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How To Wear A White Shirt With Black Jeans

December 22, 2022
How To Wear A White Shirt With Black Jeans

Some combinations seem simple enough but can be difficult to make work in reality. So, can you wear a white shirt with black jeans? 

A white shirt can easily be worn with black jeans, as long as the shirt style is casual enough to pair well with the rugged texture of the jeans. White OCBD shirts and linen shirts would work especially well with black jeans. 

That’s the short answer – but there’s more to it. 

After going through some essential tips for making this combo work, I’ll run through a few frequently asked questions on the topic to really round things up. 

Let’s get to it. 

8 Tips For Wearing A White Shirt With Black Jeans

Consider all of these tips before putting your outfit together. We’ll be focusing on long-sleeved, buttoned white shirts here. 

white shirt black jeans and brown shoes
Image From Deposit Photos

Make Sure It’s Appropriate

A white shirt and black jeans may not be appropriate for the setting you’re dressing for. That’s why it’s important to consider the dress code before you wear it. 

Black jeans, or any color of jeans for that matter, will always look casual. 

The rugged texture of the denim is casual to the core. It’s why jeans have become an iconic staple of casualwear worldwide. 

Because of this, black jeans shouldn’t be worn where there’s a risk of underdressing. The white shirt may be perfectly OK to wear in more formal settings, but the black jeans may not be. 

In general, the white shirt and black jeans combo should really only be worn in casual and smart-casual settings. 

Examples would include garden parties, dates, dinners at restaurants, and so on. 

Avoid wearing a white shirt and black jeans in business-casual settings and formal settings. 

While the combo wouldn’t be the worst option for a business-casual setting, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as a white shirt and chinos/slacks combo. 

Go For A Casual White Shirt Style

This comes down to the fact that black jeans will always look casual. Trying to wear a formal white dress shirt with black jeans may lead to a bit of a formality mismatch. 

In other words, the casual jeans will look awkward when worn with the formal shirt style. 

A more casual-looking white shirt would look better when wearing black jeans. The two items will sync with each other a lot more seamlessly. 

white shirt and black jeans
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Here are a few examples of “casual”, long-sleeved, buttoned white shirt styles that would work well with black jeans: 

  • A white Oxford Cloth Button-Down (OCBD) shirt
  • A white linen shirt
  • A white corduroy shirt

These fabrics are rugged and casual-looking, similar to denim. They’re more likely to work well with a pair of black jeans than a formal white dress shirt. 

Tapered, Dark Wash Black Jeans

When dressing up a pair of black jeans by wearing them with a long-sleeved, buttoned white shirt, go for a more “formal” looking pair of jeans. 

While you could never really call jeans truly “formal”, there are certain pairs of black jeans that look more casual than others. 

white shirt black jeans and suspenders
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For a start, black jeans generally look more formal than blue jeans – so you’ll have that going for you. 

But try to find a pair of black jeans with a tapered fit and dark wash. Try to avoid excessively acid-washed or stone-washed jeans. 

These would generally look better when wearing jeans with a relatively formal-looking shirt. 

Avoid Distressed Denim 

“Distressing” refers to the process of manufacturing denim in a way that makes it look vintage and worn out. 

Examples of distressed features include rips, frays, acid washing, and stone washing. 

While you could wear a white shirt with a heavily distressed pair of black jeans, in general, the less distressing, the better. 

Distressed denim tends to look very casual. The more distressing you’ve got, the more casual it’ll look. 

Distressed jeans can look great when going for an ultra-casual look (eg. with a T-shirt or hoodie). However, when wearing a long-sleeved white shirt, it doesn’t look as good. 

When wearing a white shirt, go for a less casual-looking pair of black jeans with minimal distressing. 

Go Tieless

When wearing a white shirt and black jeans, not wearing a tie is usually the best way to go. 

Trying to dress up a pair of jeans with a white shirt can work very well, but wearing a tie would usually be taking things a step too far. 

Once again, it would increase the risk of a formality mismatch. A tie is a typically “formal” item, while black jeans are casual. 

Instead, leave one or two buttons undone and wear the combo in a more laid-back, smart-casual manner. 

A Black Or Blue Blazer

A black, dark blue, or grey blazer often works well when wearing a white shirt and black jeans. It’s an easy way to dress the combination up a little bit further. 

Blazers are different from suit jackets. They’re less structured and generally have a looser fit. They can be worn without a matching pair of pants. 

When wearing black jeans, go for a simple and neutral blazer color – black, blue, and grey and the easiest options. 

In addition, go for a blazer or sports coat made from a more casual-looking and rugged fabric. Examples would include tweed, linen, and even chino cloth. 

These pair well with the rugged texture of denim. 

A blazer isn’t essential. But if you did want to dress up a step further, it would be a great way to do it. 

White Sneakers Work Great

White shoes such as sneakers would be a great option to wear with a white shirt and black jeans if you wanted to go for a more casual look. 

white sneakers
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The white shoes would coordinate well with the white shirt. 

For an even more laid-back and summer/spring aesthetic, cuff the jeans to expose the ankle and wear no-show socks. 

Cuffing refers to the process of rolling the hem of the jeans up once or twice. It’s a great way to show off a pair of sneakers.

Brown Shoes Work Well Too

Wearing brown shoes with a white shirt and black jeans would produce a more smart-casual look. It can work very well. 

While you could go for black shoes instead, a pair of brown dress shoes would add a little contrast to the black and white outfit. 

light brown cap toe Oxford shoes
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In addition, brown is more casual than black and more likely to pair well with black jeans. 

Brown dress shoes are incredibly versatile and can be worn in a wide range of dress codes ranging from casual to formal. 

You could choose between a shinier grain of brown leather (eg. calfskin or cowhide) or a more napped grain such as suede. 

While the rugged texture of suede works very well with black jeans, calfskin or cowhide would be a great option if you were looking to dress up a little. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a couple of frequently asked questions on this topic to really finish things off in style. 

Can You Wear A White Shirt, Black Jeans, And Brown Boots

Brown boots can be worn with a white shirt and black jeans for a great smart-casual aesthetic during the fall and winter seasons. Chelsea boots work especially well. 

Boots give you functional benefits of traction and durability during the colder and wetter months of the year. 

These may be times when your brown dress shoes are unlikely to give you the stability you need while walking. 

A pair of brown dress boots (eg. Chelsea or chukka boots) can look just as formal, while also being more comfortable to wear while it’s colder and wetter. 

Should You Wear A White Shirt With Blue Or Black Jeans?

Wearing a white shirt with blue jeans will produce a more casual outfit than wearing it with black jeans. If you want to dress up for a more smart-casual setting, go for a pair of black jeans instead of blue jeans. 

Blue jeans will often look a lot more casual than black jeans. The lighter the shade of blue, the more casual they’ll generally look. 

Because of this, you’ll need to be more careful with your choice of white shirt when wearing blue jeans. 

There’s more of a risk of a formality mismatch, so it’s even more important to choose a white shirt style that’s casual enough to pair well with the jeans. 


While some of the tips may sound restrictive, sticking to them will make it more likely that the combination looks great each and every time.