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How To Wear A Denim Shirt With Black Jeans

December 21, 2022
How To Wear A Denim Shirt With Black Jeans

Casual attire gives you plenty of freedom to experiment, but it’s hard to deny that certain combinations can be tricky to pull off. So, can you really wear a denim shirt with black jeans? 

A denim shirt can be worn with black jeans in casual and smart-casual settings. Black and dark blue denim shirts work better in dressier settings while wearing lighter-colored alternatives with black jeans will usually look more casual. Consider using the denim shirt as an overlayer when really dressing down. 

That’s the short and sweet answer, but there’s plenty more that you’ll need to know. 

After going through a few outfits you can try out for yourself, we’ll run through some tips to help you perfect the combination every time. 

Let’s get to it. 

blue denim shirt and jeans
Image From Deposit Photos

3 Denim Shirt And Black Jeans Outfits Inspire You

We’re going from the dressiest way to the most casual way. 

While it should only be worn in casual and smart-casual settings, you’ll notice how there are ways of wearing it that look dressier than others. 

It all depends on the specific colors used, as well as the other items you choose to wear. 


Denim jacket + black jeans + black leather chelsea boots
Images From Deposit Photos

Items: Dark Blue Denim Shirt (Buttoned), Black Jeans, Black Chelsea Boots, Dress Watch

Here’s a “smart-casual” way of wearing it. 

Dark denim shirts will always look dressier than those in lighter colors. 

If you were looking to dress up this combination, go for a black, dark blue, or dark grey denim shirt. 

Any of them would look fantastic with a pair of black jeans. 

In addition, make a point to wear the denim shirt as a button-up and not as an overlayer. Be sure to button it up, leaving the top one or two buttons undone. 

The black jeans you choose here should be tapered and slim-fitting. Slim-fit jeans will generally look more formal than wider fits such as straight-leg, wide-leg, and bootcut jeans. 

Black Chelsea boots look fantastic here as they’ll sync effortlessly with the black jeans. 

In many ways, black Chelseas are the dressiest style and color of a mainstream boot you could possibly choose. 

It does work better during the winter and fall months, however. If you were looking for a dressy alternative during the warmer months, consider a pair of dark brown Derby shoes instead. 

More Casual

Blue denim shirt + black jeans + dark brown suede shoes
Images From Deposit Photos

Items: Blue Denim Shirt, Black Jeans, Brown Suede Derby Shoes  

We’re still leaving the denim shirt buttoned up here, but we’re switching the shoes up to something a little more casual.

Going for suede shoes or boots is a great option because the napped texture will always look more casual and laid-back than shinier grains of leather. 

In addition, the texture of suede tends to look great when paired with denim. 

A pair of chukka or balmoral boots would both look great here. 

If you want a more summer-friendly pair of casual or smart-casual shoes to wear with your denim shirt and black jeans, consider a pair of loafers. 

When it comes to the denim shirt, you could go for any color you wanted, but feel free to go for lighter colors when dressing down. 

Light/medium blue or light grey would both be very reasonable and aesthetically pleasing options. 

Most Casual

Blue denim shirt + black jeans + pink tshirt + white sneakers
Images From Deposit Photos

Items: Blue Denim Shirt (Unbuttoned) Overlayer, Pink T-Shirt, Black Jeans, All-White Low-Top Sneakers  

To really dress down your denim shirt and black jeans outfit, leave the shirt unbuttoned and layered over a T-shirt. 

A white tee would be the easiest and most versatile option for an underlayer, but you could add a pop of color with a more vivid T-shirt if you want to. 

For example, consider an unbuttoned light blue denim shirt layered over a pink or maroon T-shirt. 

The denim shirt and black jeans would provide a neutral foundation through which the color provided by the T-shirt will “pop”. 

The style of black jeans you choose to wear here may also be more casual. Wider fits and features of distressing (eg. frays, rips, acid washing) could also work well. 

Finally, round things up with a pair of minimalist all-white leather low-top sneakers. They’re incredibly versatile and will keep things looking sophisticated and subtle even when dressing down. 

5 Tips For Wearing A Denim Shirt With Jeans

Here are some essential tips for wearing this combination no matter what you may be dressing for. 

denim jacket with striped t shirt
Image From Deposit Photos

Ensure It’s Appropriate In The First Place

A denim shirt and black jeans outfit of any variety should only be worn in casual and smart-casual settings. 

It’s important to never wear it in formal or professional environments as it’ll always come across as underdressing. 

It may sound a little restrictive, but wearing denim should be done with caution. 

It’s a classic staple of casual attire around the globe, but wearing it inappropriately has, unfortunately, become increasingly common. 

No matter how dressy a pair of slim-fit black jeans may look, and no matter how dark and formal a denim shirt may come across, the combo should always be considered casual. 

