How to Wear a Sport Coat With Jeans (Without Looking Like a Basic Bro)

The go-to style move is a good one, so long as you do it right.

Wearing a sport coat with jeans is, at this point, a pretty standard style move. That's not a knock on the combo, it's just a fact. And it's popular for one key reason: because, at its best, it just plain works. It's a go-to for guys at the office, on a date—pretty much anywhere you want to add a little extra polish to your look without getting too fancy.

But the pairing is also prone to some potential pitfalls. Now, maybe you don't care about that. That's cool; you do you. But since you're here, reading about it, maybe you do care. And maybe you don't want to look like you just pulled your suit jacket off the hanger and threw it on over some baggy jeans because you don't know what else to do. Or maybe it's more specific than that, and you just don't want people to assume you've hosted a nationally televised talent show: 

Simon Cowell on America’s Got Talent season 12.

Photo by NBC/Getty Images.

Whatever the reason, you're in the market for some guidance. So, away we go. Here's how to make wearing a sport coat with jeans work for you in 2019.

Know the Risks

There are a couple things that tend to throw guys for a loop when they're pairing up their denim with a sports coat (or a blazer, if you want to call it that; we're not here to split hairs). Fit, of course, is a big one. Your jacket should hug your shoulders, and your jeans shouldn't be billowing out in all the wrong places. But the biggest issue is going for something too structured and formal up top. A sharply tailored jacket strong shoulders might look great in the context of a full suit, but it tends to clash with the inherent casualness of jeans. A little padding is fine, but don't go overboard. And if you're worried about finding that sweet spot, just look for something completely unstructured. It won't do you wrong. 

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Think Different

You've seen it a million times before: a pair of dark (maybe raw) jeans with a white shirt and a navy jacket. It's a look that's fine, if a little cautious. And while no one's going to shout you down for wearing it, why not try looking for a little more contrast and, hey, maybe even having some fun with it? That navy sport coat? Try it with white denim in the warmer months. It's a fantastic match-up. Those dark jeans? Throw 'em on with a heavily textured jacket that livens up the entire outfit. And if you look in the mirror and think, Huh, this doesn't feel quite right, trust your gut and switch into something new. 

Find Your Groove

Once you've experimented a bit, you'll know what feels right. If you're the kind of guy who tends toward the conservative, then maybe you'll settle right into a navy jacket and indigo jeans and never want to leave. Nothing wrong with that! Or, if you've always had a penchant for rocker style, maybe you'll discover that a black jacket and skinny black jeans makes you feel like a million bucks. Enjoy! This is all about finding the right look for you, and while having a few guidelines in place to get you there helps, ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. 


And Finally, Learn to Ignore the Rules

About those guidelines: That's all they are. They're a means to point you in the right direction when you're still feeling unsure about things. But personal style is as much about setting your own course as it is about understanding what makes you look and feel your best. So, once you understand the basics of fit, color pairings, and the interplay between casual and formal, feel free to smash everything to the ground and make your own rules.

Some of the most exciting moments in the world of men's style come when people take a hard left turn into something weird and unexpected that just plain works. It's why Hedi Slimane was able to make the suit (and jeans) skinnier than we ever imagined, and why that silhouette still persists to this day. It's also why, as the pendulum swings, guys like Kim Jones can bring a looser silhouette to the table and it feels like a breath of fresh air. Evolution requires rule-breakers. And if you'd like to break the rules while wearing a sport coat and jeans, well, I wish you all the best.

This story originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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About The Author
Jonathan Evans
Jonathan Evans is the style director of Esquire, covering all things fashion, grooming, accessories, and, of course, sneakers. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son. You can follow him at @MrJonathanEvans on Twitter and Instagram.
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