7 Rules on Wearing Dress Shoes with Jeans


How to choose the right shoes to wear with jeans

Everyone has their own style. You wear what you like, what you’re comfortable with. You wear clothes that make you feel more confident. More importantly, you enjoy whatever it is that you’re wearing. That being said, there’s no reason why you should ignore certain basic fashion rules. Yeah, you want to be happy with what you’re wearing, but you also want to look like a properly dressed adult man instead of a toddler playing dress-up. In this particular article, we’re going to tackle something that a lot of men get wrong. Or don’t even know it’s possible - wearing dress shoes with jeans. While it is possible to pick shoes to wear with jeans, it's not always advisable. You need to wear the right type of jeans with the right kind of dress shoes. 

Choose the right type of jeans 

mens jeans to wear with shoes

The right way to wear jeans with men's dress shoes is pretty easy. You simply have to follow the rules, the first of which is making sure you have the right pair of jeans in mind.

You can't wear dress shoes if you're wearing jeans that are loose or feature a relaxed style. You don't want any "puffing" around your legs while you're wearing something so formal. Regular-fit or slim-fit is the way to go. Keep in mind that how your jeans fit you should also be considered. Find a pair that fits well in the waist and hips - nothing baggy or sits low on your waist - with a tapered fit at the bottom. Avoid choosing skinny jeans or anything that looks tight around your legs as they will make you look like you're wearing clown shoes.

Aside from fit, you should also choose jeans that are on the dressier side. Avoid going with distressed jeans, those with holes, or feature a lighter wash. These are too casual to wear with dress shoes. 

Pick the right type of dress shoes 

mens dress shoes with jeans

When most people think of shoes that go with jeans, our first thoughts go towards the more men's casual boots, sneakers, boat shoes, rubber shoes, etc. Boots also come to mind. Choosing what casual shoes to wear with jeans has never been a problem for most people. But that’s not something we can say about dress shoes for several reasons. Not all dress shoes can be worn with jeans. Some are too formal to ever be worn with something so casual as denim. So, what are the best shoes to wear with jeans in the dress shoe category?

These are the Blucher, Derby, and Loafer styles. These shoe styles tend to lean more towards the casual side of the spectrum. Other dress shoes that go with jeans include the Brogue, Monk Strap (single or double), chukkas, and desert boots.

Here's a pro tip: a matte finish is best. Spit-shined shoes tend to look too polished for a semi-casual look. You want a little contrast, yes, but not too glaring that it turns your entire look into a fashion failure instead of a fashion forward.

Follow Jeans Color Requirements 

Can I wear black dress shoes with jeans? What about brown shoes with black pants? Should the colors of my shoes be the same as my jeans? All good questions. But before we get down to answering them, let’s get one thing straight - the color of your jeans. Darker is better because they look more formal and won’t contrast much with your dress jeans. Light-colored jeans will only highlight how out of place your shoes are with your outfit. So, when choosing jeans, make sure to go for indigo or black.

With those colors in mind, what color should your shoes be? The general rule of thumb is to avoid matching your jeans with shoes of the same color. That works when you're wearing formal attire. But since we're going for a more relaxed look, a little contrast works best. One good example is brown dress shoes with jeans of a darker color like black. In fact, most experts recommend going for a shade of brown since they're the most versatile. If you only have black dress shoes on hand, don't despair. Just make sure that it doesn't shine to lend it a more casual air. Choosing a more casual dress shoe style like a black loafer will help make your look more balanced. Other colors you can opt for are blue and gray. Also, pay attention to how you're jeans color.

Balance other elements of your outfit 

Consider a jacket 

Wearing a t-shirt with your dress shoes and jeans is going to look awkward. It's as if you aren't sure which way you're going. If you want to enhance your style, you'll need to make sure that you balance the other elements of your entire outfit. This means wearing something like a collared, button down shirt. You can also opt for a turtleneck. But the best way to upgrade your look to the next level is to don a sports jacket or blazer. 

Wear a belt 

mens belt to wear with shoes

The basic rule in wearing a belt is to match it with your shoes. Whether you're wearing formal pants, slacks, chinos, or jeans, look to your shoes. If you're wearing leather shoes, opt for men's leather belts. If you're wearing canvas sneakers, go with a canvas belt. Aside from the material, you should also match the color of your belt with the color of your shoes. Black shoes, black belt. Brown shoes, brown belt.

Here's another tip: take note of the width. Since you're be wearing dark denim, you'll need to get a narrow belt. Wide belts are generally more suited for lighter-colored jeans which, in turn, are not ideal for pairing with dress shoes. 

Match the accessories 

Your jeans and shoes aren’t the only things that need to match when you’re creating your Outfit of the Day (OOTD). Wearing jeans means that you’re trying for a more relaxed look. The shoes lend your entire outfit a bit of formality, but not a lot. In short, you’re looking for a casual but professional look. Which means that your accessories shouldn’t be too formal or casual, but somewhere in the middle. For example, you definitely don’t want to wear a sweatshirt with this pairing because that’s too casual. Cufflinks, a fancy watch, and a silk tie all fall under too formal which will make your choice of pants - jeans - a mistake. The solution is to keep things simple. Mens wallet and watch should be simple, basic even. Nothing too flashy to contrast with your jeans. 

Don’t go sockless 

Keep in mind that you're wearing dress shoes, not boat shoes. This means that going completely without socks is a no-no. You want to elevate your casual look, make it seem more stylish and professional. You may be more laid-back in your attire, but you're still dressing to impress. So, keep your socks on. And make sure that they're dress socks, even with denim. Athletic socks will do in a pinch, but make sure you have dressier socks on hand for next time.


While it’s important to dress for yourself, it’s important to take note of the rules that you’ll need to consider, especially if you’re out to impress - your boss, colleagues, or the object of your attraction. And if you’re planning on pairing two pieces of clothing that don’t belong in the same “category,” you’ll want to take into account the expertise of those who know better. Just keep in mind that it’s ok to bend the rules here and there. Have fun. Don’t take everything too seriously. There’s always room in your closet for improvement.

Mariam Simmons

Mariam Simmons is a fashion enthusiast and Content Manager at Alpine Swiss. She loves traveling to the world’s top stylish destinations and gets inspired to create helpful fashion and lifestyle guides. With over a decade of writing experience, her main goal in creating content is to ensure readers learn something useful and provide value instead of noise.