Introduction

I think it is a pretty safe bet that the vast majority of people will own at least one pair of jeans. Regardless of whether you are into fashion or not, jeans are a staple of almost every wardrobe. They are easy to wear, long lasting, versatile and comfortable, and form the basis of many of our everyday outfits.

We all have our wardrobe staples; indigo jeans are something of a FashionBeans favourite, but as we all know, variety is the spice of life and working something new into our style can be a great way to keep things fresh and new.

Light wash denim has floated around on the peripheries of fashion for quite some time now. In the past few years they have gained a bit of a reputation as a mostly negative fashion choice, reserved for a very select group of particularly poorly dressed individuals – think bootcut, probably torn and ripped denim, pointed shoes/boots, t-shirt, a grey waistcoat and some delicious blonde tinted hair. Certainly more Robbie Savage than David Gandy.

But light denim is now undergoing something of a style revival. It’s more desirable, more acceptable and, dare I say it, more stylish. For men that are becoming tired of our indigo obsessions, light wash jeans offer a bold way out, but they are still a potential mine field. They are definitely not as easy to wear as their darker counterparts and there is no hiding with their colour.

So how might you want to wear your light wash denim?

How To Wear: Light Wash Jeans
Light Jeans Lookbook

Men's Light Wash Jeans Lookbook

Look 1

We all know that this little country of ours has some pretty inconsistent and often incomprehensible weather. Particularly during the (laughable) summer months, the conditions don’t always reflect the temperature, leaving us followers of fashion in a bit of a predicament – just what are we supposed to wear?

One way to deal with this confusion is to take note of Matt Allinson’s recent article on shirt layering. Some shirt on shirt action is a great way to deal with our inconsistent temperatures whilst remaining stylish and fashion forward at the same time. It’s a look that your light wash jeans will only add to, as you’re wearing something just that little bit out of the ordinary.

I think this kind of layering is a fantastic opportunity to experiment with some more daring colours and patterns; the double layer giving you the ability to go all out or keep things more restrained. I love this camo shirt from AllSaints and I’m sorely tempted to add it to my own wardrobe. It’s a great piece that uses a relatively muted palette of colours in a stand out print, which won’t be too hard to keep under control with a reserved outer layer.

Even with lighter wash jeans you can still work with the blue suits everyone mantra by going for a darker, navy top half – this will mute the power of the shirt and if you go for something in corduroy you can add texture and focus without resorting to a denim or chambray over shirt. Personally, I think an Oxford shirt would be too structured and formal, so you are better off with something whose roots are in work wear.

  • Allsaints Ernesto ShirtAllsaints Ernesto Shirt
  • Lee 101 Shirt CordLee 101 Shirt Cord
  • Asos Super Skinny Blue JeanAsos Super Skinny Blue Jean
  • Nike Blazer Hi Suede VintageNike Blazer Hi Suede Vintage
Look 2

Now this is a look that I know will divide opinion. In truth, my only reason for including it is because I have recently seen it pulled off with some real aplomb, but it’s definitely a look that, when done right, will get you miles ahead of the game. So, did anyone else see Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs sporting some double denim at the Olympic closing ceremony?

A double denim look is one that MUST be worn with confidence, it has to look purposeful and you have to WANT to wear it. It needs to look deliberate and you should feel completely comfortable – leaving it half done or not being completely at ease with it will almost certainly show through in your demeanour; leaving everything to go downhill, very, very fast.

But not only do you have to be supremely comfortable in it, the other elements of the look need to be just right; it shouldn’t look like you’ve just made a mistake and thrown on your denim jacket. Thankfully, because this is a look that has its base in work wear, the other elements can be very simple.

A Henley tee in a cream colour and a pair of black (or at the very least dark brown) boots that create a stark contrast between jean and shoe is a good start here. Unbutton that shirt collar and roll up the jeans and you’ve got yourself a very sharp and daring look. I would avoid any boots in a lighter shade because the will make the transition too soft, making the whole look too light and clichéd.

