How To Dress Up Jeans For Your Next Fancy Schmancy Party

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 03: Fashion designer Clare Waight Keller acknowledges applause following Chloe Fall/Winter 2013 Ready-to-Wear show as part of Paris Fashion Week on March 3, 2013 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Source: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

At this point in fashion history, jeans are acceptable attire for almost any occasion. They're perfect in the form of acid-washed cut-offs for a trip to the beach, and no ensemble better suits a relaxed sunday afternoon stroll than slouchy boyfriend jeans. But when it comes time to dress up for a more formal occasion, the rules are slightly altered. Denim is still an option until the invitation reads "black tie", but the type of denim needed for more elegant settings is vastly different from the pair you wear to the laundromat when nothing else is clean each week. And any pair that would be appropriate for apple picking in the fall or horseback riding at a dude ranch is utterly out of the question. In other words, jeans that evoke the words "lazy" or "comfy" should be immediately crossed off your list of options

Luckily, a few simple rules for dressing up a pair of jeans is all you need to take the American staple to your next refined affair. What you pair with your jeans will be the deciding factor in creating a look that comes off as chic and modern as opposed to indolent and unkempt. Here are nine guidelines to keep in mind when formalizing your favorite pair of jeans for a special occasion.

1. ADD A CRISP WHITE BUTTON-DOWN

If a style staple is good enough for Carolina Herrera, it's good enough for me. The crisp white shirt adds refinement to just about any ensemble, jeans included. If you're attempting a more formal look, tuck your white button-down into the waistband of your jeans, allowing the shirt to blouse bit for a less stiff effect.

2. BELT IT

Tucking a shirt into your pants can look stodgy...unless you add a luxe belt, of course. As tempting as it may be, try to refrain from wearing an ostentatious metallic version, as glitter and jeans can easily veer into Country Music Awards territory. Your best bet for a more upscale locale is a lightly polished leather belt with an understated metal buckle. The belt should add subtle polish to an ensemble as opposed to commanding attention to your midsection.

3. WEAR SKY-HIGH STILETTOS

The cropped jeans and black pointy-toe pump trend is a celebrity favorite for a reason: the pairing is elegant without appearing uptight. For a leg-lengthing effect, pair a deeply-hued heel and a dark wash jeans, or combine black jeans and black, heeled booties. After all, a pair of pumps can mean the difference between a slouchy Saturday morning getup and an ensemble that could take you clubbing.

4. THROW ON A FITTED BLAZER OR SILK SCARF

"Jacket Required" is typically a fashion dictum for men issued by acclaimed restaurants and for formal occasions, but the same basic principle applies to women's clothing as well. A well-tailored blazer instantly polishes even a pair of ripped, slouchy boyfriend jeans, especially when combined with a printed silk scarf looped casually around the neck.

5.  ACCESSORIZE WITH A METALLIC MENSWEAR WATCH

A metallic menswear-style watch adds a certain insouciant charm to a pair of basic blue jeans. In fact, the addition of pared-down metallic accessories such as simple golden hoops or a single silver bangle kicks the average, casual ensemble up a notch. Carefully chosen accessories indicate that you've taken the time to personalize your ensemble. 

6. ADD A STATEMENT HANDBAG

Quite frankly, no one will pay attention to your jeans if they are complemented by a striking statement bag. Though a chic, eye-catching handbag is more of a diversionary tactic than a manner of dressing up, it will still trump the rumpled cotton tote you bring to the gym any day of the year, especially when you're looking to formalize a typically casual item like jeans.

7. KEEP THE PALETTE, PATTERN AND TEXTURES NEUTRAL

A formal occasion isn't the time to break out a garment in every shade of the color wheel when your favorite jeans are involved. Wearing denim to an elegant occasion is an edgy choice in itself, so try keeping the focus on your jeans by wearing a minimalist palette of black, white, beige, navy, or grey. Saturated jewel tones also pair beautifully with dark denim. In terms of fabric and texture, denim is not an ideal textile to pair with feathers, sequins, or animal prints when the dress code is elegant.

8. BREAK OUT THE SILK

Few ensembles are as effortlessly alluring as a light silk blouse and a pair of well-cut denim trousers. In other words, the Equipment blouse you keep on standby in your closet for just such an occasion lend your denim a sophisticated semi-formal air. 

9. STICK TO A SATURATED WASH AND STEER CLEAR OF RIPS

Though distressed, faded boyfriend jeans have their place in fashion, that place is likely not your next formal outing. Cocktail hours, elaborate shindigs, and other such meet ups are a time to look like you put effort into your outfit, instead of appearing as if you stole your boyfriend's pants or dragged the pair you took to Coachella out of the hamper again. Instead, try a formfitting pair in a deep indigo shade, or a rich hue like forest green to suit a formal setting.

Images: Getty Images

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