Shopping for jeans or dress pants requires a whole new vocabulary in this day and age. Every brand of jeans, pants, or dress shirts offers each garment in several different cuts and every cut has its own unique characteristics. For example, you often see the terms straight and slim fit, but what is the difference when you compare straight fit vs slim?
The main difference between straight fit and slim fit is that straight fit describes pants with the same width below the knee as above the knee, while slim-fit pants hug the thigh and taper below the knee. Slim fit can also describe a variety of shirt styles. Straight fit typically describes several kinds of pants, but not shirts.
In this article, you will learn how to recognize the difference between slim and straight styles. You will discover what these cuts look like in pants, jeans, and shirts. Finally, you will find tips to help you choose which style best suits you.
Straight Fit V Slim Fit: Key Points
|Appearance||Classic, loose, and more casual.||Fitted, trendy, and sharper.|
|Comfort||Much more comfortable due to extra fabric in the leg opening.||Much tighter and less comfortable.|
|Cut||Looser with the same width above the knee as at the ankle.||Fitted with tapered legs narrowing at the ankle.|
|Body Shape||Suitable for many body shapes.||Suitable for slender bodies.|
|Shoulders||Not applicable.||Close-fitting without any excess fabric.|
|Chest||Not applicable.||Contoured and closely fitted.|
|Sleeves||Not applicable.||Tailored, with narrow upper arms and tapered wrists.|
|Waist||Not applicable.||Slim shirts will have a tapered waist, and slim pants will have a fairly tight waist.|
|Seat||Not applicable.||Usually a close-fitting seat.|
|Leg Opening||Wider than slim-fit.||Narrow due to tapering at ankle.|
|Width Below Knee||Same as width above the knee.||Narrower than width above the knee.|
What is Straight Fit?Straight fit describes a style of leg in pants and jeans with the same width in the leg opening as it does at the knee. This term does not necessarily describe the whole pant style, though–it just tells you what the leg part of the pants is like. For this reason, you may see the term “straight fit” combined with other terms, like slim fit, to describe the style of the whole garment, rather than just the legs.
The term straight fit is often used to differentiate from other pant leg styles such as bootcut or tapered legs.
Straight-fit legs in pants typically have fairly wide leg openings. The pants leg will then have the same width down the rest of the leg. You will have some excess fabric in the thigh area and will have a wide break at the bottom of the trouser because this type of pant leg does not taper in at the ankle.
Another thing to know about straight fit is that this term only applies to pants. You will not find shirts or jackets that have a straight fit, for example.
All of that said, a brand selling men’s straight-fit pants may use the term as a style description. Sometimes this term indicates a pant style similar to a regular cut. In this case, you will find pants with a loose, almost boxy shape, a wide leg opening, and a comfortably roomy seat.
Most of the time, though, a straight fit will be a sub-description within another pant style, such as regular or slim. The term straight-fit will let you know that you can expect pants legs that do not narrow toward your ankle. These legs will offer a wide range of movement and will not cling to your skin like skinny jeans.
Not every brand offers a straight fit option. You will most likely find this term used by big-name brands for jeans and dress pants. Even then, you can’t expect the key characteristics, such as the measurement of a leg opening, to remain the same from one brand to another.
What is Slim Fit?Slim-fit describes a style of clothing that closely hugs the body’s contours, with narrow leg openings in pants and a tapered waist in shirts and jackets. Slim-fit pants almost always have a narrow leg opening and close-cut thighs. This style typically looks sleek and trendy, in either pants or shirts.
Slim-fit pants usually have a tapered leg below the knee, giving you a tailored look rather than the slightly boxier look of straight-cut pant legs. These pants don’t offer a lot of excess fabric, though they also won’t feel as if the fabric is glued to your skin like skinny jeans.
Slim fit shirts taper at the waist and often have small arm openings and fitted sleeves. For many brands, a slim-fit cut is the smallest, most closely fitted option you will find. In contrast, a classic or regular cut will bag at the waist and provide lots of excess fabric in the shirt.
Most brands offer a slim-fit cut in pants, jeans, shirts, and jackets these days. This popular style gives you a narrow silhouette and a trim, stylish appearance.
