Dress shirts are a great way to up your ante in the fashion stakes. They can make you look stylish and sophisticated. But they can also appear overly formal, particularly at a casual event. Can they be dressed down? Can you wear a dress shirt with jeans?
Wear a dress shirt with jeans, make sure both garments balance each other. As dress shirts are formal, jeans need to look smart to blend in. Avoid jeans with rips, acid-wash finishes, and patches. The jeans should be either black or dark blue. For a relaxed style, leave the collar undone and the shirt untucked.
In this article, you’ll learn how to wear a dress shirt with jeans. You’ll discover the colors that work well together and find out which jeans can’t be worn with a dress shirt.
What Is a Dress Shirt?
A dress shirt is usually worn with a suit. It’s called a dress shirt because you wear it for events you have to dress up for. Things like weddings, board meetings, and job interviews. This type of shirt is meant for formal and important occasions.
Dress shirts are tailored to a high standard and have long sleeves with cuffs that can be buttoned or fastened with cuff links. The shirt is long so that it can be tucked into tailored pants. The extra length allows the shirt to stay tucked in as you move throughout the day.
There are two levels of dress shirt. You have the incredibly formal tuxedo shirt. Traditionally, this one has a small collar with pointed tips. The tips are quite pronounced and are a feature of this style of shirt. They make tuxedo shirts the perfect partner for bow ties. As the name suggests, a tuxedo shirt is designed to go with a tuxedo.
Then there is the business attire dress shirt. Although this type of shirt has points on the collar, the distance between the top of the collar and the tip is even around the neck. It has more of a box shape with a wide opening at the front. This style is perfect for long ties.
Traditionally, formal dress was a requirement for all men working in an office environment. A suit with a dress shirt and tie was the universal dress code. It was unheard of for a shirt to be open at the neck. They would always be securely fastened at the collar and covered with a tie. Usually, but not always, tied into a Windsor knot.
While some office dress codes still insist on dress shirts and ties, it’s long ties, not bow ties, you need to wear. Probably because a Windsor knot is far easier to deal with than a fiddly bow. Making the need for a specific bow tie shirt like the tuxedo shirt a rarity in the workplace. This is why it’s the business style of shirt that you’ll see most often.
Because dress shirts need to be smart and crisp, they are usually made from 100% cotton and are one solid color. There are some dress shirts with stripes, but these are always vertical and thin.
White or lighter shades of blue are the most popular colors for formal shirts, but you can also find dress shirts in black and subtle shades of pink.
Can You Wear a Dress Shirt With Jeans?
Yes, you can wear a dress shirt with jeans. You do have to watch the style of the shirt, though. Always stick with the business attire style of a dress shirt. These are the ones with collars suitable for pairing with a long tie.
Avoid tuxedo shirts. Or any kind of formal shirt meant for use with a bow tie. These could be too formal to look right with jeans.
The reason is tuxedo shirts don’t fit the relaxed, casual look. They need a bow tie and tailored pants to make them complete. Tuxedo shirts are the epitome of formality.
As much as we love our jeans, they’ll never be formal attire. This means pairing them with a tuxedo shirt will create a mismatch of styles that will detract from your image and make you look wrong.
Dress shirts worn with long ties and business suits are smart and well-made rather than formal. They are closer in style to the other kinds of buttoned shirts you can wear with jeans. Things like sports shirts, lumberjack shirts, polo shirts, and casual shirts.
It can be tricky to tell a dress shirt from more casual versions. The main differences tend to be down to the fabric used, the color, the pattern, and even the number of pockets.
Your dress shirt will be crisp cotton or polycotton blend. It’s likely to have one pocket and always have long sleeves. Unlikely to have a bold pattern, dress shirts are subtle. Although they can have stripes, you won’t find a checked pattern on a traditional dress shirt.
Other than that, a business-appropriate dress shirt is very similar to your casual shirts. So, choose your dress shirt wisely. Keep to the ones that look like smarter versions of your casual shirts. That way, you’ll be sure to be able to wear them with your jeans.
