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How To Wear Blue Jeans With Brown Shoes

December 22, 2022
How To Wear Blue Jeans With Brown Shoes

Jeans are a staple of casual wear but are versatile enough to be worn with a variety of more “formal” items as well. The question is, can you wear blue jeans with brown shoes? 

Blue jeans can be worn with brown shoes in casual and smart-casual settings. Choose a tapered, slim-fit pair of blue jeans with minimal distressing to avoid a formality mismatch between the jeans and the brown shoes. Derby shoes and monk straps work especially well, while Oxfords should be avoided. 

That’s the short answer, but there’s more to it. 

Here are some essential tips for wearing blue jeans with brown shoes in the best way possible. 

Let’s get to it. 

7 Tips For Wearing Blue Jeans With Brown Shoes

Consider all of these tips before putting your outfit together. 

1. Consider The Dress Code

A blue jeans and brown shoes combination should only be worn in casual and smart-casual settings. It shouldn’t be worn to formal or business-casual events. 

blue jeans brown shoes and brown blazer
Image From Deposit Photos

While a pair of brown dress shoes would usually be perfectly acceptable in these more “formal” settings, blue jeans should never be considered anything more than casual. 

No matter how dark and tapered the pair of blue jeans might be, they should always always be thought of as casual. 

The right pair of blue jeans may work well with a pair of brown dress shoes. 

But don’t be fooled into thinking those formal brown dress shoes make the entire outfit appropriate for formal settings. 

It’s ideal for smart-casual events. 

The brown dress shoes crank up the formality of the jeans by a notch or two, dressing them up and making them look sharper than they otherwise would. 

However, it’s important to choose the right pair of blue jeans to prevent a formality mismatch between the jeans and the shoes. 

That’s what the next couple of tips will focus on. 

2. Slim Fit Blue Jeans Work Best

When wearing brown shoes, slim-fit blue jeans tend to work best. 

This is because slim-fit jeans generally have a more “formal” looking appearance to them than skinny jeans, wide-leg jeans, and bootcuts.

They gently hug the leg before gradually tapering toward the ankle. 

Choosing a dressier pair of blue jeans is important for preventing a formality mismatch. 

What you don’t want is an ultra-casual pair of blue jeans being worn with a dressy pair of brown shoes. 

This will usually look awkward and out of place. 

What you want is a relatively casual pair of brown shoes to be worn with a relatively formal pair of blue jeans. 

blue jeans brown shoes and white shirt
Image From Deposit Photos

This way, hopefully, they’ll meet somewhere in the middle. 

3. Avoid Distressed Jeans

Avoid distressed blue jeans when wearing brown dress shoes. 

This is, once again, a way of reducing the risk of a formality mismatch. 

“Distressed” jeans are manufactured in a way that makes them look more worn-in. It refers to features such as rips, frays, and fading. 

Stone washing and acid washing are other ways of giving blue jeans that used and vintage look. 

While distressed jeans can look great when wearing a pair of sneakers to a casual event, for example, they usually look too casual to be worn with brown dress shoes. 

Instead, choose a dressier-looking pair of blue jeans with minimal distressing or no distressing at all. 

Derby shoes and jeans
Image From Deposit Photos

4. Consider The Shades Of Blue And Brown

Darker shades of blue and brown will always look dressier than lighter shades.

Dark blue jeans will look more “formal” than a pair of light blue jeans. Dark brown shoes will look dressier than a pair of light brown shoes. 

If you’re looking to dress up for an event on the more “smart” end of the smart-casual spectrum, consider a pair of dark blue jeans with dark brown dress shoes. 

Combine them with a white OCBD shirt and maybe a grey sport coat – you should be good to go. 

If, on the other hand, you were looking to dress down a little, consider a pair of jeans in a lighter shade of blue. You could pair them with a similarly “casual” looking pair of light brown shoes (eg. tan brown). 

In general, light blue jeans tend to look better with light brown shoes, while dark blue jeans tend to look better with dark brown shoes. 

This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. 

But it’s just worth noting that the more different the jeans and the shoes are in terms of light vs dark, the more contrast you’ll get. 

Light brown shoes worn with dark blue jeans, for instance, will stand out. It’ll work but may not look as dressy as a pair of dark brown shoes would. 

