Black shirts are the cheat code of smart-casual style. They can elevate even the most casual pairs of jeans. But how exactly should you wear dark blue jeans with black shirts?
In smart-casual settings, wear a black button-up shirt with a slim, tapered pair of dark blue jeans. For more casual events, you could also consider black polos, Henleys, and T-shirts, as well as distressed, skinny, or wide-leg pairs of dark blue jeans.
That’s the short answer. But as always, there’s a whole lot more to it.
First, we’ll run through a few great outfit examples for you to try out.
Then, we’ll go through some essential tips for getting the most effective result no matter what you might be dressing for.
Let’s get to it.
3 Dark Blue Jeans And Black Shirt Outfits
We’re going from a “dressy” way of wearing it to a much more casual way. This should give you a good idea of just how many different ways there are of wearing this combination.
It depends on the style of each of these two items. It also depends on what other items you choose to wear them with.
Items: Dark Blue Jeans, Black Button-Up Shirt, Grey Sport Coat/Blazer, Dark Brown Derby Shoes
Here, we’re wearing a black button-up shirt with a smart-looking pair of dark blue jeans.
While you could go for a black dress shirt, a button-up made from a more casual fabric/weave would usually sync better with the casual and rugged texture of denim.
So, think of Oxford cloth (i.e OCBDs), linen, or chambray.
The grey sport coat is light in shade and relaxed, with minimal structure and padding. These sorts of jackets are ideal when dressing up a pair of jeans.
Not casual, but not too formal for a pair of jeans either.
You could go for a pair of black dress shoes here, but be cautious. Black dress shoes, especially Oxfords and even Derbys, can have quite a professional or formal look to them.
Sometimes, they can look a little jarring when wearing a pair of jeans.
Dark brown dress shoes, on the other hand, are dressy while also looking in sync with a pair of jeans. The Derby shoes we’ve gone for are no exception.
The brown also adds a touch of contrast and warmth to a cool-colored outfit.
Items: Dark Blue Jeans, Black Button Up Shirt, Shawl Collar Cardigan, Brown Suede Chukka Boots
You’ll notice how the same black button-up looks more casual when layered under a woolen shawl collar cardigan.
It produces a very different aesthetic from the grey sport coat used in the dressier example above.
It also shows just how versatile a dark blue pair of jeans can be. It syncs well with casual outfits like this one (and the next one), as well as dressier outfits like the previous one.
If you didn’t want to go for a black button-up shirt here, you could consider more casual shirt styles such as a polo or a Henley.
Styles such as these are casual, but not quite as casual as a T-shirt.
Alternatively, you could consider wearing the grey blazer in the previous example over a black T-shirt. It’ll look smart and not as casual as wearing a black T-shirt under a more casual style of outer layer (as we do in the next example).
Finally, we’ve rounded off the outfit with a pair of brown suede Chukka boots. Suede boots are great in smart-casual settings, especially during the colder months of the year.
The napped texture also pairs very well with the rugged texture of denim.
Items: Dark Blue Jeans, Black T-Shirt, Brown Leather Jacket, White Sneakers
Yes, this is also a “dark blue jeans and black shirt” outfit but looks a whole lot more casual than the previous two examples.
Exchanging the button-up for a T-shirt changes the aesthetic completely. But, once again, it works exceptionally well with the same pair of dark blue jeans.
Layering a brown leather jacket over the T-shirt gives the outfit an undeniably laid-back edge. You’ve got so many other options for layering here.
Finally, it’s hard to get more casual than a pair of sneakers. However, sticking to a pair of all-white leather low-top “dress” sneakers should keep things looking minimalist and sophisticated (if this appeals to you).
5 Tips For Wearing Dark Blue Jeans With Black Shirts
Here are some tips for getting the most out of this combo. Sure, it’s hard to go wrong with, but there are always things you can do to take it to the next level.
It’s Only Ever Casual
Dark blue jeans can only ever be casual, no matter what anyone else may tell you. Yes, there are “levels” to casual.
