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How To Wear A Denim Shirt With Shorts

Denim is the epitome of casual wear for both shirts and pants. Similarly, shorts are pretty casual garments too. The question is, can you wear a denim shirt with shorts?

A denim shirt looks great with shorts. Think about the color of your shorts (neutral colors work best) and your denim shirt’s shade. Also, consider wearing an oversized T-shirt and sporting your denim shirt as an overlayer. Consider tucking in with the French tuck.

While that’s the short answer, there’s much more to explore.

Let’s dig deeper.

1. Neutral-Colored Shorts Work Best

Wearing shorts of the wrong color can really throw off your outfit – it can appear clumsy.

On top of that, the awkwardness of the color mismatch can detract from the cool, casual aesthetic of the outfit.

A denim shirt is somewhat a statement piece itself, so when wearing a denim shirt with shorts, it’s best to wear shorts of a neutral color.

Neutral colors are typically those that don’t appear on the color wheel. They are often muted shades that give the illusion of a lack of color.

denim shirt with khaki shorts
Image From Deposit Photos

Despite not appearing on the color wheel, they are complementary to both primary and secondary colors.

Some examples of neutral colors are black, white, grey, cream, khaki, brown, and beige.

Most neutral colors work well with denim shirts; however, these are affected by the shade of your denim to a certain extent.

A denim shirt with white shorts looks particularly good – especially in the summer – regardless of the shade of your denim shirt.

2. Consider An Oversized T-Shirt

It’s no secret that denim shirts look great when worn as an overlayer. This is no exception when it comes to wearing one with shorts.

Surprisingly, oversized T-shirts look especially good as the underlayer to a denim shirt.

Usually, an oversized T-shirt wouldn’t be recommended; however, when dressing casually, there’s much more room for experimentation and pushing the boundaries.

And in this case, wearing an oversized T-shirt works incredibly well, as not only does it reinforce the casual nature of the outfit, but it’s more comfortable and easier to French tuck too.

Leave all the buttons of your denim shirt undone, and wear the T-shirt underneath for the ultimate casual look.

While the color of your T-shirt is open to debate, there is one T-shirt color that you can’t go wrong when wearing with a denim shirt: white.

A denim shirt with a white underlayer is an absolute classic in casualwear, and for good reason. 

The texture and color of the denim shirt blend effortlessly with the plain, incredibly casual nature of an oversized white T-shirt.  

3. Think About Your Shorts Style

There are many shorts styles available, and it’s important to pick the right one when wearing shorts with a denim shirt.

Simply put, your denim shirt should be the centerpiece of your outfit, the shorts being a subtle accompaniment to it.

Therefore, the best shorts to wear with this outfit are those without any additional pockets or details; plain, flat-front chino shorts are ideal.

Other shorts that can work well are pleated and Bermuda shorts; however, these are typically the least casual styles of shorts.

Avoiding any sports shorts (such as running, swimming, or cycling shorts) is highly recommended.

denim shirt overlayer with shorts
Image From Deposit Photos

Furthermore, while cargo shorts can work, the mentioned shorts are simply better options.

Denim shorts should also be avoided because – when worn with a denim shirt – there’d be a surplus of denim. This could appear extravagant.

It’s best to avoid any patterns or extra detailing, such as those often found on board shorts or large pockets, as this will likely look excessive and flamboyant.

4. Long Sleeve Vs. Short Sleeve 

Long sleeve shirts versus short sleeve shirts is a controversial matter in men’s style. 

It’s widely accepted that short sleeve shirts aren’t appropriate for an event of even slight formality: that they are strictly kept for casual wear.

Conversely, long sleeve shirts are appropriate for pretty much any occasion, from casual to white tie (the epitome of formality) – so long as you pick the right style.

Because of the incredibly casual nature of this outfit, whether you pick a long sleeve shirt or short sleeve shirt is primarily down to personal preference.

However, it’s advisable to consider a few factors when deciding which one to choose.

Firstly, if you’re wearing your denim shirt as an overlayer, rather than solely a shirt, it’s best to go for a long sleeve shirt.

If you want the casualness of a short sleeve shirt, but are wearing your denim shirt as an overlayer, consider rolling up your sleeves slightly.

Your elbow is the optimum place to which you should roll your sleeves.

Another factor to think about – if you’re not wearing your denim shirt as an overlayer – is the weather.

Denim can be quite a warm fabric, and wearing a long sleeve denim shirt in the scorching heat is pretty impractical. 

Therefore, in the case of warm weather, a short sleeve denim shirt is often the better, more comfortable option.

5. Leave Your Denim Shirt Untucked

Fully tucking in your shirt is generally kept for occasions leaning more toward formal than anything else.

untucked denim shirt with shorts
Image From Deposit Photos

And because a denim shirt with shorts is very casual, it’s best to leave your shirt untucked.

This is the case for both wearing it as an overlayer and wearing it as a shirt.

Having said that, however, there are different types of tucks. While the most formal is the full tuck, there are more casual options.

The full tuck is the most common tuck and involves tucking in your shirt all the way around your waistline. It’s best kept for formal occasions.

On the other hand, the French tuck (sometimes called the half tuck) is a tuck that is becoming increasingly common in men’s style.

The French tuck is simply tucking in the front half of your shirt. It looks best when slightly off-centered in one direction.

This tuck is ideal if you wish to add a bit of extra flair to your casual outfit and is optimal when not wearing your shirt as an overlayer.

If you’re wearing your denim shirt as an overlayer, tucking in your shirt isn’t advised.

Furthermore, if your shirt is too long, tucking in isn’t recommended as – when worn with shorts – the tail of your shirt can look disproportionate to them; you’re better off wearing it as an oversized shirt.

6. Keep It Casual

By ensuring that you only wear a denim shirt with shorts on very casual occasions, you can eliminate the potential of underdressing at an event.

Denim is a staple of casualwear and should be treated as such. As well as this, shorts are a very casual garment.

Therefore, together, they form an incredibly casual outfit, not appropriate for anything of even slight formality.

This is also true when wearing a denim shirt with an oversized T-shirt as an underlayer.

While some casual outfits can be slightly dressed up with subtle changes, such as a blazer or dress shoes, this isn’t the case for a denim shirt and shorts.

The outfit is casual through and through and should, therefore, be treated this way.

7. Shoe Style Matters

This outfit is the embodiment of casual wear, so to accompany it, it’s best to wear shoes of the same nature.

Choosing to wear dress shoes with this outfit, for example, would create a formality mismatch that would make you stand out in a negative light.

Therefore, it’s best to stick to casual shoes; sneakers work particularly well with a denim shirt and shorts.

Because the denim shirt is the outfit’s centerpiece, ensure that you avoid any extra details or patterns on your sneakers. Block-colored, minimalistic sneakers work best.

With this outfit, you can’t go wrong with white sneakers. They are extremely versatile and – similar to a white underlayer – work elegantly and seamlessly with denim.