hit refresh: denim

grey boyfriend jeans
The inspiration, Garance Doré. Source.


While I’m not a formal New-Year’s-Resolution-maker, I do think a return to routine after the holiday festivities and the mental “clean slate” that a New Year brings offer a chance to re-boot some good habits, and look for opportunities to refresh and renew both our energies and physical surroundings.

I thought it would be fun to look at some little style and beauty tweaks that will freshen up our look now and carry us into Spring, and will feature a few of these “refresh” posts over the next month or so. Because jeans are my Default Setting and I wear them several days per week, it seemed a good place to start.

When I went to see Garance Doré at her book signing, she was wearing a pair of grey skinny jeans with a black top and heels, and I loved the look: simple, sleek and sophisticated. I’ve worn and shared some outfits with grey denim in the past, and her styling has inspired me to take a fresh look at this option and ways to style it.

Grey denim isn’t new; it’s been drifting in and out of vogue for the last few years, so even though it was supposedly a “hot” trend for fall, I think this is a trend with legs, if you’ll pardon the pun. It’s a look that will work well with lighter outfits come spring and summer, and is a nice change-up from various shades of blue. There are styles available from skinny to boyfriend to flares, and shades from charcoal to fog.

Two that I’ve recently tried and liked are these boyfriend jeans from Eileen Fisher in a color called “asphalt” (a nice medium grey)…

grey boyfriend jeans

And these “Verdugo” jeans from Paige which are made from a wonderfully soft fabric.

grey skinny jeans

Do you have any grey denim in rotation? How do you like to style it?


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  1. I had a pair of grey jeans (from Lands End) that became the workhorse of my casual wardrobe last year. Grey is one of my neutrals and the denim version was surprisingly versatile. Since then, I’ve lost quite a bit of weight and now have to replace those jeans. Thanks for all the links – I’ll start looking now.

    1. I love my gray (Light Smoke is the official color) Lands End straight leg mid-rise jeans. Just enough stretch and a contoured waistband that doesn’t gap.

  2. I just purchased a gray denim by Levis and I like the fact they pair so well with everything in my top/sweater department. They dress up and down very well and I always feel polished when I wear them out. I just ordered new white and black long sleeved tees to pair along side my new gray denim.

  3. Thanks for this! I have a pair of gray skinny jeans from Gap several seasons ago. They have a lot more variation/streakiness in the wash than the options you have shown here (but it’s vertical streakiness, if that makes sense — not “whiskering”). I think for that reason I have always worn them in very casual outfits, but you’ve got my wheels turning about how to incorporate them into more polished looks, so that will be a fun challenge!

  4. I like deep blue, mid-blue, black, white, some colours, but not grey •on me•. Let’s face facts, Doré would look good in a potato sack- and having bought a pair of heeled, thin-soled sandals that were agony to walk in, I am betting those are worn for appearances only.

  5. I’m with Duchesse, although I would consider a dark charcoal grey in jeans.

    My perception is that the faded grey jeans tend to be somewhat drab, although I can see an unusually designed, crisp white shirt would be a great balance, as well as bright colors and prints. I’d love to see either of those combinations.

    While striving to maintain a young and fresh approach to fashion in these more mature years, I have long eschewed the purchase of clothing with holes and faded fabric. My perception is that the look is somewhat contrived, unless of course it is natural wear, as in my twenty year old Ralph Lauren denim shirt which occasionally makes it out to the garden on a cool day!

    Susan, thank you for the time you put into your blog–I have shared with several friends.
    I’m impressed with all you manage to do, and with kindness and fashion aplomb.
    Happy New Year to you and all of your readers.

  6. Yay for grey!!
    I bought the COH Rocket skinnies in grey this fall because I loved the blue distressed pair I already owned. I’ve worn the grey probably 3 to 1 over the blue. I’ve found them to be amazingly versatile..I wear them with short black moto boots (Aquatalia Sweetie) also with mushroom or black ankle booties (Blondo Valli..super comfortable). For toppers, black or cream knit tunics with bold pendant necklaces or longer blouses with either cream or black cropped sweaters. I also like the fact that the color will move nicely into spring.
    I’m looking forward to your next “refresh” post…

  7. I’ve been wanting a pair of gray jeans for some time. Just purchased Banana Republic high waisted skinny gray jeans and I love them! They fit great and look fabulous. And they are on sale now!

