I’ve been procrastinating on this blog post for weeks now (ever since I initially announced I was going to do a black jeans round up/style guide) mostly because figuring out just how to answer “what to wear with black jeans” is a difficult task to tackle.
Black jeans are some of the most versatile wardrobe items you can own and can easily be worn hundreds of ways. Needless to say, it’s a hard/loaded topic to tackle. But even still, I’m committed to giving it my best shot. Like I’ve done with my previous “how to wear” posts, I’m going to give you an overview of what works for me and why; plus, I’ll share some general styling tips to keep in mind.
What to Wear with Black Jeans: Colors That Work
It took me a bit to figure out how to explain it and after much thought, I’ve decided to group the different “looks” into generalities or ways I frequently wear black jeans. In short, I’m going to share my go-to outfit formulas for wearing black jeans – what works and why. I’ve found that black jeans look best with a few colors and prints; I thought it might be helpful to run through those with y’all, giving you examples along the way.
1. Wear Black Jeans With shades of Brown
My first reaction when pulling out black jeans is to pair it with a neutral color. It’s such a classic pairing and the colors just always…work. I love playing with the black and brown combo when putting outfits together, especially in the fall and winter months. There’s something so classic (in my opinion) about the two colors together – especially when paired with gold accessories!
In this outfit, I paired a long camel cardigan with a white tee and distressed denim for a casual night-out dinner look with friends. I completed the look with a leopard heel that pulled the entire look together.
I went with a tone-on-tone look with this outfit above and totally played up the brown and black combo – there’s something so classic and chic about wearing black and brown together that almost always reminds me of Ralph Lauren (one of my fave designers/labels EVER).
Again playing on the black-and-neutral color scheme here, I paired my black pants with my favorite, classic white tunic and tan blazer for a business casual look. I could have easily worn black pumps here and it would’ve looked great, but I thought the leopard added a nice, interesting touch.
2. Wear Black Jeans With creams and off-white
In the same way black looks great with tan and camel-colored hues, it also pairs well with most other neutral colors. I’d say the biggest thing to keep in mind here though is that you don’t want there to be too much contrast or bulky-ness; you want to make sure your outfit is well-balanced from head-to-toe. Don’t get me wrong, chunky-ness and contrast can be great, but in my own personal experience, I’ve found that a black jeans outfit with high-contrast (i.e., with lighter colors, white, etc.) needs to be styled appropriately in order to balance well and look put together.
For instance, if you’re going to wear black jeans with a lighter cream sweater, you might want to balance out the stark contrast of the sweater and pant with a brown bootie, a cardigan, hat or some other accessory. And again, everyone is different but these are just the styling rules of thumbs that have worked for me. And I’d say I’m pretty conservative on the “out there” fashion spectrum.
Like in this outfit here, I paired the cream sweater with a brown suede bootie and denim jacket!
For this look, some people might be totally fine pairing the sweater and jeans combo with black booties but I felt like the outfit would have been too top heavy. This is an instance where the sweater and jean (light and dark) contrast sort of needed to be a balanced out with a leather cognac bootie.
Going against what I said above (about the brown booties), I think this outfit actually works. I think it has to do with the fact that the belt sort of breaks the look up and helps with the outfit being too top heavy. If you want to read more tips on figuring out what color booties with what and WHY, you should check out my blog post all about how to wear ankle booties here!
3. Wear Black Jeans with Taupe
Just like black pairs well with tans and brown-based neutrals, it also works well with “mushroom”-toned colors or more taupe-tones hues.
Here I paired my (nicer-looking) black skinny jeans with a taupe top and finished the look with suedelace-upp flats (full outfit post here)! I tried the outfit on with black leather flats but it just looked incomplete for some reason – the suede taupe ones just looked so much better. I couldn’t put my finger on why though!
4. Wear Black Jeans with Black for an ALL Black Look
I’m actually considering doing a whole blog post on how to best wear the classic “all black” ensemble, but for now I’ll include it under wearing black jeans with neutrals (since black is technically a neutral too!)
Wearing black on black will always be a viable option. And if you live in NYC, I’ve found that it’s basically the only option – well, at least if you don’t want to stick out. You really can’t go wrong when wearing black on black and as long as you finish the look by incorporating differing textures or with some accessories, you’re golden. In my experience, you want to add some sort of interest to the outfit to make it look finished. I usually do this with jewelry, a scarf or a belt!
For instance, in this black (on black) jeans outfit I added a little bit of detail with my belt to break up the look and then finished the outfit with the burgundy suede moto jacket!
And lastly, I loved this travel outfit above. I actually didn’t share it on instagram because the quality of the photo wasn’t the best but I still wanted to include it in the roundup nonetheless because it’s a good example of how accessories can pull together (or complete) an all black look. Here, the scarf and the brown suede boots really elevate the look and make it more of an “outfit”, adding a total “chic” factor.
3. Wear black jeans with shades of grey
Grey is basically a neutral, but since I pair the specific combo of black + grey together SO often, I thought it was deserving of it’s own category. Grey with black, to me, is basically an updated version of a classic look.
