How to Find Jeans for Big Athletic Thighs

July 22nd, 2014


As a former college basketball player, I can sympathize with our readers who have athletic thighs and a hard time finding jeans that fit properly.

I’ve certainly dropped some weight since my playing days, but I still have the proportions problem. If they fit in the waist, they’re way too tight in the thighs (which can’t be let-out in jeans). And if they fit in the thighs, then they are likely way too big in the waist.

So what’s the solution?

Here’s some tips:

  • Avoid anything with the words “Skinny” or “Matchstick”. These are not for you
  • Hit a large department store and try on as many brands/sizes/cuts as possible to find the closest fit. Be weary of “slim”, too. What you’re looking for is probably “Straight” or maybe even “Relaxed”
  • The trick is to find a pair that fits well through the thigh, even if they are a little big in the waist/seat. Remember they can be taken-in at the tailor, but cannot be let-out
  • Once you find the closest fit, wear them around the house for a day or two to pre-stretch them. Then bring them to your tailor to have them slimmed-down where needed
  • Keep in mind the waist/seat can’t be TOO big, as slimming it down brings the back pockets closer together
  • If you’re not experienced working with a tailor, consider brining a picture of the fit you’re looking for (being realistic with your body type). You can use the newly added Articles of Style LOOKBOOK to find inspiration.
  • Once you have your new jeans nipped to the perfect fit, don’t wash them! Try to go unwashed for as long as possible. If they get too funky, go with dry cleaning instead as this will avoid any possible shrinkage or fit changes.

Have any experienced with buying jeans for muscular thighs? Feel free to share any tips from your experience in the comments section below.

Thanks, as always, for reading. If you have any questions about our online custom menswear, feel free to contact us anytime. We look forward to serving as your personal tailor and stylist. 

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

Shop Custom Menswear Made in America


Take me to the Shop

  • Unknown

    get the stretchy jeans :)

  • Julien

    I have been racing BMX at a pretty good level since I was 4 (now 20) so my thighs grew up accordingly and it’s like all the testosterone in my body went there so I have big muscles and bones (and lots of hair…damn it!) on my lower body.
    It makes it really difficult to find a good pair but the best thing you can get is a tailor and even though I didn’t learn anything new in your short article, it’s good for people who didn’t know what to do.

    Thanks for that! :)

  • andrew baler

    hey guys! dan what about for skinny thighs and legs?

  • Lyle Wiens

    The Levi”s commuter jean is stretchy which is really nice when you want to sit and your already big thighs get even bigger. I’ve found these in the 504 cut in some stores…..for us “not-so-skinny” types.

  • Jordan G.

    I’m not a small guy (6′, 210, solid), and I’ve found what works best for me is a Slim Straight cut. They aren’t as thigh-hugging as a slim or skinny, and a 15-16″ leg works well since it doesn’t overshadow my size 10.5 shoes.
    The only danger in shopping by cut name however, is “Slim Straight” can mean a million different things from a million different brands. Not to mention that a 32″ length is apparently subjective (I have to cuff some pair, but not others).

    As others have noted, trying on the same cut from several stores is the best way to go. On top of that, take note of the feel of the denim. Softer denim will be much more forgiving than sturdy, stiff denim.
    Oh, I also avoid the washer as much as possible, and when I do wash, it’s on gentle and I lay them flat to dry. Keeps them fitting just how I like!

  • Owen

    Another thing to think about is the leg length and how it affects the waist/thigh size. One would assume that waist size is independent of the length because the sizes are written this way (32/32, 32/34 etc). In actual fact if you go up in leg length, the waist and thigh will usually be slightly more roomy too, for example 32/34 trousers can have a 33 waist. So if you find a jean that is too tight, try the same waist but with a longer leg. You can then have the length shortened as it is a much simpler and cheaper process than having jeans taken in or tapered.

  • TO

    I came across a NYC brand on that makes ‘bespoke jeans’ and I had to share it here.

    Link- http://3×

    (No mention of price and it’s only in NYC)

  • WellBuiltStyle

    I’ve actually got a post in the works about this.

    From a personal standpoint I have thighs that are over 25.5″ at the thickest point but wear a 32inch waist jeans.

    My recommendation is to go with the Levi’s 501s and size UP (I go with a 34). I then have a tailor nip the waist a bit and then slim them below the knee/taper the leg opening.

    For a total cost of about $75 I have myself a perfect pair of jeans that fit immaculately through the thigh.


  • VQ

    I’m 5’8″ and have pretty large thighs from years of basketball and running. I got
    into raw denim only a few years ago and found the best fit for me so far has
    been the Ladbroke Grove by Tellason. It’s made from Cone Mills denm and
    it’s a mid-rise jean with room around the thighs and tapers below the
    knee to give the appearance of a slim/skinny silhouette yet feels
    comfortable and doesn’t make me feel like I’m wearing tights.

  • Mdon

    Real advice! Love your content. Practical, equipping knowledge.