You’ve got truly casual settings, as well as “smart-casual” ones. A pair of dark blue jeans and a black shirt could be worn to either of these.
Of course, the specific setting and the dress code should guide the style of jeans and the style of the black shirt you wear.
But more on that later.
The main point here is that you should completely avoid wearing a dark blue jeans and black shirt combo of any variety to formal, professional, or business-casual settings.
While the first two of those may seem obvious, the business-casual part may have surprised some of you.
Ultimately, black shirts and dark blue jeans should both be considered inappropriate in business-casual settings.
Stick to white or soft pastel (eg. light blue/pink) shirts and chinos/dress pants combinations instead.
Consider The Style Of The Black Shirt
When wearing dark blue jeans, the style of the black shirt you choose should be guided by the setting.
In “dressy” casual or “smart-casual” settings where you can wear jeans but there’s still a risk of underdressing, a black button-up would usually be the best option.
But, as mentioned earlier, black dress shirts can sometimes look a little too formal to wear with jeans.
It can work but isn’t usually the best option.
Instead, consider a more rugged fabric/weave such as Oxford cloth, linen, or chambray.
These textures are rough to the touch and wrinklier than the tightly woven cotton you often find in dress shirts.
Casual button-up shirts will also usually have relaxed collars and shorter hems than dress shirts.
Ultimately, casual button-up shirts such as these are ideal for wearing with dark blue jeans in smart-casual settings.
In more casual environments where a button-up shirt isn’t necessary, you’ve got plenty of other options.
Consider a black polo, Henley, or T-shirt (crew-neck or V-neck).
Consider The Features Of The Dark Blue Jeans
Much like the style of the black shirt you choose, the features of the dark blue jeans should be guided by the dressiness of the setting.
In smart-casual settings, wear your black shirt with a smart pair of dark blue jeans.
While jeans could never be formal, it’s hard to deny that some pairs just look dressier than others.
“Smart” dark blue jeans aren’t distressed and usually have a slim or even a tapered fit. They’ll be of an average length – not cropped or baggy. The hem will usually break as it reaches the top of the shoe.
More relaxed and casual pairs of dark blue jeans may have features of distressing – rips, frays, fading, and so on.
They may also have a more eye-catching fit – skinny, wide-leg, bootcut, etc.
At the end of the day, a pair of smart dark blue jeans can be worn in both casual and smart-casual settings, while a pair of distressed, baggy jeans shouldn’t be worn in smart-casual settings.
So, you could say that a pair of slim, tapered, non-distressed dark blue jeans is a lot more versatile. It should be your first purchase.
After that, you can expand your wardrobe to include more casual-looking pairs of jeans.
The Shoes Should Suit The Setting
When wearing dark blue jeans with a black shirt in smart-casual settings, consider a pair of brown calf or suede shoes. In more casual environments, a pair of all-white leather sneakers works very well as an alternative.
Dark brown shoes work especially well here, partly because they sync well with the dark aesthetic of the outfit as a whole (i.e dark blue and black).
As mentioned earlier, they also add a touch of contrast to the outfit.
If you feel as though a pair of dress shoes in a shiny grain of leather would be too much, but a pair of sneakers wouldn’t be enough, consider suede.
Suede Derbys, monk straps, loafers, Chukka boots, Chelsea boots – they’d all work exceptionally well.
Layering Works Great
As you saw in the outfit examples earlier on, you’ve got many layering options when wearing dark blue jeans with a black shirt.
Once again, the outer layer you choose to wear over your black shirt does depend on the setting.
Blazers and sport coats when you’re looking to dress up a little. Dark grey and dark brown work very well here.
If you feel as though a blazer or sport coat would be too much, consider a woolen cardigan instead.
But when dressing down, it’s hard to deny just how many options you’ve got for your outer layer.
Chore coats, trucker jackets, overshirts, “shackets”, flannels, and so on. They all work great with jeans.