It’s a topic fiercely debated between the traditionalists and the more fashion forwards as to whether polished dress shoes make for appropriate men's attire teamed with a pair of jeans. While fashion does still have its rule book, it’s mostly a matter of personal taste and style. Jeans are a go-to wardrobe staple look for many casual men's outfits, and they do look incredibly smart paired with leather dress shoes and a sports-style blazer. It’s the perfect marriage between classic and contemporary.
So yes, you can absolutely wear dress shoes with jeans, but as we’ve already established, there are a couple of essential considerations, by which you should abide.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to fashion. There are many opinions and recommendations as to what looks better, what is more comfortable, what is more fashionable and socially acceptable. Sometimes you need a slightly more formal look, without having to pull out the tux and black tie.
Men's jeans are generally thought of as being casual and less formal. However, jeans are recently becoming accepted as formal wear after being dressed up to formal status. Dress shoes for men are generally known for being the height of formality. They're the type of shoes you would pair with a suit to a black-tie affair.
The question on everyone’s mind now is: “Is it even possible to pair my jeans with dress shoes?” The short answer is, “Yes! Of course, you can.” There are, however, a few rules you need to abide by to pull the look off well and not look like you're fashion-challenged.
How to Choose the Right Jeans
The type, fit, denim color, and form of your jeans are crucial to pulling off this look. The darker the color of denim, the better and also the dressier too. Think smart casual jeans as opposed to distressed looking ones. You need to invest in the kind that fit and flatter your shape and are a good standard length that sits nicely against the heel of your shoe. Under no circumstances should you ever consider wearing boot cut jeans with your smart dress shoes. That is just a fashion crime on so many levels. Don’t team your dress shoes with ripped jeans or trendy stone washes either.
Keep the denim classic, in a regular straight leg cut, and you'll look sharp and sophisticated. Colored denim jeans can also look great with a nice dress shoe, especially a dark brown one which provides lots of versatility when it comes to color combinations. You could try khaki denim, for example with a brown brogue shoe. This kind of combination is great for business casual and smart casual occasions, especially when worn with a classic white buttoned-down dress shirt and an effortlessly stylish blazer.
With such a wide variety of jeans available on the market, you need to make sure you have just the right pair to pull the look off. From different colors to different cuts and styles, pick a pair of jeans that don’t look like your run-of-the-mill casual jeans. In other words, find a pair of jeans that look dressier than your average pair of casual jeans.
It's important to remember that you can't just throw on any old jeans and expect the outfit to work well. Some planning and thought is necessary to make sure you don't end up committing a fashion faux pas.
How to classify casual jeans for men
It’s easy to pick out casual jeans since they're usually the ones that have a lighter wash, are ripped or have holes of any kind or distressed denim. These styles are a great fashion trend, but they scream casual. So, it’s best to avoid them if you're planning on wearing dress shoes.
The reason for that is they make two very different statements when it comes to the style. Casual clothing items are casual for a reason. They're meant to be worn under everyday circumstances and show a more relaxed attitude. Meanwhile, less casual clothing items are meant to display a more serious attitude that is considered to be more acceptable at a formal event or workplace environment.
How to classify dress jeans
Dressier jeans are those that fit well around the hips and waist. They're at a particular length so as not to drag on the ground but are not so short the tops of your shoes are seen. Bootleg jeans are not ideal for a more dressed up look. It’s better to opt for jeans that are more tapered at the bottom. When it comes to the cut of your jeans, avoid anything baggy and instead pick a pair that is a regular or slim cut.
In terms of color, opt for darker shades of black or indigo. Experiment with different colored denim, and you'll find that many colors work well with both dark brown and black dress shoes. If you're unsure about which kinds of dress jeans will work best for you, then you can always seek out professional help. Putting certain kinds of looks together can be a learning process, so there's no shame in getting a little help to achieve the right look. The good news is there are multiple styles of dress jeans out there that can help you to get the right style.
The Skinny Cut
Skinny jeans are a popular cut for men right now and work incredibly well with dress shoes. Their sleek and fitted look gives you a more streamlined look and works perfectly with a good pair of men's loafers. Wearing men's loafers with jeans will help you project a stylish business casual outfit.
While this style may not be ideal for everyone, it can work when you put it together with the right dress shoes. Like with other kinds of jeans, you'll also want to avoid holes, worn areas, or other more casual features. It can also be a good idea to pair this look with a belt just to ensure you're getting the best possible fit from your jeans.