As you saw from the outfit examples above, however, there are definitely ways of wearing the combo that would make it suitable to wear in “smart-casual” settings. 

But trying to wear it in settings any more formal than this will usually lead to disaster. 

Consider The Color Of Your Denim Shirt

In smart-casual settings, wear black jeans with a black, dark grey, or dark blue denim shirt. In very casual settings, denim shirts in lighter colors such as light blue or light grey can work well with black jeans. 

Here’s a summary table: 

Light Blue Denim Shirt And Black JeansCasual
Dark Blue Denim Shirt And Black JeansSmart-Casual
Grey Denim Shirt And Black JeansCasual If Light Grey, Smart-Casual If Dark Grey
Black Denim Shirt And Black JeansSmart-Casual

Remember, the darker the color, the dressier it’ll look. You could, therefore, argue that a black denim shirt would be the most “formal” option when wearing black jeans. 

But many people do prefer to have a bit of contrast between the shirt and jeans when wearing denim-on-denim. 

This would mean choosing a similarly dark denim shirt but one that’s easy to distinguish from the color of the black jeans. 

Going for a dark grey or dark blue denim shirt would achieve this. 

Denim shirts in lighter colors (eg. light blue/light grey) would be a better option when dressing down. 

This isn’t just because lighter colors tend to look more casual in the first place. 

It’s also because it’ll lead to more contrast between the denim shirt and the jeans. Think of the contrast achieved between a white denim shirt and a pair of black jeans as an extreme example. 

The contrast will be attention-grabbing, striking, and casual looking. 

Bear in mind that it’s possible to find denim shirts in even more vibrant, vivid, and non-neutral colors. They’re less traditional but can still work well in casual settings. 

At the end of the day, the black jeans are neutral enough to pair with denim shirts of any color – as long as the setting is casual enough to allow for it. 

Underlayers Work Well In Casual Settings

Denim shirts make for great overlayers. In other words, they look fantastic when they’re left unbuttoned and layered over another shirt. 

The easiest and most laid-back way to achieve this would be to simply leave the denim shirt unbuttoned over a T-shirt. 

denim shirt and black t shirt
Image From Deposit Photos

You’ll notice how it looks significantly more casual than leaving the denim shirt buttoned up from bottom to top. 

If you really wanted to embrace a casual aesthetic when wearing a denim shirt and black jeans, strongly consider using the denim shirt as an overlayer. 

It’s important to ensure that the denim shirt is large enough to allow you to fit another layer under it. Not leaving enough room will definitely feel restrictive. 

The denim shirt doesn’t have to be oversized – it just needs to have a relaxed fit that’ll feel comfortable with a simple T-shirt under it. 

Consider A Pop Of Color 

Another benefit of using the denim shirt as an overlayer is that it gives you the opportunity to wear a T-shirt that adds a pop of color to an otherwise neutral outfit. 

Of course, you don’t necessarily need to add a pop of color. But it often makes a casual outfit a touch more visually interesting. 

For example, you could wear a black denim shirt with black jeans, but leave the black denim shirt unbuttoned and layered over a burnt orange T-shirt. 

The contrast between the black shirt/jeans and the orange shirt would be incredibly eye-catching and yes – very casual. 

But given how neutral the jeans and shirt pairing is, you could wear a T-shirt of any color and it would coordinate effortlessly. 

However, to keep things looking sophisticated, try to choose a dark and muted shade of a vivid color to keep in sync with the dark overall aesthetic. 

So, instead of a bright and bold shade of orange, consider burnt orange. 

Instead of scarlet red, go for crimson, maroon, or burgundy. 

Choose The Right Footwear

A common mistake people make is to wear shoes that are too formal to make sense with a casual denim-on-denim outfit. 

For example, trying to wear a pair of black Oxford shoes with a denim shirt and black jeans combination would usually lead to a formality mismatch. 

In other words, the shoes will look too formal to wear with black jeans. 

So, try to choose a pair of shoes that can reasonably be labeled as either casual or smart-casual. 

Most boot styles would fall within this category – even black leather Chelseas. 

Derby shoes, monk straps, and loafers are the more casual dress shoe styles you could pull off with a dressy-looking denim shirt and black jeans combination. 

brown chukka boots
Suede Chukka Boots

Image From Deposit Photos

When going more casual, sneakers are a great option, as well as suede alternatives of the dress shoe styles mentioned above. 

As you can see, you aren’t exactly short of options. 

Just be aware that choosing the wrong footwear can lead to a formality mismatch and potentially ruin a denim shirt and jeans outfit that’s otherwise in perfect sync.


It’s a combination that’s versatile enough to wear in a wide variety of casual settings, but there are several different ways of doing it. 

As you’ve now seen, certain ways will undoubtedly come across as dressier than others. It all depends on the colors and fits of the denim shirt/jeans you choose, as well as the other items you wear them with.