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Should you wear a suit jacket with jeans?

A good suit is a good investment. Everyone should own at least one suit that will work for ceremonial occasions, important business meetings and other big events where you need to dress a certain way. It’s a good idea to have two or three suits, usually at least one black suit, a navy suit and one in another color or pattern. When you do have multiple suits, you can start playing around with different looks that separate the pieces of the suit. But can you wear a suit jacket with jeans? Is this a super stylish look…or is this just a horrible idea? Is it okay to break up the classic suit and mix and match it with something associated with workwear? It’s a style question for the ages and one that has been hotly debated through the years.

A Suit Jacket and Jeans

Can you combine a suit jacket with a pair of jeans? We checked with style experts, consulted pictures of fashionable dressers and looked hard at the evidence for both sides of this fashion debate to find the answer. Can a jean bottom and a suit top blend together into one outfit or will your two halves always look unmatched?

Jeans with suit jacket on white background

According to Esquire, “Wearing a sport coat with jeans is, at this point, a pretty standard style move. That’s not a knock on the combo, it’s just a fact. And it’s popular for one key reason: because, at its best, it just plain works. It’s a go-to for guys at the office, on a date — pretty much anywhere you want to add a little extra polish to your look without getting too fancy.”

However, Esquire advises, “you don’t want to look like you just pulled your suit jacket off the hanger and threw it on over some baggy jeans because you don’t know what else to do.” Esquire suggests a tailored jacket that fits well and jeans that are not too loose or baggy on the body. 

“The critical thing to remember is to combine good quality denim with a casual blazer. This will ensure that the separates don’t look too mismatched with one another, and they will both possess the same level of formality (or lack thereof). For a different take on this color combination, try out mid wash denim jeans with navy blazers to contrast the separates for a more dimensional look,” says The Trend Spotter.

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Suit jacket and tie with jeans

TrendSpotter advises following some basic color rules to create good combinations. “The problem with styling separates is that there is a lot of room for error. You are working with pieces that may not have been designed to complement one another as well as made from different materials and colors. The first thing you will need to ensure is that your color combinations are complementary to one another. Focus on the tones of your separates — some colors will not work with others. A good rule of thumb is to invest in neutral pieces — this will afford you much more versatility when matching them.”

The final verdict? Yes, you can wear a suit jacket with jeans…but it’s all about how you pair them. You should be thinking more sports jacket, less tuxedo jacket, when it comes to styling a suit jacket with jeans. You don’t need matching trousers to create a well-matched look but you can put two completely opposing articles of clothing together and expect it to work. Wearing your most distressed skinny jeans with your nicest suit jacket might be a look that works for rock stars but in the real world, you still want to follow some basic principles of style to create a look that strikes the right tone and looks fashionable.

How Should Your Suit Jacket Fit?

If your suit jacket doesn’t fit you properly, the entire look is ruined anyway. Pay attention to how the jacket looks and feels around the shoulder area to know whether or not you’ve got a good fit. A jacket that fits well will have a shoulder seam that sits at or very close to the bend of your shoulder, right where it slopes down to become your arm. The shoulder seam will not press against your skin and it also will not bunch up or stick out. The fit should not be tight or roomy.

Casual suit jacket with jeans outfit

Your jacket should sit close to your body without pulling. You should have a complete and free range of motion everywhere, even in the arms. If you don’t, your jacket doesn’t fit you correctly. If your jacket is baggy or bunching up or sticking out anywhere, it’s too big.

As long as your clothes fit you well, you will look good. You can spend a lot of time worrying about whether you’ve got the right dress shirt, if you picked the right style of pant, if you should have worn matching trousers with your sport jacket instead. But the most stylish clothes won’t look good if they don’t fit and even the most inexpensive clothing will look good on your body as long as you get the fit right. So focus on this part and other aspects of your outfit will fall into place.

Picking the Right Jacket

There are lots of different suit styles out there. You can have a suit in literally any color shade or pattern you might imagine, from a classic grey suit to a bright tie-dye suit. Jeans, however, have a somewhat more limited look. You see jeans most often in blue denim material, which can be any shade of blue, from light to dark. Jeans are also made in lots of different colors, including black and white. But when it comes to bringing these two pieces together, there are some rules you should try to follow when it comes to colors, patterns and fabric.

Professional suit jacket with jeans

Colorful and heavily patterned suit jackets look great as part of a suit but they don’t work so well when paired with denim. Shy away from bright colors, plaids, pinstripes and other patterns. Instead, stick to charcoal, navy and more sedate color tones. Subtle patterns, such as checks and tweeds, also look great when paired with blue jeans. It’s harder to wear colorful suit jackets without the matching pants to bring the look together.

You want to choose a suit jacket that looks more like a sport coats-type style to wear with blue jeans. But if you have an orphaned suit jacket, which is a jacket without its matching sui pants, you can find ways to make it work no matter what. Just match color with color. Choose one color from the jacket and add shoes and a pocket square in the same color, then style this against a dark denim. Most of the time, you can pull this off even with a heavily patterned, vivid suit jacket.

