When you think of one, it’s unlikely that the other comes to mind.
Thinking of a tie, the mind is naturally inclined to images of dapper men dressed in suits, or perhaps it just conjures a thought of corporate work. Denim, on the other hand, elicits an image of casual style – a trouser for the everyman. From rock stars to motorcyclists, tradesmen and cowboys, jeans don’t exactly spring to mind as something to wear with a tie.
Which is why menswear enthusiasts can find and display a beautiful juxtaposition between the two. The sport coat and jeans is a combination that style conscious men have been wearing for decades, but few have dared to attempt – let alone pull off – adding a necktie to that mix.
It’s quite doable though. I recently had a crack at it, and enjoyed the results. From my own experience and seeing other gents do this look well, I’ve put together a little inspiration album and observations on how to make this look work for you.
A Shortcut To Success – Casual Fabrics
Given the casual nature of jeans, the easiest way to make it work with a necktie is to compose the rest of your outfit from casual fabrics. In jackets this means texture, like chunky wool flannel, cashmere, tweed and so on. For shirts, a chunky oxford fabric or something else textured.
And for ties, the easiest choice is a knitted tie.
Something with a nice, chunky texture is the way to go. It’s inherently casual in nature, and is perfect for combining with jeans. Ivy style enthusiasts will say the best accompaniment for shirting is an OCBD (oxford cloth button down), rather than an ordinary collar. I largely agree, in the sense that using one of those is an easy shortcut to a classic look, but it’s fun to experiment regardless.
Some other great fabrics for this look, apart from oxford cloth shirting, are tweed and textured wool. A tweed jacket is a great casual sartorial staple, with strong Americana and ivy vibes. It’s also a perfect accompaniment to oxford shirting.
Shown below is an outfit that I put together using an OCBD, tweed jacket, jeans and a wool tie with plenty of texture. It’s really pleasing to the eye, and I think you’ll agree.
To quickly recap, here’s a short list of fabrics and styles that are essentially guaranteed to help you pull off a denim-and-tie ensemble:
Knitted silk, wool, cotton ties or textured wool ties.
Tweed, cashmere or any other jacket with more pronounced texture.
Oxford cloth shirts.
Most of these are ivy style staples. If you’re in the USA, you’ll find these easily enough by thrifting but if you’re in Australia the pickings will be slimmer. If you have to order online, make sure you know your essential measurements before importing anything.
What Kind of Jeans are Best?
If you’ve read other articles about combining jeans and sport coats, you’ll doubtless have been told over and over that you should only wear indigo selvedge denim with sport coats and that nothing else is acceptable.
Thing is, that’s a load of bollocks.
I’ve seen jeans and sport coat looks pulled off with all manner of colours, cuts and levels of distress/fade. It really comes down to what you’re comfortable with, but I’ll offer one or two pieces of advice in regard to how I approach it:
Proportion, Proportion, Proportion
The most important thing about most sartorial outfits – and consequently the thing that most people foul up – is proportion. I could write an essay on that in itself, but that’s something for another time.
Firstly, know your ideal fit for pants. For me, that means a higher rise. The jeans you saw in the earlier pictures have a rise of 12.75 inches, which is similar to what I wear for all other trousers. It’s what flatters my body best.
The reason this is important, is that you need to coordinate your pants rise with your tie length. For aesthetically ideal proportions, you want your tie to be just touching from between where your belt loops start, and where your belt loops end.
Once you have that in proportion, it’s just a case of harmonising your choices of patterns and colours.
Now you’ve seen some of mine and read some theory, let’s see some solid jeans and tie looks from some friends around the Web.
Jeans And Tie Style From Around The World
Here’s a mini lookbook collated from menswear’s finest.
Concluding Thoughts: Give It A Try!
Denim and ties are a really fun combo, and they won’t make you look like you overdid the dressing up game. If you haven’t tried it before, and you have some good knitted ties and chunky fabrics lying around, have a play with it – it’ll be good fun!
I’ve really enjoyed doing so, and despite the fact my only good pair of jeans at the moment is a mid blue wash (which is a bit limiting), when I have a darker or lighter wash I’ll likely put out several more of these looks.
If you do decide to try jeans and tie for the first time, and you upload a picture, tag me @samtalksstyle on Insta. I’d love to see your outfits.
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