Dress Shoes With Jeans: How To Wear Formal Shoes With Jeans

Dress Shoes With Jeans: How To Wear Formal Shoes With Jeans

Wearing formal footwear with jeans is a great way to find balance at those awkward, smart-casual dress code events. And with so many jean cuts and colours, you can easily choose a smart pair that shows you care about your appearance without being too formal. 

Here, we guide you through the best footwear to pair with jeans for men and women, including which go best with what colour jeans. Whether heading out with friends or colleagues, we ensure you’ll be well-prepared when someone asks you to dress “smart-casual”.

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Can I wear formal shoes with jeans?

The short answer is yes! Dress shoes can give a pair of jeans a more formal look, and jeans help to mellow the formality of dress shoes, resulting in the perfect balance between smart and casual dress. 

However, there are unspoken rules when pairing dress shoes with jeans, including colour combinations, types of shoes and jean cut. But fear not! We are here to debunk the smart-casual dress minefield and help you find the perfect balance between sophistication and comfort. 

What’s the best footwear to pair with jeans?


Jeans are an extremely versatile garment with various styles and designs. We’ve broken down which men’s footwear pair best with different men’s jean cuts.

Skinny or slim-fit jeans

For skinny and slim-fit jeans, edge towards your sleeker dress shoes, like your Oxfords, monk shoes and Chelsea boots. Their more sophisticated design pairs perfectly with slim-line jeans. 

Regular fit

Regular fitting jeans go better with more causal derby shoes, derby boots, chukka boots and balmoral boots. Finish your smart-casual look with a rolled cuffed at the bottom of your regular cut jeans to frame your dress shoes nicely so the jeans won’t swallow the shoe design.

Relaxed, boot cut or Loose fit

Lastly, avoid wearing dress shoes with super baggy, modern-style jeans, as the styles won’t complement each other. Instead, pair them with Hiker or Biker boots or Chukka Boots to match the causal nature of this jean cut. Pairing a chunky boot with a pair of relaxed or loose-fitting jeans will prevent the denim from overpowering your footwear design.

For women, there are more styles of jeans to experiment with. 

Skinny, narrow or straight-legged jeans

When choosing dress shoes to pair with women’s jeans, pair similar shoe styles with similar jeans. For example, skinny, narrow, and straight-legged jeans will pair best with daintier shoes like Oxfords, Derbys and Loafers.

Boot-cut, flares and wide-legged

Boot-cut jeans and other wide-legged jeans look excellent with chunkier boots. Anything from our Derby, Hiker, Biker and Military-style boots collections will pair well with these jeans. After all, boot-cut jeans are made for wearing with boots!

Boyfriend or mom jeans 

Boyfriend and mom jeans are more fitted around the hips and waist but are baggy in the leg area. Pair these jeans with Chelsea or chukka boots for an effortlessly chic look.


Texture plays a significant part in how formal an outfit is. For example, pairing jeans with polished calf leather will look more formal. Conversely, if you opt for grain leather or suede, the texture will soften the formality of your outfit. 


Colour is also crucial when pairing dress shoes with jeans. Some shoe colours pair better with particular coloured jeans than others, and the shoe and jean colour can also affect the formality of an outfit. For example, black jeans and black shoes will always look more formal than blue jeans and brown shoes. Mix and match colours to create differing levels of formality depending on the occasion.

What colour shoes go best with blue jeans?

If you’re wearing blue jeans, we recommend brown leather or suede. The contrasting colours stand out and help create a more casual look to your outfit. If it’s autumn or winter, people tend to wear dark denim, so stick with the mood and opt for dark brown shoes like Mocha or Walnut. And vice versa, if you’re wearing lighter denim in the summer, swing towards lighter brown tones like Chestnut and Almond for a casual outfit. 

Browse our brown shoes for men and women to pair with your blue jeans.

What shoes to wear with black jeans?

Jet-black shoes with black jeans can look very smart if paired with black leather or suede. This seamless black jeans outfit creates a sense of professionalism while remaining casual. Discover a diverse range of black dress shoes for men and women that pair perfectly with black jeans.

To lower the formality of black jeans, opt for brown shoes or shoes with a red tone like our Mahogany and Dark Leaf leather. Using contrasting colours breaks up the black and creates a more casual aesthetic. 

What colour shoes go with grey jeans?

For grey jeans, it’s best to stick to black shoes. Any warmth in the leather will clash terribly with the cool tones of the grey jeans. 

Dress shoes that go with jeans at Cheaney Shoes

We hope the muddy waters of the smart-casual dress code are clear now. As a rule of thumb, sleeker shoes go better with slimmer jeans, and chunkier boots pair better with baggier jeans. You can experiment with the formality of your shoe and jean combination by altering texture and colour. 

Now it’s over to you! Find the perfect shoes to go with your jeans in our men’s and women’s shoe collections at Cheaney Shoes. 

For more insights into how to tackle the confusing dress smart-casual dress code, read our guide “What does dressing smart/ casual actually mean?

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