Denim is the bedrock of a man’s wardrobe, that durable and versatile worker doing the heavy lifting, day in and day out. More often than not, reaching for a pair of dark-wash jeans is also the simplest way to get from Point A (naked and afraid) to Point B (looking stylish). Pair them with a blazer or hoodie, work boots or court shoes, a graphic tee or polo shirt. It all works… provided those jeans actually fit you correctly. As the old saying goes, the man should wear the pants, not the other way around.

Of course, different cuts flatter different body shapes, and each designer has their own idea of what constitutes a ‘slim’ or ‘relaxed’ fit. (And more than a few designers offer hybrid variations on each fit.) Still, a basic understanding of the label lingo can get you pointed in the right direction. It’s the first step to breaking out of the mall store doldrums. The world of investment-grade jeans has a fit for everyone. Here’s a primer for finding yours.

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