What to Wear with Each Denim Wash

I get this question in various forms from time to time — basically what to wear with each denim wash.

While denim is a neutral and goes with everything, it comes in a variety of washes and shades of blue, and certain washes do look better with certain colors. Let’s break it down.

What to Wear with Dark Wash Jeans

Dark wash jeans are probably the easiest to dress up or down, but I don’t feel they’re the most versatile. I actually find myself gravitating to my dark wash jeans the least. That said, they definitely have a purpose in my wardrobe.

Dark wash jeans pair really well with bright colors like red and hot pink because they create pleasing contrast.

Kelly green looks great with dark was jeans too, especially in the springtime.

And I love wearing burgundy and rust with dark wash jeans in fall and winter.

Dark was jeans are also a lovely match for florals. In this case, the floral print had a navy background, allowing the floral pattern to really pop.

And here I paired dark wash jeans with a lighter floral pattern that also had some navy sprinkled throughout.

I also like to pair dark wash jeans with light neutrals such as white, camel, or taupe for smart-casual outfits.

Here’s an example of dark wash jeans with a camel sweater and cognac boots. This outfit is a few years old, but it’s always been one of my favorites.

And don’t forget about stripes! For some reason, I really like dark wash jeans with stripes — especially navy and white stripes.

But any stripe pattern that has navy in it works.

In this case, this pretty sweater has shades of pink and white, and I wore blush colored shoes to bookend the look.

Striped Sweater Outfit for Spring: Caslon Side Slit Sweater with Good American Good Legs High Waist Skinny Jeans and Stuart Weitzman Marabella Wedge Mules

In this next look, I paired dark wash jeans with an ivory sweater with navy and yellow stripes — this seemed like an obvious pairing because the navy stripes pick up the dark blue from the jeans, and the ivory background creates a nice contrast to the darker bottoms.

I chose white sneakers to give it a more casual vibe, but I’ve also worn this outfit with navy suede flats. (These jeans are 55% off, by the way!)

I rarely pair navy with mid or dark wash jeans because it doesn’t provide much contrast. If I do pair navy with a darker wash, it’s with the intent of looking nonchalant and a little undone.

I don’t know if I should consider these jeans dark wash or mid-wash… they’re definitely on the darker side of mid-wash, but they have quite a bit of distressing for a dark wash.

I probably wouldn’t wear this navy sweater with the super dark wash jeans above, but I like it with these.

I also like pairing darker wash jeans with a lighter shade of blue. The neutral shoes and bag look effortlessly chic against the shades of blue.

Dark wash jeans also are perfect for pairing with a dressy top or blazer when you want an edgier dressed-up vibe, and they always look good with red.

In this case, I added leopard pumps for another element of interest.

How to Rock a White T-Shirt and Jeans: with a red blazer and leopard pumps

And sometimes I wear a black top with dark wash jeans for date night; it creates an almost monochromatic outfit that looks effortlessly chic. Again, I’ll often pop this look with a statement bag or shoe… like red or leopard.

I came across this blast from the past looking for a good example of this look… this was the winter of 2018, just before we moved.

It seems like this pairing would be boring, but I think it’s super chic, and I like how it allows the red bag and gold accessories to shine.

What to Wear with Light Wash Jeans

Light wash jeans are the most casual of the denim washes, and they’re very on trend right now. I like my light wash jeans best in the warmer months, but I wear them all year ’round.

I think light wash jeans look great with navy blue . . . I’m dying to give this white tee a front tuck.

I wore this navy linen top a ton last summer with these light wash crop skinnies.

And black looks great with light wash jeans as well.

This outfit is one of my all-time favorites.

Jo-Lynne Shane wearing VEJA Esplar with AG Raw Hem The Legging Ankle Jeans, black Bernardo leather moto jacket, and Everlane cashmere scarf

Light wash jeans also look amazing with light neutrals like white, khaki, and camel.

I love the simplicity of this look — ripped light wash jeans with a white sweatshirt and white leather sneakers. The taupe bag is another light neutral, so it keeps the look casual and low contrast.

In this next outfit, the snakeskin booties take the simple pairing of a white sweater and light wash jeans up a notch or two.

And this is another oldie but goodie… I was playing around with pairing camel and grey, and I chose light wash jeans for the low contrast against the other light neutrals in the outfit.

Light wash jeans also pair well with pastels, especially pink and blush.

This sporty look pairs light wash boyfriend jeans with a color block tee in white, blush, and grey. I also wore light grey slip-on sneakers and carried a light grey bag.

I’ve been wearing this mauve sweater with mid and light wash jeans on repeat all spring.

This darker shade of pink looks great with lighter wash jeans too.

What to Wear with Mid-Wash Jeans

In a nutshell: EVERYTHING! There’s a wide range of shades that can be included under the umbrella of mid-wash jeans, and pretty much anything goes with them. They’re definitely the most versatile of the three washes.

I love grey with mid-wash denim, and mixing neutrals (grey and beige) instantly elevates this basic grey tee and blue jeans outfit. I also added a stack of bracelets for extra interest.

In this case, I wore a grey sweater with mid-wash jeans and navy suede loafers… again, a simple combination elevated with a few bold accessories.

The warmer neutrals like camel work great with mid-wash jeans too.

And I love ivory and mid-wash denim together.

Of course there’s always white. I love this combination of a white shimmer sweater, mid-wash jeans, and black suede OTK boots for a casual holiday date night.

And you can never go wrong with black and denim. I wear black with all denim washes, depending on the look I’m going for, but I think I like it best with mid-wash blue jeans. There’s just enough contrast without being too stark.

I often add a leopard accessory for a pop of pattern and texture… leopard calf hair flats always work.

Or a leopard scarf in the wintertime.

Like all shades of denim, mid-wash jeans look great with bold, bright colors like magenta.

Mid-wash jeans also look good with navy and white stripes.

And with florals

Pretty much any print works! Here I wore a leopard print cami with mid-wash jeans and a black leather jacket to attend a concert with Paul.

Pastels work with mid-wash jeans as well.

And let’s not forget mustard yellow.

Again, I love to pop this pairing with a leopard accessory.

Ultimately, it all comes back to preference and personal style — there’s no right or wrong when it comes to what to wear with each denim wash — but I hope it helps for me to explain why I put things together the way I do.

There are so many more examples I could share — my daily outfits are full of various denim combinations, if you want more denim style inspiration!

Shop My Favorite Denim

Obviously, there is some overlap between the different categories, but I tried to order these from light to dark.

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