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How to Dress Up Jeans for a Semi-Formal Event

by Alissa Marrapodi ; Updated September 28, 2017

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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