You’re no fashion guru, but you know what looks good -- most of the time. You know, for example, that you look good in both straight-leg and boot-cut jeans, but you don’t always know which shoes go with what jeans. You can make your favorite jeans and shoes work in a business-casual or dressy-casual ensemble by understanding some design basics.
Straight-leg jeans are perhaps the most versatile jean cut available to men. As the name suggests, these jeans are designed to have an equal width from hip to hem. They create clean lines along the legs and have a more tailored appearance than other jean cuts. Avoid light-washed, distressed or overly snug jeans, which can create a sloppy appearance and clash with the formal look of your dress shoes. Pair dark-wash straight-leg jeans with dress shoes for an appropriately stylish dressy-casual or business-casual ensemble.
Boot-cut jeans use an equal, semi-loose width from hip to knee, but flare from the knee to the hem. Although they can be warn appropriately with dressy-casual attire, they are not appropriate for every type of dressy footwear. Avoid boot-cut jeans that have an exaggerated flare or distressed construction. Boot-cut jeans with a slight flare, a dark wash and a snug fit through the hip are most appropriate for dressy-casual attire.
If you plan to wear your straight-leg jeans, stick to shoe basics. Wingtips, oxfords, derby shoes, or penny and tassel loafers are all appropriate for straight-leg jeans. The key to choosing the right shoe is proportion. Square-toe loafers and dress shoes can accentuate short legs and create a stubby appearance. Stick to pointed and round toe shoes, which will complement the streamlined design of your jeans.
Although some men might attempt to pair cowboy boots or hiking boots with boot-cut jeans, they are not appropriate footwear for dressy casual or business casual. Fortunately, there are a variety of men’s dress boots available that are both appropriate and stylish. Chelsea, lace-ups, brogue and zip-up leather ankle boots are appropriate options that can be worn with boot-cut jeans. Avoid work boots and desert boots, which tend to have an earthy, outdoorsy look. Go for boots in polished or patent leather that are comparable to mainstream oxfords or wingtips.