How to Wear Jeans and a T-Shirt

how to wear jeans and a t-shirt

I’m always surprised by which posts get the best response. For example, last Friday, I totally threw that How to Wear Red Jeans post out there because I couldn’t think of anything else to write about. I thought that so much of what I said was pretty duh, but I got so many positive responses to that post. I forget that fashion doesn’t come naturally to everyone (I’m not even sure fashion comes naturally to me — I just happen to over-think everything, and fashion is no different. Heh.)

Jen of @MOLM2011 posted this to me on Twitter a few days ago, so I figured I’d go with it.

Please do a blog post on how to do casual look with jeans and a t-shirt! Now that spring is coming, I need lessons!

Jen, you’re speaking my language. You know how I love jeans, and nothing is as easy to pair with jeans as a t-shirt. But of course, jeans and t-shirts can look really sloppy if not done correctly, so here are my best tips.

How to Wear Jeans and a T-Shirt

1. Have a great pair of jeans.

At the risk of stating the obvious, make sure you have jeans that are on trend and look great on you. If they don’t fit you well, you’ll look sloppy and frumpy no matter how perfectly accessorized they are. See my Find the Perfect Jeans post for more details on finding the right style and fit. They can be dressy or casual, depending on the look you’re going for.

Honestly, if I could only splurge on ONE thing for my wardrobe, it would be a great pair of jeans.

DL1961 Emma

2. Have a great t-shirt.

LOL, duh, right? But the fit and style of the t-shirt is every bit as important as the fit and style of the jeans. Let’s break it down.


No oversized, boxy tee-shirts, please!!! Ideally your t-shirts will be fitted for a woman’s figure. Old Navy has a great line of simple tees called their Perfect Tee. They have long and short sleeves, v-necks and crew-necks, you name it, they’ve got a Perfect Tee for it.


Make sure the t-shirt fits you well. You don’t want it too short, you don’t want it pulling too tight across the chest area, you don’t want it too be too low-cut or too baggy or too tight. Like any other article of clothing, fit is key to looking stylish and put together.

accessorize a basic t-shirt


Make sure the neckline is flattering. A crew-neck is okay but it isn’t particularly interesting or flattering. It’s better on smaller-chested women. Busty women should stay away from crew-neck tops. A v-neck is flattering on most people, as long as it’s not too low-cut (again, that’s more of an issue for the more well-endowed among us). A scoop-neckline is usually becoming as well.


Wear a color that you love and one that’s flattering on you. If it’s a great fit but the color’s not so great, you can accessorize with a scarf or jewelry to bring more color to your face.


Don’t assume tee-shirts have to be solid colors. Try a pattern — stripes or floral or paisley. They can be bold or subtle, whatever you like.

Embellishments add interest too, and these days embellished tee-shirts are everywhere. This is where you can really show your personality. If you like ruffles and bows, go for it. If you like bling, here’s your chance. You can even promote your favorite cause or represent your favorite sports team . . . whatever floats your boat. As long as it’s a flattering color and shape, there’s nothing wrong with logos if that’s your thing.

To tuck or untuck, that is the question.

I’m personally not a fan of tucking in the tee-shirt, but it’s all about proportion. I am short-waisted, so leaving my shirt untucked gives the illusion of a lower waistline and makes a better proportion. If you have a lot of extra, ahem, in the chest area, you also may want to leave your tees untucked. If you are long waisted and/or smaller chested, you may prefer to tuck yours in. Remember the rule of thirds. It applies to fashion as well as photography.

This is where those What I Wore Wednesday posts have been incredibly enlightening. Seeing myself in my outfits really gives me a new perspective and makes me a better judge of what works and what doesn’t. If you’re not sure, try taking some pictures of yourself in various outfits. You don’t have to post them anywhere if you don’t want to, but it might help you decide what works best for you.


Wear a blazer or a cute fitted jacket. Even a cute hoodie can add interest and style to a basic jeans-and-tee.


