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Black jeans are a wardrobe staple – whether you’re a rockstar, a platinum-selling rapper or a normal dude. Since the beginning of the rock-and-roll movement, musicians of almost every genre have opted for black jeans, utilizing the garment’s rebellious edge and effortless style. But denim’s dark side is now for everyone. The best black jeans are an easy-to-wear part of any wardrobe, no matter your personal style.
Musicians have long been adopting and popularizing certain pieces of clothing, but the rise of black jeans was different. When Levi’s wanted to test their new black jeans in the fifties (the first real brand effort to sell black denim) they turned to the king of rock – Elvis – who was making Jailhouse Rock at the time. After Elvis was spotted wearing the new Levi’s in the film, black jeans became the uniform of post-war rebellion.
Although Levi’s was uncertain about their new product’s popularity with American subculture, no one could stop teenagers from rocking black jeans. Other rebellious musicians, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, quickly solidified black denim’s place in rock-and-roll culture. Since then, black jeans have stuck around through punk and grunge fashion (on the likes of The Clash and Nirvana, respectively) and late nineties rock with bands like Green Day.
Most recently, black jeans returned in a skinny, tattered form thanks to rappers like Lil’ Wayne, Kanye West, Future and many more.
Today, you can find black jeans on everyone from Lil Baby to the stylish guy in your office, who knows how easily a good pair of black jeans can transition to work-appropriate to night on the town. If you’re looking to unlock some rebellious, music-inspired fashion, check out our picks for the best black jeans below.
1. Levi’s 501
The jeans that started it all – Levi’s 501s – are still one of the best pieces in any denim collection. In black, they might even be more versatile than classic blue 501s because you can wear them a little dressy as well as casually. The 501’s fit is straight and classic, sitting at the waist with room to move throughout.
2. Saint Laurent Skinny Jeans
In the 21st century, rock-and-roll style has gone Haute with designers masterfully integrating the throwback look into their premium pieces. These Saint Laurent jeans are the epitome of modern, high-end rocker style. In true punk rock fashion, they’re a skinny fit, although a slight stretch makes them comfortable enough to wear all day. We recommend wearing them with Chelsea boots and an old T-shirt for best effect, although they’ll pair with just about anything.
3. Acne Studios North Jeans
Acne Studios is another go-to for premium denim (rockstar-inspired or otherwise). These North jeans are some of Acne’s best, offering a form-fitting look that would make any rockstar jealous. However, thanks to a cotton-blend fabric with polyester and elastane, the jeans are comfier than anything the rockstars used to wear. Overall, they’re extremely low-key, although the pink-tipped patch on the back lets in-the-know fashion lovers what brand you’re wearing.
4. Wrangler Cowboy Cut Silver Jean
For a more old-school, Johnny Cash-inspired look, check out these black Cowboy Cut Wranglers. The brand has been making a comeback recently (along with other western wear staples) making the jeans a great buy at the moment. This specific pair is slim fit but, unlike most slim jeans, also features a wider lower leg. This is intended for use with cowboy boots but also lends a seventies look that pairs just as well with throwback sneakers.
5. 7 for All Mankind Paxtyn Ripped Skinny Fit Jeans
Tattered jeans got their start in the punk movement, and have since become a staple of hip-hop and streetstyle. But now that distressed has become stylish, designing jeans with rips, holes and tatters is an art form mastered by few. We think these Paxtyn jeans from 7 for All Mankind do a great job of introducing some edge that’s upscale yet still punk. The fit is slim, making the jeans comfortable for all-day wear. Try rocking them with elevated basics (say, clean sneakers and a plain tee) or with other rockstar-inspired pieces like a leather jacket and combat boots.
6. A.P.C. New Standard Jeans
If you’re looking for a grown-up pair of black jeans, check out these straight-fit New Standard jeans from A.P.C. The French brand has become a go-to for high-end staples, and the jeans are a great example: they’re clean, classic and easy to wear with anything. The fabric is a premium Japanese selvedge denim, but at 11.75 oz, it’s lightweight for year-round use. We recommend wearing them with other high-end staples such as modern sneakers and a crisp button-up.
7. Amiri Half Track Distressed Jeans
At just seven years old, Amiri is already a favorite with rappers (you can hear the likes of Gunna and Polo G spitting bars about the brand). And with pieces like these Half Track skin jeans, its easy to see why Amiri is now a serious flex. They modernize the rockstar aesthetic with motocross and streetstyle inspiration in the form of die-tye pleated panels and zippered seams. The jeans are a definitive statement piece, and we think they look best with other bold pieces like designer tees and grail-worthy sneakers.
8. Balmain Raw Denim Biker jeans
Another brand that has found a home in the modern hip-hop wardrobe is Balmain. The French label’s most famous piece right now is the biker jeans. Complete with ribbed patches on the knee and seat, plus unique slit pockets, the jeans are now instantly recognizable – despite their low-key character. As far as styling them, you’ve got a few options. You can wear them like a rapper with statement sneakers, a designer hoodie and plenty of chains, or you can rock them with minimalist pieces like Allbirds and a simple button-up shirt.
9. Alexander McQueen Black Paneled Jeans
Alexander McQueen has always maintained a rockstar persona in the high-fashion world with controversial shows and edgy designs. The jeans are no different, elevating the normal slim-fit jeans with a tonal stripe down the outseams and details like logo-engraved silver-tone hardware. We like them because they can be a statement piece when worn with minimal basics, but they can also blend in when paired with bigger, bolder pieces.
10. Off-White Stacked Flared Jeans
If you really want to flex, pick up these Off-White jeans. With flared bottoms, a high waist, prints and unique details, they’re a boisterous convergence of rock and rap aesthetics. The jeans are certainly loud, but if any brand can pull it off, it’s the Virgil Abloh-helmed Off-White. Wear them on nights out – or when you just feel like making a statement – with other bold pieces.