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How To Wear Navy Shirts With Black Jeans (Outfits, Tips)

March 1, 2023
How To Wear Navy Shirts With Black Jeans (Outfits, Tips)

Some say navy and black items shouldn’t mix. Others seem to swear by this color combo more than any other. The question is, can you really wear a navy shirt with black jeans? 

Yes, a navy shirt and black jeans combination can be worn in both casual and smart-casual settings. In smart-casual settings, navy button-up shirts in chambray and Oxford cloth work well with slim, tapered, and non-distressed pairs of black jeans. 

That’s the short answer but read on if you really want to nail this one. 

First, you’ll see a few great outfits you can try out for yourself. Then, we’ll run through some tips for getting this combination perfect no matter what you may be dressing for. 

Let’s get to it. 

man in navy blue shirt and black jeans
Image From Deposit Photos

3 Navy Shirt And Black Jeans Outfits To Try

We’ll start with a dressy way to wear it, before swiftly moving onto a couple of casual ways. 


Casual navy shirt with dark grey blazer, black jeans and dark brown dress shoes
Images From Deposit Photos

Items: Navy OCBD Shirt, Charcoal Blazer, Black Jeans, Dark Brown Derby Shoes 

This navy shirt and black jeans combination would work well for a smart-casual setting where there’s a slight risk of underdressing. 

It’s a level up from simply “casual”, ideal for settings where a T-shirt or polo wouldn’t be enough. 

Going for a long-sleeve navy button-up shirt definitely helps dress the combination up a notch. 

OCBDs are ideal because they can be dressed up or dressed down with ease. 

The black jeans you choose in this kind-of-dressy outfit would be slim/tapered and non-distressed. 

The charcoal sport coat isn’t essential but works well. A blazer or sport coat is a quick and easy way to dress up any casual combo. 

Finally, we’ve rounded things up with a pair of dark brown Derby shoes. Dressy, but not so dressy that they’d look awkward with a pair of jeans. 

More Casual

Casual navy shirt with grey cardigan, black jeans and brown chukka boots
Images From Deposit Photos

Items: Navy OCBD/Chambray/Linen Shirt, Black Jeans, Grey Shawl Collar Cardigan, Suede Chukka Boots 

Here, we’re dressing this combination down a little, but not by too much. This navy shirt and black jeans outfit would probably still be OK for most smart-casual settings. 

Once again, we’ve gone for a navy button-up shirt. If you’d prefer to go a little more casual than an OCBD, however, consider a navy chambray or linen shirt instead. 

The outer layer we’ve gone for here is a shawl collar cardigan. 

I love shawl collar cardigans because they’ve got an effortlessly dapper look to them while still remaining casual to their core. 

They just look a notch sharper than other types of cardigans and it’s always worth having one in your wardrobe.

The suede chukka boots definitely look more casual than the Derbys in the previous example, but they work so well with black jeans. 

Going for dark brown chukkas generally works best as it reduces the contrast between the jeans and the boots. 

Most Casual

Dark blue tshirt with zipped hoodie, black jeans and white sneakers
Images From Deposit Photos

Items: Navy T-Shirt, Black Jeans, Grey Zip-Up Hoodie, White Low-Top Leather Sneakers

Yep, we’ve really gone this casual. Here, we’ve gone for a navy T-shirt instead of a button-up. 

This makes the outfit look several times more casual. 

If you didn’t want to go this casual with your navy shirt, you could swap the tee for a polo or a Henley instead. 

The black jeans you choose to wear here might be more casual-looking as well. They may be wide-leg, skinny, or bootcut. They may be distressed and intentionally raggedy looking. 

You’ve got options when you’re dressing down this much. 

Layering with a zip-up hoodie is undeniably casual too. During the warmer months of the year, you could swap it for a light overshirt instead. 

5 Tips For Wearing A Navy Shirt With Black Jeans

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of this combination whenever and wherever you wear it. 

Smart-Casual Or Casual Only

Ultimately, a navy shirt and black jeans combination should never be considered anything other than casual. 

In other words, only wear it to casual or smart-casual settings. 

It shouldn’t be worn in professional, formal, or business-casual settings. 

Truly casual settings are those where you could generally wear anything you wanted as there’s no real risk of underdressing. 

Smart-casual settings are those where a navy T-shirt wouldn’t be enough, but a casual navy button-up would usually be fine. 

This is assuming you combine it with the right items – more on that later. 

Consider The Style Of The Navy Shirt 

It’s worth noting that there are many different styles of “navy shirt” and some will inevitably look more casual than others. 