What is the Difference Between Straight Fit and Slim Fit?
The main difference between straight fit and slim fit is that straight fit describes pants with a wider leg, while slim-fit describes pants with a fitted, tapered leg. Slim-fit is a more common style used to describe pants and shirts, while straight-fit only describes the leg opening style in a pair of pants.
A straight fit is not the same as a slim fit, though different brands apply the terms in different ways. You may also see these terms combined, such as in a pair of Levis “straight-slim cut” jeans. These pants will have a tight seat and thighs but then a pant leg that falls straight from the knee to the ankle, rather than clinging to the shins and tapering in at the leg opening.
One challenge to decide which style you want is that not every brand uses these terms to mean the same things. Most of the time, though, a slim fit means a more closely fitted garment than a straight fit.
Dress PantsWhen you look at straight fit vs slim fit dress pants, the biggest difference you will note is that straight fit dress pants have looser, wider leg openings. Most straight-fit dress pants may even have the same leg width all the way down from the thigh to the ankle!
Slim fit dress pants, in contrast, will have form-fitting thigh and seat areas and a more tapered leg. This cut should not wrap around your leg like spandex by any means, but it also will not offer a lot of extra fabric around your legs.
One thing to look out for when comparing slim fit and straight fit dress pants is that neither of these terms tells you what to expect in the waist area of the pants. You could have high or low-rise slim-fit pants, for example.
The bottom line here is that slim-fit dress pants should look slim and narrow, while straight-fit dress pants will have a much bigger leg opening and looser leg.
JeansThe main difference between straight-fit and slim-fit jeans is that straight-fit jeans have wider leg openings. Another big difference is that the term “straight fit” only describes the pants’ legs, while slim-fit is a style that describes the whole garment.
Most jean brands do use both of these terms to describe different types of jeans. The thing to keep in mind is that you can often mix and match these terms. For instance, you might find a pair of slim-straight cut jeans with a tight seat and thighs and straight legs that do not taper.
Slim-fit jeans usually fall right between a classic or regular jeans style and a skinny jeans style. They offer a contoured shape but not quite the spandex-reliant cling of skinny jeans.
Straight-leg jeans give you more of a traditional, boxy jean look but often do not look quite as baggy as a classic cut.
ChinosWhile some brands do offer Chinos with a straight leg, you will more likely find chinos for sale in either a classic cut or a slim-fit cut. The slim fit option gives you a tapered leg and fitted seat, while the classic cut offers a baggier seat, loose thighs, and wider legs. For this reason, you should look for a “regular” or “classic” cut in Chinos if you want a straight-leg style.
Chinos fall between dress pants and jeans because they feature a light twill-weave cotton in a khaki color. The fabric usually has a bit more weight and thickness than your typical dressy trouser. You will typically wear chinos to more casual events rather than to formal events.
Straight-fit pants tend to look good on people with a wide range of body types due to the slightly looser cut in the legs. If you want a stylish pair of chinos that still allows you some flexibility and range of movement, you may want to consider getting a classic, straight-legged Chinos style rather than the tighter, more clingy slim fit cut.
ShirtsYou will not typically find a straight-fit style in shirts, but slim-fit shirts have become extremely popular in recent years. Many brands offer a slim-fit dress shirt as the tightest, most form-fitting option in any size.
A slim-fit shirt will have a tapered waist and curving side seams designed to make the fabric cling to your body from the chest down. This shirt will also usually have tailored, closely-fitting sleeves, smaller arm openings, and no excess fabric in the shoulders.
While some dress shirt brands do offer an even more tightly fitted style called a tailored fit, for most brands, a slim fit cut is as skinny as it gets!
When choosing a slim-fit shirt, the bottom line is that you should wear this type of button-down only if you want to show off the lines of your chest, shoulders, and waist.
If you do not want a contoured dress shirt that nips in at the waist and does not provide much wiggle room in the shoulders, you may want to look into a classic cut instead. This style has more straight lines than curved lines and does not accent the waist as much. If you like straight-legged pants, you may prefer the looser shape of a classic-style shirt!
T-ShirtsMost t-shirt sellers do not use the terms straight fit and slim fit to describe t-shirts, but you can find the terms regular or fitted, which mean the same thing.
