How to Buy and Wear Dark Wash Jeans

Men's Dark Jeans

Jeans are a staple in every mans wardrobe. Not only are they incredibly versatile but they are comfortable, long lasting and they look great on everybody. Unfortunately, shopping for pants is relatively difficult and this can lead to men wearing denim that doesn’t fit them or isn’t the right color for their outfit.

But with just a little advice and a few recommendations you can go from zero to hero. The right pair of jeans can change your entire look and therefore every man should have at least a couple pairs of dark washed jeans in their wardrobe.

Why Dark Wash Jeans?

Dark jeans are some of the most popular because they are versatile unlike a lighter wash of jean that can only really been worn in summer and with other light colored clothes.

The wonderful thing about jeans washed in a dark color is that they are relatively smart for denim and can therefore be dressed up and down very easily. Therefore, you can wear these pants with casual t-shirt, as well as dress shirts and smart leather shoes .

This versatility makes it more reasonable to invest a significant amount of money because they will be worn regularly with different outfits over many years. Therefore, we would highly recommend investing and buying the most well designed denim that you can afford, these pants can last you for years to come and will become your go-to pair.

Buying Dark Wash Jeans

If this type of pant is so great, why is it that so many men still fail to look good in them? The truth is that some manufacturers maker low quality clothes and therefore you need to buy carefully.

The products that we have recommended are of a high quality because they are made by professional designers using the best materials possible. But simply buying the most expensive clothes isn’t enough, you need them to fit properly and be cut for your body shape.

Different color of denim


The wash of a jean is the color of the material, so called because they are literally washed in large amounts of dye until they are dark. At this point most pairs will be washed again in water to remove some of the dye, often with rocks and other objects.

Doing this helps to remove the dye and create the unique colors that you see in department stores. But jeans that has a dark wash are either not rinsed at all, in the case of raw wash, or only shortly for dark blue and indigo pants.

There is no precise definition of what color a dark washed piece of clothing must be, but evidently it must be darker than average. Therefore this would include dark blue, indigo, black and even raw jeans.

Choosing a Color

The color that you decide to buy should depend on what you hope to achieve. If you prefer to dress smart then a raw or indigo color would be best because these are a deep shade that look great with dress shirts and blazers.

Black and dark blue jeans are far more casual and this makes them a better fit for wearing with sweatshirts, polos and casual collared shirts.

Figuring out what you’re going to wear them with is necessary before you can make a choice on a pair. If you are in doubt picking an indigo color is smartest because while they are relatively smart for denim, they can still be dressed down and worn with sneakers.

Outfits wearing a deep color of indigo denim


When it comes to cut there is a generic answer which is that a slim cut with room in the thigh and tapered from the knee to the ankle is good. But while that answer is helpful for 80% of the population, it’s not particularly useful for the other 20%.

Instead, you need to consider your own body shape and what you can do with your clothing to make yourself look better. Clearly, if we took two people of the same height, one who is skinny and one who is heavy, they are going to need a different size but more importantly they will probably need a different cut.

The reason for this is because as you gain or lose weight your proportions are likely to change. As you get heavier you’re likely to carry weight in your butt and your thighs, but your calves aren’t going to change much.

Therefore you need a pair of denim that is cut to give you room where you need it and otherwise it should be tapered to follow the contours of your body. For this reason a slim cut is popular for most guys.

Heavier Men

As a man who is holding extra weight you want to avoid wearing jeans that are too tight fitting because this is going to draw attention to your larger legs. Instead, you want to replicate the fit of a slim cut jean on a man of average weight.

To do this you want pants with plenty of room through the thigh and seat, with a gentle taper from the knee through to the hem.

Some mens fashion experts will suggest a straight cut because they have room in the thigh and are straight from the knee to the ankle. Depending on how large your calves are these will either be perfect or a little loose. If they are loose then consider a slim cut in one waist size up. Otherwise, tailoring your pants a little isn’t a bad idea.

Skinnier Men

If you are skinny then finding jeans that fit shouldn’t be difficult. In general you should avoid choosing super skinny pants because this will only accentuate your thin legs. Instead, a skinny or slim cut will fit comfortably without making you look young.

Skinny cut pants are skinny from the waist to the ankle, ending with a tight leg hole. Slim are normally designed to sit slightly below your waist, they are tailored through the thigh and tapered from the knee to ankle with a small than average leg hole.

If you are looking for a smarter style then a slim fit is probably best, whereas as a skinny fit is best for wearing with casual outfits because it’s a less professional look.

Athletic Men

As an athletic or muscular man you are often going to struggle to find pants that can accommodate your muscular thighs but that don’t pool around your slim calves. Alternatively smaller pants will be far too tight and won’t be comfortable at all.

Very few brands offer an athletic fit outside of Levis, but choosing a straight or relaxed fit can give you enough room through the thigh. If they are too loose from the knee through to the ankle you can get the legs taken in by a tailor to simulate a slimmer style of pant.

