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What is the Difference Between Men's and Women's Jeans?

A man wearing jeans.
Men's pants sizes are sized in waist and length, which are typically measured in inches.
A woman wearing skinny jeans.
Women's jeans tend to fit snugly on the hips and thighs and sit lower on the waist than men's jeans.
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  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2014
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The biggest differences between men’s and women’s jeans usually have to do with how the pants are sized and cut. Some materials and embellishments are more common for one gender, but a lot of this varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some women find that jeans marketed to men actually fit them better, and men may find that the reverse is true. As with many clothes, there is no universal style or template, which means that shopping around and trying on a number of options is usually the best way for consumers to find their “ideal” pair. Jeans for men and women are usually made the same way and out of the same material, just with different fit and sizing practices.

Sizing Differences

Men's pants tend to be universally sized in waist and length measurements. Most of the time, these numbers are presented numerically, like “32-34” for pants that are 32 inches around with a 34 inch inseam. Countries that do not use inches typically display sizes in centimeters; in these places, the same jeans would probably be labeled “86-81.”

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Women’s sizing tends to be a little bit more complicated, and in most cases is indicated with a single number. The United States and several other countries use a numerical sizing scheme, typically running from 0 to 16, 18, or even 20. Most brands use only even numbers, but a lot depends on the manufacturer. Numerical sizes aren’t really standardized, either, which means that a size 4 in one brand may fit the same as a 2 or 6 in another.

It’s also common to find women’s jeans sold by waist measurement, for instance, “26” for a pair of jeans that is 26 inches (about 66 cm) around. This can sometimes solve problems with consistency, but not always. Women’s pants are often designed to hug the curves of the hips and thighs, and as a result the waistband may actually hit lower than the natural waist. A woman with a 26 inch waist might need a larger size if the jeans sit further down on her hips.

Styles and Cuts

Different designers have different goals and specifications, but in general, jeans designed for women tend to be more embellished and precisely cut than jeans intended for men. Most men’s jeans are made with a straight leg, a roomy crotch, and a somewhat baggy seat; women’s lines, on the other hand, are often tighter in the thigh, wider in the hips, and may flare out at the ankle. Many also are tighter through the seat, sometimes with the goal of actually amplifying or lifting that part of the anatomy. Women’s pants may be slightly longer in the leg than men’s to accommodate high heels.

Men's and women's jeans both offer different rises, including high rise, which sits up near the waist, and low rise, which sits around the hips. Some specialized styles, like “skinny” or “tapered” legs, look basically the same whether they’re made for men or women. It’s also possible to find more stylized, flared styles for men, and a number of brands sell “relaxed” or “boyfriend” styles for women. A lot depends on manufacturer, market, and location.

Material and Manufacturing

In most cases, men’s and women’s jeans are made out of the same material and with the same manufacturing process. Brand is usually more important here than gender specification. Many of the least expensive pants are made with tough, industrial-grade denim, and are cut more or less uniformly by machine. More expensive designers tend to use better material, often incorporating spandex or lycra into the denim to give it a bit of stretch, and some even go so far as to add hand-stitching or other embellishments on an individual basis. These differences don’t really depend on gender so much as manufacturer, and people with the time and energy to sift through the options often find that men’s and women’s pairs aren’t always really all that different.

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Discuss this Article

anon949216
Post 24

I have a nice selection of American Wagle jeans and also snagged a few Hudson jeans, the Hudson's being my favorite pair of the bunch. I only do it for the fit, they can be very comfortable when its done right.

anon948121
Post 23

I like Levis jeans the best, especially the dark ones. I am a slim middle aged male and the dark blue jeans really look sharp on me. I like the look and the feel of denim and the classic Levis are a great masculine look.

anon942717
Post 21

I wouldn't dare trying to shop for pants in the women's section but since Ebay, I bought a pair of women's pants (straight cut camouflage pants in thick cotton fabrics without any spandex). They have some cool details on the pockets with some buttons and brass zippers on them. They fit me tight on the crotch at first, but otherwise the fit is fine -- slim fit style. After wearing them for several days, all the tightness is gone now, and they look really cool.

There are some differences I find about women's pants, like the back pockets are pretty much useless for carrying a wallet, and the other thing, the crotch part is cut differently. In women's pants, it is more smoothly curving on the front while on male's pants, there is room for extra things stuffed there, but even if I choose just one size bigger in women's size, it would be a lot neater around the crotch area when I sit. It won't make that unnecessary zipper bulge. The length of the leg part is slightly shorter than men's pants of the same size, but they fit me fine -- exactly at ankle height, perfect to be worn inside a boot.

