We don’t know who the first genius was that managed to rock a sport coat with a pair of jeans, but they forever changed the fashion world. Though this look has fallen out of favor, it’s still a great one that melds the ubiquitous utility of a blazer with the laid-back attitude and durability of jeans. Even GQ has said it’s still a savvy way to garb your body, laying detractors of the look low. Great or small, man or woman, business maven or drunken layabout, anyone can pull off a suit jacket with jeans, if you follow a few simple rules.
Why A Sport Coat with Jeans is The Peak of Sartorial Style
A sport coat, suit jacket, or blazer is the ultimate accessory for anyone. It broadens the shoulders, slims the waist, and enhances the pocket space for carrying more EDC gear without needing to add a day bag to your ensemble. It increases class of an outfit each and every time. One need only look at how many guys manage to make the exercise pants/blazer look work for them to see, it’s without peer.
When coupled with jeans, any decent jacket offers a dressed-down look that gives the impression of a gentleman willing to do the work and ready for whatever the day throws at him. Jeans go with hoodies, they work with dress shirts, and putting them under a battered tee is standard. Top that relaxed sundae with a suit jacket cherry, and now you’re rolling like Justin Timberlake, the man who brought sexy back even when it hadn’t gone anywhere.
The Laws of Accomplishing A Jacket and Jeans Look
Do it wrong, and you risk being fired, looking like a slob, and enduring forced vows of chastity. Do it right, and you risk being a leader of people, a force to be reckoned with, and the envy of anyone who wears clothes.
Make Sure Everything Fits
Look here, if you go out with clothes that don’t fit you, we can’t save you from yourself. Too big and you’re going to look sloppy, or like a child who is playing dress up with your mommy and daddums drapery. Go too small, and it’ll look like you just gained a bunch of weight and haven’t been able to hit the store yet. This rule goes with just bearing cloth on your body, but lots of people ignore it to their detriment.
Keep the Jeans Classy
The most common failure, outside of clothes that just don’t fit, is having jeans that are too casual. If you have a tailor handy who can ensure your Levi’s hang like they were made for you, certainly go that route. If you’re normal and don’t go to the seamstress with your jeans, make sure you get some that have a more traditional fit, erring on the side of formal over relaxed. If they have holes, stop it. Just stop it.
Choose Your Type of Jacket Carefully
Men particularly have a poor eye for this, but women can make the error as well: Jeans, no matter how nice, are casualwear. They don’t often work as well with the smooth lines of a suit jacket, and damn sure won’t make that tux with tails really pop. Sport coats are best for pairing with jeans, while blazers are a close second. Ladies: since there aren’t many women’s sport coats, stick in the blazer arena and you’re usually fine.
Watch for Pattern Clash
This is a tough thing to monitor, and requires a little nuance. Jeans are a fairly solid fabric, but they’re also mildly “noisy” in that there’s varying shades, particularly if they have faded areas. Not every jacket is going to look good with a set of jeans, especially if your sport coat or blazer is a solid color. Fit your coat of choice to a few pairs of jeans. Don’t just throw on any jacket and assume it’s going to work with any denim in your closet or, more likely, on your floor.
Get the Shirt Right
Once you’ve settled on jeans and a jacket, it’s time to finish off the look of your trunk. Button-down oxford shirts are good, and can add a little more formality if you’re a baller trying to pull off the suit jacket atop denim vibe. The more casual your sport coat and the more relaxed your jeans, the more you should lean toward chambray shirts with open collars. Women can use a huge variety of blouses, but trying to get away with a T-shirt alone can suddenly make the jacket look out of place, screaming laziness.
Though the law of the jungle says that vests are the fastest way to get beat in the street, when done correctly, you can get a lot of utility out of one in this scenario. Sweaters too are able to tie an outfit together, as well as keep your core warm. Here the rule is nearly opposite of the jacket: Solid colors are ideal. Don’t get fancy or flashy throwing too many different visual textures into the mix. Get a color that works well with your jacket, then see how it goes with the jeans. Keep it simple and you’ll get out faux pas free.
For men, going with a tie usually requires some very dark jeans and a keen sense of style. Adam Scott can pull it off, but if you’re not him, it’s a tough line to walk. For women, brooches and pins are fine, but any scarves or other items that draw attention toward the center tend to throw the whole look off. The highest level you’re going to reach when adding in too many formal items is sexy college professor, so the rule of thumb for guys is leave the shirt open. Ladies, plunging necklines are often going to be your best friend when wearing a blazer and jeans.
Shoes Make the Outfit
Business casual is the code here. Sneakers in the vein of Chuck Taylor’s are fine for going on a pub crawl, but running or golf shoes are typically going to have the same effect as a T-shirt, which is to nullify the slight formality of the jacket. A pair of decent flats or lace-ups in black or brown is best. If you’d wear it to the office, it’s probably a go. If you’re going to wear it to the gym, leave it at home. Don’t go overly polished and please avoid sky-high heels.
- Patterned socks are best, since white cotton is too gauche and slick black is too dressy. Show off some personality with color and you’ll draw some chuckles and appreciative looks.
- Thin, notched lapels are better on the jacket than anything else. Avoid peaked lapels if you can, as they are rife with pomp
- Two buttons on the jacket, and never, never, never go double-breasted.
- Contrast the jacket with the jeans. It’s not supposed to look like you’re trying to make a denim suit, but rather play the top and bottom off each other.
- Hats: Hell yes.
So how what are you going to wear? Take a picture and show us.