If you could only wear one pair of pants for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Mine would be a pair of dark blue jeans.
What else is as versatile? What else is so iconic?
From Saturday date nights to Wednesday afternoon workdays, dark blue jeans are the go-to for hitting the balance between relaxed and sleek.
To honor my favorite wardrobe staple, I’ve put together five different outfits that showcase the beauty of owning dark blue denim.
Dark Blue Jeans Outfits: 5 Ways to Wear Them
1. All Dark with a Pop of Color
Sometimes you want to put together the very best items in your closet. That’s what I’m doing here to create an all navy and black ensemble. But you have to keep the people guessing. That’s why I have the pop of yellow in the shirt.
Dark denim is so versatile, many of the rules of matching and complementary colors don’t apply.
Mott & Bow are our go-to for slim fit jeans in the sub $150 category. The sturdy 13oz denim of the Oliver, paired with its slim profile, makes for a clean and comfortable design that feels like it should be much more expensive than it really is.
I paired the heavy denim with a structured overshirt. I don’t wash this shirt often in an attempt to keep the fibers intact—too much washing just blows out the color and structure.
And while we’re on the subject of washing—I’ve had these jeans for a month and a half and haven’t washed them once.
If you ask me, the deep indigo found in raw denim is so pure that it’d be a waste to machine wash it away. When I do finally wash these jeans (because after all, fellas, you do have to wash your jeans every once in a while), I’ll take special care and do it by hand.
This is my go-to outfit for when I want to keep it casual on a Saturday night. Subtle elements like a great watch and boots elevates the style factor of the outfit without making it overly dressy.
I was impressed already with UNDONE's homage to vintage Rolex designs, and the Basecamp Cali takes that same concept to the next level.
The key is getting really high-quality pieces that fit well. If the fit is off or the fabric is low quality, no amount of accessories can save your outfit.
2. Smart-Casual (The Holiday Party Crowd Pleaser)
With the holidays coming up, it’s time to bust out one of my favorite combos—the sweater and button-up.
Dark jeans are the perfect base for smart-casual style. Just make sure they’re crisp and don’t look too worn in. It’s a good idea to have at least two pairs of dark blue jeans (I always end up having more than that, though).
Wearing your favorite jeans wears out the color, so when you’re looking to step it up for holiday parties or relaxed date-nights, choose a pair of jeans with less mileage.
I love the fit of Mott & Bow’s Crosby. They’re lighter than the Oliver, and they’ve gone through a washing process so they’re not as stiff as raw denim.
A Mott & Bow bestseller, the Crosby is a fantastic medium weight classic jean. Featuring 26% elasticity, they're not as stiff as the thicker Oliver, giving them a little more casual comfort.
Vincero’s Altitude line offers a cool design with versatile color schemes. While they’ve made some concessions to keep the price down, Vincero has delivered another great fashion-forward watch.
3. The Winter Warmer
This outfit is best centered around a heavy coat. Otherwise, you’ll freeze in winter.
If you don’t have a parka or a wool coat, just layer up as we did here.
Since I’m in North Carolina, it doesn’t get too far below freezing even in the dead of winter. This quilted jacket from Western Rise layered over a sweater does just fine. If you live anywhere that isn’t California or the south, swap this light jacket for something heavier.
With its hollow-core, 4-way stretch insulation, this super versatile jacket from Western Rise has gotten plenty of mileage in William's closet.
The great thing about dark jeans is that almost any outerwear you pick will match. Want to wear a light-tan wool coat? Go for it. Prefer a heavy olive parka? No problem.
Dark blue jeans, especially heavy gauge, are winter staples. Would you rather have thick jeans or wool trousers on a slushy, snowy day? That’s what we thought.
4. The Knit Cardigan
Pairing dark blue jeans with a lighter, earth-toned cardigan is always a good bet. Especially if you can get your hands on a thicker knit sweater.
You can wear this two ways: with a button-up underneath for a classy but casual look, or with a nice light t-shirt underneath for a dressed-down relaxed look.
We kept a lighter shirt under the cardigan to contrast the darker pants. If you only have a dark sweater, that’ll look great, too. Just remember to keep the shirt light.
To finish the outfit at the bottom, go with something a bit more rugged like the Thursday Captain to pair with the jeans and give contrast with the more upscale sweater.
This is the kind of outfit I’ll put on if I’m heading out to meet a friend for a drink or going to get some work done at the cafe. This outfit goes to show that having a few core staples makes looking great an easy task.
5. Canadian Tuxedo
I don’t care what anyone says. The Canadian tuxedo is still a cool look.
The key here is to either work with denim washes that match or just go with a completely different color.