As for the lack of back pocket usefulness, I carry a messenger bag. Lastly, the most difference is in the price, I bought them at quarter of the price of "stylish" slimfit camo pants marketed for "stylish" men, since women's pants or clothes are mostly stylish to begin with. This is just another pair of pants not worth for the extra price.

anon925727
Post 20

I'm a male and my favorite jeans are women's American Eagle boyfriend jeans. They are soft and have a great fit. I always feel like everyone knows they are women's jeans, though.

anon349232
Post 19

Men wearing women's jeans and feeling OK? Down there? There is no space down there in a man's jeans, let alone a woman's!

anon331862
Post 18

Are there any women out there who wear men's 501 jeans? If so how is the fit compared to women's jeans. I can't get 501 in my size so was thinking of buying men's.

anon329136
Post 17

I wear my wife's jeans sometimes. They fit. boot cut only or straight leg, though.

anon329135
Post 16

Menswaear is pretty limited and I am feel very hindered by it. It is pretty dull! Also most men's jeans fit terribly. (I am a man). It seems that manufacturers think men want their bum to look empty in the back of their jeans! I prefer the better designed women's jeans. My waist is 26 - 27", so I seldom find men's jeans that fit me.

anon307050
Post 15

What is the difference? Practically every conceivable style is available to females, while it's blatant sexual discrimination against male. We have very, very limited style options -- all this in menswear! Yes, menswear. There are no women's or female jeans, they are transvestite's jeans.

So in reality and objectively, there are only two types of jeans: originally male jeans and more recently the last forty years, big time, transvestite's jeans. Why should transvestites have more freedom options in the other gender's clothes than the appropriate gender's pants/jeans -- the male?

sunshined
Post 14

I like the embellishments and designs on the pockets that many women's jeans have. Most men wear jeans that are pretty plain and simple and I would miss the extra touches. I have never worn a pair of men's jeans so don't know how to compare them with the way my jeans fit. I just know I like to wear jeans that have more style than most pairs of men's jeans I have seen.

andee
Post 13
@golf07 -- I think one reason there is such a difference in length in women's jeans is because of the type of shoes we like to wear.

I have some jeans that I like to wear sneakers or flats with. With other pairs of jeans, I like to wear heels. I also wear different shoes with skinny jeans than I do jeans that are flared at the bottom. All of the shoes my husband wears have about the same size of heel on them, so this is not an issue for him.

golf07
Post 12
I am very short so have a hard time finding women's jeans that are the right length. It seems like most everything I find is way too long for me. It would be nice if more women's jeans had the inseam measurement on the tag so I would know exactly how long they were.

SarahSon
Post 11

It is so easy for my husband to go buy a pair of jeans. All he does is look for the correct waist size and inseam and he is good to go. That process is not so simple for me.

Because women's jeans vary so much, I always have to try on a pair of jeans before I buy them. A size 10 in one brand may fit like a size 8 in another brand. Sometimes I even find a lot of variance in the same brand. It may just depend on the cut or style of the jean.

If I don't have time to try them on, and bring them home hoping they will fit right, I usually end up taking them back to the store.

anon285729
Post 10

Women's jeans are have a softer feel on the skin.

absjohn
Post 9

I tried them on first when the shop seller suggested I try women's jeans since I need size zero bottom jeans.

I was really not in a mood to try them, but he said more guys will go for women jeans when they need a tighter look. Then I tried the Flying Machine Twiggy super skinny jeans. Man, I was totally shocked how they looked. I've never felt that good wearing jeans like that. After all that's fabric we have to choose, and more space in the front. No problem there at all. It looked just like skinny fit jeans of men looked, but I felt a new experience and bought them. I'm planning to buy some more.

I have no problem in wearing women's jeans. Only the fabric matters (after all pants are the sign of men).

anon152259
Post 6

I agree with the Levi-digit deal, but I have really looked and looked and I can't really find a "definition" of "classic fit" versus any other fit.

The other "fits", i.e., "relaxed" are self-explanatory. "Classic" - hmmm. I want a worn in, worn out pair of 501's and I want button fly - so I have to buy men's. but how to figure out which size, etc.? I am having a lot of trouble!

Any help appreciated. On the Levi's site, I'm a "demi-curve" - measuring waist 26, hips 32, "seat" 36, thigh 20. So, really just wanting help "translating" that into a 501 size that will work.

anon114888
Post 4

I am a married male and i wear lucky brand easy riders for women. They are a fantastic fit and feel. They look just like the men's jeans but they feel so much better. I will always buy these women's jeans because they are the best jeans a man can get. --kenny

anon106626
Post 3

I am a heterosexual married male and I wear women's jeans. Why? Because they fit me best. Levis women's size 12 or juniors size 10 fit perfectly, as long as I make sure I purchase the longest length available (34"). No one has ever noticed that I wear women's jeans, nor does anyone seem to care. Gap skinny jeans also fit well.

comfyshoes
Post 2

Latte31- I just want to add that Lucky Brand, Diesel and True Religion are also popular mens designer jean. Some of these jeans can be quite expensive. For example, an average pair of True Religion mens blue jeans can run about $200 a pair.

latte31
Post 1

I just want to add the Levi’s are the classic men’s blue jeans. They usually have a variety of washes ranging from light to dark as well as numerous types of fit ranging from boot cut to skinny cut.

Three digit numbers which determine the type of fit characterize these mens denim jeans. For example, a 550 pair offers a relaxed fit, while a 501 is the classic fit.

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