In years gone by, a denim shirt was a sign of unrivaled masculinity. A suggestion that you spent your spare time tinkering with cars or motorbikes. It was definitely not a formal offering. Men would choose it for its robust material, something that could withstand the wear and tear. Even the reason it was created in the first place was because Levi Strauss wanted a material to make miners clothing out of that didn’t rip or tear too easily.
The decades after Mr Strauss’ inception, denim became more and more mainstream, less about its practicalities and more about its style presence within a man’s outfit. Wearing denim jeans is a sure fire way to hit the smart casual look on the button, but can a denim shirt be worn in a more formal outfit, say with a suit?
First and foremost, men need to understand the basics surrounding the occasion of wearing their suit. If you are suiting up for work, then how informal/formal is the rest of the office. Is there anyone that breaks out of the norm a little and allows some of their personality to shine through? If so, then this is potentially a good setting to introduce denim.
Some men unfortunately work in a place that still belongs in the 50’s and want a workforce of suited robots to carry out tasks. Anyone deviating from this restrictive uniform is blacklisted. In this environment, leave the denim shirt for out of office hours.
Should You Wear A Tie
This for me is a very precarious situation, and it is rare to see a denim shirt worn with both a suit and tie that really hits the mark. Remember the previous incarnations of its position within a man’s wardrobe, and that it is a nod to the casual as oppose to formal. In my opinion I believe a denim shirt and suit combo would always look best worn without a tie.
What Suit To Wear It With
For this question, focus on the colour of the denim. It is typically blue, so therefore replace where you would normally wear a traditional blue shirt and you should have a good starting point to go from.
I personally like a denim shirt with a standard navy blue suit or even a light brown or cream style. But if you need a bit more guidance, we have some visual inspiration for men further on.
What Type Of Denim
Wearing a denim shirt with a suit doesn’t call for acid washes or anything with embellishment on it. Stick to a shirt with as little of a wash associated with it as possible. Always keep in mind that you are looking to add a slight casual element to a formal suit and not smartening up a casual outfit. So look for a smarter denim shirt.
So in conclusion, wearing a denim shirt with a suit is a great alternative to your typical range of formal shirts. Just remember that the shirt still needs to be further along the scale of smart than casual. Chambray is also another great option for men. Due to the difference in weaves during manufacturing it has a softer finish, so some men may prefer it to denim.
Sam Brady is a menswear expert, having worked in or around the field for the past 14 years. He has built up a keen eye for detail when it comes to the production of clothing, and is happy showcasing the craftsmanship of Savile Row and Jermyn St. But he understands the need for an interchangeable modern man’s wardrobe that mixes high street and luxury clothing.