So I wouldn’t pair my faded denim jacket with my crispy new raw Olivers. Instead, I chose a year-old pair of Woosters from Mott & Bow.
If you’re thinking about pairing up your dark jeans with a denim jacket, either get the same color wash or choose a contrasting color. This works with khaki, black, and even light-wash denim.
Jeans are just like a happy marriage. When you find the right pair, the two of you can grow old together. Just take a look at the Wooster after a year. The color is starting to fade a bit, but we’ve reached a better understanding of one another.
We've had our Woosters for over a year and they're still going stronger than ever. Boasting 35% elasticity, they're Mott & Bow's dynamic stretch jean. And they're damn comfortable.
If you spend some time taking care of your favorite jeans, they’ll look better on you than anything you could ever find off the rack.
I paired my Canadian tux with a few other items that I seem to wear day in and day out—brown leather Chelsea boots and a Nordgreen Native watch. Everything here is simple, well-worn, and well-loved.
What Color Shirt Goes With Dark Blue Jeans?
Unlike light wash jeans, you can’t really go wrong pairing with dark blue jeans. Depending on the style of shirt, you can dial in the mood you’re with certain color-combos.
A white t-shirt with dark blue jeans is a great look. It’s casual, but less so than a white tee and light-wash jeans.
Since dark jeans stand out in fall and winter, pairing with deep burgundy or forest green tones is a winner every time.
Really, the only thing that doesn’t work would be neon shirts, but those don’t work anywhere (unless you’re doing an ‘80s workout dance studio thing a la Richard Simmons).
A good rule of thumb to follow is this: lighter shirts have more relaxed vibes, while darker shirts are sleeker. You choose which mood feels right for the day and pair accordingly.
Is There a Difference Between Dark Wash Jeans and Dark Blue Jeans?
Are all dark wash jeans blue?
The short answer is “no.”
Black and deep grey jeans are also technically “dark wash.” Even though black and grey are neutral colors, they’re still not as versatile as classic dark blue denim.
3 Things to Consider When Buying Dark Blue Jeans
Dark blue jeans have a visually slimming effect, which is generally a good thing. We recommend staying away from skinny-fit jeans—they’re just too tight and aren’t flattering for guys over the age of 19.
Our favorite fit for jeans is slim-fit. If you’ve never tried slim-fit, hit a dressing room with a few different pairs—even if you’re a huskier gent. You might be surprised at how a well-fitting pair of pants really slims your entire profile.
Of course, traditional fit works for athletic guys, but the slimmer the better.
Denim comes in several “weights,” which is a measurement of how thick the fabric is. Generally, anything 8oz and below is considered light, while 12oz and above are considered heavy.
Heavy gauge denim is great for winter months. It not only provides a buffer between you and the cold, cold world, but it’ll repel the rain and snow.
For summer, pick up something lighter so you’re not slogging around through the heat. You can still wear dark blue denim through the summer, but you’ll want to save them for dates and nights out on the town. Light-wash denim works better during those hot days.
3. Raw or Washed?
When looking at dark blue jeans, there’s a crucial moment where you must decide: raw, or washed?
I like to go with raw denim, personally.
But you’re signing on for more work when going raw.
Raw denim can fade and lose a lot of character if it’s just treated like any old pair of jeans. Because of that, you need to keep it out of a washing machine and do the job by hand.
With dark-washed jeans, you don’t need to be as careful. Much of the dye has been fixed before shipping, so you’ll get less fading every wash. That being said, you still shouldn’t be washing your jeans often.
If you’re a “wear once and wash” kind of guy, get out of the habit. The dye fades and the fabric breaks down much quicker.
I pick up a new pair of raw denim jeans every fall when the weather starts to cool down. The deep indigo looks beautiful and stays crisp and fresh looking through winter. By the time spring rolls around, they’re starting to fade and break in a bit.
When summer hits, I just put on a pair that’s seen a few years of duty. And when I want that super-relaxed distressed look, I throw on that six-year-old pair that’s ripping in the pockets and knees.
Get a Great Pair of Dark Blue Jeans In Your Life
If you don’t already have a pair of dark blue jeans, what are you waiting for?
I’ve tried a lot of different brands over the years. Last year was my first shot with Mott & Bow, and I was able to pick up a few more pairs this year, too.
With pants as versatile as these, you can’t afford not to have a killer pair of dark jeans in your wardrobe.
From date night to winter pavement-pounding, these staples are sure to get their fair share of use.
Despite some minor fit inconsistencies that are, fortunately, addressed with the brand's innovative Home Try-on program, Mott & Bow offers excellent value for money with its growing range of high-quality jeans and basics that easily stack up against the big denim brands.