Introducing the Essential Men’s Styles series. This first edition features the classic workhorse—dark wash jeans.
Why is dark wash denim a men’s style essential? Mainly because of its versatility, durability and timelessness.
It’s also appropriate for more casual workplaces and after work happy hours. Maybe you have an exciting date coming up? Dark wash jeans is always a smart choice.
Not to be mistaken for dark rinse denim, which is typically darker, almost appearing black. The “rinse” and “wash” refer specifically to the way the jeans are treated during the production process.
Dark Wash vs Dark Rinse
The dark rinse is a fabric that’s dipped in darker dye after the jeans are actually sewn together, allowing for the dye to saturate all the seams for a soft feel and deep color.
The dark wash is dark colored denim that’s washed during production, which gives it a soft touch and adds unique texture.
For simplicity—since they look similar, wash and rinse will be used interchangeably in this article.
Readers’ Favorite: You might like our guide on the Best Jeans for Men.
Where to Buy Dark Wash Jeans
Here, we’re going to list out a handful of great places to purchase quality, dark wash jeans both on a budget and a bit more premium.
Budget Jeans Brands (Under $100)
- Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Jeans – $40 (Khoi’s Pick)
- Amazon Essentials Stretch Jean – $22
- Everlane Organic Cotton Slim Fit Jeans – $88
- The Perfect Jean Slim Fit – $80
- Uniqlo Stretch Selvedge Jeans – $50
- Gap Jeans in Gapflex with Washwell – $70
- American Eagle AirFlex+ Jeans – $40
- Express 4-Way Hyper Stretch Jean – $98
Classic Levi’s have to be on every best jeans list. Founded way back in 1853 in San Francisco, California when Levi Strauss emigrated to the west coast where the Gold Rush was booming.
The Levi’s 511 jean is their slim fit model. They also carry a flex version of the 511 slim fit jean which is made with Levi’s Advanced Stretch technology for extra give and flexibility.
The denim from Levi’s is good quality and holds up well, wash after wash. Levi’s recommends that you wash your jeans once every 10 wears at most to increase their lifespan and protect the environment.
I personally, rarely ever wash my jeans. The only time I do is if there are visible stains or I’ve been sweating profusely. Other than that though, I hang ’em and wear ’em again and again. The 511 comes in a whopping 41 different colors on Amazon.
Premium Jeans Brands ($100+)
- Mott & Bow Slim Oliver Jeans – $118 (Khoi’s Pick)
- Ministry of Supply Chroma Denim Pant – $128
- Outerknown Ambassador Slim Fit Jean – $148
- DSTLD Premium Jeans – $148
- Mott & Bow Slim Oliver Jeans – $118
- Banana Republic Luxe Traveler Jean – $150
- The Unbranded Brand UB422 Jeans – $122
- Bonobos Extra Stretch Travel Jeans – $119
- Rag & Bone Authentic Stretch Jean – $250
- A.P.C. Martin Raw Straight Jeans – $230
- Buck Mason Standard Jean – $148
Mott & Bow Oliver Jeans
The Mott & Bow mission was born out of the question: “how can we get people premium jeans at a reasonable price?” Sticking to simplicity is at the core of their design philosophy.
With Mott & Bow, you have the option of a skinny, slim or straight fit to choose from. You also have the option of dark blue, medium blue, and black and gray washes. There are wide variety of washes to choose from with each of the 3 fits.
I own a pair of Mott & Bow’s Warren skinny jeans which have a medium blue wash and a weight of 12.5 oz. The fabric is sourced from Italy with a premium and textured feeling along with the unique stone washed fading.
Now that you know some great place to buy dark wash jeans, let’s move on to a few ways you can wear them.
How to Wear Dark Wash Jeans—3 Easy Ways
Scenario #1: The casual weekender
Whether you’re running a few errands, off to school or meeting up with buddies for drinks—dark blue jeans can serve you well.
This simple look is made casual from the top all the way down to the bottom.
The white/gray check flannel shirt is inherently casual. Also notice the rounded ‘club’ collar which gives it more of a modern appeal. Pair this shirt with a light, quilted vest, suede desert boots, and dark jeans, and you’ve got a rugged, yet still refined combo.
The Timex Weekender watch with a casual leather strap completes this simple getup. Of course this is meant to be a well-fitting outfit which helps to further streamline the look.
Scenario #2: The smart casual office
Find yourself in a more casual work environment? This smart casual outfit can work well in the office.
The shawl neck sweater is a casual piece that ventures into rugged territory depending on what you pair it with.
In this case, the addition of a white oxford button-down shirt helps to increase the level of formality a tiny bit. And a clean pair of suede chukkas, in navy keeps the look balanced with earth tones, of dark blues and the teal of the cardigan.
You’ll look on point style wise with this simple getup, topped off with a minimalist brown leather watch.
Scenario #3: Date night
Quick aside: Stay away from the blazer and tie combo if you’re only a few dates in. You might come off as too try-hard. This is more for a longer term relationship of say 6 months+.
Related: You might like this American Eagle vs Express jeans review.
So it’s date night with your special lady? Here’s how to wear dark blue jeans—dressed up.
In this scenario, I dressed up our trusty dark blue jeans with a silk blended charcoal blazer (yours doesn’t have to be silk) to up the class factor. The silk blend gives off an air of elegance that is perfect for a fancy date or anniversary.
Though hard to see, the shirt is light blue with thin white stripes. The navy, speckled tie is made of a wool fabric that contrasts nicely against the lighter shirt. Don’t be afraid to mix patterns and textures.
