What Do You Pair With Denim?

February 14, 2012

This series is brought to you by Levi’s® Curve ID. Find your custom fit at Levi’s®  stores or Levi.com.

So here’s a little fact: I steered clear of button-up shirts for many, many years. In fact, until last month! I couldn’t get them to look very flattering on me. My waist and hips practically blend in to each other, so if I paired a button-up with low-waisted pants or jeans (which is pretty much all that was available for ages), it made for a very un-curvy silhouette on me.

Anyway. Last month, when I was shopping for Alt Summit, I realized that if I wore a mid-rise jean, plus a fitted button-up, that I looked (and felt) great! So I ended up buying both: a pair of mid-rise jeans + two button-ups. And I’ve been wearing the heck out of them ever since.

I know it’s a little thing, but it’s been this major wardrobe realization for me — button-ups went from my no-buy-list to my closet-favorite-list simply by changing the shape of the jeans I was wearing. Definitely makes me pay more attention to the fit of my clothes! Have you ever had a wardrobe breakthrough like that?

Above is one of the outfits I wore to the conference. And I felt super hot in it! Here are the sources in case you’re curious: 1- tiny Oro necklace from Leslie Lewis Designs, 2- $5 silk polka-dot scarf from an open market in Florence (I just made myself jealous when I typed that), 3- stretch broadcloth stripe shirt by Uniqlo, 4- classic demi-curve mid-rise denim by Levi’s®, 5- nude platform pumps by Simply Vera Wang.

Tell me, Dear Readers: what is your favorite thing to pair with denim these days? A v-neck tee? A pristine sweater set? The perfectly worn-in hoodie you’ve had since college?

P.S. — Check out my sister-in-law Liz in a great Levi’s® Curve video. So hip!

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Janssen February 14, 2012 at 9:23 am

I cannot get enough of dark skinny jeans with a t-shirt and a cardigan and a long necklace. Easy and cute.


2 Design Mom February 14, 2012 at 9:27 am

So true! Long necklaces seem to make any outfit look like you put some thought into it (even if you just threw it on).


3 Sandra Gonzales February 14, 2012 at 9:27 am

It took me a while to realize that your size is not a number- it’s the proper fit. I like the Old Navy Sweetheart jeans. I can’t wait to try the Levi’s curve jeans.


4 Design Mom February 14, 2012 at 9:30 am

Very wise, Sandra! It’s so much better to ignore sizes and just focus on the right fit.


5 Sandra Gonzales February 14, 2012 at 9:28 am

And oh yeah…I wish I could score a scarf at that deal.


6 nichole February 14, 2012 at 9:28 am

This Ralph Lauren top was used for a client shoot recently and it looked adorable untucked with dark denim, edgy black combat boots and a ton of layered bangles.



7 Design Mom February 14, 2012 at 9:32 am

Love that elegant bow!


8 nichole February 14, 2012 at 9:36 am

It really worked with the tougher accents. I must have one!


9 Nora Ballantyne February 14, 2012 at 9:46 am

I saw the picture of you in that *very sexy* ouftit around cyberspace on various blogs discussing ALT, and thought, “WOW. Gabrielle looks FAN.TASTIC.” Well done. And thanks for sharing your sources. I have lots of round-ness back there and am so excited to try a higher-rise skinny. Happy Love Day!!


10 Design Mom February 14, 2012 at 10:15 am

You’re so sweet, Nora — I did feel feel “very sexy”!


11 Susan February 14, 2012 at 9:56 am

My new fave of all time to wear with jeans is a scarf. I recently realized all my shirts are solid. Nary a print in there. But wrap myself up in a pretty scarf and suddenly I’m gorgeous !! And when I feel good about myself and how I look, well then the world is just a happier place overall :)


12 Design Mom February 14, 2012 at 10:14 am

Seriously! Moving to France has convinced me that every outfit is improved by a scarf. : )


13 Emily February 14, 2012 at 10:02 am

I am not usually a batwing sleeve girl, but I found a maternity batwing shirt at JCPenney that I love! I bought it to wear to work with a skirt, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE it with jeans. It is not going to work.

I also love my new black suede moccasins. Such a comfy trend.

When I wear it I feel cool instead of very, very pregnant.


14 Design Mom February 14, 2012 at 10:13 am

Suede moccasins sound so super comfy!


15 Barchbo February 14, 2012 at 10:43 am

I definitely have a work uniform (fortunately, I can wear jeans to work):
silk tee
slouchy cardigan
ballet flats/riding boots/heels
statement necklace

I alternate my jeans between skinny and straight. And a bootcut pair of True Religion that I can’t give up because they are so comfortable!


16 Design Mom February 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm

I just said goodbye to one of my most comfortable pairs of jeans because they sprouted holes in unfortunate places. Sigh. It was hard to let them go!


17 the emily February 14, 2012 at 11:24 am

I have really broad shoulders so I can’t wear button-ups–they feel so restrictive, I can’t raise my arms above my head. Totally impractical for a mom. But I love a long-sleeved t-shirt with denim or else a looser shirt with a cardigan.


18 Design Mom February 14, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I totally know that feeling. Hah! I’ve definitely tried on shirts that restricted my arms. And you’re right — totally impractical.


19 Tasha February 14, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Buy a larger size and tailor it to your waist! It works! And sometimes adding a slight pad to the shoulder softens the look and creates a better shape…I know, I have same difficulty:(


20 Amy3 February 14, 2012 at 11:40 am

Your post and the video with your sil just makes me want to go buy some jeans! I realize I don’t feel that great in the ones I have and I’d love to have some that really *fit me*. Thanks!


