Making Do With Light Wash Jeans

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Light wash jeans and a tie.  What is this, the 90s?

Light wash jeans are a great addition to a wardrobe that already has dark indigo denim.   Usually, these light colored jeans are used in strictly casual or streetwear outfits.  They’re perfect to create a palewave outfit.  It can even go well with something casually tailored. However, I haven’t seen too many outfits incorporating them with full on sartorial garments like a jacket and tie.  I mean Articles of Style has done it before,  so that’s when I decided to do it myself.

Just kidding.

In reality, I forgot my super versatile grey flannel trousers at my apartment when I visited my parents over the weekend.  For those of you who don’t know, I work a bunch of jobs and drive all over the place, so I always pack a weekend’s worth of clothes when I leave my apartment on Fridays.  After visiting my parents on Saturday, I work my night shift and then stay at a friend’s house before returning to a morning shift on Sunday.  I only head back to my apartment on Sunday night.  Therefore if I forget anything, it’s completely gone.

The Saturday Outfit And Dillemma

The choice of these jeans were intentional since I was going for a psuedo 90s vibe with loafers, grey turtleneck, and blue blazer.  Super simple and cozy, with a bit of smart-casual vibes.  Like with the previous jeans post, I cuffed the jeans to give it a psedu-workwear look.  I also don’t like the appearance of plain denim that isn’t hemmed to no break.

1960’s Ivy Jacket, Turtleneck from BR, Thrifted Rag & Bone jeans, AE Loafers 

I was planning on a totally different outfit for Sunday.  I was going to keep the jacket, but do a striped shirt and striped tie, with grey flannel pants and black wingtips.  A bit ivy, with clear inspiration from modern tailoring and The Armoury.  However, I didn’t bring the grey pants.  I was pretty disappointed, not only because I wouldn’t be able to do my sartorial outfit but because I was now saddled with creating something based on these jeans and whatever laundry I had finished at my parents house.

I could’ve repeated what I did before and wear the blazer with a polo shirt and loafers.  Still casual, but it was still too easy.  To be honest, I was looking forward to wearing a tie!  After a quick look through google images I found this picture, which gave me inspiration to simply do the planned Sunday look but with light wash jeans instead of the grey flannel trousers.

The Sunday Outfit

Not too bad right?  It’s a pretty blue outfit, as everything is blue except the shoes and the belt.  However, I think the outfit works since I tried to keep everything in contrasting shades.  It’s not too monochromatic or matchy-matchy! The black shoes also help ground the outfit; I think I prefer that choice over the brown loafers of the previous outfit since there is direct contrast between light and dark when I used the black wingtips.


I realize that the tie knot is small.  I would’ve done a double-wrapped four-in-hand, but the tie was super short. It’s an unlined 1930’s beauty and is super delicate.  I sacrificed knot size  for proper tie length.  Normally, I don’t wear tie bars since I like to have my ties to fly at will but since the back blade was so short, I decided to use one to hold down the tie and prevent the back blade from showing.

1960’s Ivy Jacket, Shirt from Massimo Dutti, 1930’s Tie

thrifted Rag & Bone denim, Johnston Murphy Wingtips (eBay)


I guess the unexpected lesson here is that light wash denim can be worn with a tie and sportcoat! It may not work for every office or work environment, but this combo is an interesting variation of the typical business/smart casual jean outfits that we showcased in the previous article.  Instead of dark indigo (which goes with a lot), you have the challenge of crafting an outfit around the light wash denim.

Note that they key to pulling this off is fit and attention to detail! My shirt and jacket are tailored, so it helps that the jeans are slim-straight.  It prevents you from looking like Jerry Seinfield or any other 90s guy.  His jeans aren’t too bad (they even look slim), but the oversized jacket and gross tie make his outfit dated in a bad way.  In my version, I find that the light denim is a quirkier alternative to the dark indigo denim or flannel trouser that I normally wear.

So don’t discount light wash jeans!  Get them in a slim/straight fit and prepare to give them a cuff or a hem to make sure they end right above your shoe. Both of these details ensures that you will be able to wear them in a variety of outfits, whether its casual or semi-formal.  I hope that this article has helped you rethink light wash, especially in a sartorial context!  I probably won’t do it often, but this and my previous look should give you a few ideas on how to pull them off!

Always a pleasure,

Ethan W.

Street x Sprezza

Photography by Spencer O. 

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