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How To Wear A White Shirt With Blue Pants (Outfits, Tips)

March 1, 2023
How To Wear A White Shirt With Blue Pants (Outfits, Tips)

Put it this way; a white shirt and blue pants combination is easy to get right, but difficult to take to the next level. As always, there are certain things you can do to take a “simple” combination such as this and stand out from the crowd. 

Here’s the bottom line: 

A white shirt can be worn with blue pants in business-casual, smart-casual, and casual settings. The dressier the setting, the more likely it is that white button-up shirts and blue dress pants or chinos would be appropriate. In more casual settings, consider white polos and T-shirts, as well as blue jeans. 

But you’ll need more. 

blue pants brown shoes and brown blazer
Image From Deposit Photos

First, we’ll run through a few outfit examples. Hopefully, they’ll inspire you and also show you just how many different ways there are of wearing this combo. 

Then, we’ll go through some specific tips for perfecting this combination, no matter what you may be dressing for. 

Let’s get to it. 

white shirt blue pants brown shoes
Image From Deposit Photos

3 White Shirt And Blue Pants Outfits To Try

As is usual around here, we’ll go from the dressiest option to the most casual one. 

Note the different shades of blue, the different styles of each of these items, as well as the other items we’re combining with them. 

All of these factors play a role in making a white shirt and blue pants combination look more or less casual. 


White shirt with navy blue pants, dark grey blazer, black oxford shoes or dark brown dress shoes
Images From Deposit Photos

Items: White Poplin Cotton Dress Shirt, Navy Blue Dress Pants, Charcoal Grey Blazer, Black Oxford Shoes/Dark Brown Derby Shoes 

Let’s assume that you aren’t wearing navy pants as part of a 2-piece suit.

You may be wearing a white shirt with blue pants alone. Alternatively, you may be layering a blazer/sport coat over the white shirt, but one that doesn’t come as part of a 2-piece suit including the blue pants. 

The image above is a good example of this. 

It shows an unmatched charcoal blazer + blue pants combination. 

Overall, this outfit would be perfect for a business-casual or smart-casual setting, but wouldn’t be formal enough to wear to a truly formal or business-professional setting. 

In these stiffer environments, a full 2-piece suit would be required. 

So, stick to business-casual and smart-casual settings no matter how “formal” your white shirt and blue pants may look in isolation. 

If you aren’t wearing a 2-piece suit, don’t wear this combo to anything more formal than business-casual. 

But regardless, it’s hard to deny how dressy a white dress shirt and navy dress pants outfit can look. The darker the shade of the blue pants, the dressier the outfit will look overall. 

A blazer in a dark and neutral color such as charcoal is an easy way to make it look even dressier. 

More Casual

White shirt with navy chino, light brown cap toe oxfords and grey cardigan
Images From Deposit Photos

Items: White Chambray Button-Up Shirt, Navy Chinos, Tan Brown Dress Shoes, Grey Shawl Collar Cardigan 

Here, we’re dressing down a single notch. It’s dressy, but nowhere near as dressy as the previous example. 

This combination would be OK to wear in business-casual settings if you swapped the cardigan for a neutral-colored blazer. 

But the outfit in the image above would be more suitable for smart-casual settings where you want to show you’ve made an effort, but you’re also not trying too hard. 

Swapping the navy dress pants for chinos is another simple way of doing this. 

Chinos are versatile and can easily be worn in settings ranging from casual to business casual. 

The only downside of navy chinos (and similarly dark colors) is how they start to fade and become patchy over time. It’s one reason why I generally prefer chinos in lighter colors such as tan, stone, and khaki.

The tan brown dress shoes look more casual than the black Oxfords and dark brown Derby shoes in the “dressy” example above. 

But they’re still perfectly acceptable to wear in smart-casual and even business-casual settings. 

Most Casual

White polo shirt with brown leather jacket, medium blue jeans and white sneakers
Images From Deposit Photos

Items: White Polo, Dark Brown Leather Jacket, Blue Jeans, White Sneakers 

As you can see, this is technically a “white shirt and blue pants” combination but looks so much more casual than the previous two examples. 

A white polo is a great option because it’s casual, but a notch more “sophisticated” than a simple tee.

When it comes to the jeans, you could choose a pair in any shade of blue you want. We’re dressing down here, after all. 

Darker pairs of blue jeans with minimal distressing and a tapered fit will look less casual than those with a wide-leg fit or lots of distressing. 

Just something to bear in mind. 

The dark brown leather jacket can add a layer of cool to any casual outfit, but if you’d prefer something a little more low-key, there are alternatives. 

You could go for a hoodie, a cardigan, or an alternative jacket (eg. denim, trucker, chore, etc). 

5 Tips For Wearing A White Shirt With Blue Pants

Sticking to these should help you no matter what setting you may be dressing for. They’ll help you choose the right white shirt and the right pair of blue pants for the occasion. 

black blazer with pair of blue pants
Image From Deposit Photos

Consider The Dress Code 

A white shirt worn with blue pants can be worn in business-casual and smart-casual settings. The combination can only be worn in formal settings if the blue pants come as part of a full blue 2-piece suit. 