Pants that are cut well through the thigh


One of the most common mistakes we see men making when it comes to clothing is wearing the wrong size. It’s not always their fault either - many clothes manufactures use vanity sizing which is when they make clothes larger than the label suggests.

The reason for doing this is that it makes the person feel great when they can choose a ‘smaller’ size and therefore they are more likely to purchase.

But that doesn’t help you much, it just makes it more difficult to shop. For this reason we avoid designers that vanity size as much as possible.

There are two measurements that you need to know, your waist and your inseam, both in inches. It’s very rare for guys to choose a smaller inseam than they need, most overdo it and end up with pants that need hemming.

Around your waist your jeans should sit comfortably but tightly. There should be no need for you to wear a belt, they should stay in place at all times without assistance and if in doubt you should buy tight because denim will give slightly over time.

For your inseam you only need to consider how the pant breaks on your shoes. Rather than having it clump around your ankles you want the end of the jean to touch your shoe and only fold very slightly. This style is referred to as a half break.

Similarly, with dress pants you often look for either a full break or if you prefer a modern European style, no break at all. Neither of these options look great with jeans.

A full break starts to cause stacking because of the thick material of jeans and no break at all looks silly because jeans are designed to be more casual rather than dressier. Look for the perfect half break otherwise you can buy a longer pant and get it hemmed by a tailor for a few dollars.


You might be wondering why we are talking about material when it comes to jeans, surely they are all the same? Unfortauntely, not only do designers use different qualities of materials they are more frequently using blends of multiple types of fabric.

Most are made with 100% cotton but if you’ve ever felt a cheap quality cotton t-shirt followed by a premium designer shirt you will know that there can be a significant difference. Depending on the type of cotton they are using, how it’s treated and how much is used will result in a different feeling denim.

Secondly, some designers will blend cotton with other materials like polyester and spandex to give a different texture, feel and wear to their products.

Polyester is including in jeans because it helps them to retain there shape while also still stretching. Cotton doesn’t do this, if you stretch a cotton piece of clothing is will not return to it’s original shape, whereas polyester has some rebound.

For this reason you’ll find some designers use a little polyester and some cheaper brands even use up to 40%. However, you’re not going to get the same look or feel from a blend with that much polyester. In most cases you should look for above 90% cotton at least.

Spandex is occasionally replaced by elastane , both are used to make your jeans stretch and give. Even just 2% spandex can make incredibly stretchy jeans which are great if your body shape changes regularly of if you are just looking for a more comfortable fit.

Worrying about the material in your jeans isn’t particularly important. As long as you’re buying from a quality designer you can be confident that they’ve done everything they can to create the best fitting and feeling clothes possible.

Style Inspiration

Indigo and Raw Jeans for Men

Photos from Pinterest

Above we have three of the worlds most recognizable male models sporting a few different shades of denim in a variety of ways.

First is David Gandy with brown leather dress shoes, a white v-neck t-shirts and a charcoal jacket. Gandy is famous for combining tailoring with casual items a la a beautifully tailored jacket with a t-shirt and jeans.

The fit on his pants is excellent, tailored but comfortable through the thigh and then tapered from the knee down to the ankle. There is no clumping above his shoes, just a neat break which accentuates his shoes without hiding them.

This outfit shows you how easily you can dress up a pair of jeans without having to put too much effort in. You could easily wear this to a bar with your friends or to a casual family event anytime of the year.

Sean O’Pry is quite possible the most successful male model of all time. In this shot he’s wearing a dark blue wash with a charcoal sweater and a puffer jacket, a super simple casual look that’s great for heading to the mall, college or out with you friends.

You can see on his thighs there is some slight ‘whisker’ which is what denim addicts call the horizontal fades that you get across your legs from consistent wear. With a high quality denim that isn’t rinsed heavily you will get this unique fade which gives you a fantastic look.

Finally, Oliver Cheshire is seen wearing what looks to be a raw or very dark indigo pair of jeans with black leather shoes, a white sweater and a camel overcoat. Oliver has rolled up a small amount of his pants, giving this sharp and crisp line between his pants and his shoes.

This tactic is great for when your shoes are a similar color to your pants because it reveals the lighter inside of the denim and creates a line. Like Gandy, he has opted for a bright white and a light camel overcoat to standout against the dark color of his pants.

But Sean O’Pry shows you that mixing dark colors can work just as well. In all three of these images the men could be wearing the exact same jeans and it would make no difference which shows you how versatile dark wash jeans are.

About the author

Jack Prenter

Jack has been fascinated by fashion for decades and spent huge amounts of time researching it and becoming an expert. He's written for many well-known publications and is in the process of opening an online clothing store for men. Jack studied at the University of Nottingham and is now based out of Toronto, Canada.