Many suits are made with high-quality fabric, material that is quite smooth and so well-made that it has a slight sheen to it. Fine suit jackets are difficult to pair with blue jeans because the differences between the two materials are vast. Choose the most casual suit jacket you own if you’re going to match it against a pair of blue jeans. Cotton suit fabric is perfect because denim is already made from cotton. 

Picking the Right Jeans

If you’re going to pair jeans with a suit jacket, you want to choose a great-looking pair of jeans. Don’t choose distressed jeans or a pair with holes in them. Don’t wear jeans that are frayed anywhere. The distressed look is great for lots of different outfits and occasions but they just don’t pair well with a suit coat, no matter how casual the jacket may be. 

Suit jacket and jeans casual outside

Opt for a darker wash over a lighter wash. The darker wash tends to have a more formal look, which means you can get away with wearing them to semi-formal occasions of all kinds. Dark jeans just look a little bit nicer. In fact, you can often get away with dark jeans as business casual attire. They look great with a more formal jacket but they can still come across as casual wear. They’ll pair just as easily with dress shoes as with atheltic shoes and best of all, they will look and feel great when you choose a pair that fits you well.

The jeans must fit well, neither too tight nor too loose. You want a good, comfortable fit. You also want your jeans to end at the right length. The jeans shouldn’t be too long or too short. They need to end in a clean, straight line right below the ankles, the way a pair of tailored suit pants would fit your legs. Choose jeans that feel and fit like a pair of suit trousers if you’re trying to match them to a suit jacket or any type of sports coats style.

What to Wear

You’ve got the main outfit covered: a great suit jacket and a pair of blue jeans that will flatter you. But what about everything else? Can you wear a suit jacket with jeans…with a T-shirt? What about sneakers? How, exactly, can you style these two items to work together to create looks that are trendy, fashionable and work well as overall looks?

The Shirt

COOFANDY Men Suit Jacket Linen Slim Fit Sport Coat Business Fashion Daily Blazer Grey

What type of shirt should you wear with this combo? If you’re going for a very casual look, you can wear a T-shirt. Even a graphic T with lots of bright colors can work with a suit jacket and jeans combination. If you’re going to add color to your outfit anywhere, it’s a good idea to do it with the shirt. Play around with T shirts and black jeans when you’re trying out a suit jacket-jean combination. This look is all about being casual and having fun with different style elements, so why not?

COOFANDY Mens Fitted Blazer Casual Navy Sports Jacket Lightweight One Button Sport Coat (Blue XL)

If you’re opting for a more semi-professional look, choose a collared button-up dress shirt in a solid color. A soft blue or gray will work beautifully here, though you can also play around with purple, pink, yellow and shades that are a bit more eye-catching. Stay away from polo shirts. The combination of a polo shirt and a suit jacket just doesn’t work. You can wear a polo with jeans alone or try a polo with a pair of dress pants but you can’t mix a polo with a suit jacket…and that is simply a fashion fact.

The Shoes

Amazon Essentials Men's Woven Sport Coat, Khaki, 44

The shoes you choose to wear all this other stuff with can truly make or break your look. That pair of shiny black oxfords you usually wear with your suit, for example, must be left in the closet. You don’t want to choose a very formal shoe. Loafers and tennis shoes both work very well to cap off this outfit and complete your look that tells the world you’re a stylish professional with a flair for good fashion. 

To Tie or Not to Tie?

ARMYANTS Men's Travel Blazer with Performance Multi Hidden Pockets - Slim fit - Sports Coat (Grey, 46R)

Should you wear a tie with all of this? Why not? If you want to dress your look up a little more, you can add a necktie. If you want to sexy it up a little bit more, forget the tie and unbutton the top two buttons of your shirt. The suit jacket and jeans combo works with a wide variety of looks and accessories, which is why this is such a classic option. Make it one of your go-to choices when you need an outfit that is casual but a little bit more semi-formal than other casual looks. This combination looks professional but laid back and it is perfect for all sorts of different occasions and events.

Layered

Amazon Brand - Goodthreads Men's Standard-Fit Linen Blazer, Black, Medium

Wear a button-up collared shirt under a sweater and put on your suit jacket over this. A layered look is perfect for cool fall and winter weather and in this combination, it gives you that academic vibe. You’ll look like a hot professor if you have enough swagger while you wear this look. 

Men's Classic Notched Collar Jacket Corduroy Sport Coat Vintage Casual Work Wear Suit (Small,Gold)

You can also put a vest on instead of a sweater to create more of a trendy look. This outfit has more hipster appeal. You can top it with an interesting hat and add a pocket square to really complete that hipster vibe.

Wearing a Suit Jacket and Jeans

Female look suit jacket and jeans yellow background

Wearing a suit jacket and jeans is not only a look that works, it’s a classic look that’s always stylish. You probably already own a pair of jeans and a suit, so why not play around with these two pieces? A suit jacket and jeans pair together well to create a variety of casual, professional and semi-formal looks. 

Sources:

Art of Manliness – How to Wear a Sports Jacket With Jeans

Gentleman’s Gazette – When Should You Wear A Jacket With Denim?

Real Men Real Style – 5 Rules on Wearing A Suit Jacket with Jeans

Thread – Q&A: Why can’t I wear my suit jacket with jeans?