How to wear a Suit Jacket with Jeans

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Can you wear a suit jacket with jeans?

My Answer – It depends.

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?

suit jacket worn as blazer

Is this a suit jacket or a blazer? If you truly can ask this question, then it’s safe to say the suit jacket – with a few modifications – can be worn as one.

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.

A Man's Guide To Style

Second – Examine the Denim Jeans

wearing jeans with suit jacket

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.

Click here to see our denim recommendations.

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?

 

RAW Transcript

Suit-jacket-with-jeans-RMRSPodcast

[0:00:00]
Hi, this is Antonio Centeno with Real Men, Real Style and today we’re going to be answering the question, can you wear a suit jacket with jeans? As you may know this is part of our question and answer series and if you have any questions, feel free to contact us over on the left hand side, you can see that little contact us button or leave a question down in the comments on any of our articles and we’ll try to go back to you in as quickly as possible. It may a little bit a while because as you can see we’re trying to really answer these questions in detail and share them with everyone. Alright, so let’s talk about can you wear a suit jacket with jeans?

Now I know people want a yes and no answer and unfortunately it depends. Really it comes down to and I try to break this into three parts but you’ll probably break it into more but what type of suit jacket are we talking about? What type of jeans are we talking about and where are you going to be wearing this. So all of this plays into whether or not you can wear a suit jacket with jeans and I didn’t it this in the article too much but there are some people who believe that you shouldn’t ever wear a suit jacket with jeans. I mean a suit jacket is made to be worn as a suit and a suit is defined as a jacket and a pair of trouser made from the same fabric.

Now, I’m not — I realize that in a perfect world that would be great but people have certain limitations that are put on them and for most of us its money and why not if you’ve got a perfectly good jacket sitting in there and you can’t find those trousers or they’ve been torn or you just you know had somebody give you this jacket and it fits well. Why can’t you wear this possibly with jeans? And we’re going to go over, you know if you’re in that situation, you know really that’s who am I dressing. If you can afford to have an odd jacket and by odd jacket, I mean a jacket specifically made to be worn as a sport coat or a blazer, that’s great because there are certain things.

I can pretty much look at a jacket and I can determine when a man’s wearing that with jeans. If he’s recycling a suit jacket or if it’s actually, if it is a true sport jacket or a blazer but I’d have to say I’m in the minority here because I live and breathe this stuff so I pick up on little details. 99% of people out there will not pick up on these details and as long as you follow some of the guidelines we’re going to talk about. That 1% that does, you know — I would never say anything to somebody, that’s just bad manners and I respect any man that you know is he cares enough about style but maybe he’s limited by you know just how much money he makes so why not if you want to look sharp, let’s figure out a way to make this happen. Alright, so the first point is the suit jacket itself.

So first off, does it fit you? If it doesn’t fit you, don’t wear this anything. It’s simply, I mean it’s just not going to be of use and when I say that I mean this is something that really does not fit you. If it needs to be adjusted I mean take it to a tailor and they can you know help out with a lot of things. There are certain things that can’t be adjusted. You can only shorten a jacket so much, you can only lengthen a jacket so much.

And even actually lengthening is very difficult because there may not be any fabric down there. Another thing I mean if it doesn’t fit you in the shoulders, that one is pretty much, it’s not going to be worth your time to get that adjusted. We’re talking about at least a 100% alteration and that — you really you can’t make a jacket shoulders any bigger. Then there’s also if it’s too big on the torso, in the stomach — I mean if we’re only talking an inch and the jacket hasn’t been altered before. There’s a very good chance that you can get this to fit. If it’s been altered, you are under the issue of hey there may not be enough fabric in here but really you know pay attention to that first thing. It needs to fit you. Is the style classic, so that’s part two of the jacket and what I mean by this is I mean if you’ve got zoot suit or you’ve got something that look like it came out of 1975 and John Travolta could be wearing this thing. Let’s not go any further and let’s save that for Halloween.

You want classic style and when I mean classic, I don’t mean you know going back to the hay day of classic style like 1930′s although that is a mentioning point because if you look at the clothing that was classic in 1930. It could still be worn in the year 2011 and that’s because the lapels were the right length. All of the styling, it really hasn’t changed much.

