Five Surefire Ways To Dress Up Raw Denim

Rene from Tenue de Nimes demonstrating nicely dressed up Raw Denim

Rene of Tenue de Nimes achieving a sharp, dressed up look with raw denim

As raw and selvedge denim continues to help fuel the growth of the premium denim market (to the tune of $1.4 billion total value), it’s no surprise to see how incredibly versatile the niche garment has become. Regardless of whether the environment and context is casual or professional, there’s a multitude of instances where throwing on your favorite pair just seems to “work”. However, in this article we’ll outline several ways to dress up your raw resulting in a more refined and polished appearance.

1. Pair With A Blazer

The Classic Navy Blazer

The Classic Navy Blazer

The first and most surefire way to neatly emphasize your raw denim is to throw on a blazer. Blazers are iconic and classy, they go with almost every outfit imaginable, and they give off a more mature and sophisticated feel.

If you happen to not own a blazer, don’t go out and just buy a traditional black version. Try dark blue, khaki, or a subdued striped blazer. The black is still of course an option, but giving your outfit some color and life will easily amplify your raw denim and overall style profile.

2. Find The Right Footwear

Red Wing Beckman

Red Wing Beckman (source:

Changing up your shoes is step two and will definitely differ depending on the occasion. For business meetings or interviews, a nice pair of Oxford or Derby shoes could be the perfect fit. Or if you’re heading out for a date or nice night out, higher end, street wear sneakers aren’t unreasonable. This could range from (but is by no means not limited to) a classic pair of Jordan’s to your favorite set of Nike’s or Vans.

Those staple pair of leather shoes are certainly an excellent complement as well but it’s vital to set aside your work boots or your “daily beaters”. The main goal here is to showcase those shoes you’ve been keeping clean and stored away.

3. Bring Out The Button-Down

Acne Isherwood Bleached Denim Button Down (source:

Acne Isherwood Bleached Denim Button Down (source:

If a blazer is too much, or if changing your shoes isn’t enough for the occasion, then a simple and easy alternative is putting on a button-down. There’s an immense variety with button-down shirts, in that some are extremely formal, while others can lend a more industrial, yet clean, look to your outfit. The key is to prepare according to you destination.

4. Tidy Accessory Detailing

Tanner Goods Natural Standard Belt

Tanner Goods Natural Standard Belt (source:

From wristwatches and rings to hats and eyewear, accessorizing correctly can really make your raw denim and overall look stand out.  If the environment is very professional but not overly conservative, creating a unique, yet tidy, color scheme always helps too.

Though wearing every accessory known to man can be overkill, a low maintenance and effective starting point is strapping on a proper watch. Particularly with a dark, rigid pair of raw denim, incorporating a suitable watch can leave a much more seasoned impression.

If you’re similar to me and prefer to tuck in your button-down shirts too, you’d be well served by incorporating a proper belt. You absolutely can’t go wrong with a standard black leather belt, but as is the case with blazers, adding some colours and little more personality into the mix never hurts.

5. Stray From The Beaten Path

Naked & Famous Selvedge Chino Beige

Naked & Famous Selvedge Chino Beige (source:

Instead of your standard indigo blues, look into equipping yourself with black or even khaki-coloured denim. Some great examples are the Nudie Jeans Black Wax Coated, which are extremely versatile and look great; and the Naked and Famous Denim Chino Khakis, which can be used for any nice occasion or even around the town. These denims don’t fade like standard indigo denim does, and will most likely stay fresh since they probably won’t be worn everyday.

It goes without saying that raw denim is never out of the equation when you’re dressing up for a more professional or formal occasion. There are many numerous options to achieve the proper look you need, and the bottom line is to just try something out of your comfort zone and experiment.

If you have any related tips or approaches additional to the above, let us know in the comments below.

Benjamin Simons

Outside of contributing to, Benjamin keeps busy with his collegiate volleyball team, learning Hebrew, riding his fixie bike, and being in the ocean as much as possible.

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  • Colin

    Five more ways to dress up raw denim!
    “Wear something that is traditionally considered dressy…with raw denim!”
    “Wear shoes that look good with raw denim!”
    “Wear a button down shirt (Protip: Button down shirts are considered to be more formal than t-shirts and polos)!”
    “Wear any kind of accessory that matches”

    “Wear different pants!”

    • Devan Prithipaul

      I couldn’t agree more.

  • Brown, Deim @ Boston

    Dressing up Raw Denim?? Make it Custom with choice of selvage fabric, buttons, pockets, & the perfect fit. The proper crafted jean that is uniquely tailored and designed with taste. The craftsmanship to stand apart………

  • anonymous

    this post is really unnecessary

  • Sime

    Hey Ben, I got to UCSB too and work at Civilianaire in Montecito. You should come by and check out our raw selvege! We have a tan rigid jean that your last point brought to mind. Cool article!

  • Kyle

    How about raw denim combined with an open collar shirt, smoking jacket, and derby shoes. Anybody bold/insane enough to pull this off? I rather doubt it.

  • Ryan Chinaski

    if youre trying to dress up raw denim, you arent really dressing up

  • szfofa

    Have your arms around a hot chick, while wearing raw denim.

  • chunkhead

    button down collars are intended for wearing with jerseys or sweaters where the concern is the collar will rise

    with the top button done, I can’t see how this is meant to work- we have an informal shirt, in an casual fabric worn in a formal way at the top and and casual way at the bottom

    with the shirt untucked, a lot of guys legs will look stubby. add a big cuff & the leg length will be affected even more, while stacks will create a disproportion at the leg base

    get a mirror, or better yet- get a pen and draw the rough shapes you are trying to create

  • Chris

    I feel these kind of articles would work better if the question was thrown out to the community to answer for two weeks: “How do you dress up your raw denim?” “What trainers do you love and wear with your raw denim?” And then these answers are collated, however long the list… a top 5 struggles especially when, in this case, the 5th option is not to wear raw denim in the first place.