How to Wear Dress Shirts With Jeans
There are lots of ways to wear a dress shirt with your jeans. The key to a put-together look is to make sure you keep a balance in your outfit. And always have the event you are going to in the back of your mind when you combine your jeans with a dress shirt.
The one thing you need to do to make this look work is to have your top half mirror your bottom half. By that, I mean to match a smart shirt with smart jeans. Remember, dress shirts are crisp, tailored, subtle, and made from lightweight cotton or a polyester blend. If your shirt has bold stripes, a floppy collar, heavy fabric, or a baggy fit, it’s a casual shirt, not a dress shirt.
While a casual shirt will look OK with baggy jeans, a dress shirt won’t. You need to up your game on your jeans and go for a smart, well-fitting pair of straight-leg jeans. Preferably ones that cover the top of your shoes. This will carry the smartness of the dress shirt through your silhouette towards your ankles.
Perfect for when you want to look smart, but you don’t want to overdo it, this is the look for a relaxed day at the office. Combine your jeans with a white shirt tucked in at the waist and brogues for the business-ready, no-nonsense look.
For a first date at your local pub, you’ll want to look stylish but not stuffy. Untuck your shirt and swap those brogues for sneakers. Roll your sleeve cuffs to midway up your lower arm. Now your look is refreshing, fun-loving, and easygoing.
Wearing a blazer with your jeans can help complete the overall look of your outfit. A blazer will pull a dress shirt and jeans combo together. It needs to be a standalone blazer, though, not the jacket from a suit. Suit jackets never look good without matching pants.
For dark blazers, complement the effect with lighter jeans. Dark jeans look good with a contrasting lighter jacket. Not too light, though! You want to stick with mid-blues, tans, or khaki. Jeans paired with a dress shirt and blazer are perfect for a night on the town.
The color of your jeans will set the tone of your outfit. Wearing darker black or dark blue jeans will always lift your outfit from casual to smart. Those colors are synonymous with a professional image. It’s less easy to tell you’re wearing jeans, so you’ll look the part.
Lighter jeans automatically lower the tone of a smart appearance to one of fancy-free and casual. So if you want to portray a chilled persona, ditch the dark and go for a more traditional jeans color.
Regardless of the look, you are going for, if you wear a dress shirt, keep your jeans clean. Nothing screams mismatch more than a crisp white shirt and jeans you’ve been working in all day.
Wiping the general debris off your hard-working hands down the front of your jeans may be convenient, but it isn’t going to look great with a dress shirt. If you want to rock the lived-in look, change your shirt to a ripped tee.
What Style of Jeans Go Well With Dress Shirts?
As dress shirts are stylish and smart, you need to reflect that in your jeans. The chances are you’ve chosen to wear a dress shirt for a reason. You want to look like a million dollars, right? Or maybe, you want to copy your favorite movie star. He looks great in a dress shirt and jeans, so why can’t you?
The trouble with style is it’s not always that easy to recreate a look. The best looks are probably the hardest to put together. That’s one of the reasons movie stars have stylists. Unfortunately, the rest of us don’t have that luxury, so emulating your screen hero can be challenging.
Wearing a dress shirt with jeans can be a hard look to get right. It’s all too easy for it to end up looking anything but stylish. Leaving you thinking that you are somehow inferior to your screen idol.
The good news is, it isn’t you or your body that’s the problem. It’s trying to carry the look by wearing the wrong jeans because of their color, fit, or even style.
Jeans come with a smorgasbord of choices. There is a seemingly endless variety of colors and fits. You’ve got cropped, baggy, tight, and ripped. Then there are the jeans that put your waistband by your knees. No matter how much you love them, some jeans will not look right when paired with a dress shirt.
Let’s start with the baggy jeans worn, so your waistband is lower than your bum. There will never be an occasion where any baggy denim will look good with a dress shirt. Just don’t go there. If you want to look like a million dollars, your jeans need to fit your waist and your hips. They don’t have to be tight, but they need to stay up and cover your underwear.
Although dress shirts are longer than casual shirts, they were never designed to be a cover-up for your modesty. Their inherent smartness will detract from the overly relaxed feel of baggy jeans. You’ll have a clash and end up looking like you’ve lost a million dollars. That’s never a good image.
