Wearing Jeans & Formal Shirts: How To Get The Right Look

Closeup of model wearing jeans and a formal shirt with blazer drinking coffee

Here, we’re going to talk about jeans & formal shirts. Your formal shirt doesn’t have to be reserved for the office or formal occasions. Worn the right way, it can be a great feature of a dressed down, casual outfit for nights out on the town, or even for more relaxed meetings.

They can make a really fantastic match for both casual and smart casual outfits, but there are few things you should consider before stepping into some straight cut jeans and your best formal shirt.

The Importance of Cut & Fit

We’re looking to strike a balance between casual and dressed up here, and that’s something that cut and fit can make or break.

A super relaxed fit shirt and very baggy jeans just won’t do. Nor will a perfectly fitted formal shirt go with a pair of relaxed jeans. However, if both garments are well fitted and compliment each other as well as your body type, they’ll look great.

Slim or skinny fit jeans will usually look great with a slim fit shirt, while regular fit jeans often look best with a regular fit shirt. However, this is not a perfect and unyielding rule. Your body shape is the deciding factor here. For example, if you have a bigger torso but a slimmer lower body, a regular fit shirt and slim fit jeans might look best.

There are some other exceptions regarding personal taste and style too: for a very casual look, slim jeans can look great with a regular or even relaxed fit shirt if it’s not tucked in, with the sleeves rolled up nonchalantly. We’ll go into some more detail on this below.

Pay Heed To The Details

It’s the details which make all the difference in pulling off jeans and a formal shirt. If you want a smarter look, keep your shirt tucked in and sleeves rolled down, and leave just the top button open.

Conversely, a more casual look can easily be found by rolling the sleeves up to the forearm, untucking the shirt and undoing a few buttons (not too many—two, maximum three).

And a word on the collar of your formal shirt: At Nickson, ours come in straight point and cutaway styles. It’s the former which looks best with jeans, as cutaway collars are a little too formal.

Style Inspiration: 3 Great Jeans & formal shirt Combos

1. Medium-Dark Blue Jeans, Light Blue Formal shirt

Light on dark. It’s a textured combination that strikes the sweet spot between casual and dressy. It’s respectable and uncontroversial, and will fit in nicely in bars, restaurants and cafes.

Getting your other garments right here is important. We’d recommend avoiding black shoes or boots. Rather, go for brown leather or suede.

If you’re looking to wear a jacket with this outfit, a navy or grey blazer will look great. 

2. Light Blue Slim Fit Jeans, Blue Striped Slim Formal shirt

A much more eye catching combination that is best suited for casual affairs. For this look, slim fit is best (skinny jeans will also look great). You’ll want to keep your shirt untucked to add some texture here.

For the lower half, cropped jeans, white trainers and secret socks to show a bit of ankle finish this combination off perfectly. If you don’t own any cropped jeans, that’s fine, just roll the hems of your own jeans up a little. 

3. Black Slim Fit Jeans, , Light Formal Shirt

This is a favourite for good reason. Unlike the looks detailed above, this is all about creating a stark contrast between light and dark. The fit of your shirt will come down to personal taste, but this is the exception we mentioned above to the slim / regular rule.

Slim or even skinny fit black jeans will look great with either a regular fit or slim shirt. It’s just about getting the details right. For a regular (or even relaxed) shirt, go super casual. Roll up those sleeves, open two or even three buttons, and leave it untucked.

Down below, cropped jeans and sneakers look great once more. To stand out, go with a pair of white sneakers, while black or navy will offer more balance. Sneakers aren’t the only option though. Black, brown or navy Chelsea boots will look pretty mean (in a good way), while chukka boots in a light brown will also look fantastic.

Here’s hoping you’ll now feel much more freedom to pair your formal shirt with your jeans and look great doing it. Check out our other style guides and articles below, and have a look at our collection of formal shirts too. Find them right here

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