Jeans, by definition, are not smart. They were built for hard labour, not wining and dining. They’re tools for the day-to-day grind. Pure functionality. And yet somehow they found their way out of the construction sites and workshops of North America and onto the legs of the general public. Still though, you wouldn’t wear them with a smart-casual outfit… or would you?
If you want all the benefits of denim in a slightly more polished package, all you need to do is dial the colour down. Black jeans look just that touch dressier than their indigo and stonewashed counterparts.
You’re not going to be wearing them with a dinner jacket and bow tie anytime soon, but they’ll gladly mingle with garments that blue jeans simply can’t. And that’s before we get onto the rock ‘n’ roll energy they bring to the table, particularly when paired with similarly grungy pieces like leather jackets and flannel shirts.
If you don’t already have a pair of black jeans on your legwear roster, now’s the time to change that. Keep scrolling to find out when to wear them, how to find the right fit, and to learn a little bit about the denim brands making the best options.
When To Wear Black Jeans
We’d argue that black jeans are even more versatile than traditional blue jeans. Why? Not only can they be teamed up with smarter pieces, they can also be worn casually. This means they’re a match for most of your wardrobe, and can be dressed up or down with ease.
Wear your black jeans with sneakers and a crew neck for the day-to-day stuff, and elevate them with knitwear, an unstructured blazer and loafers for smart-casual occasions.
How To Find The Right Pair Of Black Jeans
Buying a pair of black jeans isn’t rocket science, but there are a few things you should look out for in order to ensure you wind up with the best pair for you. From fit to fabric, here are the key points to consider.
Black or otherwise, jeans come in many different cuts. Broadly speaking, they can be broken down into: skinny, slim, regular, tapered and relaxed. But there are plenty of hybrid cuts that combine two or more of these, and that’s before we even get onto the subject of rise, which is how high or low the waistband sits.
It’s a very subjective thing, and it depends largely on your body type as to what cut will look and feel best. Try on a few pairs and see what works for you.
Well, denim, obviously. That much is a given. But there are different genres of this rugged, cotton fabric, and which one you choose can have a big impact on the look and feel of your jeans.
The biggest factor to consider is weight. Heavier denims will last longer and tend to age better, but they’re more cumbersome and ultimately less comfortable. If comfort is your main concern, a lighter denim with some elastane thrown in for stretch might be a good option.
Then there’s the selvedge debate. Selvedge is a type of denim made on a machine called a shuttle loom, which finishes the edge of the fabric with a clean, straight line as opposed to a rough edge. You can spot it from the line, usually red and white, that runs up the inside seam of the outer leg and is visible when the jeans are cuffed (see image above).
Does it make for a better pair of jeans? Not necessarily, but it looks neat, sharp, and is one of those little details that makes a big difference.
It’s possible to get a decent-looking pair of jeans for less than £30, but will you still be wearing them a year from now? Unlikely. We’re firm believers in buying right and buying less. Spend a bit more in the first place and you’ll increase the amount of time before a garment needs to be replaced, which can ultimately save you money, and is better for the planet.
In our experience, decent denim starts from around £80. Between here and £150 is where you’ll see the biggest return on your investment in terms of cost per wear. That said, if you want a high-quality pair of jeans for less, you can hit up the vintage shops and find some absolute bargains. Try online outlets like Marrkt too.
The Best Black Jeans Brands For Men
We’re big fans of eco-conscious Swedish brand Asket and its high-quality essentials. Aside from overshirts and outerwear, one thing it does particularly well is denim.
Asket’s signature Black Denim Jeans are one of only a handful of carefully considered legwear options the label makes, featuring Stay Black reactive dye that keeps them blacker for longer.
They’re made in Italy too, and while at £125 they might not be the cheapest option available, they’re certainly not the most expensive either. Plus, when you factor in the quality of the materials, environmental commitments and traceability, it’s hard to see why you’d buy anywhere else.
Made in Lisbon from 100 per cent organic textiles, ISTO’s premium basics are a response to the ethical and environmental impacts of fast fashion.
The brand’s jeans are made from Italian denim using a mix of organic and recycled cotton, and the transparent pricing means you can see exactly where your money is going.
Parisian modern essentials brand A.P.C. is well known for its denim offering. It’s often touted as the gateway to the world of ‘real’ denim, offering up raw and selvedge options in heavy Japanese cloths, at relatively reasonable prices.
Models like the regular-fitting New Standard and the slimmer Petit New Standard have long-earned reputations as some of the best mid-range jeans available, and, as luck would have it, they’re available in black too.
Japan is a country famed for its superior denim, and Edwin is the biggest and best-established name in the business.
Most of the brand’s top-level jeans are made in Japan using some of the finest fabrics in the game, but there are plenty of cheaper models for those who want to invest in one of denim’s leading labels without breaking the bank.
There’s little to say about Levi’s that hasn’t already been said. Essentially, this is where it all started. Without this San Francisco brand, jeans as we know and love them simply would not exist.
The 501 is the label’s oldest and most popular style, and is as solid and reliable a legwear option today as it was 150 years ago.
London’s AllSaints is well known for its signature moody, grungy aesthetic, in which black denim plays a big role. Think slim cuts, distressed detailing and plenty of rock ‘n’ roll energy to boot.
Much like A.P.C., Sweden’s Acne Studios is a modern ready-to-wear label that has earned a glowing reputation for the cut and quality of its jeans.
They’re simple, well made, cut from high-quality denim, and come in a number of clean, versatile fits that’ll work with the majority of your wardrobe.
Under the guidance of Hedi Slimane, Parisian fashion house Saint Laurent popularised black skinny jeans throughout the 2010s. It was a key part of the brand’s then-new grungy, youthful aesthetic, which revolved around slim cuts, dark colours, leather outerwear and Chelsea boots.
Granted, it’s a look that feels a little dated at this point, but if that’s what you’re after then there’s no place better to get it.