Skip to Content

Tapered Fit vs Slim Fit: What Is the Difference?

Finding clothes that flatter your body type sometimes seems difficult. If you want to buy jeans, you have to know what every different cut looks like before choosing! For example, if you compare tapered fit vs slim fit, what is the difference?

The main difference between tapered and slim fit pants is that tapered pants narrow at the ankle, while slim-fit pants narrow in the waist and hip area. Slim-fit shirts have a tight chest and shoulder area but a looser waist. Tapered fit shirt narrow at the waist.

In this article, you will find out what both tapered and slim-fit clothes look like. You will also discover the key differences between these two popular styles. Finally, you will find a comparison of different styles of jeans and trousers.

Tapered Fit vs Slim Fit

What is Tapered Fit?

Tapered fit typically means a clothing style that has a wider top portion and a narrower lower portion. You will find the term tapered fit used to describe many different types of clothing, including shirts, jackets, and pants.

taperet fitSometimes manufacturers use the term “tailored” in place of tapered, though tailored does not always mean a tapered cut. Tailored can also indicate what professional clothing designers call a “classic cut,” which has a bit of a looser style than most tapered cuts.

As an interesting bit of fashion history, you didn’t see any kind of closefitting, tapered legs in women’s pants until the iconic cigarette pants of the 1950s. Before then, a loose, baggy style usually held sway, perhaps because of the moral paradigms that often dominate women’s clothing.

While men wore tailored breeches throughout a good portion of fashion history, modern menswear did not make a shift toward a more tailored look until the skinny jean craze of the 1980s dramatically revolutionized the style of men’s clothing.

In today’s fashion lexicon, “tapered fit” usually indicates a tapered leg in pants. This means that the waist and hip area of the pants will fit as usual, but the leg of the pants will tighten toward the ankle, creating a tapered look!

On shirts, a tapered cut usually has a loose shoulder and chest area but less fabric at the waist, creating a tapered V shape to the shirt. This holds true for both button-down shirts and t-shirts.

No products found.In general, when you see the word “tapered,” think of a V shape. This style always has a wider top and a skinnier bottom, just like the letter V!

Tapered cut pants look great on people with many different body types. They have a forgiving waist and hip area and make your legs look shapely where they pinch in at the ankles! That said, if you have very broad shoulders, you could end up looking like an inverted triangle if you wear tapered fit pants!

And who should wear a tapered-fit shirt? This cut looks good on many body types because it eliminates the baggy waist that often makes shirts look messy.

Ideally, any shirt you choose will fit across your shoulder and chest somewhat snuggly without showing stretched wrinkles or gapping buttons. Tapered shirts give you plenty of room in the upper part of your torso, and then nip in at the waist for a flattering shape.

Be honest with yourself as you try on a tapered shirt, whether it’s a formal button-down for the office or a t-shirt! If the narrowed waist looks too tight, try a classic or straight cut instead. The most important thing is to pick a cut that flatters your body type!

What is Slim Fit?

slim vs slim taperedSlim fit clothes usually have a stylishly close cut through the whole garment that removes any excess fabric. Slim-fit pants have a close-fitting waist and seat area as well as somewhat skinny legs. Slim-fit shirts typically have a narrow shoulder and chest area and a straight-cut waist.

While not as tight as skinny jeans, which depend on a good measure of Spandex to fit around most people’s bodies, slim-fit jeans do have a pretty fitted appearance. Slim-fit jeans remain a perennial favorite for people of many different body types because they have a looser feel than skinny jeans but a tighter, more styled look than straight-cut jeans.

On the other hand, slim-fit dress shirts usually offer the tightest possible cut sold by most manufacturers. This style has a slender cut in both the shoulders and waist. You can get a trendy sleek look with a slim-fit shirt.

slim-fit shirtIf you have a generous chest or athletic shoulders, you may find this fit uncomfortable! Slim-fit shirts usually look best on people with a fairly linear, slender body type.

That said, modern style in pants, jeans, shirts, and even t-shirts often prefers a sleek fit to a baggy fit (though, of course, this also depends on the type of personal style you embrace!). For example, a button-down shirt that bags out at your waist looks sloppy to modern eyes, while a shirt tailored with curving seams to fit your waist looks more elegant.

