How To Wear A Blazer With Jeans: 13 Outfits For 2023
It might be the quickest way to beat dress codes, but wearing a blazer with jeans can be a recipe for sartorial disaster. Here's how to get the look right.
The original smart casual look hasn’t gone away, and likely never will. But wearing a blazer with jeans isn’t as simple as it seems. It might be the quickest way to beat dress codes, but it’s also the easiest to get wrong, with numerous pitfalls that can instantly ruin the combo if not considered.
This is a look that’s all about fit and fabric. While there are a huge number of ways it can be pulled off, there are equal opportunities for sartorial disaster, from wearing a business suit jacket with denim to perhaps the worst of them all: skinny jeans.
If you want to try it for yourself, pay heed to the advice below, then take a look at some blazer and jeans outfit examples that get the balance just right.
When should you wear a blazer with jeans?
The very definition of ‘smart casual’, wearing a blazer (formal) with jeans (casual) involves combining together two opposite ways of dressing. Go back through history and you’ll struggle to find many images of men combining tailoring with denim. Until relatively recently it was considered fairly avant garde, as traditionally you were either smart or not.
But the 70s and 80s gave rise to the concept of ‘Casual Friday’, which saw workplaces loosen up (albeit for one day a week). For men who were never afforded this freedom before, the easiest way of ‘dressing down’ was to combine their sports coats with jeans. It was a look that quickly took off, with designers like Ralph Lauren making their name off this new relaxed approach to menswear – throwing typically casual, preppy clothing like polo shirts and penny loafers into the mix, too.
Today, a blazers and jeans is a go-to pairing for creative offices, fancy restaurant reservations, first dates or just times when you want to make an impression.
The right blazers to wear with jeans
Blazers have long been considered formalwear, while jeans are one of the most casual types of trousers. Combining the two can create problems then, with the juxtaposition appearing too stark. To alleviate the issue, you need to bring both elements closer together in formality.
To narrow the gap, it’s best to aim for a jacket with little to no structure in the chest or shoulders. Those with heavily padded, strong roped shoulders are the smartest of all, and best reserved for the boardroom. Lightweight, unstructured blazers, on the other hand, lean more casual, evoking warm nights on the French Riviera as opposed to air conditioned meetings in the city. Therefore, these are the jackets that combine best with jeans, with their softer, relaxed feel better complementing the laid-back nature of denim.
Another point to consider fabric. Blazers cut from shiny, business-like worsted wool cloths are best avoided here. You need something with texture that complements the weave of denim, rather than competes with it. Herringbone wool, houndstooth checks, tweed, brushed flannel, corduroy, heavyweight linens and cotton canvas are all viable options that look great with jeans.
The jeans that work best with blazers
When it comes to the style of jeans that work best, start with fit. Virtually any colour and fabric jeans can work, providing they fit correctly. Now usually, we’d say that fit is somewhat subjective and dependent on body type, but when it comes to blazers and jeans there’s one way that works best.
Firstly, you’ll want to aim for jeans with a mid rise. Anything that sits too low on the waist will look strange with tailoring, clashing with the lines of the jacket. Mid-rise jeans mimic traditional dress pants, giving the look a balance that mirrors that of a suit. Such jeans should sit slightly above your waist, so that when you tuck in a shirt and do up the blazer, said shirt shouldn’t be visible underneath the fastened button.
The next thing you want to look out for is leg width. It’s best to stick to a middle ground here, opting for a straight, tapered cut with room to breathe in the thighs. The denim shouldn’t cling to your knees or calves; rather, they should hang cleanly, just touching the top of your shoes, in the same manner a pair of suit trousers would.
Essentially, the jeans should mimic the silhouette of trousers as much as possible, which furthers the impression you intended to wear them with a blazer and didn’t just throw them together on a whim.
Blazer with jeans outfits for men
Riviera ready blazer and jeans
If you happen to find yourself in the French Riviera any time soon, this is the kind of outfit that would be right at home. A soft, pique cotton blazer works effortlessly with off-white jeans and suede loafers, resulting in a tailored summer look that’s bound to impress.
Brown blazer and light blue jeans
Brown and blue is a classic menswear colour combo that will never fall out of style. Opting for a mid-brown textured wool jacket and combining it with light blue denim is a foolproof route into blazer and jeans territory.
Complete the look with light brown suede Chelsea boots and a brown leather belt, then tie it all together with a light blue pocket square for extra style points.
Forget what you heard, blue and green works surprisingly well together – as shown by this tailored look. Stick to jewel tones of emerald and sapphire and finish with a dark brown leather belt and matching boat shoes.
Checked blazer and white jeans
Incorporating some form of texture or pattern into the jacket is key when wearing jeans with a blazer. Go for a brown wool checked version then, like above, and you’ll have both in abundance.
Combine it with neutral, off-white jeans and a blue shirt for a snappy approach to smart casual style.
Wearing a blazer with jeans doesn’t mean that’s all you have to play with. For cooler days it’s acceptable to layer up with a suitably luxurious jacket, such as this shearling version, which gives the look a rugged, outdoorsy appeal that complements denim’s workwear roots.
Casual blazer and light wash jeans
While we’d usually advocate investing in dark denim for maximum versatility, light washes arguably combine better with casual blazers. The inherent texture and unique fades of the fabric look great with with an unstructured jacket, especially when finished with a knitted polo and suede loafers such as this.
Herringbone blazer and raw denim jeans
A grey herringbone blazer is one of the most versatile jacket styles around. Typically crafted from heavyweight cloths like wool, flannel and tweed, they complement the rugged nature of raw denim perfectly, and look great layered over everything from polo shirts to T-shirts to Oxford button-downs.
Summer-ready blazer and jeans
It might be slightly harder to find, but a shirt-like blazer is the easiest type to wear with jeans. Look for a completely unlined version with no shoulder padding, cut from a relaxed fabric like merino wool or seersucker (as shown here), and wear it like you would an overshirt: open over a plain T-shirt and finished with your favourite sneakers.
Tailored jeans with a blazer
An easy way to reduce the formality between your jacket and jeans is to wear the smartest pair you own. Black, slim-cut denim always looks sophisticated, and will anchor almost any blazer you can think of.
Here that translates to a textured dark green jacket and tonal shirt, finished with matching leather loafers. Easy.
Modern country blazer and jeans
A classic tweed jacket is always an enticing prospect for any sartorialist, but they’re often let down by an old-fashioned, stuffy fit.
Instead, look for an unlined blazer in a soft wool-cashmere blend, which you can combine with other heritage pieces such as moleskin jeans and a knitted roll neck for a contemporary take on country tailoring.
Statement blazer and jeans
Don’t be afraid to make more of a statement with your tailoring. An oversized check blazer is a great way of injecting some personality into smart casual attire, especially when finished with light wash jeans and horsebit loafers. This is preppy 2.0.
Knitted blazer and jeans
It might be cheating slightly, but a knitted jacket is a comfortable alternative to something more tailored and formal. Wear it as you would a traditional blazer, or dress it down further with a tucked-in T-shirt and off-white jeans.
Roll with it
It’s best to avoid wearing a shirt and tie with jeans – you don’t want your top and bottom half clashing. Instead, go for smart casual mid layers like polo shirts, fine-gauge sweaters and roll necks to seamlessly link your blazer and jeans together.
The latter is arguably the best choice for the colder months 0 just ensure it’s not too thick so it doesn’t ruin the lines of your jacket.