Jeans are a very personal thing for guys. If the color is off by the slightest tint, or if the hem is an eighth of an inch too long or short, it’s a wrap. More than anything else in a man’s closet, aside from perhaps a suit, jeans need to be just so. The reason for the obsessive attention to detail is that jeans are such a foundational piece in every guy’s wardrobe. They probably get worn more than any other bottom and will grow with you as they break in and eventually become as comfortable as a vintage T-shirt.
That doesn’t mean that they need to cost more than a car payment. Today there are all manner of bespoke options with farm-to-closet denim woven on looms that were blessed by Levi Strauss himself. I’m exaggerating, but not by much. Many men, myself included, have come to terms with the fact that jeans cost at least $200 in the same way that we acknowledge our phones will be obsolete in two years.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. We found seven great pairs of jeans for under $100 that don’t sacrifice quality or style. So, go ahead, buy two pair.
Unbranded’s motto is “No branding, no washes, no embroidery, no ad campaigns and no celebrities.” It’s an interesting concept in a market where many of the reasons behind the price of an expensive pair of jeans has nothing to do with the jeans themselves. By providing selvedge denim jeans in four fits (tight, skinny, straight, and tapered), Unbranded keeps it really simple for the buyer.
Uniqlo is such a large company that they have the power to really innovate. The Japanese brand is trying to reinvent jeans by merging traditional techniques with modern textiles. The selvedge denim on this pair is woven on antique looms, but incorporates a stretch fabric so that you don’t have to spend months breaking them in.
Bonobos began because the company’s founders couldn’t find the perfect pair of pants, so they tried to create them instead. The secret for Bonobos is its curved waistband which lands perfectly on your body to insure a comfortable and attractive fit. They’ve applied the same waistband to its jeans which are made from 12-ounce White Oak Cone Denim, the same fabric used in much more expensive jeans. https://bonobos-prod-s3.imgix.net/products/4423/original/DENIM98ChurchSLhero1.jpg?1413770541&w=900&q=64&h=900&fit=crop
Cheap Monday helped usher in the skinny jeans movement in 2004, and has remained consistent ever since. The Swedish company still produces quality jeans at a price that allows you to have more than one pair in your closet. While they make plenty of different washes and fits, you can’t go wrong with the original tight style in black.
Skaters, who happen to be the inspiration for a lot of trends in men’s style right now, have always needed jeans that look good, move well, and can take a beating. Skate brand RVCA has dialed that formula in with its jeans for skater Kevin “Spanky” Long. The slim jeans use a moisture-wicking fabric to keep your huevos dry and have ample stretch. Grey is also a great, though often overlooked, color for jeans.
Distressed jeans are having a moment right now, as they seem to do every dozen or so years prompting old folks to incredulously quip, “You paid for jeans with holes in them?!?” Done right, however, a pair of ripped jeans can convey a relaxed-yet-cool vibe. This pair from H&M pulls it off, and they’re cheap enough that you won’t be heartbroken when the trend fades. http://lp.hm.com/hmprod?set=key[source],value[/model/2015/B00%200258994%20001%2084%201937.jpg
Levi’s is still the biggest name in jeans and that comes with pluses and minuses. But you can’t argue with the classic style of a pair of 501s. They go with everything and are neither too skinny nor too baggy. Levi’s even improved the fit of the iconic jean with the 501CT, which have a more tapered silhouette. Every man should have at least one pair in his closet at all times.