18 Of The Best Tapered Jeans To Upgrade Your Smart-Casual Wardrobe (Updated 2022)

Fashion

Tapered jeans aren’t pants held together by the power of duck tape. No. The best tapered jeans are a sexy, classic approach to your bottom half, and there won’t be an inch of sellotape insight. 

To get technical, the Oxford Language dictionary defines “taper” as: “diminish or reduce in thickness towards one end.” In the context of denim jeans, that refers to the natural narrowing from the upper leg towards the ankle. Basically, anything that isn’t a straight leg, wide leg, or flare.

A skinny fit is naturally a “taper” leg since it mimics the natural contours of the leg, which tapers towards the ankle biologically. Definitely call emergency services if that is not the case for you because that is worrying, sir. 

The best tapered jeans are a classic. By allowing the fabric to follow the rhythms of your body, it creates a natural and harmonious aesthetic and a comfortable fit. This style tends to flatter a spectrum of body types but can be especially useful for those with an athletic build with large quads and hamstrings. It also prevents fabric bunching at the ankle, which aids mobility. 

In terms of styling, the best tapered jeans’ natural fit slots well into the smart-casual dress code, particularly in dark indigo. And If you’re hoping for a breezier summer look, ecru denim will add sophistication to any outfit. See our guide to nail the casual look.

But don’t think you’ve solved the jeans problem yet. While the tapered fit is a wardrobe essential, the sheer variety is about as staggering as a deck of drunk pirates. But we are the librarians of the fashion internet, and we’ve found the best in several specific categories. There’s something for everyone here. 

If you want fifteen of the all-time denim jeans classics for men, click here. But, for the finest and best tapered jeans, read on, dear sirs, read on.

Our Top Picks

Man sitting in folding chair wearing cuffed jeans, sunglasses and jacket
3sixteen / Instagram

Full disclosure on crowning these jeans as the champions of the best tapered jeans: I do not own a pair. However, I have been wearing them at least once a week, every week, for the past few months now. I don’t own a pair because I lease them instead. This system allows Mud Jeans to be solely responsible for the materials.

At the end of the first year, you can decide to keep them or return the “materials” for recycling. At any point after the first year, you can choose to return them for recycling, thus creating a genuinely circular model. This innovative idea has allowed Mud Jeans to become B-Corp Certified and ranked Best in the World for Environment within the B-Corp structure in 2021.

That’s all well and good, but what about the jeans? They are absolutely incredible. They’re by far the most stylish, most comfortable, best-fitting jeans I’ve ever owned. The loose, high-waisted fit combined with the dusty-finish denim and high-quality silvertone buttons make them the best tapered jeans my eyes have witnessed and my leg hairs brushed upon.

There are only two downsides. One, they’re not shipping to the UK. Two, the shipping fees are not cheap for the US. If you live in mainland Europe, it’s all good. 

Material: 100% Non-stretch cotton | Sizes available: W28 L32-W38 L34 | Colors: Dark Indigo, Dusty Finish | Care: 30 Degrees centigrade normal machine wash

The thing about good denim is that it gets very technical very quickly. Like anything in life, the complexity makes it worthwhile, intriguing, and nuanced. However, we’ll try to distill the beauty of these ST-100xk selvedge raw denim jeans by 3Sixteen in the simplest of terms. 

The denim has been woven by a specialized mill in Japan called Kuroki Mills. The low tension weave creates a loose surface tension with more texture and life. As you break down the cotton to make it indelibly your own, this looser tension will start to feed even more character through the material. 

They haven’t been pre-shrunk, but they have been rinsed, so there’s no risk of shrinkage after purchase. Due to the wholesome aesthetic of these jeans and their pure high standard, a white t-shirt and a good pair of boots will suffice for a chic outfit.

P.S. If this ignited a severe selvedge fascination, try our guide to the best selvedge denim jeans. 

Material: 100% Loomstate 14oz selvedge denim custom woven by Kuroki Mills | Sizes available: W28-W38 | Size Guide: “This jean style fits smaller than our standard ST jeans in sanforized denim; please consider taking one or two sizes up from your usual ST size. You can expect the waist to stretch 1-1.5″ over the first 30 wears.” | Colors: Raw Indigo

Look, having large muscular legs is a bonus in many ways. I know this personally, as I’m about to embark on a cross-country bicycle trip with only my tiny chicken legs to propel me—the things I would do for a sturdy thigh right now. However, fitting into jeans has never been an issue for me, unlike the larger-legged man. 

