A few decades ago, wearing a suit jacket with jeans was for wacky stand-up comics and college professors whose students called them by their first name. These days, however, guys everywhere are embracing this winning combination.

One of the great things about this look is that it’s so democratic; any man can look good in this getup. It is ideal for any guy who wants to look fashionable and rugged, and it has an appealingly laid-back quality as well.

That’s not to say you can go into your closet, grab any old jacket and pair of ratty jeans, put them on and instantly look cool. To the contrary, there’s a definite art to this combo. The wrong jacket-and-jeans pairing will make you look like you got dressed in the dark or in a drunken stupor. Thus, heed the following tips to prevent a fashion nightmare.

1. Find the Perfect Jacket

When wearing a suit jacket with jeans, you’ll probably want a sports coat rather than a dressier and more structured coat.

Many men love sports jackets because of their ability to enhance their appearance. A guy often seems to have more muscle mass and definition when he wears one; Sports coats are a little like Spanx for shoulders and chests.

Not to mention, those jackets just feel good. You’ll discover they’re roomy yet snug, and having one on is a little like being wrapped in a cozy quilt that Grandma made. Plus, since sports jackets were originally designed for outdoor activities, they have an easygoing vibe that fits jeans well.

A light-colored coat is appropriate for wearing with jeans because sports coats and pants are supposed to have contrasting colors. Look for one with soft shoulders, elbow patches and a thick, textured quality; tweeds are fine choices. Moreover, make sure that your jacket fits you well. It should never be wrinkled or too loose.

2. Get the Right Jeans (and More)

Now that you have a relatively casual sports jacket, grab a pair of jeans that look somewhat elegant. That way, those two items will meet in the middle and complement one another.

Specifically, hunt for jeans that are made of dark denim and that aren’t overly loose. They should be in excellent shape ― no rips or tears are allowed. The pant legs shouldn’t reach the ground, either. Tailored jeans that you’ve rarely worn are ideal.

In addition, the shirt you wear should fall somewhere between a formal shirt and a T-shirt. Buttons should go all the way down, but an open collar is a good way to keep the shirt from looking too dressy. A vest or a sweater could enhance this outfit, as well.

3. Be Extra Careful with Formal Jackets and Blazers

You might want to avoid wearing a formal suit jacket with jeans. After all, can you think of any type of social occasion where it would be equally acceptable to show up in a suit or in jeans? The answer is probably no; thus, trying to mix jeans and formal jackets can go wrong very quickly.

Nevertheless, some leading fashion designers are beginning to embrace the idea of wearing a formal suit jacket with jeans. However, they’re often relying on specially designed suit jackets and products that are less structured. Those jackets are looser, and they have narrow lapels and little in the way of stuffing.

In any event, wearing a formal suit jacket with jeans is still a risky fashion choice. If you decide to try it, stay away from chalk stripes and pinstripes, and go for one with a patch pocket instead.

How about wearing a blazer with jeans? Blazers are more formal than sports jackets but less formal than other suit jackets. In many cases, this blend won’t seem quite right. However, if you have an especially thick blazer and you’re skilled at color coordination, you might be able to sport this look successfully.

4. Figure Out Where to Go with This Combo

What’s really delightful about this outfit is that you can wear it in so many different places. Whenever you’re invited to an event that’s described as business casual or casual, you can go ahead and iron your sports jacket and jeans the night before.

Likewise, this combination will make you a sartorial standout at family reunions, picnics, airports, train stations, church events, your dentist’s office and anyplace else where you don’t want to appear too dressed up or too dressed down. For that reason, suit jackets with jeans are great for going on dates, especially early on in a relationship. You’ll show your significant other that you care about looking good when you’re out together, but you won’t come across as trying to outshine that person.

As a word of warning, don’t try wearing a suit jacket with jeans at any type of formal event that you attend, such as a wedding. Please.

In the end, a suit or sports jacket and a pair of jeans will probably be the most versatile pieces of clothing that a man owns. In that way, they belong together. It’s destiny.

men's fashion advice

About Ralph Lauretta

Ralph is a co-owner of Sal Lauretta for men. His areas of expertise include custom clothing as well as being the primary clothing buyer for the store. When not at work you can find him hanging out with his family, reorganizing his garage or watching a Denver Broncos game.