Slim-fit trousers, dress pants, or chinos often have a narrow leg opening that doesn’t accommodate large thighs. This style can look elegant on men and women who have a narrow body shape but will not look great on anyone with a rounded body shape.

Tapered Fit vs Slim Fit: What is the Difference?

Tapered fit clothes usually have a V shape with a wider top and narrower bottom, while slim fit garments have a consistently tight cut throughout. Both tapered fit and slim fit have a closer cut than a regular or straight-cut garment.

For example, think of a normal pair of jeans with wide, straight legs. This looks like a cowboy-style, old-fashioned, solid denim pair of jeans, right? There’s certainly a place for this look for both men and women (what would country music be without the jeans-and-cowboy-hat look?), but current styles trend toward a more fitted appearance.


Lee Women's Slim Fit Skinny Leg Midrise Jean, Lagoon Blue, 16 ShortTapered jeans can have a barely noticeable tapering toward the ankle or sharper angle that pinches in quite a lot down the length of the leg, ending at a tight-fitting ankle. Remember, these jeans will usually have a loose seat area and a not–too-tight waist and thigh area as well. For this reason, you will probably find tapered jeans super comfortable!

Slim-fit jeans, in contrast, have a firm fit in the waist seat, thighs, and ankles. They don’t usually look or feel as tight as skinny jeans, but they do have small leg openings where the seat meets the legs of the pants. Despite this, slim-fit jeans still allow a much wider range of motion than skinny jeans, which often feel quite tight in some places!

Sometimes slim-fit jeans taper a little toward the ankle, though they typically have a wider ankle than tapered jeans. This makes it easy to confuse tapered or slim-fit jeans, but there’s an easy way to determine which is which!

Just remember to check the fit in the seat and thighs. Tapered jeans will have a looser fit in the waist region, and slim-fit jeans give you that styled silhouette down.


PULI Men's Tapered Cargo Pants Slim Fit Chino Joggers Work Trousers with Pockets Army Green 30Whether you wear dress pants, trousers, or chinos, you can often find the brand you like in both tapered and slim-fit cuts.

The rules for dress pants work pretty much the way they do for jeans. Slim-fit pants and a slender shape from waist to ankle, though they tend to have a slightly wider ankle because of the straight leg.

Tapered trousers narrow from the waist down to the ankle, ending in quite a small leg hole at the ankle.

Once again, the key thing to look for with slim-fit pants is that narrow seat.


Bang Men's Button Down Short-SleeveHawaiian Shirt - Stretch Tapered Fit w/Front Pocket (Super POP - M)Both tapered and slim-fit button-down shirts have a tighter fit than a classic, straight-cut shirt. That said, the two styles fit the body in different ways.

First, just to avoid any confusion, a classic dress shirt is what you might think of as a “dad” shirt. It usually has straight sides seams and a longer hem. Essentially, it provides loose comfort instead of a stylish shape.

Now that you have the picture of that baggy classic cut in your mind imagine a tapered shirt. This much more fitted cut uses curving seams that make the shirt pinch in at the waist. You often also see curved darts at the back of the shirt, taking in even more fabric and giving the dress shirt wide shoulders and a pinched waist.

A slim-fit shirt does have a more narrow waist than a classic style, but it also has tighter sleeves and less room in the chest and shoulders. This tightly cut shirt does limit your range of movement somewhat, but it fits perfectly beneath a suit jacket or blazer!


Amazon Essentials Women's Slim-Fit Half Sleeve Square Neck T-Shirt, Grey Heather White Stripe, MediumDefining a slim-fit vs a tapered t-shirt style gets a little more difficult. You often see the terms slim-fit, tapered, and fitted used interchangeably to indicate a t-shirt with curved side seams and a more close-fitting shape. On top of that, some manufacturers also call muscle shirts tapered, and vice versa!

In general, you will see t-shirts grouped into two much broader categories: the standard, unisex straight cut and the “fashion fit” that uses tailoring to give the t-shirt more of a human shape.

So, in short, you can find t-shirts labeled either slim-fit or tapered, but you will also see this style called fitted or fashion style.

All of the descriptions mean the same thing!

