The Essentials: Gray Denim – 6 Complete Outfits That Prove It Will Change Your Wardrobe + 50 Image Inspiration Album

The Essentials: Gray Denim – 6 Complete Outfits That Prove It Will Change Your Wardrobe + 50 Image Inspiration Album
Your next favorite pair of jeans.

You would think having less choices would make dressing well easier.

It does just the opposite.

Most guys just don't have that many options when it comes to pants. Blue denim. Or chinos. Dark blue slim denim is an absolute staple for every guy's wardrobe regardless of his age. But restricting the entire bottom half of your body to just one color means your options are pretty specific.

What does that leave you with?

At best, jackets, sweaters, and shirts that are not the same color as your jeans. (That means no navy blazers or raw denim jackets.) At worse you'll be stuck in a sartorial cycle that'll leave you feeling like that guy who wears the same pair of light khaki chinos every – single – day.

Put another way, it feels like you're being restricted to a uniform.

But there's one color of denim that explodes your options like the Big Bang without increasing your “flashy” level.

love wearing gray jeans. I got my first pair probably a year ago and ever since they've become my go-to for occasions where I want to look my best, regardless of how casual or dressy I need to be. The reason is simple: They ground the outfit in a timeless way like dark blue while giving you a ton of room to play with the other colors in your outfit.

If you're like me, you've never been much of a black jeans kind of guy. They used to be relegated to rock musicians and those trying to dress like them, but there's no mistaking, over the last 5 years or so black denim has become commonplace in a wide range of men's fashion styles like monochrome minimalism, street style, west coast bohemian, among others. I have a pair of black jeans. I like them. But they're not nearly as versatile as gray denim.

Gray denim can be swapped in anytime you'd wear black, but don't let that confuse you into thinking that gray is just “light black.” Gray pairs equally well with brown footwear as it does black and plays more into the “flat” color palettes that have become more common across the fashion spectrum.

As you can see in the 6 outfits I've put together below, gray achieves something other colors simply can't: Near universal, chameleon-like adaptability. Pair it with a cardigan, blazer, and tie? It's dressed up. Pull together Nikes and a scoop neck tee? Perfect streetwear. Denim jacket and Red Wings? Instant rugged Americana without the normal denim-on-denim worries you get with blue jeans.

And believe it or not, all 6 outfits are only 2 pairs of jeans. The Medium Gray “Horatio” skinny fit from Mott & Bow on me, and on Shane the skinny medium/dark gray “Leroy” (both of which come in straight and slim fits as well).  New to Mott & Bow? They're not new to premium denim, with 32 years of working in the industry and using only the best fabrics from the world's top mills, they're changing the way we buy jeans.

The worst part of buying clothing online? Knowing whether it'll fit. You order a size, wait for it to come, then it doesn't fit, and with many retailers, you have to pay to ship it back. Then you either order another size and start the whole wait over again or you just throw your hands in the air and give up. With Mott & Bow's free HomeTry-on Program, you can pick an additional pair in a different size for free if you're not sure which size you are. Try them both on, and send back the one that doesn't fit with the pre-paid FedEx label.

Take a look at these Getups and in the comments tell me which 3 you like the best!

6 Gray Denim Outfits

navy blazer gray jeans wingtop boots - outfit inspiration - Mott & Bow jeans

Jeans: Mott & Bow Horatio, $128
Blazer: Similar – Gap, $118 / Shirt: J.Crew, $65 / Wingtip Dress Boots: Stafford Deacon, $50

light denim jacket gray jeans red wings - men's outfit inspiration - mott & bow jeans

Jeans: Mott & Bow Horatio, $128
Denim Jacket: Gap, $80 – more sizes / Pocket T: Old Navy, $9 / Boots: Red Wing Moc Toe: $290

alpha industries jacket - gray shirt - gray jeans - nike sneakers

Gray Jeans: Mott & Bow Leroy, $128
M-59 Jacket: Alpha Industries, $143 / Shirt: Amazon, $9 / Sneakers: Similar – Nike, $85

bomber jacket henley gray jeans brown boots - men's fashion ideas

Gray Jeans: Mott & Bow Leroy, $128
Linen Bomber Jacket: Slate & Stone, $60 / Henley: American Apparel, $24 / Boots: Similar – Rockport, $140

shawl collar cardigan blue shirt gray jeans red wing iron ranger

Gray Denim: Mott & Bow Horatio, $128
Shawl Collar Cardigan: Similar – Chaps, $30 / Dobby Shirt: Old Navy, $33 / Boots: Red Wing Iron Ranger, $240 / Watch: Nixon, $150

gray blazer, navy cardigan, gray jeans, black shoes - outfit ideas

Gray Denim: Mott & Bow Leroy, $128
Blazer: Similar – Combat Gent, $180 / Merino Wool Cardigan: Gap, $70 / Oxford Shirt: Target, $25 / Tie: J.Crew, $60 / Waterproof Wingtips: Cole Haan, $160

Gray Jeans Style Inspiration Album


Mott and BowSpecial thanks to Mott & Bow for teaming up with us on this post. Get free 2 day shipping until 12/20 with code “2DAY” and get a perfect fit with their Free Home Try-on Program. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Primer!