[0:05:01.6]

And so that’s what you want to look for. You want to make sure that you’ve got you know that the lapels look nice that they’re the right size for your body type. That you’ve got maybe double or single vents in the back. That you’ve got 3 pockets, one on each hip and then one on left breast pocket. The front should have 2 or 3 buttons. If you have something that’s a 4 button or a 1 button, you know I’d be very very hesitant to look to where that — that’s a little bit more fashion forward for most men.

So now let’s get to probably if you’ve made it this far, that’s great but this is the hardest one and it’s making sure you’ve got the right fabric that can be worn as a you know — basically the fabric is going to determine is this going to blatantly look like a suit jacket, you’re trying to wear as a sport jacket or can this bring up the question, well I can’t really tell what it is for most people and therefore they’re going to accept it as you know as a sport jacket or a blazer so navy blue.

If your jacket, if that suit jacket is solid navy, you’re in luck. And if it fits you everything else checks out. Because you can repurpose this as a blazer and the best way to do this is to simply replace the buttons. You can take it to a tailor or a seamstress, this is a very simple — or you can do it yourself. I mean and simply put on some gold or silver brass buttons if you don’t like those shiny buttons then look at something like a smoked mother of pearl or even horn.

And really just have fun with the buttons and all of a sudden, you go from a suit jacket to a blazer and the buttons are important because if you keep cheap plastic buttons on this, people can tell and I’ll leave it that one. Solid black, this one is harder. Now I’m not a big fan of solid black blazers but there are men who like these. If you’ve got the right complexion, let’s say you have black hair, you’ve got dark skin or you’ve got dark brown hair with medium colored skin, you can pull this off and it’s a good night look for many men and they like it and you can pull this off.

But if you’re light colored, if you want to wear this during the day, I would stay away from this and again changing out the buttons is going to be a big thing here although I wouldn’t go with necessarily gold or brass on a black. I would look to go with a very dark smoked mother of pearl. Those are a little bit harder to find but talk to a tailor or seamstress and they can help you out.

Charcoal gray solid. Forget it. Unless you are very, unless you’re that 1% of men who really understands style and can figure out a way to pull this off, I’m saying for most men, don’t even try to repurpose it. Light gray solid, this falls into the category like the black and you need to be careful. It’s more for day wear. The lighter the gray, the better. And this looks, this can be pulled off but be careful of the shoulders and if the shoulders are too square, this really isn’t going to work as a sports jacket so you want to make sure the shoulders are a bit softer.

That’s going to give that more of a sport jacket look and if you’ve got a light gray wtih some type of pattern in it, that would be better. Alright, now this is the perfect one. You find a tweed, you’ve got a tweed suite or something like, something that’s maybe got a glen check or a very noticeable herring bone, that can be used as a sport jacket and that will transition over very well. Again, make sure that you’ve got the right buttons on this, cheap plastic or make it look, not make it look right. You want to go ahead and splurge a little bit on the buttons. Other fabrics, case by case basis.

I mean and I’m talking if you’ve got something that’s tan, something that’s white. That — I would reserve that for those that are a bit more advanced when it comes to style. Alright, point 2; the jeans. What you need to understand is if you’re pairing jeans with a jacket, it’s kind of like a chain, in that your outfit is only going to be as formal as the one item in it — the level of formality of the item in it so what I meant to say there is if you’ve got a jeans, you’ve got a great looking jacket, you got an awesome pair of shoes, this really shouldn’t be worn to anywhere else that jeans normally would not be allowed to. If you’re again, a bit style advanced, you can pull this off especially if the jeans are really dark. A lot of people won’t even notice because they won’t get close enough to you.

[0:09:58.2]

But, I — you need to understand you are wearing jeans so when it comes down to jeans, I prefer dark jeans. Whenever your wearing them with a jacket, they just look better in most situations. However, if you’re going to be wearing a blazer, you can pull off a wider pair of jeans. Although avoid holes, avoid tears. I think the picture I’ve got here in the article I see it, there’s a couple minor little tears and this would be as far as I would ever go with a pair of jeans also the guy in the picture here is wearing these with sneakers and I would advise you wear them at least dark brown or medium to light brown leather shoes.

