The best jeans for men are easy-going, hard-wearing, and downright legendary. That pedigree is all thanks to Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis, who literally invented jeans as we know ‘em today—rugged, riveted, rendered in inky-blue cotton—way back in the late 1800, shilling them to tradesmen, factory workers, and gold miners hoping to strike it rich. In the early days of their relationship, Strauss and Davis experimented with different fabrics and finishes, eventually landing on an indigo-dyed cotton twill as sturdy as it was handsome. The rest, as they say, is menswear history.

A century and a half later, blue jeans have become America’s single most influential contribution to the global fashion canon, transforming the way we dress in the process. That’s no exaggeration: Over the decades, jeans went from humble proletariat garb to splashy designer fare, with plenty of historic pit stops at each leg of the journey. In the time since Strauss and Davis introduced their signature product, jeans have outfitted everyone from plebes to presidents, making icons out of too many of them to count. (Brando and Dean come to mind pretty fast.)

Jeans have been barred from hotels, smuggled into countries, and, above all else, remixed and riffed on by every generation discovering them anew—which, in 2024, makes finding the right pair for you all the more difficult. That’s where we come in. Over the last few months, GQ’s resident team of denimheads tested an ocean’s worth of top-notch dungarees, shimmying into dozens of pairs to land on the 13 below. Taken in aggregate, they represent an indigo-soaked snapshot of our favorite jeans past and present, from the genre-defining stalwarts to the newfangled indie riffs and every pair between. Let’s dive in.

The Best Jeans for Men, According to GQ

Take Me To: More Jeans We Love | Tips on Buying a High-Quality Pair of Jeans | How We Tested | What We Looked For | Meet Our Testers

Best Jeans Overall: Levi’s 501 Original Fit Jeans


501 Original Fit Jeans

Sometimes, the easy, obvious answer just so happens to be the right one. And when it comes to denim, the easy, obvious, and unquestionably right answer is the Levi’s 501, the most influential silhouette from the most influential denim brand. For first-timers who’ve somehow never owned a pair or dudes returning to the style after a long hiatus, this is where your search should start—and where it’ll probably end, too. Levi’s invented blue jeans, so you’d expect its flagship silhouette to be halfway decent. More unexpected, though, is how well the 501 has held up decades after it first hit the market. The denim is still substantial and sturdy, the details are still near-perfectly dialed, and the silhouette is still the prototypical straight-leg fit. Plus, the sheer amount of washes and sizes it’s available in means there’s an option for almost everyone.

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Levi’s 501 Original Fit Jeans

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Tested by GQ’s Avidan Grossman

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The 501 is close to perfect, but in our most recent round of testing, we noted a few quibbles. “I love how the 501 looks on other people,” says GQ commerce writer Gerald Ortiz. “But I’m knock-kneed and have big calves, so they don’t look the same on me.” (Sad, but true!) That being said, for countless folks across literal generations, the 501 does the trick just fine. And while we dig the sheer variety of washes, colors, and fabrics it comes in, we’d strongly recommend the all-cotton versions over the stretch-infused joints.

Best yet? At around $80, they’re already a solid value. But with a little patience, you can reliably snag them on sale.

Best Budget Jeans: Wrangler Original Cowboy Cut Jeans


Cowboy Cut Original Fit Jeans

Along with Levi’s and Lee, Wrangler makes up one-third of the denim world Big Three; its pedigree is beyond reproach. So don’t let its affordable prices fool you into thinking its jeans are second rate—they represent some of the best value denim money can buy. Not sure where to start? Go west, young man, to the brand’s bread-and-butter Cowboy Cut line, the official jeans of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. (How’s that for authenticity?) Yeehaw-certifications aside, the Cowboy Cut line features a slew of heavy-duty denims, some of which tip the scales at over 15 oz. The Original Cowboy Cut jeans boast a high rise that sits at the natural waist, a flattering seat, and enough leg room to wear with a pair of boots. For just about fifty bucks, they’re one of the best-fitting jeans around. Are they selvedge? No. Does that matter? Also no.

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Wrangler Cowboy Cut Jeans

Bowen Fernie

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Tested by GQ’s Avidan Grossman

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Beyond their legitimately beefy feel, Wrangler’s Cowboy Cut jeans looked shockingly good on each of our testers. GQ associate commerce editor Tyler Chin especially loved their longer rise and range of inseams, designed to accommodate a broader array of body types. “They’re great at hugging the glutes for a more toned look,” Chin notes. “Maybe Beyoncé should’ve penned an ode to Wrangler instead.”

Best Upgrade Jeans: 3sixteen RS-100x Jeans

In the past 20 years, Japanese denim went from fringe obsession to hot topic (not that Hot Topic). Menswear’s reverence for Japan stems from the country’s surfeit of artisanal makers, who practice their craft with a fastidious approach to quality and detail. Thanks to a glut of specialty denim boutiques stateside, though, you don’t have to book a flight to Tokyo or enlist a proxy service to snag a pair of true-blue Japanese jeans. In fact, one of our favorite riffs on the genre comes from 3sixteen, a brand with ties to denim’s OG home and its modern-day stomping grounds.

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