15 Best Jeans for Men 2023: All the Sub-$100 Denim We Love Right Now

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A few years back, if you were on the hunt for the best jeans for men you’d probably encounter a dictionary’s worth of denim-related jargon rivaling the vernacular of any fancy wine enthusiast. There was confusing terminology to learn—sanforized, loomstate, ring spun—on top of bogus myths related to washing your jeans in the ocean or “cleaning” them in the freezer (to be clear: don’t do that). Provenance suddenly became important, too—was the denim milled in Japan or America?—and the price tags on these artisanal dungarees were not unlike what you’d find on a well-aged bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape: wallet-busting.

The selvedge sommeliers are still around, sure, and we appreciate their service. (Thanks to their efforts, raw denim is even enjoying a bit of a resurgence!) But these days, stylish dudes have mostly moved on from that extreme level of denim geekery, largely conceding the fact that jeans are best when they’re treated just like, well, jeans: knockabout, utilitarian, the kind of thing you put on without a second thought most days of the week. As long as they look good, who cares how much they cost? You think Dennis Hopper ever wondered if his jeans were chain-stitched by hand? Of course not! And with that kind of attitude, you shouldn’t spend more than $100 on a pair if you can help it. 


The Affordable Denim Shopping Guide


What can you expect on a sub-Benjamin budget? Well, you can count out many of the details that denimheads covet. That means no super-duper heavyweight joints (the standard 12-14 oz. denim is likely the beefiest you’ll come across). You also won’t find a ton of jeans cut from selvedge, the slow-made denim that’s often woven on rare shuttle looms—though we included a handful of wallet-friendly selvedge options in the mix below. And the artisanal construction details that differentiate the specialty denim stores from their mall brand counterparts won’t be here, either. Hidden rivets, single-piece flies, vegetable-tanned leather patches, lined rear pockets—you won’t find many of those in this price bracket.

But all those bells and whistles are just that—bells and whistles. Those details are for the real obsessives anyway, and if that’s not you, your chief considerations should be fit and wash, which you’ll want to appear as natural as possible. That means no more Jersey Shore bleach-heavy fades, with all that uber-fake “whiskering” across the thighs. Instead, your jeans should look like you broke them in yourself—or be dark enough that you actually can break them in yourself. To give you a head start, we’ve tracked down all the go-anywhere, do-anything, all-around best jeans for men under $100—most of which you can pick up, right now, at your local shopping mall.


The Best OG Jeans

Levi’s 501 Original Shrink-to-Fit jeans

What, did you really think Levi’s wouldn’t be at the top of this list?The age-old denim purveyor’s iconic 501s are the jeans that invented the category—the begetter of blue jeans!—and thanks to their timeless straight-leg fit, they’re still every bit as relevant today as they were in the late 1800s. The idea with the OG Shrink-to-Fit model is this: size up a 2-3 inches, put them on, and get in a tub of warm water (yes, you read that right). After a few minute of blue bath time, get out and let ’em dry on your body. They’ll shrink down to your normal size, hugging your curves in the right places and forming to your body like they were tailored for you. From then on you can wear ‘em how you damn well please. In fact, you should wear ’em as hard as you can and wash ‘em every couple of weeks. The result? The best-fitting, best-looking, best-feeling pair of jeans you’ll ever own. Eventually, you’ll get that nice vintage fade that’s oh-so coveted by avid jeans folks. (It’s the kind of stuff that started a whole legion of denim-related myths, but don’t let the lore scare you off.) And don’t worry: you can skip the bath portion of the process and wash ‘em however you want, and they’ll still look like money.


The Best Stretchy-But-Won’t-Stretch-Out Jeans

Everlane organic cotton slim fit jean

Jeans this uniformly dark are normally stiffer than moonshine and about as comfortable as a root canal. Thanks to a clever infusion of stretchy elastane, Everlane’s signature Japanese denim gives you that pristine indigo look—which cement these as the most office-appropriate pair of the bunch—without any of the sandpapery breaking-in period. By that same measure, they’re also surprisingly sag-resistant: you can wear them every day of the week, and they’ll never lose their flatteringly lean shape. Pair ‘em with a tweed blazer, knit tie, and equally-crisp white sneakers for a fit that’ll take you from a meeting with your boss straight into a post-work breakdown of said meeting with your nosy colleagues.


The Best Entry-Level Selvedge Denim Jeans

Uniqlo stretch selvedge slim-fit jeans

For anyone looking to score a pair of jeans with some street cred (or modest menswear-forum fame), a pair of selvedge denim jeans is a requisite. Why? Most fabrics are woven on looms that leave raw edges. Selvedge denim, on the other hand, is woven on looms that leave a self edge that is densely woven and won’t unravel. When someone’s got their jeans cuffed, look for a vertical stripe (it’s probably white and red) at the outside seam and you’ll know its selvedge. While experts love the slow-made nature of selvedge, that added production time increases the end cost. It’s rare to find selvedge denim under $100, but Uniqlo has consistently been one shining star in a sky of indigo. The fabric it uses is a mid-weight denim that’s crispy enough to past denimhead muster but also has a touch of stretch to make it bearable for the average Joe. The unwashed finish means you can lock in your own personal fades, but the sanforized process means you won’t have to worry about shrinkage when you eventually decide to give them a wash. Plus, little touches like slick gunmetal hardware and reinforced belt loops give them a premium look and feel that you’d more likely peg as the flagship jean of a high-fashion designer.


