My answer …
I know you want a Yes or No here, but you’re not going to get it.
The truth is there are 3 factors that determine if wearing a suit jacket with jeans can be pulled off.
On a side note this question could also read is it acceptable to wear a suit jacket as a men’s blazer or sport jacket, which in most cases either of these odd jackets CAN be worn with the right type of jeans.
Three things to consider when deciding if you should wear a suit jacket with jeans:
1. What type of suit jacket are we talking about?
2. What type of jeans are we talking about?
3. Where are you wearing this?
First – Examine the Suit Jacket
Does it fit you?
If no, then go no further. You cannot wear this with anything.
Is the style classic?
I don’t refer to something made in 1950, rather is it timeless in design. Think 2 or 3 button single breasted, notch or peak lapels, 3 pockets (two hip, one left breast). If this is a zoot suit jacket that hangs to your knees or a 1974 Saturday night Fever special, save it for Halloween and go no further.
Is the fabric something that could have been used for a sport jacket or blazer?
Navy Blue – If your jacket is solid navy, and meets all the criteria above, you’re in luck. Simply remove the buttons and replace them with buttons (silver – brass – gold – mother-of-pearl). You now have a blazer.
Solid Black – If the suit jacket is black, and you are medium to high contrast, you can wear it as a night sport jacket. However, to the 1% who pay attention to details, it will be obvious this is a suit jacket unless you have it altered (special buttons, accent stitching). My advice is to just say screw it and wear the jacket with confidence and have a great time.
Charcoal Grey Solid – Solid charcoal jackets is rarely seen in sport coats. I will just say no here.
Light Grey Solid - Like black, except more for daytime wear. The lighter the better, as since most men don’t even own a light colored grey suit they won’t wise up to this jacket’s origins.
Invest in non-plastic horn or smoked mother-of-pearl buttons, and maybe look to have a tailor add a ticket pocket. And even though if I saw you I would know what’s going on, wear with confidence and I’ll realize you’re stylish yet thrifty.
Tweed or a Classic Patterned Fabric – You are in luck my friend; you have found a suit jacket that can easily be used as a sport coat. Upgrade the buttons if they are cheap looking, ensure the boutonniere hole is functional, and possibly even add patch elbow or another casual touch.
Other fabrics – case by case basis.
Second – Examine the Denim Jeans
The jeans on the left are sport jacket or blazer safe – the jeans on the right less so, although if you have a solid understanding of style you can pull this off.
I prefer to always wear dark jeans with a jacket – the simple act of wearing the jacket raises the formality of the ensemble.
However if the weather is warm lighter jeans that are well kept can be matched with a dark blazer or seasonal jacket (think brown in fall). Unless you are a musician or artist, avoid torn jeans with a jacket.
Also pay attention to your blue jean fit – loose or low hanging jeans are too informal to ever wear with a jacket.
You want denim that fits you in a similar manner to how dress slacks would fit – close to the body and comfortable. Skinny tight jeans are too fashion forward – leave these at the hipster store and run away quickly:)
Seriously – you have to be in decent shape to pull off jeans and a jacket – it’s a youthful look and requires a body type whose chest is bigger than the waist. Once the reverse is true, the look becomes a poor one no matter your age as the jeans look forced and will certainly be the wrong style.
Third – Does a suit jacket and jean combination fit the occasion?
No matter how you dress them up, jeans are informal.
That being said, wear a jacket and jeans only when a suit or higher level of appearance is not expected, and jeans and a dress shirt would suffice. In this way wearing the jacket is just icing on the cake and simply makes you look more masculine versus looking like a wanna-be rebel.
Finally, always wear this combination with confidence.
I like to rock a pocket square, wear one of my hand-made dress shirts, and wear my Lucchese western boots.
What’s your style?
If you want to see a chart breaking down the difference between a suit jacket and sport jacket click here.