If you are still a bit nervous about going for full double denim, it is super easy to switch the jacket out for your leather. Keep the boots and you’ve got a perfect 50s greaser look.

  • Allsaints Pentonville Long Sleeved HenleyAllsaints Pentonville Long Sleeved Henley
  • Topman Acid Wash Blue Denim WesternTopman Acid Wash Blue Denim Western
  • A.p.c. Petit New Standard Slim-fit Washed-denim JeansA.p.c. Petit New Standard Slim-fit Washed-denim Jeans
  • Red Wing Iron Ranger BootsRed Wing Iron Ranger Boots
Look 3

In my opinion, light wash jeans will never be anything more than a casual item. They don’t have the same restrained class of their darker counterparts and they just wouldn’t suit a more formal environment nearly half as well.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t smarten them up a bit. If you want to work some light wash jeans into your smarter wear then you should consider keeping most of your colours lighter. Certainly with regards to your footwear (on contrary to the look above, but remember that double denim requires a clash to break up the colour and texture) you might find that lighter leather creates a much easier transition from trouser to shoe, avoiding a clash of colour tones.

I would also avoid using light blue shirts, because you don’t of course want to be matching your blues. To get round this problem, simply follow the rules in look one – instead of dark on the bottom, move it up to the top.

With a wool/tweed blazer and some heritage inspired shoes (preferably brogues) you have a great look that has just enough tailoring and formality to make it suitable for most occasions, while taking the stuffy edge away.

Of course, don’t forget to mix in the obligatory pocket square.

  • Reiss Ecuador Long Sleeve Dobby Detail Shirt NavyReiss Ecuador Long Sleeve Dobby Detail Shirt Navy
  • Ami Slim-fit Wool Houndstooth BlazerAmi Slim-fit Wool Houndstooth Blazer
  • Topman Light Wash Vintage Slim JeansTopman Light Wash Vintage Slim Jeans
  • Grenson Sharp Leather Brogue BootsGrenson Sharp Leather Brogue Boots
Men’s Light Wash Jeans
  • Asos Super Skinny Jeans In Light WashAsos Super Skinny Jeans In Light Wash
  • Renewal Levis 501® Tapered JeansRenewal Levis 501® Tapered Jeans
  • Topman Premium Light Wash Carrot JeansTopman Premium Light Wash Carrot Jeans
  • Uniqlo Men Regular Fit Straight Jeans GUniqlo Men Regular Fit Straight Jeans G
  • Topman Vintage Mid Wash Skinny JeansTopman Vintage Mid Wash Skinny Jeans
  • Allsaints Blythe Cigarette JeansAllsaints Blythe Cigarette Jeans
  • Topman Bleach Wash Spray On JeansTopman Bleach Wash Spray On Jeans
  • Levis Hazy Sky Slim 511 JeansLevis Hazy Sky Slim 511 Jeans
  • Asos Slim JeanAsos Slim Jean
  • Acne Max Pale Blue Jeans 55691Acne Max Pale Blue Jeans 55691
  • Cheap Monday Tight Favourite JeansCheap Monday Tight Favourite Jeans
  • Jean.machine J.m-2 Straight-leg Washed-denim JeansJean.machine J.m-2 Straight-leg Washed-denim Jeans
Final Word

So there we have a short guide on how to wear your light wash jeans. By following a few simple concepts you can create very easy, stylish and fashion conscious looks with an item that very few people will even consider.

They may take a little getting used to, and you most definitely have to want to wear them, but they can be a great addition to any wardrobe. We all love our wardrobe staples, but it’s good to try something new every once in a while.

But now its time for your say:

  • Are you a fan of Light wash denim?
  • Do you already own some?
  • How do you wear them? Got any tips?
  • Have you been inspired to give them a go?

Let me know in the comments below.

Will