It should be that simple, but successfully wearing a blazer with jeans is anything but. It’s a look that combines the worlds of smart and casual, but poses a number of hurdles in doing so. When done right, you are the image of Italian elegance. If you’re wrong, we’re in the Top Gear realm of the early 1990s. So where to start?
To make it happen, you need to nail down the details. The fabric, texture and cut all have to be perfect to start, and don’t even think about wearing your regular suit jacket with denim. Need some more advice? We’ve got everything you need to know about pairing a blazer with jeans here.
Why men struggle with blazers and jeans
You can’t just wear an old blazer over jeans. The problem many men have with it is that they do just that. They may see a smart-casual dress code and interpret it by literally cutting their wardrobe in half by pairing their “smart” suit with their “casual” jeans. It just doesn’t work.
There are a number of reasons why this looks bad. First, fabric. Formal suits are often made from worsted weight yarn with smooth, flat handles that have little texture. These kinds of fibers are made for the boardroom, and when combined with denim – a fabric that usually has a lot of texture – they just look wrong. The contrast is just too high.
Likewise, said suits are often made with a relatively strong, structured shoulder, which gives them their formal look. Again, this is just a pot of denim as the indigo fabric is way too rooted in casual wear.
Why you might want to try it
All of this begs the question of why you should bother wearing a blazer with jeans at all. It’s not the easiest combination to make, so why not try something that’s actually achievable. Well, if you do it smart, wearing a blazer with jeans can bridge that always awkward smart casual dress code, and it can be effortless as well as comfortable.
When do you wear a blazer with jeans?
One of the main benefits of successfully pairing a blazer with jeans is the versatility of the looks. It can be perfect for all kinds of social situations, from date nights and office work to pub lunches and walks around town. It’s neither too formal nor too relaxed, and works perfectly as an in-between outfit for times when you want to look presentable without being stuffy or overdressed.
The right blazer and jeans
So, which blazer should you go for? For starters, and to match the casual nature of denim, your chosen blazer should be unstructured. Think lightweight, Italian cuts with soft shoulders, narrow arms and double vents at the back. Soft, unstructured shoulders are comfortable and don’t impose a formality on you – it feels more like wearing a cardigan than a blazer. They also look less strict – the lack of padding means they follow the natural line of your shoulders, unlike structured suits which create sharp (and smart), unnatural lines.
The blazer in question should also have a certain amount of texture. The fabric should complement denim, which itself has a lot of texture due to the visible weave. Plus, it should look like it’s not half of a suit. Fabrics such as tweed, corduroy and herringbone wool are perfect to wear with jeans as they are usually associated with relaxed tailoring and casual wear.
When the blazer is cut right, there are times when a flatter, plain wool can work with jeans. For a monochromatic look consisting of indigo jeans, a navy blue T-shirt and black derbies, a dark blue blazer adds an elegant, almost Parisian feel.
For the bottom half of your outfit, the most important rule is to pay attention to the fit. Since your jeans are part of a relatively neat look, you want the cut to be slim and fitted. However, they should flatter your legs rather than hug them – if you get too narrow you risk entering the realm of reality TV.
Again, dark indigo or black jeans are the safest choice, depending on the jacket color you choose. For blazers in shades of brown, beige, green or blue, go for dark blue jeans; while for a monochrome look you combine gray and anthracite colored blazers with black jeans.
For those wanting to escape the safety of dark washes, try pale or white denim — neutral shades that work best during the spring and summer months. Remember to keep your coat sufficiently lightweight and consistent with these lighter shades.
10 go-to blazer and jeans outfits
Blue & Brown
When it comes to wearing a blazer with jeans, it’s often easier to stick to classic color combinations that you know will work. Opt for a fail-safe combination and combine a brown textured blazer with blue jeans, two colors that always go well together. Complete the look with a darker brown overcoat, a matching gray turtleneck and brown leather Chelsea boots.
Take inspiration from classic British country wear, which has always successfully combined texture, pattern and colors to achieve something elegant and playful. Look for an unstructured blazer in a tweed or gun-check pattern that nods to country wear, but updates it with a slimmer cut and modern details.
This is where black jeans come into their own. Wear them with a gray patterned blazer and black turtleneck for a monochromatic look that’s effortlessly cool and easy to wear. Ideal for wearing in an expensive restaurant or cocktail bar, this outfit perfectly sums up what’s so appealing about wearing a blazer with jeans in the first place.
An example of how wearing a smarter, low-textured blazer can really look good. The trick, of course, is to pay attention to the cut of the blazer, but also to keep the rest of the look tonal. For a dark blue blazer, wear it with dark or raw denim jeans and team it with a navy blue knitted crew neck, T-shirt or polo shirt.
A pale palette with double breasts
If you want to go a little more edgy, opt for a double-breasted blazer. The same rules apply as for single-breasted – that is, unstructured shoulders and texture if possible, which softens the formality of the cut. For a more relaxed alternative to a suit, try pairing one with a club tie and Oxford button-down shirt, and finish with a light wash of jeans for a look that embodies French Riviera elegance.
For something a little more Ivy-league-inspired, take a navy pinstripe blazer and team it with a cricket jersey, button-down shirt, mid-wash denim jeans and tassel loafers. Ideal as an autumn smart-casual look, this timeless combination wouldn’t look out of place in a country hotel or a Friday afternoon at the office.
Denim jeans are a snap of a blazer, but why not take it a step further by teaming the two with a knit hoodie? Comfortable and easy to wear, a knit hoodie is smarter and more luxurious than a traditional cotton version, so it won’t look out of place under a blazer.
If you want to make more of a statement, you can easily do it with a blazer and jeans. Channel 1970s Miami and opt for pastel shades consisting of a light pink relaxed-fit blazer, white striped shirt and pale wash denim jeans. This is a look that takes a lot of confidence, but in the right scenario (think a South Beach pool party), it could make you the most stylish man in the room.
Another way to wear a double breasted blazer with jeans is to go the nautical-inspired route, full of gold naval officer buttons. It’s a bold jacket, sure, but one that doesn’t look and feel apologetic. Perfectly dressed with mid-wash denim, it will work well in the warmer months when paired with other basics in white, red and blue.
For summer, an all-white outfit consisting of jeans and a t-shirt can make quite the statement, but it’s perfectly softened by a lightweight, unstructured blazer in a complementary shade. Look for one in a gray herringbone pattern, which adds a welcome bit of texture to an otherwise dazzling ensemble.