Ah, swamp ass. The bane of sartorial summer existence. The moisture-laden ecosystem that manifests itself in the crotchal region during summertime can be a huge pain in the aforementioned ass in all of its swampiness.
It makes picking the right pair of pants a huge challenge. Tops are much easier. There’s no shortage of sharp short sleeve button downs and wear-to-workable T-shirts that, with the right deodorant, will keep you cool and dry. With footwear, losing the socks altogether or going with some no-show footies is both stylish and temperature-appropriate. But there isn’t a simple fix for pants. Most guys don’t have what you’d call “summer pants” that they load into the closet after Memorial Day. Aside from maybe leaving the courdoroy and wool options hanging in the closet, men wear their cotton pants year-round, including their jeans. But there is no easier way to unleash the swamp than to throw on heavyweight raw denim on a 90-degree day.
So if you want to wear jeans during the summer—and you should—your body’s perspiration system demands that you pick up a pair of lightweight jeans. Fortunately, there is a lightweight version of just about every denim style. So regardless of your denim preferences—skinny vs. slim vs. straight, raw vs. distressed—you can find a pair that will keep the summer swampass at bay.
1. SUGAR CANE SC 2013
Japanese denim brand Sugar Cane has long been prized for the attention to detail it puts into all of its jeans, some of which are actually made with sugar cane fibers. Nicknamed “summertime jeans,” this pair uses 11-ounce denim made from cotton that is sourced from Texas and Zimbabwe. They have a straight leg that errs on the side of slim, making it an ideal fit for guys looking for that perfect “in between” jean.
2. NAKED & FAMOUS LIGHTWEIGHT WEIRD GUY
Naked & Famous is, well, famous for experimenting with all different types of denim. They’ve made jeans that glow in the dark and ones that are organic and vegan. This pair of the slim tapered fit Weird Guys are the lightest on this list, tipping the scales at just eight ounces. That’s because they are made with 30 percent linen to give the jeans a breezier quality while still preserving their essential jean-ness.
3. MOTT & BOW LUDLOW
The light blue wash on Mott & Bow’s Ludlow jeans captures that summer surfer vibe perfectly. The denim is 12.4 ounces so it’s got a little bit more heft, but it has stretch to it so your legs won’t feel like they’re trapped in a sauna. These are the ideal jeans to throw on after returning from a day at the beach before heading out to a sunset BBQ.
4. 3SIXTEEN SL-101X
Based in New York, 3Sixteen utilizes Japanese mills to weave its denim. The SL-101x uses 12-ounce selvedge denim that has been rinsed and dried so it feels soft instantly, saving you a summer’s worth of breaking-in time. As the fits on men’s jeans get more relaxed, this straight leg pair slots in perfectly. They’re not too tight, not too baggy. And the details, like a leather patch from Portland-based Tanner Goods, add to the denim’s timeless quality.
5. UNIQLO MIRACLE AIR
The name sounds almost too good to be true, but Uniqlo examined every aspect of a standard pair of jeans to make its Miracle Air pair 20 percent lighter. The denim is made from hollow fibers instead of solid ones and even the rivets and buttons are a source for ounce savings. The result is a pair of jeans that are noticeably lighter when you wear them, but look just as stylish as the other denim in your collection.
6. BALDWIN HENLEY
Kansas City isn’t exactly a menswear capital, but by his very presence Matt Baldwin has made it one. After launching with jeans, Baldwin expanded into a fuller offering, but the jeans are what keep discerning guys coming back. The Henley has a distinguished slim fit that still feels relaxed. Made from 11.25-ounce Japanese denim, this pair is distressed, but comes off looking natural, instead of trying too hard, which some beat up jeans can do.
7. LEVI’S 511 LIGHTWEIGHT
Levi’s 511 style is a year-round go-to for guys who want a slimmer fit than the traditional 501. For summer, Levi’s kept the same silhouette but crafted the jeans in a more lightweight denim. They’re the kind of jeans that won’t leave you freezing when you walk into your air-conditioned office nor will they transform you into a sweaty mess when you head out to lunch. The faded Calm Sea colorway feels very current and can be easily dressed both up and down.
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