Finding the right pair of jeans is hard enough, but choosing the right shoes to go with them? Few wardrobe challenges are more frustrating. Are platforms too much? Are sneakers not enough?
Luckily, there are several shoe options to match any type of jeans, from skinny to wide-leg and everything in between. We created this handy reference to make it easy for you to find the perfect finish for your outfits. Here are the right shoes to wear with jeans, no matter what cut you choose:
It’s in the name – boots are the perfect shoes to wear with bootcut jeans. And luckily for you, any type of boot will do – flat, heeled, ankle-length, knee-high. Women’s bootcut jeans are tight along the thigh and then flare out about an inch or two, providing room to accommodate your shoes.
Bootcut jeans are designed to have your shoe go beneath the material, not over top, so only the toe peeks out. This means they’re a great way to add a pop of color to an otherwise neutral outfit. Try a bold red with a gray blouse and navy blazer to add some perk to your winter office wardrobe.
Straight-leg and boyfriend jeans
Though these are technically two different styles, the appearance through the leg is similar enough that the same shoes work for both of them. Straight-leg and boyfriend jeans fit somewhat close along the thigh but fall straight from the knees to the ankle. Their casual silhouette calls for a casual shoe, so straight-leg and boyfriend jeans are great with flatter options rather than heels or wedges.
That said, because these jean styles can be so relaxed – especially when they have rips and cutouts – you’ll want to choose a casual shoe with a bit of polish. Think single-color slip on sneakers as opposed to running shoes. They’re just as comfortable but look a little more sleek. Alternatively, go for a business casual shoe if you’re heading into the office that day. Throw on a slouchy t-shirt and a slightly structured blazer or jean jacket to complete the “relaxed yet neat” theme.
Similarly, try embellished ballerina flats or sandals with beads or gemstones instead of plastic flip-flops. Add a cute blouse and a statement necklace that plays off your footwear, and you’ll radiate California casual.
If you want the least-restricting jeans possible, look for a pair with a wide-leg cut. These fall straight down from the hip instead of running close to the thigh, creating a fun, easy look that works with a variety of footwear.
From ballet flat to platform, from sneaker to high heels, wide-leg jeans are easy to dress up or down. Wear them with colorful slides in the spring and summer or a pair of muted oxfords in the fall and winter. To keep yourself balanced, finish with a close-fitting top that shows off your curves.
Flare and bellbottom jeans
These are essentially the same type of jean, but clothing companies sometimes name their styles one over the other. Tight along the thighs and flaring out from the knees down, they became very popular in the 1960s and again in the 90s.
Flared jeans are great for adding height and making your legs look longer, so they need a shoe to match. When it comes to choosing outfits with jeans and heels, you’ve got a lot of options at your disposal. Go for classy stiletto pumps for an upscale look, or play up the hippie/boho style with bellbottom jeans and wedges made of wooden or beige materials. In fact, chunky heels are great for this style of jean, adding height without making it hard to walk.
If you prefer comfort above all, keep the freedom-loving look with braided hemp sandals. Beading on this type of shoe also plays up the boho theme.
What was unthinkable in the 90s has now become a fashion staple, and these days, every woman has a pair of skinny jeans in her closet. Thankfully, their popularity has made them incredibly versatile, so you can wear skinny jeans with just about any type of shoe. Characterized by a tight fit from leg to ankle, skinny jeans are also referred to as cigarette or tapered jeans.
Now, skinnies are arguably the most adaptable pants around. Wondering what goes with red shoes? How about a black skinny jean? Have a wedge ankle boot you don’t know what to wear with? Try skinnies in a light wash with frayed ankles.
Choosing the right color shoe
In terms of wardrobe, denim is generally thought of as a neutral color. This means it technically matches any hue, though as always, some choices will look better than others.
Take white jeans, for example. These are great with lighter-color shoes like taupes, camels, and even pastels. Black jeans, on the other hand, are best with black shoes or those in deep rich colors, like mauve, plum and cobalt.
With natural-colored jeans, wash is very important. Lighter washes appear more casual, while dark washes are a bit more sophisticated. This isn’t to say you can’t wear an evening pump with light jeans, but the cut needs to be appropriate and the fit must be perfect.
That said, a general rule of thumb is that casual shoes like sneakers and combat boots are best with light washes, while dark washes call for more elegant or professional footwear.
Jeans are one of the most versatile articles of clothing around, meaning it’s that much harder to find the right shoe to wear with them. Use this guide if you’re ever stuck, and leave a comment about your favorite jeans+shoe pairing!