A navy dress shirt would be the most formal-looking version of one. 

But wearing a navy dress shirt with black jeans doesn’t usually lead to great results. There’s simply too much of a formality mismatch. 

navy blue shirt
A navy dress shirt – usually too formal to wear with black jeans

Image From Deposit Photos

The dress shirt just looks too formal to wear with the jeans. 

In general, dress shirts have smooth, wrinkle-resistant textures, long hems, and stiff collars. 

They’re made from tightly woven fabrics and often have a sheen to them. 

As you can imagine, the contrast between a dress shirt and a pair of rugged, relaxed black denim jeans is pretty significant. 

Overall, you’d be better off going with a similarly casual-looking button-up shirt. 

The best options include Navy Oxford Cloth Button Downs (OCBDs), chambray shirts, and linen shirts. 

These fabrics have a more rugged look and feel to them, while still looking dressy enough to wear in smart-casual settings. 

They’ll also usually have casual shirt features such as a relaxed, button-down collar, more prominent seam details, and shorter hems that won’t look awkward untucked.

In more casual settings, you may feel as though a button-up shirt isn’t even necessary. 

Here you could consider a navy T-shirt, polo, or Henley instead. Any of them would pair very effectively with black jeans. 

The Features Of The Black Jeans Make A Difference

Much like with the navy shirt, the features of the black jeans will make a huge difference as to how the outfit looks as a whole. 

In smart-casual settings where you’re likely to be wearing a navy button-up shirt, consider a similarly “smart” looking pair of black jeans. 

It’s important to be careful with the wording here, as at the end of the day, a pair of jeans could never truly be dressy. 

But it’s hard to deny that some pairs of black jeans look dressier than others. 

Generally speaking, dressy pairs of black jeans are more likely to be slim-fit, tapered, and non-distressed. 

“Distressing” refers to the manufacturing process used to make the fabric look more vintage. Think of jeans with rips, frays, and fading (acid washing or stone washing). 

While distressed jeans seem to fade in and out of popularity, they’ll always make a pair of jeans look more casual. 

Ultimately, when dressing your navy shirt and black jeans combo up, avoid distressed jeans whenever possible. 

The fit is also crucial. As mentioned earlier, slim-fit, tapered black jeans tend to look smarter. 

Baggier fits (wide-leg, bootcut) and skinnier fits will usually look more casual. 

To sum all of this up, these “rules” will usually serve you well: 

  • Wear navy button-up shirts with dressy pairs of black jeans (slim, tapered, non-distressed). 
  • Wear casual navy shirt styles (tees, polos, Henleys) with either dressy or casual-looking pairs of black jeans. 

Black, Brown, And White Shoes Work Great

When wearing a navy shirt with black jeans in smart-casual settings, black and brown dress shoes often work well. In more casual settings, all-white leather low-top sneakers are a great way to add some contrast. 

While black shoes would be the obvious choice here, it’s important to be careful with the style of black shoes you choose. 

Black dress shoes can have quite a formal and professional look and feel to them – often so much so that a pair of jeans can sometimes look awkward when worn with a pair. 

So, try to choose a pair of black shoes on the more casual end of the dress shoe spectrum. 

Try a pair of black bit loafers. Alternatively, consider a pair of black suede dress shoes instead. 

black horsebit loafers alone
Image From Shutterstock

Suede black Derbys and monk straps look a whole lot more casual and jeans-friendly than those in shinier grains of leather. 

Brown dress shoes have the benefit of looking more casual than black ones and also add a nice touch of contrast to the outfit as a whole. 

As mentioned earlier, dark brown dress shoes (Derbys, monk straps, and loafers) work well because they add a small amount of contrast while still syncing with the dark overall aesthetic of the outfit. 

dark brown suede shoes
Image From Deposit Photos

All-white leather low-top sneakers might seem like an odd chance given how dark the combination is overall, but it’s a great way to add an eye-catching pop of contrast to a truly casual outfit. 

Consider A Dark Grey Blazer Or Sport Coat

A blazer or sport coat would work well when wearing a navy shirt and black jeans to a smart-casual setting. 

While you could experiment with the color, it’s generally best to keep things dark and neutral. 

A light, bright, or bold-colored blazer might look a little excessive given how dark and in-your-face the shirt and jeans combination is already. 

Dark grey blazers and sport coats work especially well here. 

charcoal grey blazer
Image From Deposit Photos

It’s neutral and will coordinate seamlessly with the navy shirt and the black jeans. But it’s also different enough from the two colors to add some contrast. 

The dark grey, navy, and black combination is hard to go wrong with.