How To Wear the Right Jeans for Any Occasion

Young people showing off jeans

If you are like most men, you probably have a few pairs of jeans in your closet that you've broken in just the way you like them. The denim feels nice and soft from so much wear. But while you love your jeans, you aren't always sure when it is appropriate to wear them or what to pair them with. A lot to depends on where you are going and what the occasion is. Here are some guidelines on how to wear the right jeans for any occasion:

  1. All jeans are not created equal. There are very casual jeans and then dressier pairs. Make sure you have some of both in your closet. Casual jeans may be more faded or distressed. Darker, well-cut jeans are better for nicer occasions.
  2. Remember that jeans alone don't make the outfit.  What you pair your jeans will either take your outfit up a notch or establish it as undeniably casual. 
  3. A pressed fitted button-down gives a crisp look to jeans and works for a casual date, a very dressed down day in the office or dinner out.  Bring along a sweater to take you through the evening.
  4. Dress up dark jeans with a blazer. This adds instant polish to any outfit and can look very modern with the right shoes.
  5. Don't forget that footwear and belts are accessories, too.  Opt for boots for a stylish alternative that can dress up your look. And dress shoes are a predictable, and always appropriate, option with a nice shirt.  Wear your jeans with sneakers for a football game or casual day out.  Also vary your belt accordingly. A casual canvas belt or woven one may be a good choice for a weekend afternoon, while a polished black or brown leather belt may work better for a dressier occasion.
  6. Find out what the dress code is at your office. In some more relaxed environments, a nice pair of jeans with a jacket or pressed shirt is appropriate attire for casual day. Other offices have strict "no jeans" policies, so make sure you know what the rules are in your workplace and dress accordingly. If jeans are an acceptable option but your office is somewhat formal anyway, select a neat pair, possibly with a darker wash, and wear them with nice leather shoes or boots and a matching belt. Or if you work in a very informal, creative setting, see what your co-workers and superiors are wearing and follow their lead. You may be able to exercise your personal style by wearing trendier styles.
  7. If you are not sure how to dress for a dinner date, a night at the theater or an evening out, a well-fitting pair of jeans and nice shirt or sweater can be a good middle of the road choice. Add a nice sports jacket so you won't be underdressed. You can always take off the jacket if you don't need it and look more relaxed instantly. This is an easy way to look like you belong no matter what the setting.

If you don't yet have the right jeans for any occasion, here are a few tips about how to buy the right jeans and make them look perfect for anything:

  1. If you are investing in a few pairs of good jeans, decide whether you are more apt to wear classic styles, which will be fashionable for the next few years, or whether you prefer to be on the cutting edge with trendier cuts and detailing. You may want to select a pair or two of each, so you can count on your classic jeans for more traditional occasions and save your high-fashion jeans for a night out. But consider your lifestyle and taste when deciding what makes the most sense for your wardrobe.
  2. Learn the options that are available when it comes to jeans. The popular cuts right now include regular, which are traditional, five pocket jeans that fit well and aren't too loose or too tight; relaxed and loose, which fit more generously and have a wider leg; straight leg, which are what they sound like, falling in a relatively straight line from the hip to the ankle; and low rise, which means that top of the jeans sits below the natural waist; and boot cut, which are slightly wider, or slightly flared, at the bottom. The popular finishes include faded, regular and distressed/weathered, which means the jeans look worn in when you buy them.
  3. Fit matters, so don't go by size alone. Jean manufacturers all size their jeans differently, so it is important to try on each pair before you buy. Make sure the jeans fit your body correctly in all of the right places. You want to be sure that the jeans don't gap at the back of the waist, and you want to check that they fit your shape but have enough room for your wallet and keys to fit without straining the seams. Also make sure the jeans have enough room in the crotch area without pulling. You can try sitting down to be sure the jeans will feel good to wear all day, too. Finally, when you find a pair you like, check out the rear view in a three-dimensional mirror to ensure that the back looks as good as the front.
  4. Remember that you can always have the length hemmed. Just wash the jeans first, as they will shrink up a little, and try them on with the shoes you will wear.
  5. Wish you could afford to have your jeans custom-made to fit perfectly? Today, several companies offer this option. Learn about Levi Strauss &Co.'s "Original Spin" system, which is available at select stores. The customer's measurements are taken by a salesperson, along with style and fabric preferences, and this information is entered into a computer to design a customized pair, which is then made and shipped to the customer's home. A similar approach is offered through the Land's End Custom Department. In this case, however, customers take their own measurements and enter them through Land End's website at to order custom fit and designed jeans and other clothes.


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