While jeans are traditionally considered casual wear, the right pair can easily be dressed up for your next Casual Friday, romantic date, or night out with friends. As long as you start with the right jeans, you can create a dressy look with the right top, shoes, and accessories.
EditChoosing the Right Jeans
- Make sure your jeans fit properly. Choose a pair of jeans that flatters your figure and fits your body. Avoid jeans that are too snug in the hips and thighs. For a dressy look, you should also avoid jeans that are loose and baggy.
- Choose jeans which fit well in the waist. Make sure your jeans rise high enough in the waist to provide coverage when you sit down. Low-rise jeans usually look more youthful and casual than other styles, so opt for a medium or high rise for a dressier appearance.
- Avoid jeans with holes or stains. Distressed jeans are popular, but they give off an extremely casual vibe. If you’re trying to dress up, make sure your jeans don’t have holes and are free from stains.
- Choose dark jeans over lighter colors if you have them. You can still dress up light to medium wash jeans, but darker shades of denim look nicer and more formal than lighter shades. Dark wash jeans are also the most appropriate for casual business occasions.
- Go with a classic cut, such as boot-cut or straight, for versatility. A skinny jean may work under some circumstances, but they can look more rock-star than dressy. Boot-cut or straight-leg jeans more closely resemble trousers, and they will work for nearly anything from a fun night out with friends to a casual meeting with a new client.
- Wear a colored jean for a bold, stylish look. Black or white denim can be dressed up with relative ease. You might also be able to create a dressy look by pairing a brightly-colored denim with a blouse in a coordinating color or pattern.
EditSelecting a Top
- Wear a classic button-down shirt for a crisp look. A long-sleeve button-down shirt looks crisp, clean, and business-like when you tuck it into a pair of jeans. Look for a shirt in a plain color or one with vertical pinstripes, then pair it with a pair of dark jeans for a business-casual look.
- Try wearing a white, long-sleeved button down tucked into a pair of boot cut jeans in a dark wash for a preppy look.
- Choose a silk or lace blouse for an elegant look. Feminine fabrics like lace, chiffon, and silk instantly make any outfit look dressier. The sophistication of your top will likely prove more than enough to counteract the casual nature of your jeans.
- A flowy silk blouse and a pair of pumps is a good option if you want to dress up a pair of jeans in a medium wash.
- Try a nice sweater with jeans to dress up on a cool day. Shy away from bulky sweaters and stick with stylish cuts. Look for sweaters with an interesting neckline, such as a boat neck, v-neck, or crew neck.
- Dress up a pair of slim-fitting jeans by wearing a solid-colored sweater over a collared shirt. Pick a collared shirt in a bright hue to bring an unexpected pop of color to your outfit.
- Choose a bold print if you love to be the center of attention. Striking geometric prints, wide stripes, and bold florals are all great prints to pair with dark jeans to dress them up. If you do opt for a daring print, keep your shoes and accessories simple.
- To keep your bold top from taking over your outfit, try layering it under a jacket. For example, you could wear a tee with large horizontal stripes under a blazer. When worn with a pair of jeans in a relaxed fit, you’ll have a look that’s cool and casual while still being appropriate for most settings.
- Choose a delicate print for a more subtle look. If you’re looking to blend in rather than stand out, you could look for a top in a delicate print, like a small floral pattern, pinstripes, or Swiss dots.
- A button-down shirt with pinstripes paired with a dark-wash denim and a pair of loafers will have you ready for Casual Friday.
- Pair a sparkly top with jeans for a night out. Sequins and metallics can really dazzle under bright lights, but jeans will keep you from looking overworked. This is a great look for a girls’ night or a date.
- A black shirt covered with black sequins is a classy way to get the sparkle you love. Pair it with your favorite heels or flats for a night-time look that’s just right.
- Throw a dress over your jeans for a feminine look. Pick out a playful, flowing spring or summer sundress to throw over a pair of skinny jeans. Gravitate toward knee-length dresses. Also stick with dresses that are a little more casual in nature, rather than formal dresses or work dresses.
- A knee-length, empire-waist dress in a bold color looks cute when worn over a pair of slim-fitting ankle-length trousers. Pair with platform pumps to elongate your legs.
- Choose a plain, fitted t-shirt or tank top to show off accessories. On its own, a plain shirt and jeans may still look casual, but the combination makes a perfect blank canvas for tailored jackets, sparkly shoes, and rich accessories. Stick with solid colors over graphic tees, and gravitate toward neutral colors like white, black, and brown for the greatest versatility.
- If you have an accessory like a necklace or a belt buckle you really want to show off, wear an open jacket and tuck a plain T-shirt into your jeans.
EditLayering Your Look
- Add a blazer over your top to create a more professional look. A classic blazer can easily dress up a simple shirt and jeans, transforming it from everyday casual to business-casual. Look for a fitted blazer in a traditional color, like black, navy, or deep gray.
- Alternatively, look for a blazer in a bright color to add a little spice and personality to your look.
- Any pair of jeans looks great with a crisp white tee, a blazer, and a sharp pair of shoes. To make the look more feminine, add on a statement necklace or a stack of eye-catching bracelets.
- Wear a jacket with a strong shoulder for a high-fashion look. Structured shoulders make a fashion statement, so look for a jacket with interesting shoulder details. A look this strong benefits from being dressed down with a pair of jeans.