Of all the colors in my (Fall & Winter) wardrobe, I’d say that grey is one I reach for more than any other color in my closet and it just always works with black pants best. And grey and black pair so well together – the combo is crisp, updated, and clean. Also, most shades of grey work well with black – from light grey to metallic to mid-grey. I personally don’t love dark grey with black, but maybe that’s just me?
Here I paired my black jeans with a blush pink sweater and grey boucle vest from LOFT. I balanced out the color scheme by finishing the look with these (old Dee Keller) grey suede booties. I love this color combo so much, but I’ll admit that it can sometimes be difficult to make work without the right shades and textures.
Paired with sneakers and a simple grey top + baseball cap is just a cute go-to.
In this mirror selfie outfit above, I paired my black jeans with a super light cream sweater and oversized grey cardigan. The look didn’t quite look right thought until I threw on these brown suede ankle booties – something about the slight contrast on bottom rounded out the look!
4. Pair black jeans With Denim or Chambray
Chambray just looks best with black, it’s a fact. I’m not usually a huge fan of blue on denim, so the contrast of denim and black (if I’m not going for a white jeans look) is what I reach for.
Black jeans tend to make chambray look a little less casual and farm-ish (does that make sense?). It’s a way of making the chambray look a little more fashion-forward and chic, in my opinion.
You can see in this outfit (from this blog post), I personally love to use chambray/denim and black jeans mixed in with stripes or another print to break it up. Chambray/denim and black are always a good starting point when you want to layer – since so many things match with both materials – and they are a great base for an outfit.
Another look I paired with chambray and black jeans except here I’m wearing my chambray shirt as a light jacket for layering. Speaking of chambray, I did a similar post showing you outfit ideas slash ways to wear chambray in this blog post.
5. Wear Black Jeans With White
Another neutral, I know, but again, deserving of it’s own category since it’s a go-to for me, especially in colder months. I have no problem wearing white during winter, but I definitely tend to gravitate to a white top matched with black pants in colder weather. A white top AND white jeans just looks very summery to me (unless done intentionally for a winter white look) but for the most part, a white top just looks better with black.
I especially love white on top, black jeans, and white sneakers – that contrast is just one of my favorites. I feel like it’s the winter version of jeans, sandals, and a white flowy top, right??
I love this travel outfit I wore for my trip to Cancun last February – I’m a huge fan of the athleisure trend or any excuse to wear comfy sneakers, actually.
6. Wear black jeans with olive green or other Jewel tones
I’ll admit, I was surprised I was able to make these colors in this outfit work because when you think about it, there’s actually A LOT going on in this outfit. I mean, grey shoes with a brown belt with black jeans AND an olive sweater? WOW. That’s a lot of colors – right? But something about this outfit really made me happy and I think just straight up WORKED. I think the gold hardware and the deep brown leather of the belt helped pull it all together. But for the most part, I LOVE wearing olive greens with black jeans and it’s a color combo I frequent often.
This outfit is actually something I wore out one night with friends when I felt like dressing up the tee-shirt I’d been wearing with yoga pants around the house all day. It’s a great example of well olive green pairs with black jeans!
Thoughts on Which Colors Don’t Work with Black Jeans
All in all, you can just about wear any color with black jeans – at least in some fashion. Obviously, these are just a few of my favorite ways to wear them and with colors that I’ve found work the best.
A few colors I don’t particularly like when paired with black jeans are the following:: neon yellow, dark grey, navy blue (unless intentionally styled), hot pink, deep reds, loud oranges, and certain shades of blue and purple that I don’t think pair well.
What to Wear With Black Jeans: Prints That Work
We’ve covered all the solid colors that work well black jeans (or at least the colors I wear most often) and now I wanted to spend a little bit of time touching on prints too!
Since black pants are so classic and somewhat dressier than traditional denim, prints are a fun option to mix things up or make the look more casual. A handful of prints are my favorite, so let’s get into them!
1. Black Jeans work well with black and white stripes
I find myself using black jeans with black and white stripes ALL the time. Like I mentioned in the black jeans + chambray section, black jeans + black/white stripes are an excellent base for a look. I tend to throw on olive green or tan with this combo most often, because all these colors balance each other and are fun together.
I’ll never tire of this combo: denim, stripes, cognac, and olive green this is one of my favorite outfits. There’s just something about how all these colors work together that makes me think FALL!
2. Wear Black Jeans With Plaid
Two classics combined make perfection, am I right? Plaid and black update the look, and similar to black jeans and chambray, make the plaid print (especially if it’s a flannel) more modern/less farm-ish.
I especially like black jeans with flannels that have darker tones or black mixed in. I wouldn’t necessarily wear a pastel color plaid with black jeans.
3. Wear Black Jeans with Leopard
A lot of these previous looks incorporated leopard, so it’s clearly easy to wear with black jeans. I personally like black with leopard when there’s a lot of black in the specific version of leopard print. Black pants kinda pulls the whole look together and is more stylish than leopard and denim. I think it’s cute to pull leopard in with your shoes like I did in this outfit or throw on a leopard clutch like I did in the outfit above!