The Best Dad-Approved Jeans

Lee relaxed fit straight leg jean pants

If you’re still riding the Dad Wave™, don’t quit when it comes to denim—get yourself a pair of Lees. The fabric is hardy, the fit is boxy and perfect for athletic builds, and the wash is blissfully uniform, without any crazy distressing. Most important, they’ll only set you back a measly $30—because we all know affordability is the sine qua non of a great dad jean.


The Best Slim-But-Not-Too-Slim Jeans

Gap slim jeans with GapFlex

Gap kicked off this whole “quality jeans at an inoffensive price” movement a decade ago, and they keep the party rolling with these medium-wash crowd pleasers. Worried you’ve got too much, ahem, “power” in your legs to squeeze into any of these slim-fit jeans? This pair was engineered to look great on the broadest range of body types: not too snug, not too loose. Not for nothing, there’s also a lived-in character to these that’s hard to come by—they’ll feel like a familiar old fave right from the jump. That’s the denim equivalent of what NBA stat heads would call an “intangible.”


The Best Double-Knee Warrior Jeans

Carhartt Rugged Flex relaxed fit double-front utility jean

Carhartt’s been doling out its tough-as-nails, real-deal workwear for well over a century. On top of its famed Detroit work jackets and duck canvas double-knee pants, the brand also knows how to engineer some solid denim. At 15 ounces, the denim on these utility jeans is the heaviest on this list—and that’s before you factor in the double-layered knee panels. With all that heft, you can bet that these jeans will outlast your barista career and will only look better with every wear. Even without the extra knees and hardware, these jeans would still make our list because of the fine-tuned relaxed fit and classic rise.


The Best Boot-Ready Jeans

Wrangler Cowboy cut 13MWZ original fit jeans

This is the jean of choice for Super Bowl stars and real-ass cowboys alike. Wrangler’s bootcut jeans are iconic thanks to their hip-hugging top block and flared hems, which pool over a pair of boots like a denim fondue. The denim is a dense, 100% cotton fabric that can handle its own on and off a saddle, with or without a center crease. The lightest version weighs in at 12 ounces, which is fairly average for most jeans, but most of Wrangler’s options sit at a beefier 14-15 ounces, about as heavy as anyone can expect for jeans under $100—let alone jeans at around $30. If you want to go especially hard, we recommend serving them up the way a young Harrison Ford would’ve: with a western belt, a plaid blazer, and a pair of serious movie star shades. Or you could lean into their groovier side and rock them with a pair of canvas sneakers and a vintage tee. These jeans bootcut jeans ain’t just boot-ready—they’re ready for anything.


And if It Ain’t Broke, Go Vintage

Levi’s Secondhand 501 original fit jeans

If you didn’t know by now, Levi’s has been around for a long, long time. That means there’s untold amounts of vintage Levi’s waiting to be given a new lease on life. And while we love trawling through thrift shops in search for the perfect pair, you can now can cop a killer pair of vintage Levi’s straight from the source. Following in the footsteps of brands like Patagonia and its WornWear program, the first name in denim introduced this platform for buying used and vintage Levi’s garms to meet growing demand for secondhand products. Not only does it represent a serious step toward a circular fashion economy that should hopefully help move the environmental needle, it’s also the easiest way to get your legs into great jeans that absolutely no one else will own. You could certainly hit up your local vintage joint to scoop a pair, but if you’re not about the thrill of the hunt, the Levi’s Secondhand site streamlines the process. And what’s better than the beauty of a pair of naturally faded vintage jeans?


Watch The GQ Recommends Show: Our 5 Favorite Jeans Fits Right Now


Plus 7 More Jeans Under $100 We Love

Gap ‘90s original straight selvedge jeans

Vintage redline jeans are hard to come by, and will typically cost you a pretty penny—but Gap’s are the next best thing. On top of their selvedge denim fabric, they also feature a light wash and tasteful distressing—whiskers, train track fades, subtle nicks at the hems— that lend them the most convincing pre-worn look you’ll come across, especially at this price point. If you’d really rather not break in a pair of jeans yourself, these are for you. 

Dickies regular fit 5-pocket jeans

If you like the cut of Dickies’ popular work chinos, you’ll be a fan of this 5-pocket jean variant.

Levi’s 505 regular fit jeans

The official jeans of the Ramones, and the slightly-more-tailored cousin to the famous 501.

Ben Davis carpenter pants

Ben Davis is a titan of real-deal workwear, the kind of label you see in shops filled with military surplus gear and goods made for construction workers. The brand’s carpenter jeans use a dense and crunchy 14 ounce denim that comes raw and ready to fade just like the high-end stuff. At the same time, though, they’re a far cry from fancy fashion dungarees—which means they’re definitely not slim and are almost criminally affordable.

Arket regular cropped jeans

The light wash, consistent fade, and a slightly cropped leg combine for a super clean silhouette that’s perfect with a pair of boots or some penny loafers.

Patagonia hemp denim 5-pocket pants

Incredibly soft tencel yarns are woven with organic and recycled cotton for a megazord fabric that’s simultaneously hard- and soft-wearing.

COS regular-fit tapered-leg jeans

For the fellas that want the trim silhouette but need more breathing room for the thighs, these are calling your name.

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