While some may argue otherwise, if you’re dressing for a formal event, a 2-piece suit is necessary. In other words, you would need to wear a blue suit jacket and pair of pants made from the same roll of fabric. 

To take things a step further, that 2-piece suit should be in a dark shade of blue such as navy or midnight blue if the setting was truly formal and not just a dressy smart-casual occasion. 

A white shirt worn with blue pants outside of a 2-piece suit would really only be suitable for business-casual, smart-casual, and casual settings. 

The style of the two items, as well as the shade of the blue pants you choose, should be guided by the setting, event, or occasion. 

That’s what we’ll go through in the next couple of tips. 

Select The Right Shade Of Blue Pants

When wearing a white shirt, pants in dark shades of blue will always look dressier than those in lighter shades. 

Navy blue pants are ideal when you’re wearing a white shirt to a business-casual or dressy smart-casual setting. 

Pants in light and medium shades of blue will, of course, coordinate seamlessly with the neutral white shirt. 

But the combination will look more casual than it would if you were to wear a dark blue pair of pants instead. 

The lighter the pants, the more likely it is that they’d be inappropriate to wear in business-casual settings.

Here’s a table summary: 

White Shirt With Navy PantsBusiness-Casual Or Smart-Casual
White Shirt With Midnight Blue PantsBusiness-Casual Or Smart-Casual
White Shirt With Light Blue PantsSmart-Casual
White Shirt With Sky Blue PantsSmart-Casual
White Shirt With Royal Blue PantsSmart-Casual

Of course, it isn’t just the color of the pants that determines how dressy your white shirt/blue pants combo will look. 

You also need to think about the fabric and the style of each of these two items. Let’s talk about it. 

The Fabric And Style Of Each Item Are Crucial

As you saw in the outfit examples earlier on, the combination can look very different depending on the type of white shirt and blue pants you choose. 

When dressing up, consider a cotton white dress shirt with a typical stiff collar, long hem, and smooth texture. Oxford and poplin weaves are common choices. 

More casual options include white button-ups made from chambray, Oxford cloth (i.e OCBDs), and linen. 

The most casual white shirt styles you could choose include T-shirts, polos, and Henleys. 

Now, let’s discuss the blue pants. 

Dark blue dress pants are about as dressy as you can get here. They’ll have a smoother texture, a tapered fit, and possibly even additional features such as center creases and pleats. 

High-rise pants often look dressier too. 

Going down a notch in formality, you’ve got blue chinos. They won’t look as formal as blue dress pants, but would still be fine to wear in smart-casual and most business-casual settings too. 

Finally, when you’re really dressing down your white shirt combo, go for a pair of blue jeans. It’s hard to get a fabric more rough and ready than denim. 

Consider Ditching The Tie

When wearing a white button-up shirt with blue pants, consider not wearing a tie at all. Embrace the casual aesthetic and simply go tieless, leaving one or two buttons of your white shirt undone. 

Of course, if you were wearing the blue pants as part of a 2-piece suit to a truly formal or professional setting, ignore this advice and wear a tie. 

But if you were wearing the combination to a business-casual or smart-casual setting, there’s a very strong chance a tie would look out of place. 

However, if you really did want to wear a tie with your white shirt and blue pants pairing, consider a black, dark red (eg. crimson, burgundy), or dark green (eg. forest, olive) tie. 

Keep things subtle. 

Blue pants may be easy to coordinate, but they’re not neutral. Keep the tie color neutral or a muted shade of a more vibrant color. 

A Neutral Blazer Or Sport Coat Works Well

An easy way to up the sophistication level of this combo would be to pop a blazer or sport coat over the shirt. 

A white shirt and blue pants combination works exceptionally well with blazer colors such as black, charcoal, and light grey. It can also work with a blue blazer, as long as the shades of the blue pants and the blue blazer are different enough. 

What you don’t want is a situation where you’re wearing a blue blazer and a pair of blue pants so similar to each other in shade that it looks like you’re wearing a poorly-matched attempt at a suit. 

The shades need to be different enough that it’s clear what you’re doing. You’re wearing an intentionally unmatched pants and jacket combo. 

navy blue blazer
Image From Deposit Photos

Choose Your Shoe Color With Care

The white shirt and blue pants combo works well with a variety of different shoe colors. Black and brown dress shoes look great, as do white sneakers in more casual settings. 

Black dress shoes will inevitably be the most formal option, especially Oxfords and Derbys. 

For a more laid-back, yet still dressy alternative, consider a pair of dark brown dress shoes instead. 

They add a nice touch of contrast and “warmth” to the outfit, as opposed to the more professional aesthetic of the black shoes. 

Shoes in lighter shades of brown (eg. tan, caramel) and burgundy would be better options in smart-casual settings where there’s less of a risk of underdressing. 

When you’re really dressing down (eg. white polo/tee + blue chinos/jeans), consider a pair of sneakers to round things off.