The Slim Fit
If you prefer a slim fit style of jeans, you can achieve the same results without squeezing into a pair of skinnies. If you have a more athletic build, then these are probably the best option for you. Pair the slim fit with a pair of Dr. Martens since they're a little bulkier and create the contrast you need. These can often provide a little more comfort than skinny cut jeans and may be slightly more suitable to work or more formal situations.
Generally speaking, it's a good idea to find a pair of jeans that fit well. The better the fit, the classier, the overall look is going to be. Jeans that aren't quite the ideal fit can bring down the level of style, even if they're generally considered to be a good dress option.
How to Pick the Right Dress Shoes
The blue jeans are only one side of the story, though. Your dress shoes are also important in pulling off the look that combines jeans and dress shoes perfectly. Dress shoes themselves come in various degrees of formality, so opt for something that has a bit more of a casual vibe, like a loafer for men, for example, or even a Derby dress shoe. Another fantastic option teamed with jeans is a beautiful, high-quality leather dessert boot. These look fabulous with jeans.
To meet in the middle ground, it's advised that you pick a pair of dress shoes that are slightly more casual, allowing you to bridge the gap between the casual jeans and the formal dress shoes. You should also avoid the more formal shoes like Oxfords as they won't pair well with jeans. Instead, opt for styles such as the Loafer, the Blucher, or the Derby.
The shapes of these styles lend themselves to a more casual vibe which pairs perfectly with smart men's jeans. It's important to remember that there should be a good contrast between your shoes and your jeans and they should not be precisely the same color.
A professional can help you to make sure the jeans and shoes you want to go with look decent if you aren't sure. Otherwise, there are several guides online that can help you with picking the right styles, colors, and other features for a men's stylish outfit.
Balance Your Elements Well
By pairing jeans with dress shoes, you automatically need to rev up the rest of your look. You won’t be able to pull off a simple t-shirt or sweater with dress shoes. Add a well-fitted and collared, button-down shirt or even a dress shirt to elevate the look.
It's recommended you keep any other accessories simple, such as a tie or even a cool hat. If you choose to add a few extra accessories, be sure that they match the rest of your look. You don’t want a mismatched bowtie with your well-put-together outfit.
Make sure you do some research if you aren't familiar with putting together more formal outfits. It's important to make sure you don't overdo it or mismatch your shoes, jeans or accessories as it could put a damper on the look you're going for.
When to Avoid This Look?
When larger men wear dress shoes, their feet tend to look a lot smaller, so be careful not to fall into this trap. If you have a larger midsection, it’s better to avoid the dress shoe and jeans combination as it can look quite unbalanced on your figure and make you look a bit disproportioned.
You'll also want to make sure that this level of formality is ideal for the event you’re going to or the workplace you'll be in. Different levels of formality can get somewhat tricky, so it's wise to make sure you're matching the expectations of the place.
Get Inspiration for the Look
The internet is a wonderful resource for finding the kind of outfit style ideas you're looking for as well as seeking out guides to pull it off correctly. With a wide variety of shades of blue jeans, the opportunities for a great look are endless. However, it may prove to be difficult with certain shades.
Brown dress shoes are a great match for dark blue jeans. Black jeans are the most versatile and can be paired with almost any color of shoes. However, the best option to pair with your black jeans is a matte leather shoe. This will give your jeans a simple yet stylish finish. You need to be cautious with gray jeans. Light gray needs to be kept simple with a similar tone of shoes, while dark gray is more versatile and can be more formal than lighter grays.
Dark brown or black dress shoes will pair well with dark gray jeans. When putting together a look that is the perfect combination of casual and formal, remember to keep it simple and match the colors carefully. Combine smarter jeans and more casual dress shoes to achieve this.
As a final cautionary note when pulling together a dress shoe and jeans ensemble, pay close attention to your top and jacket. Don’t be tempted to go too casual, throwing on any old t-shirt or sweatshirt as this will drag the whole outfit down and make a mockery out of the fact that you're even wearing dress shoes in the first place.
Keep it elegant and elevated by choosing a simple button down crisp shirt either in a plain white, which looks dashing with a blazer, or a more contemporary color to add some pizazz and personality. A nice classic men's striped shirt or something with a check can also look very stylish with jeans and loafers. The most important thing, as always, is to own your style and bring your confidence to the outfit. That way, you're bound to cut a dashing and sophisticated figure in your jeans and dress shoes combination.