This is where the jeans-and-tee outfits often fall short. Accessories are the icing on the cake. You definitely want to make a great cake, but what’s a cake without icing? Likewise, you want to make sure you have great jeans that fit and a tee-shirt that is flattering and stylish, but without accessories, your outfit will still be pretty dull.


Try a Scarf

Try a scarf. (Yes, you can even wear a scarf in the summertime.)

coral striped scarf

Don’t forget the jewelry.

Wear a pair of great earrings. Layer some bracelets on your wrist. Fill in an empty neckline with a statement necklace. This is where you get a chance to show your personal style.

necklace closeup

Shoes and Handbags

Cute shoes or a bright colored handbag go a long way towards pulling an outfit together. PLEASE bypass the gym sneakers. If you must wear a sneaker, and your jeans and tee is fairly casual, try Converse or Pumas (or a cheaper knock-off, but go for a more sporty style rather than an athletic sneaker). Ballet flats are always cute with jeans and tees, and you can certainly wear wedge sandals or even stilettos if the event calls for it. I’m also a fan of boots, as you well know!


Here’s a look I threw together that incorporates all of this: Great looking jeans, a fitted T with a scooped neckline and some great accessories!

Good luck!


  1. Mindy says

    I absolutely agree on the scarves in Spring/Summer! I wouldn’t have thought it, only I’ve been living in the very cosmopolitan city of Munich, Germany since Aug. It’s been fascinating watching all the fashion & comparing it to Michigan. Absolutely these stylish ladies, all ages, wear lightweight scarves year round. I think they look tres chic! The thing that most amazes me tho is seeing all the stiletto boots that are worn on miles of cobblestone & subway tunnels. I draw the line at pain 😉 My Danskos have been a lifesaver. I absolutely love the Polyvore outfit w/the orange jacket. And the advice on the jeans is fantastic-I’ve always dried my jeans. So I’m experimenting now without. Happy Spring from across the pond!

    p.s. I only discovered the world of blogging in Oct ’11 (not kidding!) Yours has been one of my favorites. First I love the fresh, clean design…it drew me in. Second, you have some very helpful advice on lots of topics I’m interested in. Thanks for inspiring me!

  2. says

    I always forget old Navy. It’s right next to where our Walmart is, and I always avoid that shopping center like the plague. I will make the effort to go there to do some tshirt shopping. Thanks to your advice about the jeans, I have invested in several good pairs, so I at least have that end covered. Thanks so much for the great advice. Especially on the shoe suggestions!

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Emily Groth says

    What a great post on how to turn a potentially very boring, frumpy, and sloppy combo into a polished, feminine, and put-together look! And fear not, I’m a chronic overthinker as well :S

  4. Beth says

    I’ve finally given up on trying to look like I put thought into what I’m wearing without actually doing it. It doesnt matter how great the pieces you have are, you do have to actually think about it to look like you did!

  5. says

    Layering works for tee shirts too! I just got a great “vintage” wash gray tee from Old Navy. It is a little short and by itself boring, so I wear it with a colored tank underneath. I don’t think I would wear two tees layered, but a tank and tee works great. Also, changing the length of the jean jazzes things up. I have some cuffed skinny-ish jeans that I like wearing with tees and sandals. And you can never go wrong with a great fitting white tee and jeans and classic silver accessories, in my opinion.

    • says

      Good point on the layering! And I do love cuffing my jeans for a change sometimes. I also love my knee-length denim shorts – which sounds frumpy, but they’re Joe’s and they’re awesome. :-)

  6. says

    You are so on point about the necklines. I have a huge chest, and I will only wear v-necks. They are by far the most flattering style. And I found a perfect-fitting, really well-cut v-neck tee yesterday at Sam’s Club of all places!

  7. says

    I’m so glad you mentioned jewelry, it always surprises me that there are people that don’t like to wear jewelry. I think jewelry really helps pull an outfit together, especially if the shirt has an open neckline. :)

  8. Ali Stevens says

    In the pic under Necklines, whete is the far left one from? It looks perfect-the way I’m built, v-necks get cleavagey real fast. Thank you!

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