    • Dan Trepanier

      Thanks KABOOM

  • ChrisD

    Denim fit is something I’ve spent AGES (and several hundred $) on..

    1. GO TO STORES and try things on, even if they’re out of your price range. Find the perfect fit and take measurements of that pair! (Barney’s has an ok selection, or go to a boutique like self edge for the raws).

    2. Waist will stretch more than thighs – so don’t be afraid of a tight waist. If you can button it all the way, it will relax in time. You will regret sizing tightly on thighs.

    3. To answer the “How much will it stretch?” question – It will become more comfortable with wear, but don’t rely on it to change aesthetically. Stretching takes more like 2 weeks for raw jeans.

    Some of my shorter friends with larger thighs like lower-rise tapered jeans (see Naked and Famous Weird Guy’s). It helps that they sit a little lower so your thighs have a bit more room being further from the knee. At 6’1 though, this makes me look like a skater, but works well on shorter dudes.

    • Jordan Pennekamp

      What have you found that works well? I’m looking for something with a higher rise…

      • ChrisD

        Maybe someone else can chime in regarding more inexpensive stuff (like Levis, 511 has a buttcrack-rise but im sure there’s other models like 501..) but most of the more expensive japanese stuff is mid to high-rise. Websites always have rise measurements – check or

        Currently loving my pair of 3sixteen+ 21BSP, mid-rise (but I have slim thighs)

      • Dennis J.

        I’ve had a hard time finding denim that fits my thighs and covers my butt; most of these brands have too low of a rise. Check out Boga – they have a fit that’s for more muscular builds and the rise is actually on point.

    • Dan Trepanier

      FANTASTIC FEEDBACK. Thank you ChrisD!

    • Brock

      Great points all around. Gonna weigh in on the last part though. At 5’6″ I usually tell shorter guys to avoid low rise when possible, unless they have unusually long legs and short torsos. Most shorter guys should go with medium rise (or “short” rise if you can find it). Help raise the perceived waistline and make you look taller.

  • Shaun

    I’d also highly recommend SWRVE jeans ( These jeans are designed for cyclists. I think their straight leg is probably too big, but their skinny fit actually has a fairly generous spacing around the thighs. The crotch in this brand is gusseted, so its perfect for riding a bike, but also gives more room for us thunder-thighed types. The denim is also way more durable than Levi’s.

  • tommyjohn_45

    Man, you’re preaching to the choir here. I’ve never truly felt comfortable in a pair of jeans. Typically I would just settle for the snug thigh, you know, give the ladies a little something to enjoy ;) . My tailor, although very very skilled, does not work with jean fabrics (doesn’t have the necessary equipment). Will have to be on the lookout for someone who can, I guess!

    • Dan Trepanier

      Yea, your tailor needs a chainstitch machine to properly finish the hem on denim. Good thing he’s honest, instead of botching them with a traditional machine.

  • Cole I

    I just went through a six-month process of trying to find the right jeans. I have big thighs too. Levi’s 513 is pretty much a combination of the top half of 514s and the bottom half of 511s. It works pretty well. Having said that, I ultimately settled on a pair of Unbranded 101s (skinnies), which have more thigh-friendly proportions in their larger sizes (I’m a 36 in Unbranded). They look great.

    • Christian

      Actually, the 513’s are slimmer than the 514’s in the top block, and wider than the 511’s in the bottom. (I wear a 38 in 513’s, 36 in 514’s)

  • Benjamin Hunter

    Unrelated question that I nonetheless demand an answer for: where does one acquire pairs of jeans whose rises are not halfway down one’s buttocks? It seems that “low rise” is the new standard but some dapper gentlemen still favor a more traditional settling on the hips.

    • cam

      I have some Ralph Lauren jeans that have a medium to higher rise than most in my opinion

    • TO

      I had APC New Standards a few years ago and If I remember the rise isn’t too low on them.

    • ChrisD

      I’m with you. Check out some of the more traditional japanese brands. They can be pricey, but they do full-rise very well. Samurai, Iron Heart, FlatHead as examples

    • Dennis J.

      I’d check out Boga – they have a fit called the Otto that fits my big “buttocks” perfectly. I like slim/ tailored jeans, though.

  • Miguel

    I think you also have to be careful about the material, if the jean says 30% or 50% spandex that should be a warning sing since they’ll stretch on you over time specially if you wash them.

    • TO

      I think thought that this is a good thing. If a jean or pant has stretch and they fit you, for someone with the thigh problem, then 1) they will stretch over the thighs and fit more comfortable at first and 2) they will eventually stretch out by losing elastic properties which means they will fitt looser, in this case better, in the thighs long-term.

      30-50% spandex is way too much though and they will look like women’s pants (the real answer to “how do you fit all that in dem jeans??”) and of course stretch out too much over time. 2% elastine in my experience has been somewhat helpful, maybe around 5% would still work.

  • Shawn

    I’ve got some pretty muscular thighs/quads (and hefty body proportions in general). I find the Levi’s 514 (straight) fit me the best.

