Can You Wear a Suit Jacket With Jeans?

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Yes, you can wear a suit jacket with jeans, but you have to know a few simple rules.

Most of us don’t have that many opportunities to suit up these days, and watching your suit collect dust in the wardrobe can be sad.

Luckily, “broken suits” are becoming more acceptable, but how do you go about them? Can you wear a suit jacket with casual pants, specifically jeans? Keep reading to nail the business casual look!

Can You Wear a Suit Jacket With Jeans

The broken suit practice used to be a big no-no, but it’s becoming more accepted (if done right). The question depends on the suit jacket, jeans, and occasion.

Sidebar: What Is “Spezzato”?

Spezzato (literally, “broken”) is the Italian word for what in English is known as the “broken suit’ – the art of masterfully mixing and matching different pants and jackets to create a new look.

As a rule, it’s a much better idea to wear a sports jacket with jeans, but some suit jackets can pass for sports ones, which is why the combo can work.

In addition, the jeans should be a good fit and in a dark color (preferably). Finally, you need to consider the formality of the event and if this business casual outfit works for it.

Article: Can You Wear a Suit Jacket With Jeans? Image shows a man wearing a suit jacket with hands tucked into jeans

Factors to Consider

Without further ado, let’s cover the factors determining whether the suit jacket and denim combo will work or not.

Suit Jacket

Some suit jackets are less formal than others, which renders them a good fit for denim, but what makes a suit jacket more casual?

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Fabric

Fabric is a deciding factor. So, avoid worsted wool, silk, cashmere, and other glossy fabrics. Instead, suit jackets look relatively casual when they’re made of tweed, flannel, cotton, linen, heavy wool, and thick, textured fabrics.

Still, you should also consider the weather. Linen jackets are excellent for summer, whereas tweed and wool ones are better for the colder seasons.

Color

Let’s talk colors. Since dark colors tend to be classy, you want a pale, bright, or bold-colored suit jacket. Think navy blue, true blue, light gray, medium gray, or other bright colors. Also, the jacket’s color shouldn’t match your jeans or shirt.

Pattern

Look for bold patterns and textured fabrics. For instance, you can choose a suit jacket with a check, houndstooth, nailshead, birdseye, or wide stripe pattern. Avoid pinstripes and chalkstripes because they’re a formal pattern and will look odd against your jeans.

Fit

How the suit jacket fits you makes all the difference. You want a fitted jacket that isn’t too big or small. There shouldn’t be any wrinkles over the shoulder, but it shouldn’t be loose, either. It should sit comfortably on your shoulders, giving you free arm movement.

Classic or Not?

Now, let’s look at the jacket’s style. You should aim for a timeless design (not a vintage one from the seventies). Here are some elements to look for in a classic jacket that you can wear with jeans:

  • Single breasted
  • Three pockets (one left breast and two hip)
  • 2 to 3 buttons (light-colored)
  • Color contrast between the buttons and jacket
  • Contrasting horn or shell buttons
  • Notch or peak lapels
  • Patch pockets or patch flap pockets

Tip: Flap pockets are on the fence between formal and casual wear, so you’ll have to look at other elements to decide where your suit jacket stands.

Jeans

Your jeans can make it easy for you to pull off the suit jacket and jeans combo (or not). Here’s how:

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Color

Since you’re going for a business casual aesthetic, opt for dark denim jeans, as they’re less casual than light-colored ones. For example, a dark blue color we love with suit jackets is indigo because it complements many colors. Black jeans are also a solid option. Finally, avoid stonewashed and distressed fabrics in denim.

Cut

You’ll nail the business casual look with the right jeans’ cut and style. For starters, your jeans should be form-fitting, so look for a straight leg cut. We’re talking about pants that hug your legs and remain straight throughout.

bearded businessman jacket and jeans seated

As for skinny jeans, they get narrower towards the ankle, which makes them less comfortable. They’re also a much more fashion-forward look, but if you’re confident enough to rock that hipster style, go for it!

Regardless, you want to steer clear of the trendy baggy pants, other loose designs, and low-hanging jeans because they’re too casual for a suit jacket. Ripped jeans are usually too much unless you’re an artist or musician.

Now, we can’t forget the bottom of the jeans. You want them tapered and cut just under the ankle. And if they aren’t the right length, consider having them hemmed.

Occasion

No matter how you style them, jeans are casual, so is a suit jacket and jeans combo right for the occasion? Go for a full suit if you’re attending a formal event, business meeting, or funeral. Otherwise, less formal events where you can wear jeans and a dress shirt are a good place to break up your suit.

Suit Jackets With Jeans: Do’s and Don’ts

To help you further with the business casual style, let’s go over the rules of breaking up suits.

Don’t Break up Your Only Suit

If you aren’t big on formal attire, you may have one suit that you pull out for special events. In that case, you’d better not break it up and save it for formal occasions. Instead, we’d recommend you buy a sports jacket or a blazer for a business casual look.

Since suits are expensive, keeping your one suit in excellent condition is super important. You want to avoid it getting stained, damaged, or discolored, which is more likely than you think with frequent use of the jacket. After all, it means consistent washing, which can change its color.

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Do Wear a Dress Shirt

Your regular plain t-shirt is too casual for the business casual look. So, instead, go for a button-up dress shirt. It can be a plain, plaid, or striped shirt. Just check that its color complements your suit jacket and jeans. And if your suit is a three-piece, you can try wearing its waistcoat, jeans, and a dress shirt together.

But how do you wear your dress shirt? It’s essential to tuck it into your pants if you want a cohesive look. Otherwise, it’ll look awkward hanging over your jeans.

Tip: Do you struggle to keep your shirt tucked in? Yes, technically you can use elastic straps, which attach to the bottom of your dress shirt and the top of your socks. If you do this however, you will never get a date ever again.

Instead – use the ‘military tuck’. This is where you smooth the shirt out from the front to the sides under the waistband. Then fold any excess at the sides into a single neat pleat on you right and left side.

Do Accessorize With a Belt

Although you usually don’t need to wear a belt with denim, this is an exception. After all, you’re going to an event that isn’t precisely casual; you’re in a suit jacket and a tucked-in buttoned shirt.

A belt helps define your waistline and separate your jeans from the shirt and jacket. Not to mention, it exudes style and authority. Regarding the color, matching your belt with your shoes is a good idea.

Final Words

Overall, wearing jeans with a suit jacket is becoming more acceptable, so you can get away with wearing a suit jacket rather than a sports one. However, it depends on the jeans, jacket, and event.

To make the “broken suit” combo work, you need to pair the least formal-looking jacket with the least casual-looking jeans, and make up for the casualness of the denim with a dress shirt and a belt.