss straight into happy hour.


The Best Beat-to-Hell Jeans

Polo Ralph Lauren “Varick” slim straight jeans

Ralph Lauren lives in jeans. He wears ‘em with big western shearlings and Scottish tweeds, with classic dinner jackets and wild naval blazers. And, so, he also makes jeans with the exacting eye and abiding care of someone who really, truly loves his denim. Even the Varick, the budget-friendliest model in the RL menswear lineup, come complete with the convincing worn-in wash and perfect hip-hugging fit you’d normally find on a jealousy-inducing vintage find. Only you have to know you got them fresh off the rack for less than 100 big ones.


Your Dad’s Favorite Dad Jean

Lee relaxed fit straight leg jean pants

If you’re still riding the Dad Wave™, don’t mess around when it comes to jeans and get yourself a pair of Lees. The denim is hardy, the fit is boxy, and the wash is perfectly uniform, without any crazy distressing. Most importantly, they’ll only set you back a mere $30—because we all know affordability is the sine qua non of a great dad jean.


The Brooklyn Blue Jean

Stan Ray original painter pant

Stan Ray’s been hawking its tough-as-nails, American-made workwear since the 1970s. You’ve probably seen its famed painter’s pants if you’ve ever walked under some scaffolding or sipped a latte in your hippest local cafe. While the off-white version is without question the most iconic, this raw denim rendition is possibly even better—and will keep getting better the longer and harder you wear ’em. With all the storage space you could ever need and a truly roomy silhouette, it’s best served with a baggy sweatshirt and classic sneakers.


The Boot-Ready Jean

Wrangler Cowboy cut 13MWZ original fit jeans

This is the jean of choice for Super Bowl stars and real-ass cowboys alike. Wranger’s bootcut men’s jeans are iconic thanks to their hip-hugging top block and flared hems, which pool over a pair of boots like a denim fondue. The denim is a dense, 100% cotton fabric that can handle its own on and off a saddle, with or without a center crease. If you want to go especially hard, we recommend serving them up the way a young Harrison Ford would’ve: with a western belt, a plaid blazer, and a pair of serious movie star shades.


If It Ain’t Broke, Go Vintage

Levi’s Secondhand 501 original fit jeans

At long last, you can cop a killer pair of vintage Levi’s straight from the source. Following in the footsteps of brands like Patagonia and its WornWear program, the first name in denim introduced this platform for buying used and vintage Levi’s garms late last year. Not only does it represent a serious step toward a circular fashion economy that should hopefully help move the environmental needle, it’s also the easiest way to get your legs into great jeans that absolutely no one else will own.


18 More Jeans Under $100 We Love

Levi’s 505 regular fit jeans

The official jeans of the Ramones, and the slightly-more-tailored cousin to the famous 501.

Everlane relaxed 4-way stretch organic jean

It’s 2021: get yourself into more relaxed jeans.

Carhartt rugged flex relaxed fit heavyweight double-front utility logger jean

Approved by hard-hat-wearers and skateboarders alike, these double-kneed Carhartts are built to take a beating.

Buck Mason Ford standard jean

For the jean that feels more like a chino (or the chino that looks more like a jean), Buck Mason’s got you covered.

Carhartt WIP Newel relaxed taper jean

Gently washed out with a hip relaxed taper fit.

The Ragged Priest wavy print straight leg jean

Wavier than the average blue jean.

Uniqlo +J selvedge slim-fit straight jeans

Direct from the mind of Jil Sander, these are the most affordable designer jeans you’ll ever come across.

Madewell garment-dyed slim authentic flex jeans

Nobody said your jeans had to be blue or black.

Levi’s 569 loose straight fit jean

Tellason Stock slim tapered fit

Stiff as a board and built to last, these USA-made jeans are the logical next step once you’ve mastered Levi’s famed Shrink-to-Fit 501s.

Dickies regular fit 5-pocket jeans

If you like the cut of Dickies’ popular work chinos, you’ll be a fan of this 5-pocket jean variant.

Abercrombie & Fitch bootcut jeans

A softer—and arguably better-tailored—bootcut alternative to the tried-and-true Wranglers above.

Levi’s 501 Original Shrink-to-Fit jeans

The OG 501s are designed to mold perfectly to your legs after a quick dip in the tub.

J.Crew Mercantile slim-fit stretch jean

From the ‘Crew’s more affordable Mercantile line, these offer a slim-straight fit, just the right amount of stretch, and a sub-$30 price tag.

Banana Republic athletic tapered rapid movement denim jean with COOLMAX technology (was $129, 45% off at checkout)

Woven with special fibers designed to keep you cool in the humid depths of summer.

Lee dad jeans

Not all black jeans need to be jet black and rockstar tight—it’s good to have an easy-wearing, well-washed pair in the mix for the weekend, too.

Edwin “Marlon” jeans (was $258, 72% off)

If you’re a size 28, 30, or 36, hurry and scoop up this crazy deal on a killer pair of jeans.

Mother The Neat cuff ankle fray jean

Why risk taking scissors to your vintage Levi’s when you can just cop these instead?


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