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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.
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.