"I think all denim is summer appropriate," says Scott Morrison, the New York City-based designer behind 3x1's coveted WM3 crop fringe jeans. Given all the infinite possibilities in the denim world, it's not a surprising statement from someone with more than 15 years in the business. Having launched Paper Denim, Earnest Sewn, and most recently, 3x1 in 2011, Morrison knows that people are most drawn to denim with character and craftsmanship.
"Basic denim is down," continues Morrison, whose own 3x1 is a hit with premium denim enthusiasts. "Girls are looking for more of a fashion statement with their jeans, and guys are looking to find an amazing product," he says. Morrison believes it's a sign of the times. Denim is undergoing a renaissance, so there's no shortage of summer options right now.
Before you choose yours, read on for Morrison's expert-level tips on how to approach one of summer's biggest style dilemmas.
Lose the Weight
"Lightweight denim is a really simple solution. Any good denim store is going to have lots of it," says Morrison. "To start, look for denim that's 10 oz.—it's terrific for summer." If you want to go up in ounces, Morrison says that's OK, too. He adds that most people buy between 10-12oz. denim, which is a mid- to all-year round weight.
"It's more obvious that a lighter wash is more appropriate for summer, says Morrison. "But it also goes hand-in-hand with the vintage denim trend, which has a well-worn feel."
As for dark denim, it might be better to reserve that for special occasions. "A dark wash has a tendency to be dressier," explains Morrison. "But I'm not saying you can't wear dark denim in the summer!"
Crop It Out
"Right now, anything above the ankle is in," says Morrison. "That's going to continue into fall and next spring." In other words, now is the time to invest in an ankle-baring pair of jeans, if you haven't already. And guys, the same applies to you, too. Morrison notes that cut-off hems are just as popular with men as with women.
Keep It Professional
"There's always a limit, right?" says Morrison. "I wouldn't suggest wearing ripped and repaired jeans to work. And you probably don't need to wear a pair of crisp raw denim either." Instead, pick a simple jean that "looks appropriate for the environment you're going into," suggests Morrison.
Think Bigger Picture
"Jean jackets, cut-off shorts—these can be worn during the day and can be added on at night," says Morrison. Versatility will save you in the long run. He also points out: "It makes a lot of sense."
Below, see our favorite summer denim styles for men and women available right now.