Mirror, Mirror: In men's jeans, fit and comfort count most

Eric Dungee models a pair of Lucky jeans 181 relaxed straights. He found a good fit on his second try.
Eric Dungee models a pair of Lucky jeans 181 relaxed straights. He found a good fit on his second try. (ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 09, 2011

No matter the style, men just want one feature in their jeans: comfort.

That said, in this cold-weather season darker washes still reign supreme, as does a slimmer fit. No, we aren't talking jewel-hugging tight, but closer-to-the-body form fitting is preferred.

However, if you must, super-slim cuffed is still fashionable, too, and - as evidenced by the plethora of guys in Philly who wear their pants hanging off their heinies - ultra baggy is not going away. (Much to many folks' despair.)

"I never go for tight, but I don't want my jeans to fit too loose either," said Brett Goldenhorn, a 25-year-old summer camp director. Goldenhorn looked put together in a pair of dark-washed Gap jeans.

"I like to be able to put my hands in my pocket easily. That's the most important thing to me. The wash, that's all secondary."

Still, with all of the chic choices out there, I wondered if fit was becoming an issue for our Y-chromosomed friends. The more jeans I see, the more I want to try them on to make sure I look great from all angles. And with slim fits overtaking the market, how does an everyday guy find just the right blues for his backside?

"There are four labels out right now that are giving guys the best fit: Lucky, AG Adriano Goldschmeid, Hugo Boss, and even Gap," said Tom Julian, men's fashion expert and chief executive of the Tom Julian Group.

"Their tapered and slim fits leave enough room for the bigger or athletic guy, the major part of the market."

Julian didn't say anything I hadn't heard from guys myself. I'm known around town as the "jean girl" - the specialty jean trend has come and gone, and over the years I've written several columns about changing fits - from high-waisted trouser jeans to jeggings.

Even though I've never written about what it's like for guys to find jeans that fit, men stop me all the time to talk about their jeans issue.

Lucky Brand Jeans seems to come out on top in every unofficial survey.

When I called California to talk to Lucky Brand about how successful it was with fit, Josh Weiner, the company's senior director of men's merchandise, wasn't surprised. Weiner said Lucky uses a size 32 fit model and grades up or down from it.

Weiner said Lucky also brings in men with a lot of different body types to try jeans out on, ranging from thin to athletic to plus-size. And, of course, there is my favorite secret ingredient in jean fit: stretch.

"It definitely helps with comfort," Weiner said. "And comfort is our top priority."

So how easy is it for a guy to fit into Lucky Brand jeans? How many pairs does a dude have to try on to find the right look?

I asked my friend Eric Dungee to put fit and style to the test. At 6-foot-2 and roughly 300 pounds, you would think Dungee wouldn't be an easy fit. His quads definitely bulge, as does his belly. He's not your small-boned man; we are talking big, beef-eating homie.

On a recent evening, Dungee, 30, met me at the Lucky Brand store. The store was ready with several pairs of jeans in his size. That would be a 42 waist and a 34 inseam.

His try-on was so fast, if you quickly checked out one of the tartan-plaid shirts in the store - as I was doing - you would have missed it.

Seriously.

The first pair of 181 relaxed straight-leg jeans Dungee tried on "just weren't connecting," meaning he couldn't snap them.

I can relate.

But the second pair he slipped on with ease. He walked out of the dressing room and wiggled around a bit.

"Yep, these will work," Dungee said, bringing his knees to his chest as he came out of the dressing room. "I just need to feel like I can be able to move."

But do you like the way it looks from behind? I asked.

"Yeah, they look all right," he said, turning to look at himself in the mirror. "I just need them to feel good. And they do. So we are good."

And just like that, the $120 pair of jeans - average price for high-end specialty jeans - was his.

Huh? He tried on just two pairs? I would have been tossing off three, four, or five pairs to find at least one pair that would go over my hips.

Fit can be so unfair.


Contact fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704, ewellington@phillynews.com., or @ewellingtonphl on Twitter.

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