Alright, point 3; the occasion. I kind of alluded to this when talking about the jeans but you have to understand that this is a casual look. There’s not too much, unless you’re an artist or a musician, you really can’t get away with this too much unless you are going to a place — you know I’ll admit. I wear the jean and blazer look to networking events. Even though I sell custom suits for a living, I really like the nontraditional look it gives me. I always rock it with a pocket square though because I do want it — I don’t wear a tie when I wear this set of clothing.

My reasoning with that outfit is when I wear the pocket square, I’m clearly showing that I understand style that I could’ve worn a suit and tie if I’ve wanted to but because I’m a — you know got my own business. I set my own schedule. I want to set my own style and I live in a pretty rural area so I can pull this off, wearing a suit actually just doesn’t work. For most occasions and if you want to see — yeah, I live in a very small town. Thousand people, so and our big town is about an hour and 15 minutes away.

Green bay a hundred and three thousand people so yeah that’s a whole another story in itself. Alright, so we’ve covered the 3 points that you should think about when you’re asking yourself can I wear a suit jacket with jeans and the question could’ve been you know can a suit jacket be repurposed as a sport jacket or blazer but now I hope that’s helped you. Again, this is Antonio Centeno with Realmenrealstyle.com. I hope you come back and if you’ve got any questions make sure to ask them. Have a great day. Bye bye.

[0:12:39.7] End of Audio

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About Antonio

Antonio Centeno is President of ATailoredSuit.com and the founder of RealMenRealStyle.com. He has created over 700 articles & videos on men's style, blogs over at the Art of Manliness, and is the creator of the internet's best selling personal presentation course - A Man's Guide To Timeless Style. Antonio has studied clothing design in London, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. He is a former US Marine with an MBA from UT Austin and a BA from Cornell College. He loves to hear from old friends and make new ones.

  • Shane

    The question is relevant to a recent meeting I was invited to attend. I work in a fairly informal office where ties are rarely worn and shirts plus chinos are the norm. Personally I like to wear a tie now and then. I did not expect the other attendees (apart from the guest) to likely wear a full suit. But I saw this as an opportunity to exercise my wardrobe a bit.
    My outfit consisted of a two fold cotton french cuff shirt – light blue with a fine pink check, a navy blue tie with pink polka-dot, navy blue corduroy trousers with brown leather belt and brown Italian monk strap shoes. This was topped off with an odd suit jacket that was solid slate grey.
    The overall appearance was smart but not stand-out formal. In terms of dress, I felt somewhere between our guest and my colleagues. Not at all like I was showing off. In fact I received a positive comment on my attire.
    While this example does contradict your point 1, I do agree with the rest. Thanks for the post.

  • http://twitter.com/RMRStyle Real Men Real Style

    Shane – thank you for sharing sir!

    I think your example just goes to show there are NO hard and fast rules in men’s style. If you feel good about it, know what you’re doing, and display confidence – you can pull it off. Although it does sound like your gray jacket was medium gray not charcoal/almost black. That’s the picture that came to my mind. Also – what is your complexion like? That probably had a lot to do with how you pulled it off.

    Thanks for the insights and sharing your story!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000294754291 Shane Ellswood

    Yes the jacket is medium grey and I have a typical pale English complexion. As this was an office meeting I did not feel it inappropriate to wear a suit jacket, though this is not something I intend to make a regular habit of elsewhere. Instead I keep my eyes open for bargain sport jackets, such as a Collezione M&S corduroy blazer I recently picked up as a second (can’t see why) for a quarter of the normal price.

    I have taken to wearing an odd jacket here and there to gradually introduce my friends and colleagues to my new wardrobe. I’m sure this has reduced the amount of expected ribbing. Another plus point is I have noticed people on the street and in stores look at me differently. By not blending into obscurity with the t-shirt n jeans brigade, I feel there is more respect. I certainly get called sir more, but that could just be my age showing!

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  • HemantSaikia

    I’ve got a black blazer and dark blue denims which are not very skinny.My complexion is dark and i have black,thick hair.

    What kind of suit should i pair it with if i were to go to my farewell party?I need not be too formal but should not look like a male “Gaga”.