Wearing a structured jacket with jeans is a look that many men try to pull off. However, they both have dressy and casual silhouettes, so how should you combine them into stylish and harmonious looks? In this guide, we’ll discuss how to best wear sport coats, blazers, and jeans as outfits and why those will work best for you.
Pairing Jackets and Jeans
There are very different situations where you might be able to wear sport coats and blazers with jeans. You can also look at the different times where you might have seen someone on a semi-casual occasion, perhaps a business meeting or even going out on a date. Time after time, we’ve seen men pull out this outfit but only a few do it well.
Often, we see men think that it’s acceptable to wear any kind of jacket with any pair of jeans; and that will make an acceptable outfit.
Jackets and Jeans Outfit Combinations
A jacket is inherently much more dressy than jeans. Jeans always look much more casual. So, you might be wondering how to best pair those together. In certain situations, this might look appropriate. The main reasons why it would not look appropriate, are usually due to both fit and the overall formality of the combination.
In this guide, we’re going to assume that you already have a well-tailored blazer or sport coat, and some great fitting jeans.
What Jacket Hallmarks Should You Look Out For?
Blazers are not a one-size or one-style-for-all-situations item. When selecting details to pair with jeans, you’ll want to look for things that are going to casualize the jacket as much as possible.
You would want to look at fabric weights that are going to look a little bit warmer and less like a suit fabric. Fabric weight for your jacket or sport coat is available in a number of different densities depending on the season, how you’re wearing it, and what outfit you’re trying to put together. It’s important for both your temperature, but also for your appearance, that you pay attention to the overall breathability and the weight of the fabric you choose to wear for your jacket or sport coat.
You may check our Fabric Guide when choosing the best garment for your outfit.
Weather and Season
You also want to pay attention to the weather and what season you plan on wearing your sport coat; make sure that it seasonally matches and that you are comfortable.
For example, in today’s video (and in Outfit #1 below), I’m wearing dark denim with a darker patterned mid-weight jacket; I can wear this at almost any season throughout the year. I’ve added the light sweater; it’s not super bulky, but it is able to be worn or an extra layering piece adds a little bit of color as well too. Mid-weight jackets are beneficial for a number of reasons, but I enjoy them because I’m able to wear them in almost any season throughout the year. In the summer months, you could try wearing a linen or a cotton jacket. This will be much more breathable, much more comfortable for you when it’s warmer outside.
Try Linen Jackets During Summer Months
And when it gets to be a little bit cooler outside, you could try wearing something that’s going to keep you insulated, perhaps a tweed jacket or something a little bit warmer. This will help the overall outfit to look much more cohesive in that season.
Pockets and Lapels
Things like elbow patches or contrasting buttons are the different details that will help casualize the overall outfit with the jeans. In addition, you can also look for things like patch pockets and notch lapels that will help casualize the overall outfit with your sport coat and jeans combination.
Jacket Details To Avoid
One of the easiest ways to know what to look for is to know what to avoid, and one of the first things we’ll cover in this regard is unnecessary flamboyance.
Here at the Gentlemen’s Gazette, we certainly believe in you being able to express yourself and have a great time with your clothing, but we don’t want to cause an accident on the street! Unless the event you are attending calls for you to be able to wear a lot of extra flair, it’s usually best to operate with the philosophy of less is more.
Avoid unnecessary flamboyance
Overly flamboyant things that we’d want to avoid, for example, would be some really large, bold patterns; perhaps something like paisley; really bright neon colors; even something in really shiny fabric. It doesn’t really add that nice, polished look that you would want to see when you put together your blazer or sport coat and your jeans.
Patterns in smaller doses are much more acceptable. With a lot of excessive patterns, you would run the risk of becoming much more visually confusing to people in your presence. So, you should avoid wearing things like a bold pinstripe that maybe looks like it’s missing its suit pants, and you should also avoid things like a fast-fashion floral print jacket or something with a metallic fabric to it.
This jacket’s pattern would be too bold to pair with jeans
The next thing to avoid will be a poor fit in your jacket or sport coat. It’s important that you focus on the overall fit for your body type when selecting your jacket. Don’t get too confused looking at the quality of the fabric or the costs on the price tag, all of that doesn’t matter if it doesn’t fit appropriately. It will end up looking much more sloppy.
The goal is to casualize your jacket while elevating and dressing up your jeans, while still meeting in the middle so that things complement one another. Try to avoid different extremes that would make you look like you’re going to the boardroom or out to a club; that is not the purpose of this outfit.
How Should You Choose Your Jeans?
The goal here is to make sure that the jeans that we’re choosing to wear are going to look much dressier, as this is going to complement the jacket in general. So, what kind of cuts and details are you going to be looking for to be able to wear with your sport coat or blazer?
Pay Attention to Your Body Type
You’re going to want to make sure that you are paying attention to your body type and finding something that fits you appropriately. There is a wide variety of details which you might be able to see regarding the jeans that you can choose to wear, and you can learn more about that from our guide here.