Tapered Fit vs Slim Fit Shirt

palglg Men's Bodybuilding Tapered Slim Fit Sweatshirts V Neck Active Hoodies Grey SThe main difference between a tapered and slim-fit dress shirt is that tapered shirts have looser sleeves, chests, and shoulder but tighter waists, while slim-fit shirts have contoured shoulders, tight-fitting sleeves, and a general slimmer fit all over.

Of course, within these different styles, you still need to determine the best size for you. Ideally, the shirt’s fabric will contour to your body, but not soo tightly that the buttons gap open!

Most of the time, you will find a description of the shirt’s style either in the online product description or on the clothing tag.

Some manufacturers may use the more generic term “tailored” to describe any fitted shirt. In this case, try on the shirt and see how tightly it hugs your chest and shoulders! This will help you figure out if the shirt has a slim-fit or tapered style.

Tapered Fit Trousers

Match Men's Slim Fit Casual Pants (30, 8083 Blue)Tapered fit trousers narrow in at the ankle but have a looser fit in the waist seat and thighs. This style creates a slender, V-like silhouette but does not cling to the body like skinny jeans. The fabric in the legs will look loose enough o hang naturally down toward the ankles instead of having the elasticky, wrinkled look of leggings or skinny jeans.

Most of the time, both men’s and women’s tapered trousers will get skinnier from the knee down to the ankle. This leaves plenty of room in the thigh area.

Tapered trousers give you popular women’s styles such as classic cigarette pants. For men, tapered trousers create a stylish appearance without restricting the range of movement, making them a popular workwear option!

What Are Slim Tapered Jeans?

slim taper jeansJust in case you haven’t already found yourself confused by all the fashion terminology, you can also occasionally come across a style known as slim tapered jeans!

You can think of this as a combination of slim-fit and tapered characteristics.

Slim tapered jeans have a more form-fitting seat and thigh area than most tapered jeans. Then, instead of the traditional straight leg of most slim-fit jeans, they do taper in at the ankle as well!

Slim tapered jeans get quite close to looking like skinny jeans, but typically they don’t have quite such a tight cling and often contain less spandex as well.

Tapered Loose Fit Jeans

No products found.Tapered loose-fit jeans have a relaxed fit in the seat and thigh area, but the pant legs still narrow toward the ankle. This look gives you additional comfort and range of movement!

You see this style more often in men’s wear than women’s wear. The upper portion of the jeans will look a lot like traditional straight-cut, kind of baggy jeans.

This style works well for big-boned people or anyone who struggles to find fitted clothing that accommodates large hips. Plus, if you have muscled thighs, this style feels airier and baggy and won’t give you that sweaty, jeans-sticking-to-your-skin feeling!

You may want to try wearing chunkier or more noticeable shoes to balance out the top-heavy tapered style of jeans, though!

How to Choose the Right Cut For You

The best way to choose between slim-fit or tapered styles is to try them on! You will quickly discover whether a tapered jean makes your seat area look big or if a slim-fit shirt clings a bit too much to your chest!

Once you know what cut you like in your pants, jeans, shirts, and t-shirts, you will find it much easier to search for and find exactly the style you like!

Besides the golden rule of trying it on to see what fits, check out these tips for finding just the right cut:

  • Take your measurements. Many clothing companies give fairly precise descriptions for sizes and styles, which can help you narrow down whether you want a slim-fit or tapered cut.
  • Know what looks you like! This may seem silly, but it helps to plan out what kinds of outfits you want to wear with the shirt or pants. For example, some skirts or trousers will look great with a slim-fit button-down, but others will look better with a shirt that has a tapered waist.
  • Be honest about your body shape. Unfortunately, lots of slim-fit styles look best on people with a slender, narrow body shape. If this rules you out, don’t feel bad! You may look great in a tapered style. Just go with the cut that looks best on you!


Slim-fit and tapered styles give clothing a more contoured appearance that trims away extra material. The main difference between these two popular cuts is that slim-fit clothing has a tighter fit all over, while tapered clothing usually has a broader top and a more narrow bottom. For example, tapered pants narrow in from the knee to the ankle, and a tapered shirt nips in at the waist.

Both slim-fit and tapered clothing styles remain popular in men’s and women’s wear. These styles create a tailored, modern look for both professional and casual outfits!

Have you even compared slim-fit and tapered jeans? Which did you like better? Leave a comment to let us know!