Six Tips for Sporting Denim This Spring

Six Tips for Sporting Denim This Spring

Denim is the Jay Leno of fabrics: omnipresent, comfortable and palatable to practically any demographic -- provided you’ve picked the right pieces for your frame and desired image.

Constance Dunn, fashion stylist and blogger of, recommends spending time in a fine department store or a high-end men’s boutique looking at the difference between casual daily jeans and higher-end denim. Examine the difference in silhouettes, fabric, construction and hardware. Then, be prepared to spend more on dress denim than your default dungarees. The payout will have a definite payoff … in a more tailored and sophisticated look.

Here are Dunn’s tips on getting the right wash, cut and denim-on-denim combos:

The Right Wash:

  • Stick with lightweight fabrics and lighter hues to be both comfortable and adaptable to any occasion. Choose nubby, linen-textured finishes -- think Ralph Lauren or Tommy Bahama. But avoid acid wash like Milli Vanilli. It’s dated and only considered fashionable at low-end bowling tournaments.

The Right Cut:

  • Get a more polished look by selecting a high-end fabric sheen pant with a leaner silhouette throughout the seat and leg, like styles from Michael Kors or John Varvatos.
  • Steer clear of skinny jeans. They’ve been popular for the last few seasons, but it’s not easy to look good in them -- unless you are very thin and going for a mod look. Otherwise, they amplify the keg-on-legs body silhouette.
  • Coordinate pieces with a consistent cut and style. For instance, if the jeans you are wearing have a lean leg silhouette and are made in a lightweight, draped fabric, don’t pair them with a starchy, oversized denim shirt or heavyweight denim jacket.

The Right Look:

  • Don’t overdo the denim. Too much denim in any outfit will leave you looking like an escaped con from a prison work farm. Only match blue jeans with a blue denim shirt or jacket when there’s a definite difference in the items being paired. Look for contrast in terms of color, material weight and finish. Think fitted, crisp blue denim jeans with a relaxed, lightweight and lighter-color denim button shirt in cream. Or, pair a smart, nubby-textured navy denim jacket with a matching navy T-shirt, then add some nice gray trousers.
  • Accessorize appropriately by pairing relaxed -- but well-fitting -- denim with a nice pair of dress shoes and a coordinated belt. Just don’t let worlds collide between your ankles and waist: no clunky western belts worn with sleek English brogues.

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Tags: Fit , Style

Brian O’Connor is a print and online journalist. He is a former contributing editor at Men’s Fitness and executive editor at Genre. He has also written for Slate, San Francisco Weekly and the New York Daily News, among other publications. Brian is a frequent contributor to Style and Tech for Men.