Jeans have been the world’s favorite legwear for 100 years. Why? Probably because they are known for being durable, easy to wear and extremely versatile. But while they’re generally easy to style, there are certain pairing guidelines to follow if you want your jeans to look their best… especially when it comes to shoes.
So which shoes should you wear with your jeans? It’s a question every style-conscious man has asked himself. As versatile as jeans are, there are certain types of shoes that will never look good with specific shades of denim, and others that will look great every time.
The key to nailing it is knowing what those shades and styles are. So to help you get it right, we’ve put together a handy cheat sheet, highlighting five key denim shades and the types of shoes that go best with each color.
What shoes to wear with black jeans
Jeans generally don’t do well in smart environments unless they’re black. Black jeans are sharp, subtle and perfect for occasions that call for clothes on the dressy side of the smart-casual spectrum, such as dates, chic restaurants and bars, and nights out.
To get the most out of their aesthetic benefits, make sure you choose your shoes carefully. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to stick to dark colors – you’re aiming for subtle, not shocking. Colors like burgundy, dark brown, dark green, and of course black will all work nicely. An exception to this rule are white minimalist sneakers, which will always go perfectly with slim-cut black jeans.
Also keep the style of the shoe relatively smart. Think Chelsea boots, desert boots, luxury sneakers and Derby shoes. A nice loafer or deck shoe will also work well in the warmer months.
Which shoes to wear with dark jeans
Real raw denim jeans are something every well-dressed man should have proudly in his wardrobe. This is denim in its purest form: heavy, unwashed and rugged. He feels most at home with casual, smart-casual and workwear-based clothing, and so is the footwear it should be paired with.
Raw denim is dark, so you should approach the color of your shoes about the same as you would with black jeans. We are talking about dark colors – black, brown, burgundy, etc. – with the exception of sneakers, where there is a little more room to move. Just steer clear of navy blue and very light browns, like brown, and you won’t go far wrong.
With the exception of real dress shoes, such as Oxfords, there aren’t many shoes that don’t go well with raw jeans. That said, boots always work well because they go well with raw denim workwear – think moc-toe boots, chukka, and suede or leather hiking boots.
What shoes to wear with mid-wash jeans
Mid-wash jeans are a casual classic. They are perfect for the weekend or just standard everyday tasks. These are the kind of jeans you can wear every day without thinking about it. But that said, there are certain colors and styles of shoes that go better with medium-wash jeans than others.
Medium wash jeans generally go with most shoe colors – that’s what makes them such a good all-rounder. However, lighter shades usually look best. Think beige, brown and light to medium brown suede, light gray and white. Black can also work depending on the rest of the outfit, but we recommend avoiding darker browns if there is any uncertainty.
As for styles, again, the jack-of-all-trades nature of mid-wash jeans means there’s not much that won’t work. If you’re stuck for inspiration, a light suede desert boot will always be a hit, as will a simple white leather sneaker.
Which shoes to wear with stonewashed jeans
The lighter color of stonewashed jeans makes them super relaxed and relaxed. They go particularly well with casual clothing for warm weather, but can also be worn in the colder months. They are very versatile within the parameters of casual wear and we think they are a must have when it comes to putting together casual outfits.
However, stonewash jeans have one drawback: they don’t go well with dark-colored shoes. A black leather boot can work, but that’s about as far as it goes. Instead, try pairing them with casual shoes in lighter shades, such as white, beige, stone, tan, and brown.
Stonewashed jeans look great with sneakers, so if you tend to live in sporty footwear, you won’t have any problems. We think they also look particularly good with retro shapes and classic styles like a pair of white Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars or a pair of old-school suede runners. Other styles that go particularly well with this lighter wash are desert boots and loafers, especially suede.
What shoes to wear with white and cream jeans
Many men shy away from wearing white jeans because they think they are hard to get right. In reality, white denim is actually quite versatile and not at all difficult to style, if you have the knowledge. As with most things, it’s best to start from scratch, which is why knowing what kind of shoes to wear with white jeans is the first step to cross-legged success.
Most shoe colors go well with white or cream jeans, but we recommend avoiding pastels and other very light colors. Instead, go for dark brown, black, navy blue or dark green. Again, white sneakers can work, especially as part of an all-white outfit.
You can wear white jeans all year round, but of course they see the most action in the summer. With that in mind, summery shoes like suede loafers, espadrilles, deck shoes, and canvas sneakers are all great options, but swap them out for smarter, leather styles when the occasion calls for something a little more chic.