Lee Jeans considered all of this, and here behold the result. The tapered fit allows for more room up top and through the thigh area, while that extra 1% spandex infusion means you can cycle extremely far and fit into a good pair of jeans. The style also comes in a variety of blues, so you can get a pair that’s just right. I’m starting to think I shouldn’t have skipped leg day after seeing these…

Material: 99% Cotton, 1% Spandex | Sizes available: W30 L30-W42 L34 | Colors: 7 Colors | Care: Machine wash

There are two salient facts converging here. First, Carhartt is the spiritual home of workwear. Second, denim has historically been a very good workwear fabric because it has a heavier weight by nature.

So, it seems that Carhartt jeans are a match made in workwear heaven. These jeans utilize a hefty 15 oz denim with no stretch, making them tough jeans for the hard-nuts amongst you.

Away from the workplace, they’ll look just as good with a heavyweight cotton t-shirt under an overcoat for a shabby-chic look. You also can’t go wrong with a chunky knit and boots. Let’s be honest; stonewash jeans are highly versatile for a ton of outfits. “When you own stonewash jeans, the world is your wardrobe, so go style it.” (Said absolutely no one, ever.)

Material: 100% Cotton | Sizes available: W25 L32-W44 L34 | Colors: Light Wash, Dark Wash | Care: Machine wash warm with like colors

While stonewashed jeans bring elegance and versatility to your wardrobe, it requires a vast amount of water to achieve this effect. E-flow utilizes the natural bleaching qualities of “good” ozone gases to achieve the same stonewash look with less water used and less contamination. Unrecorded also uses organic cotton, meaning fewer pesticides/herbicides/fertilizers and much less water use than conventionally grown cotton.

In our book, that’s a bonus. But it’s actually the style that first attracted us to these jeans. The fashionable wide fit combined with a summer-appropriate cropped leg silhouette makes these a pair to reckon with. Keep things simple with an off-white tee and some ecru Converse, and you’ve got a look that’s friendly to the eyes and the environment.

Material: 100% 13 Oz. Italian Candiani organic cotton denim | Sizes available: W30-W38 | Colors: E-flow stonewash | Care: Wash rarely, wash at 30 degrees centigrade maximum

No one wants to be caught wearing the same thing as everyone else. I had to spend time recently with someone wearing exactly the same sneakers as me, and now I won’t be touching them again for at least another few years. Thankfully, with these Armor Lux jeans, that won’t be a problem. Like liquid pouring into a vessel, they take on the fit and style of workwear pants, but they’re actually denim. Wild.

They utilize oversized front pockets and large fold-over button pockets at the back. If pocket design has ever determined the worth of a pair of jeans, here’s the example. To be honest, the pockets are one of the main reasons they made it on the list of best tapered jeans. Think of all the storage.

Material: 100% Cotton | Sizes available: W32 L30-W34 L30 | Colors: Blue | Care: Hand wash

These jeans are an example of blue turning green. Arket has modernized the traditional indigo blue wash selvedge jeans by using more conscious materials—recycled and organic cotton. This means adopting more circularity and less water and chemical usage. None of that contributes to the sheer panache that these jeans hold, though.

The intrinsic formality of a pair of selvedge mid-rinsed indigo jeans will pair well with lightweight blazers, elegant sneakers, or a cool chore jacket. Whatever you do, please turn up the hem, so you can wear your selvedge with a distinctly smug smile.  

Material: Organic and recycled selvedge denim cotton | Sizes available: W28 L32-W36 L34 | Colors: Dark Indigo, Dusty Finish

Hallelujah, pants with personality. Jeans can be dragged through the mud (reputationally, not advised literally) by their association with the less stylistically aware, shall we say. But wearing jeans doesn’t have to mean that you’ve given up on fashion, self-expression, or anything else for that matter. These BDG jeans variously dot joy and happiness about the place thanks to the little smiley faces. But they’re not a silly pair of jeans. The slight taper brings about a natural curvature, and the black-and-white coloration makes them a dream to style. 

Tell you what—license to have fun with the styling here. The brown moccasins Urban Outfitters pairs with them work well. Or you could lean into its duo-chromatic color scheme by matching them with chunky black boots for a more winter-friendly feel. You’ll be surrounded by graffiti saying, “I’ll have one yard of the DIPA” before you know it.

Material: 100% Cotton | Sizes available: S (W29.5-W31.5), M (W31.5-W33.5), L (W33.5-W36.5) | Colors: Black | Care: Machine wash

These off-white jeans by A Day’s March have a high waist that helps facilitate a larger gap between the shoes and the hem. Hailing originally from the skatepark, it’s a fit that’s very in fashion at the moment, Dontcha know? There’s also the not-so-secret secret illusion of more height with high-waisted pants. 

Now let’s get into that color. Do not fear the off-white pair of jeans unless you’re stumble-running through a park holding a hotdog overflowing with mustard in one hand and a glass of red wine in the other.

