Online Shopping Picks: The Best Men’s Lightwash Denim for Spring

Editor’s note: For online shopping picks primed to get you ready for spring, head here.

Lightwash denim is an ideal spring style move -- if you're feeling adventurous, it can even work with a dark denim jacket. 484 Jeans by J. Crew. Denim jacket by American Apparel. Loafers by G.H. Bass Patterned NATO strap by The Knottery and watch by Timex. Photo credit: Khoa Nguyen.
Lightwash denim is an ideal spring style move — if you’re feeling adventurous, it can even work with a dark denim jacket. 484 Jeans by J. Crew. White henley by Target Merona. Denim jacket by American Apparel. Loafers by G.H. Bass Patterned NATO strap by The Knottery and watch by Timex. Photo credit: Khoa Nguyen.
Guess what, folks? Just like that, it’s almost April! That means that if you haven’t already, it’s high time to incorporate some spring style trends into your wardrobe. Recent #menswear shopping picks on this site have covered broader categories like great spring outerwear and stylish spring sweaters, but today’s post goes a bit more specific. If you read this blog, follow me on Instagram or have checked out some of my other writing work (thanks, by the way!), then you’ll know all too well that I love the styling power of dark, sturdy denim. But lightening up colors, textures and washes is a great way to switch up your wardrobe and get really into spring and summer — all the while wearing denim (trust me, it’s crucial if you find it odd to wear shorts a lot, like this fella). So the below shopping picks are going more relaxed, casual and spring-ready — it’s certainly tougher to dress up lightwash denim, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be a solid pick-up for weekends or more casual work or class days. Got all that down? Good. Got a credit card handy? Even better.

#1. Mott & Bow Slim Baxter Jean in Medium Blue — $108

Roll 'em, cuff 'em, wear 'em about any way you please.
Roll ’em, cuff ’em, wear ’em about any way you please.
If you’re a bit wary of shelving your chinos or dark denim, ease into it with a comfortable pair of denim that still retains more than enough dark color to satisfy the selvedge fans among us. These aren’t a classic, super light color, but they’ll do. The Baxter from Mott & Bow makes use of the brand’s 5-month wash, incorporates some comfortable stretch, and comes at a price that’s pretty darn agreeable compared to your typical pair of raw denim. Throw in that home try-on program and that’s an A-plus pair of spring denim for you.

#2. JackThreads Slim Denim in Light Wash — $59

Decidedly lighter and constructed with a slim fit.
Decidedly lighter and constructed with a slim fit.
Whereas pick no. 1 on this list goes for a darker color (and retails at a higher price point), option no. 2 leans decidedly lighter in wash and, one might say, decidedly more retro. This pair of JackThreads denim  might be what you more commonly think of when reaching for a pair of lightwash jeans (see this post here, for example). But the way JT crafts its products, these should be an excellent value — perfect if you don’t feel like dropping $100-plus on a pair of jeans for your rotation.

#3. J. Crew 770 Jean in Leroy Wash — $125

Casual style potential and a more forgiving fit characterize the Leroy.
Casual style potential and a more forgiving fit characterize the Leroy.
For those of us that would prefer to stick with a slightly better-known mainstay, J. Crew’s back at it  this spring with the Leroy Jean in its 770 fit. That means, most importantly, that it’s cut with more room in the thigh and waist for those among us who don’t prefer (or can’t quite fit into) slimmer jeans. This writer’s a fan of the 484 fit from J. Crew, but the 770 has proven itself among the menswear contingent as a solid back-up option. As to the price, well… you could stick around for a sale, but know that the denim is coming from Japan.
Florsheim

#4. Bonobos The Jetsetter Jean — $168

A rough-and-tumble wash gives this denim a unique look.
A rough-and-tumble wash gives this denim a unique look.
Is it just me, or have Bonobos denim prices hopped up a bit in recent years? At any rate, this stretch denim features 2 percent elastane built in (like some pairs of Mott & Bow denim), and should fit as solidly as Bonobos’ famous chinos.  The Medium Blue wash leans decidedly darker than some of its counterparts on this list, so it could more easily be paired with, say, a navy blazer and a white Oxford (although that would be a solid combination with any pair on this list). Rock these guys just as they’re shown on the brand’s Web site — with brown suede chukkas — and you’ve got a casual style combo ready for date nights or days at the office.

#5. Ace Rivington Italian Comfort Denim in Medium Vintage Wash — $239

A more classic fit and medium vintage wash tie right into the quality one expects from an American-made brand.
A more classic fit and medium vintage wash tie right into the quality one expects from an American-made brand.
While this pair of denim isn’t as light in color as its counterparts here, it’s the way to go if you want an incredibly sturdy (and pricey) pair of washed denim. Ace Rivington takes the quality and construction of its garments as seriously as its unique backstory, and that’s resulted here in a quality pair of more classic-leaning denim. They feature a slim, tapered fit (it won’t be overly skinny) and a medium rise. Note that this pair comes with a 34-inch inseam — so these might need to be rolled, or they can simply be cuffed to your liking. Either way, you’re getting a middle-of-the-road that’s another nice way to ease into lightwash denim.

If you still find yourself scouring the far corners of the Internet for a great pair of lightwash denim, know that there were a few brands that didn’t make the cut here. Specifically, classic retailers like Old Navy are producing lightwash jeans with a hint of stretch, and you can even snap up slim-fit jeans in a lighter wash from Target’s Mossimo line for an excellent price.  When picking up your pair and styling them, pair them with the same style staples as you might a slim pair of dark denim — think rugged short-sleeve henleys, a printed short-sleeve shirt or a classic white Oxford to start. Don’t worry — there’s plenty of time to grab your pair and get on the lightwash denim (which is totally a thing, trust me).

Did I miss any picks? Let me know on Twitter!

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