Jeans With A Blazer

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A cousin of mine once descended the stairs at the student house in which he lived to smirks and guffaws from his friends who had been impatiently awaiting his arrival, regularly yelling at full, ear splitting volume. They stood confidently, arms folded at the bottom of the stairs; “What the hell is that?” one of them exclaimed. It was not an awkward stain, a rogue dash of unworked hair gel, an unzipped fly or any other form of unintentional embarrassment. And it was not a lack of coordination that so tickled them; it was more the particular coordination he had chosen. “Jeans and a blazer!” they chanted in a mocking, hooligan fashion as they followed behind us in the street. Banter for sure, and my cousin was sufficiently unmoved for it to remain as harmless as that, but it’s remarkable how things change.

I saw recently one of the friends just north of Mayfair on one of my recent button-finding expeditions. Had it not been for my good recollection of faces, I might have missed him, for there he was, pacing down the street as happy as a clam in what else? Jeans and a blazer. I remarked to him that it was an interesting choice of outfit, considering the dislike for the combination he exhibited some years ago. He avoided a response very well, but there was no possible excuse; years ago, he had mocked the very idea of it (and there are many who still would) but now, the combination is everywhere. He, naturally, has fallen for peer pressure once more. It happens, of course, there is no doubt about it – “Don’t laugh, you’ll be wearing it soon” is a weary line, so frequently used but with good reason: men particularly have a tendency to ‘keep in line.’

The horror about ‘jeans and a blazer’ is that they are frequently worn so badly. Think what you like about the appropriateness of the blend, if it must be done it must surely be done well. Boot cut, grungy and baggy jeans with torn bottoms are a disastrous start. The number of times I have seen perky, cocksure young chaps in a smart jacket and such awful jeans cannot be counted; the combination needs help and such a careless approach needs banishment. Jeans are not there to drag the jacket to their level, jeans should be as the long-misbehaving best man at the wedding; improved for the occasion. They shouldn’t act as ‘mock trousers’ – a pair of jeans should always be a pair of jeans, but they should not contradict the aesthetic of the jacket.
And mocking doesn’t always produce the best results. Some of the best J&B combinations I have seen involved jeans of a washed, light blue denim that most would shun in favour of darker supposedly more ‘sophisticated’ hues.

The most important thing, in my opinion, is that the jeans must be balanced; neither rigid nor sloppy. The ‘balanced fit’ comes from a pair of jeans that correspond to the wearers preferred tightness and length but that are ever so lightly restrained in this regard due to the presence of the jacket. Leaving folds and folds of denim at the bottom looks wrong. From the picture above, I guessed that Daniel Craig’s combination probably ends said ugly folds and even clumpy shoes, whereas the ideal ‘finish’ to the jeans would be a relatively narrow leg and youthful slip-ons. The length should be somewhere between that of a smart trouser and that of a more casual pair of jeans. I prefer jeans to be unrumpled at the bottom, but sometimes with a jacket they look rather too trouser-like and I tend to leave a small amount of contrived ‘turn up’ to distinguish them as jeans. The other option that works wonderfully well is to wear jeans that hang well above the shoe, exposing ankle. This works best if one wears loafers (the lower profile is more flattering) and if one goes sockless. Straight fit jeans are probably the best choice.

Likewise, the jacket must not conflict with the denim. If jeans are preferred to be worn lower than the waist, shorter jackets should be shunned; the excess jean material and off-buttock pockets look awkward. Also, jackets with that particular suit ‘sheen’ look entirely out of place unless they happen to be counteracted with considerable accessorising skill. Navy, charcoal and browns in matt cottons and wool work best as companions to denim.


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Winston Chesterfield is an amateur composer, fashion blogger, trained lawyer and style aficionado. He lives in Westminster, London and blogs at www.levraiwinston.com.

Comments

  1. Johno says:

    A very interesting and informative article. I very much like the blazer on the model to the right. Can you tell me where it is from? Concerning loafers, are chelsea boots for example also acceptable with J&B?

    Many thanks in advance
    Johno

  2. Paul says:

    Johno
    i wouldnt say acceptable, but i belive it can depend on the type colour a shape pertaining to the boots and jeans. i undersand the j&b is in at the moment but is well on its way out. jeans are everything dont wary about the blazer. that my opinion.
    i think a good pare of skinny jeans and some sort of bulkie boot looks good, how ever if you were to wear a bootcut jean with boots that defys the look, practal but very workermansh,

    to me the look of the season is bootcut jeans with cargo jacket.
    colours…
    black
    browns
    greys

    with over the top flouresent t-shirts
    Pinks
    yellow
    lime green
    bright aqua blue

    flat toed shoe
    or
    snadshoes

    so johno i hope i helped

  3. Dave says:

    I’m all for the jeans with blazer look, but I don’t care much for the jeans, blazer and tie look (like the model on the right). To me it looks like he went on a business trip and forgot to pack a pair of trousers so he threw on a pair of jeans hoping nobody would notice. But that’s just my opinion

  4. Nicola Linza says:

    Dave,
    I agree with you on the jeans and blazer look, if done properly without the tie. It is my opinion also that the tie rarely, if ever, works. It may simply be a personal preference that we share yet I think the same each time I see it happen in public. There is nothing more masculine and fantastic to me than simplicity in this look. A well-made, good fitting dark pair of jeans (dark denim will go more places that the faded variety with this look,) set with a fine pair of leather shoes, a simple quality leather belt, a crisp white shirt open collar (not button down,) and say an Italian lightweight wool blazer, hair slicked back; that is my version. I would add a steel or leather banded watch, my family ring, and I am good to go.
    Nicola

  5. Nicola,

    You mention a “crisp” shirt – to me, implying the lightly starched material of a button down – but then say you are specifically not referring to a button down. Are you referring to a polo shirt? A buttonless shirt? Are you referring to “crisp” as in texture or appearance?

    Thanks,

    - Joher

  6. Nicola Linza says:

    Joher,
    I am referring to “crisp” in appearance, a lightly starched traditional material, cotton or linen, but not a button down collar (it is perfectly acceptable to most, but for me a bit too informal for my uses.) I think a Polo style is also appropriate, but again I prefer a dress shirt for this look, as mentioned I think that a dress shirt can take a man in this particular look more places in a single day. If paired with the dark denim, high quality dress shoes, and a fine belt combined with a dress shirt that is lightly starched (especially white) can go from morning to evening, seamlessly.
    Thanks for asking.
    Nicola

  7. Hi Nicola,

    Thanks for taking the time to write back.

    I think I understand what confused me…

    According to the online resources I use, a “button-down” shirt is the same as a “dress” shirt. Either I am uninformed on this point or perhaps we are using language differently. Any thoughts?

    Thanks again for your kind response. :^)

    - Joher

  8. Nicola Linza says:

    Joher,
    Thanks for the note. You are welcome.
    Nicola