In that scenario, you have every right to fear the off-white jeans. Their ability to soak up stains is a consideration that must be acknowledged. That being said, they’re a wonderful addition to the summer wardrobe. Compared to other warm-weather fabrics, they’re cooling, extremely chic, and highly durable. 

Material: 100% Japanese denim cotton | Sizes available: W28 L32-W38 L34 | Colors: Off White | Care: Recommended not to wash for as long as possible, then wash at 30 degrees centigrade. 

A loose taper is an ultimate blend. It gives the freeing sensation of a relaxed fit with the contouring of a naturally tailored fit. Rest assured, Edwin is a brand you can trust when it comes to denim. Founded in 1947 by Mr. Tsunemi out of a love of US denim, the brand has since risen to be one of the most renowned denim brands across the globe. See their denim menu if you doubt their passion.

This fit comes in numerous washes, and the weighty 13.5oz denim is durable enough to soak up the vicissitudes of your life for many years to come. At the rear of the jeans, the deft “W” double-stitch on the back pocket and simple patch are examples of the brand’s aesthetic sophistication. These jeans are the real deal.

Material: 13.5 oz Nihon Menpu denim cotton | Sizes available: W28-W36, L30-L32 | Colors: Dark Blue | Care: Wash separately and always inside out

Certain designs elicit strong feelings. This blend of ecru denim and linen patchwork is a thing so simple yet subtly different that you can’t help but fall under its spell. The summer-ready style is borne of the lightweight 11oz organically-farmed denim, which complements the soft, lightweight Candiani linen. 

These are a pair of jeans that thrive because of the details. The zip-fold has a chic brand tag, a button-adjustable waistband, and a workwear-influenced pocket at the knee. These all add that extra fresh herb-topping to finish the dish. Bellissimo. 

Material: 62% 11.oz Organic ecru cotton denim, 23% Cotton, 15% Linen | Sizes available: W29 L30-W38 L30 | Colors: Ecru

I found out about Momotaro jeans via the book Fashionopolis: Why What We Wear Matters by Dana Thomas. She writes: “For denimheads–a tribe so dedicated to the blue cloth their obsession borders on fanaticism–selvedge jeans from Japan are the ne plus ultra. Best of all are jeans made in Kojima… [and] Kojima’s star brand is Momotaro Jeans.” So clearly, they’re worth their salt.  

These jeans are made from 15.7oz Zimbabwean cotton milled exclusively at Collect Co Mill. These particular jeans feature a Pink selvedge ticker, aligning with the folk story of Momotaro, or “peach boy,” who was born from a peach (fruity). Paired with the two white lines on the rear pocket, these are storied and highly prized jeans.

If you wouldn’t mind some of the best quality jeans in the world, look no further.

Material: 15.7 oz. Sanforized Zimbabwe cotton | Sizes available: W30-W38, L34 | Colors: Raw Denim 

Writing about fashion for years, we know the plethora of products available can be staggering. So, what to do with such a choice? Well, you rely on well-versed experts (such as us, naturally), or you meticulously choose every detail until you have exactly what you want. These customizable Levi’s 502 Taper Fit jeans choose the latter route.

You get a choice of two washes, six colors, twenty-five patterns, four distress levels, and nine back patches. We’ve done the math, and it equates to… many, many, many different combinations.

The cotton-Tencel blend brings a nice stretch to the fit, which is perfect for BBQ gorging this summer. Though, let it be known these jeans aren’t for the faint-hearted. They are print-heavy. 

Material: 75% Cotton, 24% TENCEL™ Lyocell, 1% Elastane | Sizes available: W29-W44, L29-L34 | Colors: Dark, Light | Care: Wash and dry inside out

Bring that good old-fashion Americana cowboy spirit to your stable full of clothes. The slim taper of the jeans gives a perfect everyday fit, allowing for ample movement and avoiding the dreaded jean chafing. Plus, the 2% elastane brings extra stretch, which equates to comfort². 

When styling these jeans, you want to dig into the heart of America. Try the rootin’ tootin’ outdoorsy look, meaning throw on a flannel shirt and some cool cowboy boots. Or, for an alternative avenue, try a black band tee, rolled-up jeans, and a pair of black Converse for a kind of ‘dusty-alt-rocker’ look. When it comes to casual clothing, these Wranglers will handle just about anything you throw at them.

Material: Cotton, Spandex, Polyester, Elastane (in various percentages across the colors) | Sizes available: W27-W40, L30-L34 | Colors: 7 Colors | Care: 30 degrees centigrade normal machine wash

It’s true, white jeans can look a little eighties. Wham! (very cheesy, tasteless, and garish). But it’s incredible what a very slight shift in the color spectrum does. The Vintage Canvas tone of these Madewell jeans embraces the off-white spectrum with grace. The subtle taper, the lighter cotton weight, and the relaxed fit all combine to make these perfect spring/summer jeans. 