Regular t-shirts look like a rectangle with sleeves and a collar. This style has a straight side seam and hangs loosely around the body.
Fitted t-shirts have curved side seams designed to taper in at the waist. They may also have cap sleeves or more tailored sleeves. This style looks more clingy and can accentuate a narrow waist.
What is the Difference Between Slim and Slim Straight?The difference between slim and slim straight pants or jeans is that slim pants will have a narrow fit all over and usually have tapered legs, but slim straight pants will have a narrow fit and wider legs instead of tapered legs.
In some brands, slim-straight jeans will typically have a low rise and a more fitted seat. This varies from brand to brand, though, so you will want to read the entire product description to find out what a slim-straight pant’s waist, seat, and legs look like!
This terminology does get confusing, for sure! Just remember that “straight fit” only refers to whether or not the leg opening width is the same as the leg width all the way up to above the knee. This means that you can have slender slim-cut pants that have that same leg width all the way down–it will just be a slim width, rather than a big leg opening!
Not every brand offers this option, but it is a nice compromise between the tighter feel of a slim-fit style and the boxier look of a straight-leg style.
Straight vs Skinny JeansThe main difference between straight and skinny jeans is that skinny jeans wrap tightly around the legs all the way down to the ankle, while straight jeans have a wider leg that has the same width from above the knee all the way down to the ankle.
Skinny jeans will also serve as the tightest, most closely fitting jean style offered by a brand. Most of the time, these jeans contain a small percentage of spandex to allow the fabric to cling to your skin and flex a little to provide movement.
Skinny jeans have gained pretty universal appeal since the 1980s when rock musicians first made them popular, though you do see women wearing them more frequently than men. This style can make the wearer look more slender because of the tapered, closely fitted legs.
In contrast, straight-legged jeans tend to look looser and a little boxier. The big advantage here is that the straight legs give you a wider range of movement. Skinny jeans can often imprison your legs and knees in stiff, unyielding fabric, but straight legs have a lot more flexibility because of the excess fabric.
What is a Straight Leg Pant?A straight-leg pant will have legs that maintain the same width from above the knee to the leg opening at the ankle. This means that you could measure the circle inside each pant leg and get the same size of a circle from the knee to the ankle. As you can imagine, this style has a wider silhouette than a fitted, tapered cut such as a slim fit or skinny jeans.
You can buy straight-legged dress pants, chinos, or jeans. That said, you see the term “straight leg” used most often in jeans, where you can mix and match many different styles such as a low rise or high rise, straight leg or bootcut, and regular fit or slim fit.
Sometimes designers will mix straight-leg pants with a tighter fit in the waist and seat to create a stylish slim-straight type of pants.
Should I Wear Straight Fit or Slim Fit?
You should always pick a clothing style that you enjoy, but it is true that style experts typically recommend slim-fit clothing for people with a slender build and straight-legged pants for people with many different body types, including a larger or more muscular frame.
Slim fit clothing tends to look most attractive on people who have slender, narrow bodies. If you have a muscular build or a rounder shape, you may find this style too constraining or uncomfortable.
Straight-leg pants can feel much more comfortable than slim-fit pants because of the extra width in the leg opening. Plus, this style can look better on people with many body types.
The best way to find out what style looks best on you is to order several different cuts from the same brand and give them a test run. For example, order both straight leg and slim-fit jeans from a brand you like, and try them both on!
If you find that slim-fit jeans make you look tall and slender, go for it! If you like the extra roominess of the straight-legged jeans better, you will know that you want to order a straight-legged fit in the future.
The most obvious difference between slim fit and straight fit styles is that slim fit pants taper down the leg, while straight fit pants have a wider, straight leg. Slim fit is a more popular style and can also refer to dress shirts with a contoured shape and a tapered waist. Straight leg simply means pants that have the same width at the knee and the leg opening.
You will see a comparison between slim fit and straight fit styles, most often in jeans. Some dress pants also come with the option to buy slim fit, straight fit, or even slim-straight fit legs.
Have you tried both slim and straight fit styles in your favorite brand of pants? Which style did you prefer? Leave a comment below to let us know!