21 Design Mom February 14, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I found the online size quiz useful. I felt like it helped me know what questions I should be asking about fit. Here’s the link:

I hope you find some great jeans, Amy!


22 Zoe - SlowMama February 14, 2012 at 11:42 am

I love jeans for both casual and dress up. So far, I’ve stayed away from skinny jeans because they just don’t look great on me unless I pair some high-heeled boots with them — and I don’t have any of those right now. I love my Sevens best — and my Joe’s.

As for button-downs… they almost never fit right across my chest. When they fit in my shoulders, they pull at the bust and when they fit the bust, they’re too big in the shoulders. But I’m on a hunt right now for a simple, white button down blouse that fits and will not give up!


23 sarah February 14, 2012 at 11:44 am

hmm…my new go to is skinny jeans and boots of course with a long turtleneck sweater with another short sleeved cowl neck sweater over that. layers that look so awesome together.


24 Design Mom February 14, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Cowl neck over turtleneck? Sounds cozy and chic!


25 Kristen February 14, 2012 at 11:49 am

I love that you wrote this as I’m the same way with button downs. I love the look of them on others and the darling fabrics but I never love them on me. Maybe it’s all in the jeans/shoes? Note to self: try this mix.


26 Design Mom February 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm

I hope you get to try some new jean cuts, Kristen! It’s fun to feel transformed.


27 Chelly February 14, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I have those Vera Wang pumps!
I am not really a heels girl, but those are the most comfortable pumps I have ever worn.


28 Design Mom February 14, 2012 at 1:23 pm

They’re so super hot! I first saw them on my friend Laura Mayes at last year’s Mom 2.0 conference. I immediately wanted to order my own pair! And if you watch Kohl’s sales, you can get them at a super bargain.


29 Victoria February 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Navy and white striped Breton style top, Converse, scarf and a big bag mostly for daytime. Heels, a more silky style shirt and sparkling clutch for a casual evening. I have recently gone back to slightly boot cut jeans, but still love the skinnies.


30 Design Mom February 14, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I keep wondering if I should veer from my skinny jeans and try a bootcut. Hmmmm…. Thinking about it.


31 Christina February 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Just saw that commercial last night! Thought she was so darn cute and loved her comment about being a mother first. So classy! And that Henry is pretty much to die for already!


32 Design Mom February 14, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Isn’t she great? I keep watching Hulu hoping to see her!


33 Jessica @shimmerkai February 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Nice round-up! I’m into striped boatneck tees and comfy flats right now.


34 Design Mom February 14, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Yay for stripey boatnecks! Lucky me, they are very French and easy to find here. : )


35 Susie February 14, 2012 at 2:21 pm

I know what you mean about a wardrobe breakthrough! I never wore jeans or skirts when all the styles were ridiculously low on the hips, it made me look like a blob! But now that more feminine silhouettes are in fashion, I realized that I love jeans!! (i’m a demi curve in the levis too) I feel so great when I wear my jeans with a classic boat-necked striped shirt and a pair of black flats, it makes me feel like a modern-day Audrey Hepburn. However, those heels are to die for!! I could definitely change it up to fit in those shoes :)


36 Design Mom February 15, 2012 at 4:37 am

So glad to hear about your wardrobe breakthrough, Susie!


37 Kate February 14, 2012 at 2:38 pm

I saw a photo of you in this outfit from AltSummit – muy caliente!!


38 Design Mom February 15, 2012 at 4:36 am

Thank you, Kate. (I’m blushing!)


39 Tasha February 14, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Love this post! I am a jean-a-holic! I wear them (very luckily) to work every day!!! So easy to dress up as you all have stated – I agree SO MUCH with the scarf, jewelry, heels (or boots) which allows me to get away with it – and feel, well, good about how I look. Is anyone else still in love with Pashminas!? I have way too many – my students all know the term by the end of the year and I find girls emulating this style as well:) I know they came out with Oprah so many years ago, but are just so cozy – warm or cool depending on weather, colorful, COMFY and dressy depending on patter, beeding, etc. – they add such flare!


40 Design Mom February 15, 2012 at 4:35 am

Count me in as a pashmina fan! I especially like them while traveling — they double as a blanket during plane rides.


41 Kristen E February 14, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Oh, you’re killing me! I’m very unhappy with my wardrobe right now, partly because I’m very unhappy with my BODY right now. None of my clothes fit me right and now I want to go buy some awesome curvy jeans. :)


42 Design Mom February 15, 2012 at 4:34 am

Don’t be unhappy with your body! There are clothes to flatter bodies in all of their lovely shapes and sizes and stages. It’s all about hunting down the right fit. I hope you find some sexy curvy jeans!


43 Cheri February 14, 2012 at 8:45 pm

My favorite thing to pair with denim is a t-shirt and my super-comfy men’s tennis shoes. :) For some reason I just prefer the jeans-and-a-t-shirt look to any other look involving jeans. :) And since I don’t like most of the flats I can afford and I can’t wear heels, tennis shoes are my favorite footwear. :)


44 Design Mom February 15, 2012 at 4:33 am

Thank goodness for tennis shoes! My go to favorites are classic slip on vans and black converse.


45 Anne February 15, 2012 at 7:05 am

Right now I’m wearing jeans with the absolute longest shirts I can find, because there are too many pictures of me showing my underwear when I’m down on the floor with my kids (embarassing fact!). I think I am going to try the Levi’s supreme curve (Old Navy used to have something like this that I can’t find now), because all my pants, esp. jeans, gap in the back when I sit.
p.s. I can find really long tank tops at Target.


46 Grace @ Sense and Simplicity February 15, 2012 at 7:17 am

Love the outfit. I’m with you on finding it hard to wear button-up shirts without looking shapeless. Do you wear them tucked in or out?


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