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

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 21, 2024
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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.”

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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Discussion Comments
By anon1004493 — On Feb 24, 2021

I've been wearing Amazon available Yelete for over 4 years. The double-takes local women (and men) exhibit are phenomenal. I'm 34-36" waisted and the mediums are very tight out of the box, but after a couple hours of that, they relax and allow room for easy adjustment.

By anon1000890 — On Jan 20, 2019

I love buying women's clothing and wearing them. Women's pants fit and feel, better than men' pants. I do wear my outfits out sometimes when I go out out of town also I have two pair of women,s glasses that I wear. What is wrong with that ? Not a thing as far as I am concerned. There are women who wear who wear men's pants, and nobody says anything. Is this a double standard?

By anon1000725 — On Dec 03, 2018

I am a man who likes to wear "ultra low rise". A personal preference but also because I haven't much of a waist so trousers/ jeans tend to finish up low anyway. Ultra low can only be found for women and even then I cannot find any currently manufactured.

By anon993389 — On Nov 11, 2015

I'm a guy (size 18) and recently discovered the feel and comfort of women's jeans. My wife bought a pair that I picked out when we were shopping at Old Navy. She brought them home and I really liked the skinny jean look and feel. The waist was slightly large, but a belt fixed that easily. I also shopped on eBay and found some Lane Bryant jeans. I would like to wear these out of the house, but afraid someone would notice. Last, I got a pair of Apple Bottom's (around $25) that are super nice on eBay, but could never wear those out of the house.

I have found that sizing is pretty easy for me in these different styles of jeans, size 18 with average height. I would still like to try a few more pairs of different styles (like boyfriend jeans) because I enjoy wearing them. You can find deals on used jeans in great condition on eBay.

By anon992918 — On Oct 11, 2015

To be honest, a lot of women's jeans like Levi's, Lucky brand and even trendy juniors' brands like Celebrity Pink jeans can look like men's pants because they tend to look 'plain'. Celebrity Pink jeans also has colored skinny jeans (that look more like pants) that can pass as men's pants, but with a better fit.

Nowadays, men's pants/jeans are getting tighter with a sprayed on look (Top Man for example), even if you're wearing women's skinny jeans/pants, one can't really tell the difference anymore.

By anon990074 — On Apr 04, 2015

I am a straight married male and I wear women's jeans, for a better fit. I have slim waist, but big hip and thighs due to all of my skating and workouts, and men's loose pants just make them look *huge*.

I had luck in finding women's jeans that fit and are not too embellished, but so far haven't found fitting women's khakis. I am looking for plain khakis with a bootcut look. But many women's khakis have flares. Anybody know?

By anon977190 — On Nov 09, 2014

I borrowed my girlfriend's jeans once and I found that I liked the way they felt against my skin. they felt a lot softer. Even the crotch offered more support than men's jeans.

I'd never liked jeans before then and didn't wear them. I'm shorter than most men and I've never had a problem with the lengths of legs and I know I fit a size 8 easily.

Even now after 10 years, I still sometimes think that people know I wear ladies jeans, but after a while, I find that I stopped caring too much.

I don't like the way men's jeans always felt too baggy around my buttocks. If I'm wearing trousers of any kind I prefer to feel as if I am.

By anon949216 — On May 04, 2014

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.

By anon948121 — On Apr 28, 2014

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.

By anon942717 — On Mar 29, 2014

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.

By anon925727 — On Jan 14, 2014

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.

By anon349232 — On Sep 24, 2013

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!

By anon331862 — On Apr 25, 2013

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.

By anon329136 — On Apr 08, 2013

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

By anon329135 — On Apr 08, 2013

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.

By anon307050 — On Dec 03, 2012

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?

By sunshined — On Nov 24, 2012

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.

By andee — On Nov 23, 2012
@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.

By golf07 — On Nov 22, 2012
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.

By SarahSon — On Nov 21, 2012

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.

By anon285729 — On Aug 17, 2012

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

By absjohn — On Apr 19, 2012

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).

By anon152259 — On Feb 13, 2011

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.

By anon114888 — On Sep 30, 2010

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

By anon106626 — On Aug 26, 2010

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.

By comfyshoes — On Jul 25, 2010

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.

By latte31 — On Jul 25, 2010

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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