The same goes for dark brown shoes worn with light blue jeans. It actually leads to a risk of a formality mismatch given how formal dark brown shoes can look. 

Wearing them with a casual-looking pair of light blue jeans will often lead to a pretty attention-grabbing difference in formality. 

That’s why it’s often a better idea to pair dark brown shoes with dark blue jeans and light brown shoes with light blue jeans. 

5. Brown Derby Shoes, Monk Straps, Or Loafers

Avoid Oxford shoes when wearing blue jeans – they’ll come across as too formal for the combination to work. Instead, go for a more “casual” pair of brown dress shoes such as Derbys, monk straps, or loafers. 

Earlier, we discussed how to choose a relatively “dressy” pair of blue jeans. A pair that’s dressy enough to work with brown dress shoes. 

But as mentioned earlier, it’s also a good idea to dress down the brown shoes so that the shoes and the jeans meet somewhere in the middle in terms of formality. 

Oxford shoes are effortlessly sophisticated and elegant thanks to their closed lacing system. They’re also ideal for formal events. 

However, when wearing an ever-casual pair of blue jeans, a pair of formal-looking brown Oxfords would look pretty awkward. 

Oxford shoes and jeans
Oxford shoes often look awkward when worn with blue jeans

Image From Deposit Photos

You’ve got other options. 

In reducing order of formality, here are three other types of brown shoes you could wear instead: 

  • Derby shoes
  • Monk straps
  • Loafers

Derby shoes aren’t exactly casual, but they’re definitely casual enough to be worn with the right pair of blue jeans. Plus, their open-lacing system generally makes them feel more comfortable than Oxfords. 

Monk straps are pretty similar. 

Loafers are the most casual option with their laceless, slip-on design. In many ways, they’re the perfect companion for a pair of blue jeans. 

When wearing loafers, cuffing the jeans works well given how loafers are usually worn sockless or with no-show socks. 

6. Wear A Brown Leather Belt

If you do choose to wear a belt with your blue jeans and brown shoe outfit, go for a brown leather one. 

It comes down to a fundamental principle of men’s style: 

Match the belt to the shoes. 

If you wear black shoes, wear a black belt. 

If you wear brown shoes, wear a brown belt. 

Coordinating the shoes with the belt is an easy way to make an outfit look well-coordinated. 

However, it’s important to note that you don’t necessarily have to wear a belt when wearing blue jeans and brown shoes. 

You could go belt-less if you wanted, especially if you were leaving your shirt untucked. 

7. Careful With Your Shirt Style

Finally, consider your shirt style. A brown shoes and blue jeans combination is smart-casual. Because of this, focus on choosing a similarly smart-casual shirt to go with it. 

Options you could consider include: 

  • OCBD shirts
  • Linen shirts
  • Henley shirts
  • Polo shirts

While you could wear a T-shirt, in many ways, it’s best to choose a slightly dressier shirt if possible. It would just sync better with the brown shoes. 

Avoid dress shirts if you can. They’ll generally come across as too formal to be worn with the blue jeans, despite potentially pairing pretty well with the brown shoes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a couple of FAQs on the classic combination to finish up. 

What Color Socks Go With Blue Jeans And Brown Shoes? 

Blue socks work best when wearing blue jeans and brown shoes. 

In general, it’s a good idea to try to color-match your pants with your socks. 

While this is usually more important when it comes to formal attire and isn’t really necessary when dressing casually, this combination may be an exception. 

At the end of the day, a pair of brown shoes is pretty dressy. It would make sense for you to follow a few principles of formal attire when appropriate. 

Try to find a pair of blue socks to go with the blue jeans you’re wearing. The shade of blue doesn’t matter much, but the closer the two shades are to each other, the better. 

Can You Wear Brown Boots With Blue Jeans?

Brown boots can easily be worn with blue jeans. The combination makes for the perfect smart-casual combination during the fall and winter months. 

Brown Chelsea and chukka boots work especially well, with Chelseas being the dressier option of the two. 

Cuffing the blue jeans so that the rolled hem rests against the top of the boot often looks great. 


While brown shoes may not seem like the immediately obvious option when wearing blue jeans, it’s hard to deny that the combination works incredibly well in the right setting. 

Focus on choosing a dressy pair of blue jeans and a relatively casual-looking pair of brown shoes to prevent a formality mismatch. 

Get this step right and the rest often falls into place.