A pair of brown brogues like that of Allen Edmonds’ Strand in Walnut always looks great with dark blue jeans. You can of course go darker with your shoe shade according to your personal taste.
Show her that you care and put in a little extra effort to wow her like in the beginning.
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Types of Jeans Fit
Quick preface: Like the many different body types, the fit of different brands can vary a great deal. I suggest getting off the internet and actually visit the individual stores you like and try on the various types of fit to see which is best for you.
It’s also worth noting that over the years, pants fit have gotten slimmer across the board. So even the relaxed or bootcuts of today aren’t as ill-fitting as days gone by.
Remember not so long ago when skinny jeans were all the rage? I admit to falling for this trend even though skinny jeans aren’t the most flattering for my body type. I don’t exactly have thunder thighs, but skinny is not a good look for me.
Skinny fit jeans are most appropriate for skinny guys. It shouldn’t be a struggle to squeeze into your jeans, though many skinny/slim fitting jeans have 1 or 2% elastane, giving it a bit of stretch, which is more comfortable than a pair without it.
Depending on the brand, you may fall under a slim or a straight fit. For example a GAP or H&M straight fit is comparable to other brands’ slims. Again, it’s best to try for yourself to see if slim or straight works for you. The primary difference between slim and straight is that slim tends to fit slightly more snug and tapers down towards the ankle.
Straight fit is a good choice for the majority of men. It’s the most flattering fit for a wide range of body types and is a safe choice if you are unsure of which fit is most appropriate for you. Think of straight fit as a happy medium, not too tight, not too loose, but just right.
This fit is meant to be worn with boots, hence the name. An indicator of a boot cut is a widening of the pant leg opening that gives ample room to cover up the bulkiest of boots. These types of jeans tend to be more relaxed at the thigh and down the leg as well.
As the name suggests, this fit is relaxed alright. Perhaps too relaxed, bordering lazy with your style. Not to hate on this relaxed fit, but it’s not the most flattering for any body type. The Brett Favre for Wrangler, dad jeans look can be real comfortable, but can also make you appear real sloppy. But hey, to each his own.
Caring for Your Dark Wash Denim
A common question is, “how do I wash dark blue jeans without it fading?”
So, how often should you wash your dark blue jeans? The short answer—as little as possible.
A rule of thumb is to go for as long as possible without washing. When will you know it’s time? A good old fashioned smell test never fails.
First, here’s what you shouldn’t do:
- Wash your jeans after every wear
- Put your jeans in the dryer
- Put your jeans in the freezer
Washing after every wear is not only bad for the environment, but will shorten the life of your jeans. And the heat from a dryer can actually damage your jeans, causing extreme fading.
Forget about freezing your jeans to kill bacteria, it doesn’t work.
If you want to preserve the dark color of your jeans and prevent fading, the best method I found is courtesy of Bespoke Post. Granted, it’s advice for treating raw denim, it works perfectly on regular dark blue jeans as well.
I’ll let them tell it.
“Turn them inside-out, then put them in the washing machine by themselves. Wash on cold with just a little bit of Woolite Dark detergent. Hang ‘em up to dry.
This is the method we swear by. With just a few minor adjustments, cleaning your jeans is just as easy as doing a normal load of laundry, but they won’t fade too much or mess with the color of your other clothes.
Turning them inside-out protects any fades you’ve already developed, the cold water is less likely to bleed the indigo, and Woolite works well to keep an inky hue on dark clothes.
Don’t go crazy and wash every time you do your laundry, but you can rest easy knowing that when you do need to give your favorite denim a thorough clean, it won’t involve any complicated processes or do too much damage to the dye.”
For more on caring for your jeans. Via Levi’s Unzipped blog.
Finally, here’s some more interesting facts about jeans if you’re curious.
Did You Know?
Jeans was the creation of Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss in 1873. Davis with a knack for innovation and Strauss an entrepreneurial spirit, together they changed the face of fashion forever.
Jeans as name for trousers come from city of Genoa in Italy, a place where cotton corduroy, called either jean or jeane, was manufactured.
Jeans were working clothes at first, made from durable materials that could withstand the rigors of rough working conditions.
Blue jeans were banned at certain places like schools, theaters, and restaurants in the ‘50s because they were seen as a form of rebellion against conformism.
Rivets are used on jeans to make them stronger especially on pockets and other places where the jeans would tend to rip.
Over 50% of denim is made in Asia, specifically China, India and Bangladesh.
Blue jeans became popular outside of the US thanks to American Soldiers in WWII when they wore jeans while off-duty.
Making of one pair of Levi 501s requires 37 separate sewing operations.
About 450 million pairs of jeans are sold in the United States every year.
Statistically, on average, every American owns 7 pairs of blue jeans.
A clean pair of dark blue jeans is the ultimate smart casual wardrobe piece. It’s the first item I would recommend any guy pick up if he doesn’t already own a pair.
Lighter wash denim is always casual. The power of dark blue jeans is its ability to be worn casually or ultra elegant.
Its versatility and durability is unmatched. It has stood the test of time and I believe will continue to be a staple long before you and I are gone.
So, what are you waiting for? Go get yourself a quality pair…you won’t regret it.
If you liked this article, you can check the out the other features in our Essential Men’s Styles Series.
Onto you. How many pairs of dark wash jeans are in your collection?
Let’s continue the discussion over in the Gentlemen Within Private Facebook Community.
Looking forward to seeing you in there.
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