HOME > Trends >



Written by in Trends on the

How to Wear Spray-On Denim

Dress for your body type – it’s a phrase that brings up overly critical women’s magazine pieces that essentially tell the reader to do everything to hide her imperfections. Men’s mags, in a sense, do the same thing, albeit with a softer touch and a less-snide and infantilising tone. The goal, often, is steering the reader toward dressing his best, from colours to fits, without that heavy dose of body shaming dressed up as faux-sisterhood rhetoric. So, through this lens, where do spray-on jeans fit? Also going by names like 'ultra-skinny' and 'jeggings,' spray-on jeans have a very specific design: Tight and shapely, but never constricting, with a higher percentage of elastane to create that effect. But, it’s an item that despite being a staple of Topman’s, River Island’s, and ASOS’ lines for close to five years, feels like an outlier in the menswear industry – essentially a super-casual silhouette that only looks good on a select few and should be specifically styled.

At their core, spray-on jeans get their stretchiness from a combination of cotton, polyester, and elastane. You can slide them on without trouble, and if you’ve selected the right fit, they don’t chafe once you’re wearing them. On the other hand, you could very well say these same things about a pair of meggings. What differentiates spray-on jeans is the texture: There still has to be a hint of the woven-and-dyed process. And, while more men sport cropped styles these days, anything this skinny and stretchy should always taper down to the ankle. So, if you’re new to spray-on jeans, where do you begin? We offer a few of our own tips, and also we had a chance to speak with the denim professionals at River Island and Topman too.

Finding the Right Fit  

At one point, men wanting the ultra-skinny look went to the women’s section. That’s more acceptable compared to 10 years ago – see the second season of Netflix’s Queer Eye for an example – but it’s still filled with the same issues. Tight stretchy jeans are cut for a women’s figure – think mid-rise, a thinner waist, wider hips, and less room from the hips on down. Arbitrary sizing doesn’t help either, unless you want to go through 10 pairs in a department store dressing room. As more men’s brands stock spray-on jeans, however, you’ve got options better-suited to your body type. The thing to think about is how much you want to show. For guys, ultra-skinny denim tends to be a statement piece with limitations – you won’t be tucking in your button-down or even wearing it with a polo. As well, the fit and material aren’t terribly forgiving when it comes to your body. Any insecurities you have will be accented, if not magnified by the woven material. Now’s not the time to think about how to cover things up.


At Topman, getting that sculpted-but-not-too-revealing look is the ultimate goal. For its 32 styles covering a range of washes and detailing, the brand uses power stretch denim specifically for this purpose. “Topman’s spray-on jeans feature a short rise and low waist, and are cut from power stretch denim that allows further flexibility,” a spokesperson told us. “The jeans are designed to complement the Topman customers’ leg shapes, with a super-skinny look.” For a good fit, spray-on jeans should always have some degree of stretch, a senior stylist at River Island told us. Beyond that, think about where the waist falls – high or even a little low flatters a man’s body shape. Along with these factors, proportions further play a factor – just like they do with boardshorts. Generally, the wider the waist is, the less skinny a leg should be. So, if your waist tends to be broader, or even if you have bulkier thighs, consider a traditionally skinny cut – slim and tapered but with some room, thicker material that won’t stick to the skin, and usually a higher percentage of cotton – instead.


How to Style Spray-On Denim 

“The beauty of a spray-on jean is that you can style them with everything – from loose T-shirts to printed shirts,” the spokesperson from Topman told us. “This season, we have rips, fringes, and statement prints in a variety of washes, allowing the Topman customer to opt for a smart or urban look.” This variety expands the potential styling options, but first and foremost, think about what you pair with the jeans. As a general baseline, never go for the tight head-to-toe look – it’s as if a pro cyclist decided to suddenly start wearing denim on the road. Whatever you wear on top needs to have some space for a noticeable contrast. But, your shirt and jacket shouldn’t be too loose or draped; at that point, especially if you’re wearing a pattern, it seems as if you’re attempting to wear a muumuu with denim. Rather, get in the mindset that while your look shouldn’t be baggy, it won’t be crisply tailored. Spray-on jeans fall within the realm of streetwear, and these sharp casual essentials make a solid starting spot: Short-sleeve, boxy button-ups, bomber jackets, straight-fitting tees, and even a Cuban collar shirt falling to the hips.

Pre London
Pre London

From here, think about the vibe you give off. With tees, bombers, and even moto jackets, go minimalist and monochrome, with black or solid white skinny jeans. For an example, look at how Dutch EDM producer Nicky Romero has been dressing these days. But, if you decide to add some rips and accessories, take inspiration from grunge rockers. The stylist at River Island recommended to start with “Ankle boots and pair it with a nice black denim shirt, belts, some necklaces and bracelets, to add an edge to your look.” Or, go in the opposite direction once the weather warms up. You’d think nothing about wearing mint, ice blue, or pale pink chinos, so try the same thing out with your spray-on jeans. In this instance, think about the rules of styling pastel shades in general – stay light or look for contrasts, and be conscious of the material.

Ivan Yaskey

Philadelphia’s streetwear scenes and working as a copywriter for a Boston-based menswear brand sparked Ivan's passion for fashion and style more than a decade ago.

previous post
next post