How to Dress Up Jeans for a Semi-Formal Event

by Alissa Marrapodi ; Updated September 28, 2017

Singer Blake Shelton's jeans -- paired with a vest, tie and blazer -- are right on the money for a semi-formal event.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Somewhere between a cocktail party and a formal business meeting, semi-formal events require a little more thought than your everyday wardrobe. But don't be afraid to ditch your little black dress and dark suit and slip into a pair of dark blue or black jeans. Both ladies and gents can mix jeans with fancy pieces, accessories and shoes for a jazzed-up look. Adam Glassman, creative director of Oprah's magazine O, not only loves dressed-up denim but says it makes the perfect party outfit.

The Blazer and the Sport Coat

Nothing dresses up jeans more than a lady's blazer or a man's sport coat. Worn over a plain dressy tank or silky top, blazers with ribbon detailing and strong shoulders dress up denim and add a layered effect.

According to GQ, not only are sport coats OK for guys to wear with jeans, but they are the most versatile item a man can own. Slim-fitting, tailored sport coats in navy, black and even tweed worn with dark-stained jeans is easily dressed up with a shirt and tie.

The Dressy Top and the Button-Down

Feminine dressy tops can add the pop you're looking for to blue or black jeans -- think creamy- and neutral-colored blouses; tops adorned with sequins or embellishments; materials like black lace or brightly colored cashmere; and metallic colors, such as gold, copper or silver.

Men should never underestimate the power of an everyday staple -- the ubiquitous button-down. A white oxford button-down paired with classic-fit dark jeans is a timeless look. If you want to add a dash of color or texture, gingham offers a subtle yet classic look. Add a blazer, vest, tie or any combination of three.

Heels and Oxfords

According to Glamour, the only thing a fashion-savvy woman needs to glam-up black jeans is a pair of heels. From statement heels to tall boots, heeled shoes take denim up a notch -- think patent-leather pumps and open-toed booties. Heels are also an easy way to add color -- and height.

Men's oxfords -- be it wingtips, lace-ups or cap-toe styles -- pair with jeans to create a classic, dressed-up look. Brown, black and even navy or red oxfords complement denim and, depending on the style and color, lend a vibrant accent to your attire.

Socks and Accessories

Accessories are a girl's best friend. Bangles, layered necklaces in different lengths and materials, a metallic clutch or brightly colored handbag or a pair of hoops add the final touch to a dressy jeans outfit.

Guys can have fun with colors and patterns simply by incorporating a tie. It's an easy way to introduce complementary hues -- and glam -- while adding texture to your outfit. Socks also offer this effect but in a more subtle way. Classic patterns such as argyle, paisley and stripes offer a vintage edge and splash of color to your look.

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About the Author

With 10 years of journalism experience, Alissa Marrapodi is the managing editor of Boardroom Journal and Food Product Design. Covering everything from health and nutrition to beauty and fashion, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.