Similarly, ripped jeans are another style you should avoid. Ripped jeans look casual. You can’t lift their look to match the high level of smartness provided by your dress shirt. The same goes for acid-wash or sand-blasted jeans. There is a time and a place for wearing those styles. Teaming them with a dress shirt isn’t the right time. These jeans are better suited to the grungy vibe.
You need to watch the color and fit of the jeans you want to wear with a dress shirt. Fitted jeans in dark colors work best. They have more of a confident and professional air to them. Making them the perfect choice for your dress shirt ensemble. Add a straight leg and you’ve got a classy look with a refined silhouette.
Pulling off a look that looks effortless is all down to balance. A dress shirt needs to be paired with a sophisticated pair of jeans. Get that combination right, and you will look awesome.
Dress Shirt and Jeans Tucked or Untucked?
Whether you tuck your dress shirt into your jeans or not depends on a couple of things. How smart you need to look and the dress code you are following is the first. Then, there is the style of dress shirt you are wearing.
As a rule of thumb, you need to consider the hem of your shirt. Some shirts look better untucked than others and it’s the bottom edge that will let you know which one you have.
If your shirt has a straight hem and a short body, then it’s OK to leave it hanging over the top of your jeans. Curved hems with a long body covering your bum are a different story. This style of shirt needs to be tucked in. Otherwise, you’ll look swamped by the shirt. Your legs will also look shorter.
There is more to choosing between tucking in your shirt and leaving it out. Wearing jeans lowers a dress shirt from formal to smart casual. That’s the whole point of wearing your jeans.
It means you can get away with not wearing a tie, which you’d need to do if you wore dress pants. Not wearing a tie means you can leave the collar of your shirt open. Instead of looking like a stiff suit, you’ll look like a stylish individual ready for action. But just having an open neck can look top-heavy.
Remember, the key to wearing jeans with your dress shirt is maintaining harmony between top and bottom. To balance your open neck, leave your shirt untucked. This will neutralize the stuffiness of the dress shirt and frame the top of your jeans.
Alternatively, you can wear your open-necked dress shirt with a blazer, particularly if it’s too long to leave untucked. The blazer will smooth the lines and give you equity between your shirt and jeans.
If you don’t have a blazer and your shirt is too long, you can still tuck it in. Add a belt to your outfit. That will provide a clean line across your midriff and add the balance you need. Make it a leather belt and you have a cool accessory that can enhance both your top and bottom sections. Talk about dapper; this look will turn heads.
What Color Dress Shirt Looks Best With Jeans?
You can wear any color of shirt with your jeans, particularly if you’re wearing a casual style of shirt or a t-shirt. That’s one of the great things about your favorite pair of denim pants. They are adaptable and go with pretty much anything. However, dress shirts are a little different from your everyday casual shirt.
Because of their more formal style, dress shirts need a little more care when color matching them to denim. We’re back to balance here. While dress shirts are made from high-quality fabric, jeans are more rough and ready. You need to use color to help create unity between the two.
As we’ve already discussed earlier in this article, darker shades of jeans go better with dress shirts. This is because dark shades are more easily associated with looking classy.
While you can wear any light-colored shirt to offset the darkness of your jeans, you’ll find there is one shade that will make your outfit pop with sophistication. Wearing a white dress shirt with dark blue or black jeans is the epitome of effortless style. This look will get you closer to emulating your favorite movie star.
If you want to make an impact, though, you have to go dark. A black dress shirt with black jeans is not only a true fashion statement but also elegant and edgy. You’ll look slimmer, toned, and in control. For a slightly softer look, try a dark blue shirt.
Wearing a dress shirt with jeans is a timeless fashion statement. Combining style with relaxed flare, it’s a look that is easier to manage than you think. All you have to do is remember to keep your shirt and jeans balanced.
A pair of well-fitted dark jeans with a crisp white dress shirt will always look classy. Leave your collar undone and your shirt untucked for the ultimate laid-back style. Or wear it tucked in and framed with a leather belt for stylish elegance.
Have you worn a dress shirt with your jeans? What colors did you choose? Did you wear your shirt tucked in or out? Let me know in the comments.