Straight Fit vs Relaxed Fit Pants Compared [What’s the Difference?]

We’ve all been there. You’re shopping for pants and you see two different types of fits, and it is hard to know how they differ. Both straight fit and relaxed fit pants are quite popular, and do have differences. How do straight fit vs relaxed fit pants compare?

Relaxed fit pants are almost always looser and baggier than straight fit pants. But it’s important to understand that the term “straight fit” can apply to both slim and loose pants. “Straight fit” just means the same width of cut is used both above and below the knee. Straight fit pants don’t narrow below the knee.

You can have both slim-straight pants and loose-straight pants. But if you come across pants that are described simply as “straight fit”, and wonder how tight they will fit, generally these types of pants have a regular width (neither too tight nor too loose), and combine that regular fit with a straight cut design that maintains that same width through the entire length of the leg, and does not narrow near the ankle.

If you’re trying to decide between getting straight fit or relaxed fit jeans, we’ve got you covered. In the following sections we will define each fit for you, so that you’re familiar with the terminology. Additionally, we’ll explore the benefits of each fit so that you can pick the right one for you.

Straight Fit vs Relaxed Fit Pants

What is Straight Fit?

Straight fit can be a bit confusing because it can apply to both slim and loose pants, but is also used on its own occasionally. Straight fit has to do with how the leg is shaped (meaning it doesn’t narrow below the knee), and it doesn’t necessarily communicate anything regarding how tight or loose the pants will fit against your thighs.

But, again, if you see pants that simply say “straight fit” it is usually reasonable to expect those jeans to have a regular, in-between fit that isn’t too loose or too baggy, and to combine that regular fit with a straight cut that does not narrow below the knee.

What is Relaxed Fit? 

Relaxed fit pants will fit looser than regular fit pants. The fit can vary a bit brand to brand, but relaxed fit pants are generally looser in the hips and thighs than regular fit pants.

But it is also important to note that relaxed fit pants are not the loosest fit you can buy. “Loose fit” is almost always the loosest fit you can buy in pants. Relaxed fit gives you extra room in the hips and thighs, but isn’t quite as baggy as loose fit.

Can There Be a Relaxed-Straight Fit?

If you paid close attention to the details of those definitions, you may have noticed that the “straight” and “relaxed” referred to different aspects of the pants. As we discussed above, “straight fit” is more about the shape of the legs, while the “relaxed fit” is more to do with the roominess of the pants. 

This is because the “straight” in straight fit is technically referring to the cut, while “relaxed” is truly referring to the fit. 

If that’s the case it’s only natural to ask if you can have a pair of pants that is both a straight and relaxed fit. Fortunately, the answer is a resounding yes. Many people enjoy straight-relaxed fit jeans for a comfy, casual fit. Relaxed straight jeans have a roomy cut both above and below the knee.

Straight vs Relaxed Fit Pros & Cons

Straight fit jeans work in most situations. They have a nice classic look, that doesn’t stand out too much but are still unique upon further inspection. They can sometimes be too tight in the thighs or too wide at the ankles for some people.

Relaxed fit jeans can make a person appear to be a bit thinner because they don’t hug onto the body the way regular and skinny do. They aren’t necessarily the best thing to wear when you’re at work, but they make for a comfortable, casual weekend pant.

Pros of Straight Fit Pants

Each of the following benefits are generally received from wearing straight fit jeans: 

  • Works for many circumstances: Straight fit pants look good whether you’re going casual or semi-formal. They’ve become a classic staple for this very reason. Still you have to make sure you look at what the actual fit is before you buy since “straight” technically refers to the cut. Regular for more formal wear and Relaxed for casual. 
  • They are currently in style: More people are finding that they like the nice consistent look of straight cut pants more than other similar types. These are on the rise, primarily because of their versatility and uniform design. 

Cons of Straight Fit Pants

The following cons of straight fit pants don’t make them not worth having, but less suitable at times: 

  • They can be too wide at the bottom: If you do end up going with straight-relaxed fit jeans, they may end up looking way too baggy at the bottom, since they will stay loose all the way down the leg. 
  • It can be difficult to find a good fit: Sometimes it can be difficult to find a good fit when you need a larger pair. Unfortunately, larger clothes in general are harder to find. 

Pros of Relaxed Fit Pants

The following pros of relaxed fit pants, make them great to have in anyone’s closet:

  • They’re really comfy: Baggy pants try to be comfy, but sometimes having all that extra room is a little… Well… Too much. If you try to move back to regular, however, you’ll find them a little too snug. Relaxed fit bridges that gap perfectly and provides you with some of the comfiest pants around. 
  • They fit well around the waist: These can fit well around the waist but still leave room so they’re not hugging your lower torso. 

Cons of Relaxed Fit Pants

The following cons of relaxed fit make them less suitable for certain situations, but no less comfy:

  • They aren’t professional: Relaxed fit jeans are more the kind you should wear on the weekends. They aren’t particularly great for semi-professional to professional settings because they look a little too loose. 
  • Not everyone likes them: While most people find relaxed fit comfortable, some people still find them too loose for their tastes. If you don’t like baggy, don’t write these off right away however. You should try them on and see how you feel instead. 

Which is Better, Relaxed or Straight Fit? 

Neither one of these sets of pants are better or worse than the other. It all has to do with the situation you’re in, your sense of style and what you’re trying to achieve with them. 

If you’re looking for something casual you can relax in, go with relaxed. If you want something you can wear at home and on a business casual day, go with straight. If you want a little bit of both, try out a straight-relaxed fit. 

Straight fit pants are just pants that have a consistent width of cut all the way down the legs. They don’t get wider or narrower near the bottom the way some other pant cuts do. “Relaxed” on the other hand simply refers to the general looseness of the pants. They aren’t as tight as regular or quite as wide as baggy. 

It’s important to remember that “straight” simply refers to the cut, while relaxed refers to the “fit.” You can always get them in combination as a “straight-relaxed fit.”

To read other fit articles, visit our resources linked below:

Going jeans shopping can be tedious. But don’t stress yourself out. Be sure to try to shop in person when you buy jeans. Pick a few different styles or sizes, try them all on and make a decision from there.

Paul Johnson

Paul is a lead content creator for Workwear Command. He has had several blue-collar jobs which have provided him a wide range of experience with tools and gear. He also has a business degree and has spent time in business casual office settings.

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