What is this?

I want to hear from you! Which were your favorites? Chat with me in the comments!


Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.

  • BovineTipper

    Picked up some BR Traveler jeans in dark grey last spring on a good sale and absolute love them. So versatile, but also something different. Great post!

  • Modern Connoisseur

    Great post never thought of grey denim jeans.

  • Kyle Taylor

    I’ve found more and more that I’m turning to colored denim over chinos. Bonobos’s travel jeans are another good option when it comes to grey and other colored jeans.

  • Toro

    my grey 541s are one of my favorite pairs

    • Joshua Michael

      Glad to hear that. I’ve got a pair on the way now.

      • Toro

        also, what I like quite a bit about the 541 line is that they come in several more fashionable finishes that make them appropriate for multiple occasions, including casual office environments

        • Joshua Michael

          Absolutely. This will be my 6th pair. The only ‘slim’ jean I can wear. Especially on my Harley.

          • Toro

            I think they’re technically considered straight leg…just a better fit because of the stretch

            If only I could find similar fitting chinos in a store

          • Joshua Michael

            Levi’s makes chinos in the 541. Have a pair of those on the way too.

          • Toro

            haven’t seen them in stores, and typically don’t buy unless I can try on. know any stores that carry them?

  • David Raleigh

    I got a nice pair of light gray jeans from Old Navy on black friday, have worn them probably 5 or 6 times with all different outfits. I absolutely LOVE them!

  • Zac Silk

    I’m really liking the shawl collar cardigan and gray jeans combo. I’ve always been a dark denim guy, but gray jeans are going to be something I’ll be investing in soon.

  • Zac Silk

    I’ve got a light wash pair of grey Gap skinny jeans that I wore in the summer but I’m looking for a darker pair for the winter.

  • Zac Silk

    For the other two outfits I like it would have to be the first outfit with the blazer and 4th with the bomber jacket and henley. I often wear a bomber with dark denim and a henley and grey jeans will be a nice change from that.

  • Joseph Padilla

    I think the takeaway here is that in an ideal world, you’d like the “right” type of gray. What that is? Dark gray veering towards ink black. Personally, not too shabby of a color!

  • Dustin

    That gray cardigan is gorgeous. I do wish he’d tell us where he bought it even though it’s out of stock.

    • Zac Silk

      It was American Eagle on Black Friday. Don’t worry there are other alternatives that have the same weave.

  • Stefan Buzas

    Great outfits 😀 I really like the combos, the’re so simply, but really cool. Big + for the last one 🙂

    • Andrew

      Hey Dustin! It’s from American Eagle that I got on Black Friday. Unfortunately unavailable now.

  • Derek Thomas

    My favorite 3 (in no specific order:
    1) Denim Jacket Combo
    2) Shawl Collar Cardigan Combo
    3) M-59 Jacket Combo
    I like these ones the most just because they’re more ideal for me and my lifestyle. I noticed that the 3 I chose happened to be the ones with the light gray combos. I just love the contrast from lighter colors to darker colors and really making each piece stand out and separate. Great post! Thank you for the inspiration album as well!

    • Andrew

      Nice! Yeah I dig that too.

  • Hagareno

    The best part about this is that the previous getup photos with the overcoat had dark denim, so I got a pair to complete the look. Now this post is super relevant to me 😀

    • Andrew

      Perfect! 🙂

  • Vincent Adultman

    Hey Andrew, is that denim jacket a small? I just bought a denim jacket from gap in a medium (i’m 6’1” 180lbs) and the body and arms are way to baggy. Should I size down or will it be too short then? Can I tailor it?

    • Andrew

      Yep, mine’s a small. How does the medium fit in the body? I’m 5’11” 170lbs.

      • Vincent Adultman

        Both the body and the arms are way too loose. I’m going to take your advice and size down. Thanks Andrew!

  • Joshua Michael

    Thoughts on swapping the Shawl Neck out for a Navy one, and going light gray with the shirt instead?