Straight Fit vs Slim Fit Pants Explained (2022)


The world of pants is a wide one… unless you’re talking about straight fit or slim fit (pun intended). There’s a lot of gray area when it comes to straight fit vs slim fit. While they do share some qualities, there are also a fair amount of differences. 

Neither fit is an overall better choice, but there is one that’s best for you. Both straight fit pants and slim fit pants are more tailored in design. In general, slim fit will be the tighter of the two, and show more shape, especially below the knee.  

Knowing the difference between these two styles can help you choose a fit that’s best for your body and maximizes the comfort level. More than likely, you’ll be wearing these pants for a good portion of your day, so they might as well look good and feel good. To find out more info on the straight fit vs slim fit pants battle, keep reading. 


Straight Fit vs Slim Fit Differences

Some of the differences between straight fit vs slim fit are brand dependent. There are also some companies that use both words in the name of some designs, making it all even more confusing.

Slim fit pants are usually more consistent across brands. Straight fit pants are generally a medium fit, making them looser than a slim fit, but just how much looser can vary by brand.

As an example, here are a pair of Levi men’s slim fit jeans (511) sitting on top of a pair of Levi men’s straight fit jeans (514):

slim-fit-vs-straight-fit

Again, that is just one example. Some straight fit pants may be a bit tighter than the jeans used in that example, but it is safe to assume that the slim fit pants will be the tighter of the two fits.

Let’s discuss more differences between slim fit vs straight fit pants, starting with the leg opening.

Differences in Leg Opening

As the name suggests, the leg opening of a pant is the very bottom part of the pants, where the hem is and where your feet come through. 

Straight Leg Pants – Leg Opening

Straight leg pants are the same width, all the way from the top of the leg to the bottom leg opening. This shape will look different on various body types due to the fact that our legs are all different sizes.

Because our legs naturally get smaller below the knee, a straight fit pant will look baggier below the knee than above the knee. Sometimes it’s easy to get confused because you’ll see a “slim-straight” pant or a “loose-straight” pant. And of course, there’s also just a plain “straight fit”.

A straight fit, again, simply means that the same width of cut is used below the knee as above the knee. A slim straight will be that same slim width above and below the knee. A loose straight will be that same loose width both above and below the knee.

When you see a pair of pants that is just referred to as a “straight fit”, in general, it usually means it is somewhere in the middle between slim and loose – more of a regular cut. A regular cut that is the same width both above and below the knee. It remains “straight” and doesn’t taper in.

But, again, “straight fit” can also be attached to both slim fit and loose fit jeans (slim-straight, loose-straight) just to mean that those pants carry the same width of cut both above and below the knee. But when you see “straight fit” by itself, it usually is a sort of medium fit.

Just expect your straight fit pants to be a little baggier below the knee due to the fact that our leg naturally narrows while the cut of the pants remains straight.

Here’s a look at the leg opening of a popular pair of Levi’s straight fit men’s pants:

leg-opening-514-levis-boot

Slim Fit Pants – Leg Opening

In slim fit pants, the leg opening is slightly smaller than the top part of the pant leg. Slim fit pants generally have a fit that tapers below the knee.

Slim fit pants are designed to be more form fitting, and because most legs are larger on top than on the bottom, slim fit pants must narrow below the knee to carry that fitted look below the knee.

If slim fit pants didn’t taper in, as the leg narrows below the knee, the fit would no longer appear slim. So the cut narrows below the knee in an attempt to show figure below the knee, just as it did above the knee.

Here’s a look at the leg opening of a popular pair of Levi’s slim fit men’s pants. They’re not skin tight, but they are close enough to the leg to show some shape:

leg-opening-511-boot

Cut Differences

Pants are cut and stitched together (in the most simplest terms) during production. The cut of the legs is the overall shape that they take on.

It’s worth noting that some of the more mass produced brands use a machine to make their cuts, which can affect the overall fit and whether or not it’s true to the design style. 