- A leather jacket with strong shoulders looks great worn with slim-fitting jeans, ankle boots, and a simple tee or tank.
- Try a belted jacket to emphasize your waist. A belted jacket adds structure to your outfit, easily dressing up even the simplest of shirt/jean combinations.
- Wear a pair of straight-leg jeans in a dark color with a belted trench coat and a pair of practical shoes for a no-nonsense look you can wear almost anywhere.
- Slip on a fitted cardigan sweater for a feminine look. When you want to play up your femininity, a fitted cardigan in cream or white is just the thing. Look for a cardigan with feminine details, like faux pearl buttons, in order to make your jeans look even dressier.
- Wear your fitted cardigan over a pretty top, like a lacy camisole. Complete the look with a pair of boot-cut jeans, a strand of pearls, and Mary Janes.
- Don your favorite heels for a quick way to dress up jeans. Adding a pair of heels is one of the fastest way to make denim look dressier. Stiletto heels work especially well, but kitten heels can also work. Go for black or another neutral for a classic look, while a bright shoe can add a bold touch.
- A low pair of heels can dress up a simple T-shirt and boot-cut jeans combination, while a pair of stilettos will bring elegance to relaxed straight-leg jeans.
- Wear a pair of flats for simple elegance. A nice pair of flats is a classic way to look pulled together. Choose ballet flats for a feminine look or boat shoes for a dash of vintage style.
- Embellishments such as bows or gems can add more flair to a pair of flats.
- Wear a crew-neck sweater with straight-leg jeans and a pair of boat shoes for a classically preppy look.
- Choose a bold shoe to make your outfit pop. If you have dark jeans and a dressy top in a neutral color, consider a bright shoe, like a red pump or a crocodile skin flat, to add a chic twist to your outfit.
- Show off your cool street style with a pair of brightly-colored suede shoes and a pair of ankle-length jeans with a tucked-in Oxford shirt.
- Try an ankle-high fashion boot for a modern look. Leather boots have a naturally sophisticated look, and ankle-length boots have become especially popular in recent years. Ankle-length boots work well with nearly any cut, from the classic boot-cut to the more modern skinny leg.
- Wear a pair of ankle boots with a low heel under a pair of boot-cut jeans and a T-shirt topped with a scarf for the perfect fall look.
- Choose a knee-high fashion boot to dress up snug skinny jeans. Knee-high boots can also look trendy, and if paired with a dark jean and a nice blouse, they can make an outfit look city chic. Pair these boots with a snug skinny jean and zip the boot up over your jean. Wearing these boots beneath your jeans defeats the purpose of having a boot with such a tall height.
- Wear knee-high riding boots with skinny jeans and a long sweater for preppy winter style.
- Opt for a conservative pair of loafers for the office. Instead of getting too casual with your shoes on casual Fridays, keep your footwear professional. Stick with high quality leather loafers to add structure and professionalism to your jeans.
- An Oxford shirt paired with dark-wash, straight-leg jeans and a pair of leather loafers is the perfect blend between laid-back and dressy for an informal work meeting or a dinner with friends.
- Experiment with shoe clips to add extra glam to your look. These look like barrettes for your shoes, and they provide a quick, easy way of dressing up an otherwise simple pair of flats.
- Try wearing a plain black shirt and a pair of slim-leg jeans to really show off your sparkly shoe clips.
- Throw on a fashion scarf to dress up a plain top. A silk or satin fashion scarf in a bright, bold color dresses up your jeans for a number of occasions. You can wear one with a button-down shirt to dress up your jeans for the office, or you can wear one with a fitted t-shirt to dress up your jeans for the weekend.
- Wear a belt to add structure to your outfit. A nice belt can be just the thing you need to bump up your ensemble from casual to chic. Look for a nice leather belt, but don’t be afraid of an eye-catching belt buckle. Tuck in your shirt for extra polish.
- Opt for pearls to create a classic, conservative look. Pearls are the ultimate in timeless sophistication. A simple strand of pearls around your neck or subdued pearl post earrings can even make jeans look dressy.
- Throw a colorful bag over your shoulder for a fun, playful look. Like colorful necklaces and bracelets, this style element can help transform your outfit into a semi-dressy ensemble for a night out with friends. It may not, however, work for the office or a more demanding occasion.
- Carry a leather satchel for a masculine look. Carrying a leather bag instantly makes you look like you’re going somewhere important. Look for a bag in well-made leather, with quality hardware and seams to make sure it lasts.
- Make your business-casual look seem even more pulled-together by adding a rich camel leather bag to your tucked-in Oxford and dark boot-cut jeans.
- Choose a smaller, more subtle purse for dressier occasions. For a romantic date or an evening function, consider a clutch or other small purse that hangs off a delicate strap. Smaller purses naturally look a little dressier than larger purses, especially in a neutral color like black or brown.
- Dress up your appearance using cosmetics if you wear makeup. For an classic look that’s not overwhelming, focus on one feature and play it up. Wear a bold shade of lipstick or give yourself smoky eyes, then keep the rest of your look simple.
- Try a chunky, colorful necklace or bangle bracelets for a night out. These may not make your outfit look more professional, but a colorful piece of jewelry may help transform it for a night out with friends.