Wearing dress shoes with jeans is a risk. The mullet comes to mind: “business up front, party in the back,” sounds like a reasonable philosophy for a hairstyle. But of course, mullets are the ultimate symbol of tackiness. So, if you are trying to pull off “business on the feet, party on the legs,” be wary. It can absolutely be done, but you have to know how to balance the ingredients.

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If jeans were a restaurant, they would no-doubt be McDonald’s. They characterize every wardrobe just like the Golden Arches color cities of all sizes across the globe. But couldn’t jeans also be Panera? Or any other fast-casual spot? Keep this in mind as we go: while wearing dress shoes with jeans, no part of your outfit should look out of place in Panera. Let’s break that down.


Not Just Any Dress Shoes With Jeans

You can wear dress shoes with jeans, but not formal shoes. If you would wear it to a wedding or to your high school prom, you shouldn’t wear it with jeans. Oxfords, for example, are a little too formal to wear with jeans. For that matter, pretty much anything too polished and shiny won’t work either. Remember the Panera factor: if it would look out of place in a casual restaurant, it will look out of place with jeans.

Because jeans are a casual item, you should go for dress shoes that are further on the casual side of the spectrum. Chelsea boots are a great example. Loafers or chukkas will typically look great as well.

Dress shoes with jeans

Chelsea Boots

Dress shoes with jeans


Dress shoes with jeans



Choose the right jeans

You can’t afford to wear sloppy-looking jeans. Make sure you’re jeans are a snug fit. Preferably, you’ll want slim fit and just the right size on the waist and leg. One thing that is sure to throw off your whole outfit is if your jeans drape over your dress shoes – especially if they drag on the ground behind the heel and tatter. Don’t even think about wearing jeans that long with dress shoes. Your jeans shouldn’t have any tears at all.

dress shoes with jeans two men outfits

Since dress shoes are usually a darker color, you’ll want your jeans to be a darker wash denim as well. Think dark blue, deep indigo, or even black. Contrary to popular belief, it is perfectly ok to wear brown dress shoes with black or near-black jeans.


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Choose the right shirt

The Panera factor comes into play again. Striking the balance between casual and formal here means you definitely should not wear a t-shirt or sweatshirt. Go for a button-down instead. However, like your shoes, your shirt shouldn’t be glossy and overly ornate. Go for something simple and down-to-earth. If you like suit jackets, you can probably pull one off with this outfit. But no ties.

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Hopefully, now you have a sense of the chemistry that goes into pulling off dress shoes with jeans. Not too formal, and not too casual. For more fashion tips and tricks, keep it locked here at the Fashion 101 blog.