We suggest dipping your toes into a chic pair of brown suede loafers, indulging in a smart-casual Breton t-shirt, and finishing the whole affair off with a super light linen blazer for a ‘lunching on the Amalfi Coast’ look. It will look as delicious as your penne arrabbiata.

Material: 98% Cotton, 2% Elastane 12. oz Denim | Sizes available: W29 L30-W38 L34 | Colors: Vintage Canvas Wash | Care: Machine wash

Nudie Jeans are known for their unerring commitment to raw denim. Look, you’re just going to have to wear the denim in yourself. That’s what makes these jeans all the more special. Just be prepared for the challenge—it can take a while.

The reward? A long-lasting, high-quality, and unique pair of jeans that’ll champion each and every outfit you wear. They’re dipped in indigo 16 times (hence the name 16 dips) and constructed from nature-friendly organic cotton.

Plus, we adore the orange stitching. Nudie Jeans also live up to the name via its commitment to transparency. They detail raw materials, yarn processing, fabric processing, trims, manufacturers, transport details, CO2 usage, and water usage. It’s all on their website for the discerning consumer to peruse.

Material: 99% Organic Cotton, 1% Elastane 11.5 oz Denim | Sizes available: W25-W38, L28-L36 | Sizing Guide: “Unlike other stretch denim, these are not rinsed, so they are stiffer, and will shrink a bit more. Account for inseam shrinkage of 2% and 4.5-6% in width. Sizing down is not recommended.” | Colors: 6 Colors | Care: Only wash when needed. Machine wash 40 degrees centigrade. Wash inside out.

Oh, to be young, naked, and famous. How liberating. For us mere mortals, however, we must be clothed. Might we take this opportune moment to show you the brand Naked & Famous and their workwear-inspired selvedge denim? This lightweight 11oz selvedge is the cream of the crop. 

The fabric is purposely woven with slub (irregularities), giving it a lively, textured feel. The irregularity melds well with the beige hue, the copper hardware, and the general workwear feel. It’s meant to be roughed up. Plus, the cotton is fully recycled, meaning it’s moving towards closing fashion’s dirty loop. This is high-quality denim you’ll want to slip your not-so-famous, highly clothed butt into. 

Material: 100% short slub recycled cotton, 11oz sanforized Japanese selvedge denim | Sizes available: W31-W40, L34 | Color: Beige 

It can take decades to find the jeans that work precisely for you. Jeans you love will come and go, of course. But when you are taller or larger than the average gent, that mission becomes a whole lot more challenging. 

The Levi’s 502 taper fit works on numerous levels. First, the taper fit naturally caters to this market with natural contouring and room at the top while tapering towards the heel to compliment your natural figure. Second, the elastane adds stretch and comfort. Third, they pride themselves on having a range of sizes that fit everyone. More fantastic news—you can tailor the precise size that suits your body.

Material: 99% Cotton, 1% Elastane | Sizes available: W32-W58, L30–L38 | Colors: Light Wash, Medium Wash, Dark Wash

What To Look For When Searching For The Best Tapered Jeans

Materials

Raw: Denim left untreated that’s straight off the loom. There has been no washing (acid or stonewash), no distressing, no rinsing, no sanforization, no nothin’. 

Sanforized: Denim that’s steamed, stretched, and shrunk down to the size it would naturally become from its raw state. This means the size will be accurate and won’t shrink when washed. 

Selvedge: Denim made on a shuttle loom that comes off with a strip of “edge.” This is generally very high-quality denim.

Fit

Within the best tapered jeans division, you can have various fits. On a scale from baggiest to tightest, it runs as follows: baggy, loose, relaxed, slim, skinny, tight. There’s also the “barrel fit,” where the jeans’ shape increases in width from the crotch and then tapers towards the ankles again. Carrot fit refers to a more exaggerated version of the natural tapered fit, which is roomier at the crotch and tapered into the ankles. 

mudjeans / Instagram

Color

Classically, indigo is the agent of dye. Natural indigo is sought out and used more now because of how damaging synthetic indigo is for the environment, but synthetic indigo is still the main use. Color depends on the wash and treatment of the fabric. 

But, denim technically can come in all different colors since it’s cotton. Typically you’ll also see black, beige, grey, white, off-white, and ecru. 

FAQ

    • It might not be the sexiest conversation, but let’s get into the semantics of jean fits, shall we? A tapered fit narrows towards the ankle. A straight fit runs straight down the leg with no taper. Simple. Both tapered and straight cuts can be seen in a spectrum of fits (i.e., baggy, loose, relaxed, slim, skinny). 

      • Like an extremely affable friend, the best men’s tapered jeans will get on well with most other casual clothing. A high-quality pair of selvedge denim can push you into the smart-casual dress code. Just never try denim as formalwear.

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