Jeans are a staple in most people’s wardrobe. Once upon a time, they were a fashion faux pas for any dressy casual event, but that’s changing thanks to different styles, washes, and fits. Today, jeans are often considered dressy casual based on how you wear them and what you wear them with. While they aren’t necessarily appropriate for every occasion, you can get away with wearing them more often than you think.
So, whether you have a closet full of denim or you’re just not sure when jeans are appropriate, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of dressy casual jeans, and when and how you can wear them so that you always fit in with the dress code.
The biggest question you might be asking yourself as you look through your wardrobe is when jeans are actually appropriate for an event.
Some common events and settings that call for dressy casual attire include offices, some dressy-casual weddings, graduations, and other celebrations. But, notice the word some. You’re not always going to be able to get away with jeans at a wedding, for example. Most evening weddings tend to be more formal. But, a brunch wedding or a barn wedding might be more dressy casual, and jeans are appropriate.
At work, cover your bases by looking over the dress code—or asking about it! Many offices are interested in establishing comfortable, relaxed environments for their employees, so nice jeans are often appropriate.
Even if you know you can wear jeans to an event, not all denim is created equally. As much as you might want to bust out the holey, ripped, light-wash pair of jeans from the back of your denim drawer, you might want to refrain.
There are a few characteristics to look for in dressy casual jeans. It starts with the wash.
According to The New York Times, dark indigo or black jeans are considered more formal, so you should be able to get away with wearing them to dressier events.
Levi's Men's 511 Slim Fit Jeans
Black jeans should be a staple in your dressy casual wardrobe.
Levi's Women's 720 High Rise Super Skinny Jeans Pants
A dark indigo wash can go with just about any outfit.
Even if your jeans are dark, pay attention to the fit. You don’t want to show up to work or a special event wearing baggy or ill-fitting jeans that make you look disheveled or make your outfit seem like it wasn’t thoughtfully put together. A slim-fit style is a great way to go for men and women.
Amazon Essentials Men's Slim-Fit Stretch Jean, Dark Wash
Opt for slim-fit for a more put-together look.
Finally, avoid distressed details. Ripped jeans seem to come in and out of style every few years, so you probably have a few pair in your closet. But, save them for your weekend coffee run or other errands. When it comes to dressy casual attire, your denim shouldn’t be distressed or torn. They shouldn’t even look “faded” at the knees or in the back. If your jeans have seen better days, it’s time to invest in a new pair or two for dressier situations.
Lee Men's Extreme Motion Straight Taper Jean
A tapered look keeps things dressy and keeps you comfortable!
Wearing the right jeans is only half the battle when you’re trying to achieve a dressy casual look. It also matters what you pair with your jeans. With the right pieces in your wardrobe, you can dress up your jeans even more and find more appropriate places to wear them.
If you’re trying to achieve a dressy casual for men look, some of the best ways to spruce up your outfit with jeans include wearing a blazer or a tucked-in button-up shirt or blouse. Both options will provide a more professional, “finished” look so your outfit isn’t overly casual.
COOFANDY Sport Coats for Men
Adding a few blazers of different colors to your wardrobe is a great way to dress up an outfit with jeans.
Amazon Essentials Men's Slim-Fit Long-Sleeve Poplin Shirt
A classic tailored look for just about any occasion.
Women can also dress up their jeans with a blazer. In fact, adding a tailored blazer to your outfit with a pair of dark jeans can help you achieve a powerful look while keeping your femininity. It’s amazing what adding a well-fitting sport coat can do to boost the dressiness of any outfit.
Cicy Bell Womens Casual Blazer
You'll want this in just about every color---the versatility is amazing!
It also matters what you wear on your feet. For men, loafers are great options to wear with jeans. They have a long-standing association with being dressy-casual, and they’re comfortable enough to look and feel appropriate with dark denim. Ladies, you can’t go wrong with a classic penny loafer or a pair of dressy flats, either!
Dockers Mens Colleague Dress Penny Loafer Shoe
You won't look like you're loafing around when you pair these with your favorite dressy jeans.
DREAM PAIRS Women's Black Nubuck Low Wedge Ankle Strap Flats Shoes
Dressy flats provide comfort and style.
If you really want to push a “dressy” vibe while wearing jeans, consider wearing heels or pumps. They go great with skinny jeans and can provide a more business-friendly feel if you’re wearing denim in the office.
DREAM PAIRS Womens High Heel Pump Shoes
Pump it up!
Depending on the time of year, dressing your jeans up with a well-fitting sweater or cardigan can also boost the dressy casual factor. Try wearing a cardigan over a button-up shirt, or choose sweaters with frills or other design elements that tend to elevate its dressiness.
Kallspin Men's Cardigan Sweater Wool Blend Cable Knit V Neck Buttons Cardigan with Pockets
The perfect fall and winter cardigan for a dressy casual vibe.
Amazon Essentials Women's Fisherman Cable Long-Sleeve Crewneck Sweater
Cable sweaters are cozy, comfortable, and dressy casual.
So, are jeans dressy casual? As you can see, there are plenty of ways to dress up your wardrobe while still including your favorite denim digs. It’s worth it to invest in a few pairs of dark-washed, slim-fitting jeans to add to your wardrobe, as well as some dressier pieces to go with them.
By choosing the right fit, color, and complementary clothing, you can feel more comfortable and confident in your wardrobe at dressy casual weddings, parties, and even at work. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different styles to determine what you like best.