10 Ways to Dress Up Your Favorite T-Shirt and Jeans

A classic.

model in green jacket and white shirt


There’s a reason why jeans and a t-shirt are the ultimate foundational outfit essentials. They’re easy to dress up or down. But after a year of relegating jeans to the back of the closet, it may be tough to find enough inspiration to put together a stylish, sophisticated jeans-and-tee outfit for a date night or weekend eve. Still, dressing up the classic, often-casual look is easy. Tuck your go-to pair inside knee-high boots for an elevated look. And if you’re not ready to opt for form-fitting denim just yet, a pair of baggy, ‘90s-inspired jeans will look great with a sleeveless tee and kitten-toe mules. 

But the key to elevating a jeans-and-tee outfit isn’t just in the accessories. It lies within the base pieces, too. If you start with a pair of rigid blue jeans that pool at the bottom, like this pair from Rag & Bone, then be sure your t-shirt feels elevated and breezy. The reverse is true, too. If you opt for a pair of black denim that tapers at the bottom, you have more room to play with something less formal on top. Ahead, we’re sharing how to dress up jeans and a t-shirt in 10 simple, tried-and-true outfit formulas.

01 of 10

With a Trench Coat

Before the weather truly warms up, enjoy the surprises that transitional weather brings by equipping yourself with a faux-leather trench. The sleek topper instantly makes any pair of jeans—or, if you’re not there yet, sweats—a touch chicer.  

Fold Dad Baggy Boyfriend Jeans
Raey Fold Dad Baggy Boyfriend Jeans $150.00
Oversized Printed T-Shirt
H&M Oversized Printed T-Shirt $18.00
Finley Trench
Anine Bing Finley Trench $699.00
02 of 10

With a Pair of Kitten-Heel Mules

After a year of sneakers and slides, nobody expects you to break out five-inch stilettos just yet. Ease into dressing up with these kitten-heeled thong sandals from Peche, which boast a mere three inches of height (but a ton of style). 

‘90s Mid-Rise Loose Fit Jean
Agolde ‘90s Mid-Rise Loose Fit Jean, $198.00
Pockets Cotton T-Shirt
Mango Pockets Cotton T-Shirt $30.00
Zoie Mules
Peche Zoie Mules $85.00
03 of 10

With a Red Lip

A navy tee with a sleeve that hits closer to the elbow automatically feels a touch more elevated. Pair it with a red lip and you’re good to go.

Mara Straight Leg Jeans
DL1961 Mara Straight Leg Jeans $179.00
Washable Silk Tee Set
Lunya Washable Silk Tee Set $198.00
Rouge à Lèvres Mat Matte Lipstick
Gucci Rouge à Lèvres Mat Matte Lipstick $50.00
04 of 10

With a Statement Blazer

The jeans-tee-blazer outfit formula is a perennial winner for a reason: It just works. Swap out your go-to black jacket for something a touch brighter.

Ruth Chain-Embellished Distressed High-Rise Straight-Leg Jeans
Rag & Bone Ruth Chain-Embellished Distressed High-Rise Straight-Leg Jeans $146.00
Shrunken Sad Suit Blazer
Asos Design Shrunken Sad Suit Blazer $76.00
Twisted Crop Top
Susana Monaco Twisted Crop Top $108.00
05 of 10

With a Classic Moto Jacket

A classic moto jacket is a must-have in any season, but it’s especially handy during spring. Let your vintage-inspired tee hang past your hips, giving your regular ol’ jeans-and-tee outfit a bit more depth. For an occasion that requires a touch more—like date night, for example—just add a pair of sandals with a modest heel.

Emerson Slim Fit Boyfriend Jean
Citizens of Humanity Emerson Slim Fit Boyfriend Jean $198.00
Women's Joan Leather Jacket
Deadwood Women's Joan Leather Jacket $390.00
Island Tee
Givenchy Island Tee $520.00
06 of 10

With The Jeans Themselves

Start with a pair of denim that has a luxe, wide-leg feel and you’ll already feel eons less casual. This pair of wide-leg denim from Stella McCartney lends itself well to an elevated outing. Just tuck in the tee, which can fit oversized or more standard depending on how you size it.

Harley Washed Denim Pants
Stella McCartney Harley Washed Denim Pants $650.00
Venice Leather Slides
Khaite Venice Leather Slides $680.00
As Long As You Can Breathe Tee
One DNA As Long As You Can Breathe Tee $45.00
07 of 10

With an On-Trend Handbag

A boxy tee and cut-off shorts can feel casual, but liven it up by executing the half-tuck. Then, top the look off with an unmistakably polished bag, like this tote from Wandler.

Kerouac Le Cutoff Shorts $168.00
The Organic Cotton Box-Cut Pocket Tee
Everlane The Organic Cotton Box-Cut Pocket Tee $18.00
Lin Leather Tote
Wandler Lin Leather Tote $970.00
08 of 10

With a Fun Collar

Is there anything more fun than a detachable collar? Use this leather style from Ganni in place of a necklace to dress up an otherwise casual outfit.

Remi Wide Leg Jean
Reformation Remi Wide Leg Jean $148.00
Ruffled Leather Collar
Ganni Ruffled Leather Collar $165.00
Acne Studios Tee
Acne Studios Logo Tee $230.00
09 of 10

With Knee-High Boots

Knee-high boots automatically make any outfit feel dressier—and skinny jeans are the perfect silhouette for tucking.

11" High-Rise Skinny Jeans
Madewell 11" High-Rise Skinny Jeans $80.00
Babaton Shoulder Pad T-Shirt
Aritzia Babaton Shoulder Pad T-Shirt $40.00
Stevie Boot
By Far Stevie Boot $715.00
10 of 10

With a Pair of Statement Earrings

Any piece of chunky, eye-catching jewelry will do the trick. Instantly elevate your outfit with a pair of shiny hoops, unique droppers, or even a chunky, oversized chain necklace. 

Two-Toned Jeans
EB Denim Two-Toned Jeans $337.00
Racer Tank
LNA Racer Tank $68.00
Scallop Earrings
Another Feather Scallop Earrings $198.00

Related Stories