    Guys with big legs and/or big upper body would benefit from ditching the too tapered leg openings (going for a straight instead of a skinny cut) which would cause a carrot-looking profile.

  • JBells

    I’ve done what Dan has suggested and tried on many different brands. The problem I have found is not only in the thighs but in the short rise of many jeans. A large seat makes jeans with a short rise extra tight. I’ve found nudie’s “steady eddy” fit the best and have a nice taper. Being a student on a budget I’m going to have to settle for 508s. Which are a bit bigger than I would like in the waist

  • Johnc

    I recently bought a pair of custom jeans from Traveller Denim in Austin, TX. They have a bit of a backlog but the final result was great, I’m going to wear these things forever. I visited their shop – I can’t say for sure how they’d work with remote customers, but they do know what they’re doing and the customer service was excellent.

  • David Shapiro

    I feel like this is a support system for guys with athletic thighs, not saying it’s a bad thing. At 6’6″ 225lbs, finding pants that fit has been a struggle. We all would like that nice tapered look and to get it, we just just have to get a little more creative. Some jeans that have worked are DL Denim ‘Vince’ fit and AG Denim ‘Protege’ or ‘Graduate’. These jeans have a good amount of stretch which is pretty nice. But, for more of a real denim feel the Fidelity ‘5011’ works. All of these are pretty standard premium denim prices at around $170.

  • Nicolas

    Hi! I’m french, and i have the same problem, because of an intense cycling during my young years. Gustin makes the perfect jeans. Their slim jeans are the best for me. You should give it a try!
    So, yes, i’m fench and all my jeans come from SF, California.

  • Josh Moulder

    Thank god! I’ve needed an article like this, I’ve always had big legs, which have grown since joining the gym
    Skinny jeans are like jeggings, if i can get them on
    Slim jeans are now skinny jeans
    Straight are now slim
    It’s not fun

  • cam

    This brings up an interesting thought I’ve meant to ask Dan in the past. Have you any experience with any m2m denim jean services? I honestly didn’t even run a Google search to see if any exists but haven’t seen/heard of any in the #menswear communities. I have to think a perfect fitting pair would be worth the investment.

    • Lothar

      Yeah, I did the Levi’s MTM in New York. DON’T do it. Big waste of money. I guess I lived and learned, but — gosh — I would love to have that money back.

      • TO

        Thanks for sharing that! Interesting…
        What do you think was the problem?

        • Lothar

          For $750 you choose between one of two of their standard fits, between a handful of indistinguishable shades of raw denim, and between a dozen or so accent thread colors. You can also choose the color of the tag on the back of the waistband. Then they pin you, and you wait about 6 weeks for your jeans to be made.

          What did I end up with? A pair of $750 jeans that haven’t loosened up nearly as much as I felt like they assured me they would. So unless I want to feel like I look like an idiot, I can’t wear these jeans that I spent too much money on. And I can’t get my money back because they don’t offer refunds, which I knew going in.

          In my opinion, the Levi’s MTM program is not so much about fit as it is about details that probably very few people care about or notice. You’re better off buying a pair of premium denim jeans (any brand) that fit you pretty well and then going to a tailor and having him take care of you. Overall it will cost you no more than 1/3 of what I paid. (You could even do it with a pair of premium denim Levi’s in one of the two cuts their MTM offers, and you’d still save hundreds of dollars.)

          In hindsight, I was too optimistic about the Levi’s program and too trusting of their employees. I’d never bought raw denim before, and I was intimidated by it, and I thought it would be worth the extra money to get advice from “experts.” In the end, it was not. The results sucked.

          • TO

            Pretty brutal man..

    • ChrisD

      I would think it’s hard to execute this with denim due to stretching and shrinking. It took me a few pairs (and thus a few hundred bucks and a year or two) to be able to experimentally determine if a pair will work when I put them on. Everyone’s body stretches denim differently, every denim shrinks differently.
      Made to measure denim would be guesswork.

  • Fastballontheblack

    I’m a college baseball pitcher who is 6’3″ 205lbs. I tend to wear a more fitted look and found that slim straight jeans fit well in the thighs and waist. Being a pitcher i have very muscular thighs and the slim straights aren’t too tight and like Dan said in the post just wear them around the house a few days to break them in to your liking.

  • Mitko

    Although my thighs aren’t huge I do have an athletic body and I used to have this problem a lot with jeans. I found that the Levi 508s work really well for me, they are slim through the thigh without being too tight and taper down at the ankle. The waist is a bit loose but a good belt fixes that for me

  • Guest

    Well, I wouldn’t call myself out with “muscular thighs” but I do have an atheletic frame and some of jeans in my wardrobe fit in the waist and have a great taper to the ankle but the thigh area kind of billows out making me look like a Canadian Mountie lol. I know tailoring will fix this but is there any other solution where I won’t have to spend extra money and time at the tailor??

    • Mauro

      Hugo Boss my friend, Hugo Boss!!!