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Here’s What Happened When I Tried On 24 Different Pairs Of Men’s Jeans In The Same Size

They should all fit similarly, right? Wrong!

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Unlike women's pants, men’s pant sizes are measured in inches. You would think that "measurement" corresponds to the exact size of the waist, but unfortunately it doesn't.

I've always found men's jean sizes to be really inconsistent. For me, jean shopping involves taking stacks of different sizes into a tiny, warm, poorly lit dressing room, where I struggle to get in and out of each pair. Plus, I'm sort of picky and prefer a snug waist, but room in the legs, which is why I opt for regular rise/non stretch jeans. Oh, how I wish jean sizes were easier so I could order a decent fitting pair online.

Consider this example: My waist currently measures in at around 34 inches, but my favorite pair of pants are labeled with a 31-inch waist measurement? Pretty confusing, right? Like, where did those extra three inches come from?

And how am I supposed to know which number to go with when I need to buy my next pair of pants?

As a person who would love to find a more painless pant-shopping experience, I decided to get to the bottom of this discrepancy among sizes.

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• I’d visit as many different men’s jean retailers as possible in an afternoon, trying on the same waist size at each (32). My goal would be to look for discrepancies just in the waist size, not necessarily paying attention to length, etc.

• I would avoid anything labeled “stretch,” and instead go for regular rise/straight cut jeans, tying to be as consistent as possible.

• I'd try on two different washes at each retailer, ideally a dark and a light wash.


Guess (Dark Wash)

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These fit more like a 33 or 34. I wasn't swimming in them, but there was no flattering snugness in the rear, if you know what I mean.


Forever 21 (Dark Wash)

Mathew Jedeikin for BuzzFeed

I wasn't expecting that great of a fit from some of the less expensive brands like Forever 21 or Mossimo, but these dark wash jeans surprised me. The fit was fabulous!

H&M (Medium/Light Wash)

Mathew Jedeikin for BuzzFeed

I found the biggest discrepancy among washes of the same brand at H&M. Seriously, the darker wash jeans were huge, while the medium wash, on the other hand, fit nicely!


Topman (Medium/Light Wash)

Mathew Jedeikin for BuzzFeed

Oh Topman. Such an uncomfortable experience. First of all, trying to find jeans that weren't labeled "stretch" was difficult. Then, squeezing into these too-tightly fitting jeans was not so enjoyable.

1. Men's jean sizes are super inconsistent. Like, even more so than I'd expected.

2. Even among the same brand, slight differences in washes or styles can also make a dramatic impact on sizing.

With the exception of Old Navy, practically all of the darker washes I tried on fit more loosely than their lighter counterparts.

The best-fitting jeans I tried on were these Forever 21 dark wash jeans, which had me feeling rather... on point.

Trying on a good-fitting pair of jeans made me feel hot, momentarily putting my insecurities at bay. If every pair of jeans I tried on fit like this then I wouldn't dread shopping for them nearly as much as I do.

3. Unfortunately, becoming familiar with a brand's specific jean sizing still requires dragging one's ass into their actual stores and trying the pants on.

But I'm hoping that now, after going through this process, I'll have more success ordering jeans online.


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