When machines cut large stacks of fabric, the pieces toward the top are going to be closer to the exact size than those at the bottom. The fabric at the bottom tends to be larger, making the pants less of an exact fit. 

Cut of Straight Leg Pants

Briefly mentioned above is how straight leg pants are exactly what they sound like, straight in the leg. Because our legs are bigger above the knee than below, straight leg pants tend to show some shape above the knee, and less shape below the knee.  

Some designers may sneak in a small design change here or there to straight fit pants, but overall, it’s safe to assume straight leg pants are straight down from the thigh through the leg opening.

Cut of Slim Fit Pants 

Again, slim fit pants are designed to be more form fitting. Since the opening at the bottom of the pants is smaller than the width at the hip, then the cut is a narrowing fit. Slim fit pants will generally show some shape both above and below the knee. 

Denim color and body shape can also create the illusion of slim fit pants being more extreme in the cut than they actually are, kind of like with straight leg pants. 


Straight Fit vs Slim Fit Similarities

There are also similarities between the two styles of pants. This makes it harder to shop and discern between the two, especially if you’re online shopping and can’t see how they fit and feel on your own body.

Rise

The rise is where pants sit on the waist. Right now, high waisted pants are very on trend. But, if you think back to a few years ago, low rise pants were all the rage. Straight leg and slim fit pants usually have a mid-rise, which makes them extra comfy for a longer work day.

Seat

The backside of a pair of pants, or the seat, is one of the most important parts. If it’s too small, it can cause major discomfort. If the seat is too big, it can make certain body parts look bigger than they are. 

Both straight pants and slim fit have similar sized seats, in proportion to the legs. Ideally, you want there to be a little bit of room in the back and front to account for movement, and so things don’t get pinched. These styles of pants allow for that room, without being too big or small. 

Of course, it’s important to note that all of this can vary by brand. Each designer will put a unique spin on their jeans.


Who Should Wear Slim Fit Pants?

Slim fit pants are made to show off the contour of the legs and waist. There’s not a lot of room in the front and back, so they can get uncomfortable for those that have more curves in those departments.

They also tend to be a little tighter in the thigh, which is great if that’s something you want to emphasize, but not ideal for concealing.

If you want to show off your figure, then slim fit pants will do the trick. Or if you need jeans for skinny legs, and feel like looser pants make your legs disappear, slim pants can help you bring out some of your shape.  

Who Should Wear Straight Pants?

Straight leg pants are much more movement friendly, since they have room to bloom. In most versions, they’re not as tight in the seat and front, so there’s less risk of pinching or bunching.

If you’re doing a lot of walking, climbing stairs, getting in and out of a car, or even just standing, straight leg pants are a great option. 

They still have the tailored, clean lines that slim fit pants provide, and the contemporary look. But, they’re usually just slightly less fitted (again, some styles can be in a looser cut).

They’re also a good choice for anyone that wants to show some figure, without overdoing it. If you are uncomfortable with slim pants, but don’t want to look sloppy, straight fit pants are a great option.

Straight pants are more universal than slim fit pants. They tend to look good on just about everyone. And, the comfort level is a giant bonus. 


Final Thoughts

Before you start shopping for your next pair of pants, make sure to carefully measure and follow the sizing charts for whichever brand or designer you’re choosing.

Sizing varies quite a bit by brand but can also be inconsistent within the same brand with different fits. So, keep that on the back burner when you begin your shopping. 

To read about other fit options, visit our article linked here:

Now that you know more about slim fit vs straight fit pants, you can choose one that will work best for your body. But, don’t forget to consider what you do during the day, and which style will be the most comfortable at work. 

For some jobs, fashion might be more or a concern than others. But either way, sacrificing comfort to wear pants that don’t make you look and feel great is not an option. A productive work day starts with a pair of the perfect pants. 

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.

Recent Posts