The key to wearing jeans at work is to ensure you’re still maintaining a sense of professionalism. So how can you wear jeans to work and still look professional? It’s actually pretty simple. I’m a jeans girl to the core, so my biggest hesitation with getting an office job was the dress code. I’ve now worked in an office for 3 years, and do you want to know how many “business” pants I own?
T H R E E .
That’s right, I (unintentionally) own 1 pair for every year I’ve worked in an office, and I’ve probably worn them under 20 times total. Below are the 5 tips that will help get you started, which also happen to be tips that I implement.
1. 95% of the time, stick with a darker wash.
Lighter jeans have a tendency to evoke a casual vibe. Generally speaking, it’s best to leave those for the weekend. If you’re like me and wish to wear a medium wash to work on occasion, save it for Friday. Even if your office doesn’t necessarily have Casual Friday, the office culture has a tendency to get more relaxed as the weekend approaches.
For daily wear, black jeans are the ultimate choice for the office because they mimic the look of a traditional black pant without sacrificing comfort. I own multiple pairs of black denim and keep them all on heavy rotation. Alternately, blue denim with a dark indigo rinse looks polished and appropriate for the office setting. The darker the jean, the less you have to overcompensate.
This piece should go without saying, but all work denim should still be in tact. By this I mean the jeans shouldn’t have any rips or holes, whether they were purchased that way or the holes were developed over time. Even in the “denim everyday is okay” office world, rips and holes do not make the cut.
2. Top it off with a blazer.
Blazers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, so find a few that you can add into the work wardrobe. Because they easily mix and match with most office looks, it’s best to have at least 3 blazers in your closet: one black, one neutral, and one print or pop of color. The style of blazer–boyfriend, belted, fitted–will depend on which style you feel best in, but avoid a cropped blazer.
The key to wearing jeans to work is making sure the outfit still looks polished and put together. A tailored blazer adds structure to an outfit, which is what you’re looking for to offset any casual vibes from the denim.
3. Opt for a straight, slim, or skinny cut.
Because work blouses tend to have a looser fit, it’s best to keep the outfit in balance by sticking with a slimmer cut for the denim. Although a flared or wide-leg jean can mix beautifully with a classic white button-down top, the level of professionalism may not translate so easily.
Denim with a consistent fit from top to bottom looks refined and appropriate for the office. When there are days you’re just dying to wear pants with a wide-leg, swap out denim for a classic trouser. Trousers allow room for a looser fit because the fabric itself is historically worn in the workplace.
4. Style with single sole pumps.
They may not be as comfortable as platform heels, but single sole pumps look sophisticated even when worn with denim. Much like the blazer, your work wardrobe should have a minimum of 3 single sole pumps: black, nude, and a pop of color. In terms of heel height, the maximum height of the heel should fall between 3.5″-4″, the latter being more acceptable if you’re in a creative or fashion-forward field.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. You’re able to get away with a higher heel when paired with wide-leg trousers that don’t expose the full shoe. Since the full heel will be visible with denim looks, 3.5″ and under will be your best bet. Overall, just keep the general rule of thumb in mind with this one: If you question whether or not it’s office appropriate, wear something else.
Note: Open-toed sandals such as the pair pictured above depend on your office culture, so opt for a closed toe if you’re unsure.
If you’ve pulled your look together but still feel a little on the casual side, accessorize. Statement necklaces and cuffs are big conversation starters in the office. They become the focal point of your look and help it appear finished. If conversation pieces aren’t your style, delicate jewelry can yield the same effect without sparking small talk.
Pro Tip: Even though it isn’t worn all day, handbags can also add class to a work outfit. It’s a good idea to have 1 or 2 handbags for the office–something with structure that doesn’t appear busy. Leave the hobo bags and flimsy totes for the weekend.
If your office allows for denim, take advantage and introduce the timeless pant into your work wardrobe using these 5 tips. To recap, you can easily wear jeans to work and still look professional just by following the general style tips:
- Opt for black or dark wash denim.
- Add a blazer.
- Choose a straight leg or slim-cut pant.
- Pair with single sole pumps–no platforms.
- Accessorize with jewelry and a structured bag.
How do you style your jeans for work?
PS: If you’ve made it to the bottom of this post and want to start wearing jeans to the office but don’t have a suitable pair, try shopping some of my favorite brands below.
- Topshop jeans are very comfortable and are most often high-waisted, which is flattering on most body types.
- Urban Outfitters sells BDG jeans, which have more of a true denim feel but come in a variety of lengths and rinses.
- Levi’s Jeans are classic for a reason–they have a comfortable, flattering fit, don’t stretch out when washed, and are on the affordable side.