Match Your Jeans With Your Jacket
Once you’ve selected a fit that works best for your body type, it’s important to make sure that you find a sport coat or a blazer that complements the same style of denim you decide to wear. For example, in terms of fit, you don’t want to wear a slim fit jacket and really wide-cut jeans.
The fit and formality of this jacket-and-jeans pairing is well executed
Denim Details to Avoid
In terms of the details on the jeans themselves, it’s important to remember that, again, less is more. Jeans, by nature, are going to look more casual, especially when you have things like whiskering or certain different types of embroidery. There are details on jeans that you would therefore want to avoid when selecting certain styles, to be able to match with your sport coat or blazer.
Things that might signify a distressed jean would include heavy detailing, whiskering all over the leg, and holes in the knees. Things like these are not going to be something that you’ll want to wear with a sport coat or blazer. This is usually going to look much better when you’re out casually with a t-shirt, perhaps.
However, when we’re talking about jeans to be able to be worn with the blazer or sport coat, we’re usually not talking about distressed jeans.
An example of distressed jeans
Are there some people that are able to pull off a look of something with distressed jeans and sparkles and blazers? Yes, but typically these people are looking for more of a trendy look, not necessarily a timeless look.
The whole point of having distressed jeans is to give a very lived-in look to your outfit. However, when you blend this more casual aspect of the outfit with a more professional sport coat or blazer, the entire outfit starts to look much more incomplete and disjointed. So, for a timeless look, remember, it’s best to skip the distressed denim when worn with a blazer or sport coat.
Dark Washed Jeans
A great example is what I’m wearing here. I’ve got a clean, dark-wash pair of jeans on with my blazer; no-frills, no whiskering on there at all, and it looks quite timeless.
Jeans That Are Too Tight
Another thing to avoid when trying this combination is jeans that are far too tight. There are some of us, like myself, who enjoy slim or tapered fit to their jeans, but the key is to make sure that you have got a fit that matches your body type, and that you’re finding something that ideally complements the overall look of your outfit.
Wear jeans that have a flattering fit.
There are certain types of contrast stitching that are perfectly acceptable, and that will actually enhance the timelessness of your jeans, like the subtle yellow stitching you’ll commonly see on the seams of classic denim styles. However, we want to avoid the really loud, enhanced contrast stitching that you might see on more trendy jeans.
Avoid jeans with excessive contrast stitching
For example, we should avoid a contrast stitching that is really enhanced and ornate on the side seams of the jeans, and also on the back pockets of your jeans as well.
Jacket & Jeans Outfit Ideas
As we go through these outfits, we’re going to start out with the most formal option, and then work our way down to something a little bit more casual.
1. Professional & Casual
This is a timeless option that combines dark colors in a unique way, for a really polished and timeless look. This look combines wearing a dark-wash pair of jeans with leather dress boots and a neutral colored shirt, topped off with a navy jacket.
Another option could also be a gray jacket with dark-wash jeans. The neutrality of the colors used in this example ensures that you’ll appear professional yet still casual. This would be ideal for a business trip, or a meeting over lunch with colleagues.
2. Smart Casual
This look combines the best of both aspects of sport coats, blazers, and jeans into a smart casual look. It features a medium-wash pair of jeans with a lightweight sweater and a small-patterned blazer.
Gray check blazer, dress shirt, pocket square, dark wash denim jeans, white sneakers
Similar options to use would be a dark-wash pair of jeans and a neutral-colored sport coat, with a small- to medium-size pattern, over on neutral sweater. Why this works is that the outfit combination plays with the contrast of both the sport coat and the jeans. From there, using a sweater or cardigan under the sport coat, this relaxes the entire outfit but still allows you to appear distinguished.
This outfit is made with a dark-wash pair of jeans and white leather sneakers, a bold colored double-breasted jacket, and a neutral-colored sweater over a patterned shirt.
You can also try swapping out your bold-colored double-breasted jacket for a more pattern blazer or sport coat. This is certainly the most casual outfit out of the three that we’ve discussed so far, and it allows you to combine a few different elements of style while still giving you a single outfit that works in many situations.
Olive Green Double Breasted Blazer, Navy Grid Shirt, Cream Knit Long Sleeves, Dark Washed Denim Pants, and White Sneakers
While pairing a blazer or sport coat with jeans seems like a very easy thing to do at first, it’s important to remember that if the formality or casualness of the ensemble is not working together, your overall outfit will look mismatched. Get a handle on the details we’ve discussed today, though, and you” be able to wear your jacket-and-jean ensembles in many different situations!
How do your pair your jackets with jeans? Share with us in the comments.
Jackets & Jeans: Menswear Combinations for Blazers, Sport Coats & Denim
Here’s how to best wear sport coats and blazers with jeans, and why these outfit suggestions will work for you.