How To Wear Raw Denim Dressed Up And Dressed Down

In earlier articles I wrote about why raw and selvedge denim is so special and how to buy your first pair, now I'm going to show you how to wear raw denim.

The beauty of raw denim is that it's acceptable to wear in all but the most traditional and conservative environments.

Of course, you can't wear denim in a law office (even on Casual Fridays), but raw denim is often welcome in most casual offices and creative fields any day of the week.

That is, as long as the color is dark enough and they aren't in a state of complete degradation (and assuming the rest of your outfit is appropriate for the job).

Reserve really distressed denim for weekend and more casual looks.

Not many items in your wardrobe have the same versatility as raw denim. But if you have some uncertainties about how to wear raw denim, I'm here to help.

How To Wear Raw Denim – Business casual

Sure, I'm wearing jeans and have a full beard. But combined with a fitted dress shirt, silk/cotton/cashmere sweater, black leather shoes, and neat grooming, the overall look is quite presentable.

how to wear denim dressed up

Jack Threads Selvedge Jeans (similar) – Allen Edmonds Kenilworth – Banana Republic Sweater

How To Wear Raw Denim – Collegiate Style

Rather than pairing a sport coat and tie with trousers and wingtips, I take down the formality by mixing in jeans and boots.

From the waist up, I'm ready for the lecture hall, but the bottom half is much more relaxed.

how to wear raw denim business casual

how to wear raw denim business casual details

Gap SelvedgeClarks Desert Boots – Timex Weekender

How To Wear Raw Denim – Double Rider

I ended up selling this jacket because a double rider just wasn't my style. But at least I had it long enough to get a few photos to illustrate how great raw denim can look with a black leather jacket and boots.

how to wear raw denim black leather jacket

Jack Threads Selvedge Jeans (similar) – Dr Martens Hadley

How To Wear Raw Denim – Sharp Weekend

When all of your clothing items are carefully chosen, this is about as casual as you need to get to be comfortable.

For me, a shawl neck sweater, broken in denim, and leather lace ups feel just as relaxed as sweats and sneakers.

how to wear raw denim casual sweatshirt

JCrew Sweater – Jack Threads Selvedge Denim (similar) – Grant Stone Shoes

How To Wear Raw Denim – Running to the store

This is a great example of how having only quality clothing items makes it almost impossible to dress bad.

Before the photo below was taken, I was working at home in jeans, a tee shirt, and barefoot. When I wanted to run out to the store I just picked up a cardigan and slipped on shoes that don't require socks.

And since the denim is high quality and dark, I look comfortably presentable rather than sloppy.

how to wear raw denim running errands

Jack Threads Selvedge Denim (similar) – Sperry Top-Sider

How To Wear Raw Denim – Rugged Look

Since raw denim was originally designed for blue collar workers, it pairs perfectly with boots and workwear fabrics like flannel.

For this look, the more distressed your jeans get, the better they'll look.

how to wear raw denim rugged

Gap SelvedgeRed Wing Beckman

how to wear raw denim rugged jeans t shirt

Naked & Famous Weird Guy FitRed Wing 877

How To Wear Raw Denim – Hiking

Just because raw denim jeans tend to be expensive, doesn't mean you have to baby them.

I love technical hiking and backpacking gear, but for day hikes, wearing my more rugged items instead feels much more natural.

This hiking uniform also leads to a more seamless transition to lunch when the outdoor activities are over.

how to wear raw denim hiking

Jack Threads Selvedge Denim (similar) – Red Wing 877

How Do You Wear Raw Denim?

I've presented you with the ways that I typically wear my raw denim, but the possibilities are endless.

For those already wearing raw denim, do you dress it up more than I do? How about less? Do you have a unique combination that works particularly well for you?

Please share your favorite combos with other Iron & Tweed readers!

All the best,


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  • Reply
    April 29, 2017 at 8:16 am

    As a guy leaving school in few months and getting ready to find a decent job, this is perfect.
    I hate suits. It just dosn´t feel comfortable at all. So raw denim will be one of the first items I will buy with my first paycheck !

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