  8. i’m a big fan of gray skinnies – they go with everything! and, they are a nice change of pace from blue. i’ll be certain to check out a few of these links as i’m always on the hunt for great-fitting jeans. happy new year, Sue!
    xxoo beth

  9. I only like gray jeans with gray – like GD is wearing. I love them that way, and I happen to have a lot of gray sweaters, but I think they look “dirty” paired with other colors. But I’m liking a lot of monochromatic looks right now.

    1. Just as a sidelight, we recently saw Nicole Kidman at a local hotel bar. She was lovely–and was wearing a Navy fitted blazer.

  10. I’ve worn Ralph Lauren’s grey jeans to the exclusion of any jeans but (his) black. Love the grey – a wonderful neutral; it goes with anything (and doesn’t show pet hair!) Just wore the greys on a girls’ wine day with a taupe t, nubby taupe vest, a distressed brown leather jacket, and brown flats (& black/gold metallic scarf & faux leopard chapeau.) Felt VERY stylish. The inspiration was a black & white photo.

  11. I love the grey skinny jeans! Nice alternative to to the black I’m wearing so much of. Deep Red is my go to color with grey. Love the combination.

    Like you, the new year is not the time I jump on board the resolution train, but it is more a time of reflection and asking myself, what do I want to create in the new year? Whether it’s a business or personal goal, I make them throughout the year and reflect at the success (or lack thereof) during the beginning of a new one.

  12. My dark gray jeggings are a favorite wardrobe staple. Really more of a twill than true denim, with no distressing. A few ways I style them: with a black fly-away blazer, white flowy shell and leopard wedges, with an aubergine cashmere crewneck and cognac riding boots, with a coral tunic and black ballet flats, and with a black turtleneck, burgundy faux fur vest, and gray & burgundy Teva riding boots.
    My deep dark secret is that they are Faded Glory brand from the “giant blue mart” and cost less than $20. I tried them after reading online about their flattering fit, and sure enough, they are perfect for my body type. I just buy 1 size up so as to get a skinny jean fit rather than a snug legging style.

    1. Just had to reply to this for two reasons: first, I wish I could come close to figuring out so many different ways to style a pair of jeans, and second, I was bemoaning to a friend on the phone a few weeks ago that I cannot seem to find the perfect jeans anymore. (I have since bought a great pair of black skinny jeans from Banana Republic … love them: they’re waist-high and so far I’ve worn them twice and they haven’t stretched out.) Anyway, my friend went in her closet and said one pair she’d had for years and still loves is “Faded Glory” and she thought she bought them at one of those ***mart stores. Such a coincidence.

  13. I saw those EF jeans while shopping with my Mom this past week and they are really fine. If I didn’t already have half a dozen pairs…..

  14. I just purchased my first pair of gray “skinny” jeans today- the Banana Republic ones you have pictured up above. Let’s see how they fit as I’m not at all “skinny” but I do love the color and who knows, it’s a new year after all!

  15. Good suggestion. I want to replace gray trousers and jeans might be a good option. Surprisingly, I like Talbots, Lands End and NYDJ the best.

  16. I have to say that I find grey jeans “difficult.” Especially in the winter when I have to wear them with boots. I have a pair of grey Max Mara flares, almost like the asphalt you’ve shown. Problem is I like them with black boots and a black sweater…but not much else. I always struggle with lighter coloured bottoms and what shoes or boots to wear. Maybe I just need a more extensive shoe wardrobe???

  17. Mine are from Chico’s and I’m living in them this season. They are comfy, stretchy and I’m having fun pairing them in unexpected ways. Thanks for this great post with new ideas!

  18. I purchased a pair of grey jeans about a month ago and am finding they work well with my mostly black, grey and blue wardrobe. I feel like they lighten things up a little.