How to Wear Formal Shoes with Jeans


Plimsolls, boots and trainers are all great options to pair with jeans, but sometimes it’s nice to step away from the norm and up your formality. If you’re wondering on how to wear formal shoes with jeans, this quick style guide is just what you need.

Read more Men’s Style Guide features.


What Shoes to Wear with Jeans: Cuts

Grabbing your fancier shoes and mixing them up with your jeans is a unique way of achieving a little bit of sophistication without a lot of effort. This doesn’t mean it can be done without consideration, though, there’s a few things you should keep in mind before you slip on your fancy footwear. Let’s take a look at some of the best shoes to wear with jeans.

What Shoes to Wear with Skinny Jeans

Easily the most popular style of jeans for men, skinny jeans sleek, fitted appearance compliments the less chunky and more streamlined dress shoes perfectly. There’s a number of dress shoes you pair up with skinny jeans, so the choice really depends on what look you’re going for.

Of them all, the best formal shoes to wear with jeans would be the humble Loafer. Loafers come in a range of styles, colours and materials, so there’s bound to be one to suit you. If you want to keep the look casual, try a pair of penny loafers in a black or beige, and match them with some black skinnies. The combination of light colours will help maintain a relaxed, summery feel – perfect for any casual day out.

man black loafers mens
Smart Casual Shoes with Jeans


What Shoes to Wear with Slim Fit Jeans

Slim fit jeans have always been a great alternative to skinny jeans, especially if you’re of an athletic build. Their look is still svelte enough to create a clean, tailored appearance, but they’re easier to move around in, and don’t give quite as bold of a finish.

Bulkier shoes such as Dr Martens go great with slim fit jeans as they’re enough of a difference in fit to create an interesting look preventing your outfit from looking mismatched or bottom heavy. You could also try out a pair of loafers, avoiding anything with tassels, choosing one in a light colour and matching it with light blue jeans.

Try turning up your jeans to add a more relaxed, stylised finish that works great with flat shoes like loafers. If you’re unsure of exactly how to turn up your trouser leg (and there’s more than one way) read our handy how-to guide here.

men-slim-jeans-dr-martens blue shirt


What Shoes to Wear with Jeans: Colours

So you have the fit of your jeans sorted, but what about colour? Dressing coloured jeans with dress shoes can be a little tricky with the sheer amount of options. However, the good thing is that fit is generally the hardest thing to get right when it comes to jeans, so matching colours will seem like a breeze in comparison.

What Shoes to Wear with Grey Jeans

With light grey jeans, keep the look subtle and streamlined by matching them with dress shoes in a similar tone. A pair of shoes in a light suede will give a unified look, and the similarity of colours will also add an interesting finish, helping you subtly stand out.

Dark grey jeans are a little more versatile than their light counterparts, and their darker colouring helps give a more formal air to an outfit. This helps when matching them with more formal dress shoes as the contrast in style won’t be so striking. For a comfortable, relaxed look, match dark brown chukka boots or black brogues and jeans, keeping the outfit minimal and sleek.

Outfits with Grey Jeans: Inspiration

mens-grey-jeans white shirt


What Shoes to Wear with Black Jeans

Black jeans are a staple of men’s fashion that truly suit everyone. It makes sense that almost any dress shoe can easily be matched with black jeans. Although there’s a multitude of options, it’s best to match a pair of black skinny jeans with a pair of matte leather shoes for a simple but stylish finish.

Outfits with Black Jeans: Inspiration



What Shoes to Wear with Blue Jeans

Like grey, there are many different shades of blue, making it a colour that’s both versatile and sometimes difficult to dress. Whether you choose to go for light or dark blue jeans, there’s going to be the right dress shoe combination to fit with them.

If you’re wondering what shoes to wear with dark blue jeans, you’ll be happy to know that a traditional pair of blue jeans is probably more versatile than black jeans. One look that’s easy to pull off is to pair your jeans with some smart, brown leather shoes. Chukka boots are great for the winter and will easily match with some slim fit jeans.

When considering what shoes to wear with light blue jeans, we recommend you go for a laid back look and match a pair of slim fit light blue jeans with some neutral Chelsea boots. The light colours will compliment one another while the streamlined, yet relaxed fit will bridge the gap between smart and casual.

Outfits with Dark Blue Jeans: Inspiration

blue jeans chukka boots mens


Outfits with Light Blue Jeans: Inspiration

mens-light-jeans-style grey overcoat


Men’s Casual Dress Shoes

There’s a rough definition of dress shoes that describes them as footwear that’s worn to formal or smart casual events. This leaves their classification up for interpretation, but in general, the fanciest dress shoes are designs like smart patent leather lace-ups that look great with a good suit and tie. If you’re looking for smart casual shoes that go with jeans; Chukkas, loafers and brogues can be worn in both smart and smart casual ensembles.


Boat Shoes with Jeans

Boat shoes have a tendency to be paired with chinos and shorts, creating a preppy, seafaring look that’s grown in popularity over the years. However there’s no reason that they can’t also be matched with a good old pair of jeans, and if you get the right fit and colour you can easily achieve a summery, casual look.

mens-boat-shoes blue suede
Boat Shoes for Jeans


How to Wear Formal Shoes with Jeans

One important thing to consider when matching formal shoes and jeans is the shapes you mix together. If you’re wearing something slim fitting, try not to match them with anything too chunky. Likewise, if you’re wearing  looser jeans opt for something a little weightier to balance out the look.

On That Note

Wearing a pair of formal shoes with jeans isn’t the style sin you first thought it would be. Over the years men across the world have decided to throw the rules of style out of the window and start mixing the formal and the casual together, simply looking at the appearance of shoes that go with jeans. As jeans are a wardrobe staple in themselves, it was only a matter of time before we began to grow tired of constantly wearing trousers.

The colour of your jean decides the colour of your shoes. If you’re going for a pair of lighter blue jeans then I’d go for a classic pair of brown penny loafers for a casual and classic look. Raw denim is another great example – team a pair of raw denim jeans with some black formal shoes, such as brogues, for a modern and stylish look this season.

Whether it’s a simple black jeans, brown shoe combination you’re going for or a classic pair of jeans and brogues; turn up those cuffs and you’ve gone through half the battle. 


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Plimsolls, boots and trainers are all great options to pair with jeans, but sometimes it’s nice to step away from the norm and up...
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