Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How to wear jeans to the office

For every office with a no-jeans policy, there's an office in which jeans are a staple. But how about those that straddle the two with a jeans-friendly Casual Friday? Or what if you want to kick your denim up a notch?

Reader Elizabeth emailed me with that very question:
I just started working at a casual office and I am having trouble creating work appropriate casual looks.  I love seeing how you make jeans work for the office.  Are there any "rules" you follow when you wear jeans or other casual clothes to work?

While I don't really have "rules" for wearing jeans, here are some of my tips:

  • The darker wash the better. Look for uniform washes--whiskers and other details can be too casual for the office.
  • As far as cuts go, I recommend trouser jeans (usually a thinner fabric that falls straight from your hips down to the floor), wide-leg jeans, or slim cut/skinnies that aren't clinging to your body.
  • I try to go with a dressier shoe. If it is a trouser or wide-leg jean, a pointy-toe looks really chic and balances out the volume. Heels are preferable, since they instantly dress up the jean (even a one-inch).
  • The "finishing piece" is key--a nice blazer or cardigan is a great way to really bring jeans into the office.
  • I usually keep the top something I'd wear with a trouser to work on a regular day.  That way the jeans are the only casual piece in the whole outfit and look less out of place.
  • Bold accessories can really dress up jeans as well--belts, necklaces, bracelets (but probably not all at once. :)
Here are some of my favorite jeans outfits from my archives. Click on a photo to see outfit details and the original post.


    Can you wear jeans to your office? How do you style them to be more office-y?
    Email a pic or link to me by Thursday (9 p.m. PST), and I'll do a round-up post of your pics Friday!


    1. I can't wear jeans, ever, unfortunately, but our dress code is pretty relaxed in other areas (bare shoulders and sandals are okay, for example). I would love to be able to wear jeans every once in a while, though!

    2. I agree, the darker the jean - the more "dressed" up you appear.
      In my case my office is pretty lenient but I choose to keep myself put together and not allow my relaxed dress code take me to shabbyland,.
      I wear jeans once a week to work and usually dress is up with heels and a jacket or cardigan.... to give it a more polished look :)
      Here is one of them :

    3. i wear jeans to the office about once a week and i love how you added the blazer to make it more professional. and i'm still searching for a pair of good trouser jeans but hopefully i'll find something that'll fill that void. love how yours look on you!

      cute & little
      come join the Color Brigade!

    4. How I wish we could wear jeans to the office! Even just once a week would be so nice. I definitely agree with your rules about making jeans office-friendly and pulled together. Maybe one day I'll be able to follow them... :)

      - Meredith

    5. I usually save all my physical tasks (ie: organizing the promo room) for Casual Friday. If I'm not doing the blazer/cardigan look, I'll pair it with a company polo or a company sweatshirt. I generally don't wear the company polos or sweatshirts during the week because I think they look very casual, so Friday is a good excuse to have a little company spirit every so often!

    6. I think your suggestions are perfect. We can only wear jeans on Fri if we wear a company shirt with them (unless it's cold). I try to dress them up with a great belt, shoes and necklace because polo shirts are not my style and they don't have petite options so the fit is really iffy. I do have one button up that I had embroidered with the company logo so that I have a dressier option.

      I do not wear skinnies or jeggings to work! There are a few young ladies who do, but I find it to be inappropriate for office wear.

    7. Great tips! One day when I own my own giant company, I think I would have it casual/trendy for normal workdays, and something more formal for meetings...

      xoxo Maria

    8. These are helpful. I was just thinking about this because I wear jeans and dresses or skirts almost exclusively right now. I need to work on incorporating pants but I have also really wanted to dress up my jeans. I really like skinny jeans with blazers and nice shoes but trouser jeans are just the best!

    9. Hhm. I could wear jeans in the classroom/office, but I'm afraid my students would make an assumption about their instructor that they probably shouldn't make. :)

    10. Totally agree on the jean/office breakdown, the darker the jean the better for sure. I also love love love pairing a blazer with my jeans on casual day, although the picture I'm going to email you is a little different than my usual, go-to, blazer, heels and jeans... although I have been known to wear this look with my heels! I'm excited.

      I was going to say my favourite jean look of yours, that you posted above, but i'm lost because I love them all! I'm going to go with the first skinny, with your head down. I just love how you belted the sweater below the blazer.

    11. So happy to see my question up here and see all the great suggestions from the other readers! Thanks Angeline

      Reader Elizabeth

    12. I wear jeans to work almost everyday. They must be super dark wash denim. Heels work best. Feel like every time I try and get away with flats, I'm under dressed.

    13. @ Ashley - we win some and lose some, right? Jeans are definitely a luxury that I'm grateful to have!

      @ lorena - I love your jeans! And yes, I definitely agree that I pay extra attention to not look sloppy when I'm already in jeans.

      @ kileen - they are definitely hard to find (and of course every brand fits every body differently) but they're definitely worth the wait!

      @ meredith - Crossing my fingers that someday you will, too!

      @ ashley - How fun! I've definitely done the polo or graphic tee thing for work, too, usually with a blazer. Actually, that sounds like a good idea for this week.

      @ rachel - oo I hate when they buy those generic shirts that never fit women right. I'm sure you dress them up really nice, though!

      @ maria - someday when you own a big giant company, can we still be friends? thanks.

      @ destrehan's daughter - I agree! I really like skinny jeans + heels, too, but it's really easy to make it look like you're going out on the town instead of to work. Trousers are always winners, though.

      @ terri - Heh heh. My husband teaches in jeans, skater tees, and flip flops. I wonder what they think about him (he teaches college students).

      @ sorren - thanks! can't wait to see your look! That's one of my faves, too.

      @ elizabeth - it was a great question! Just wait til you see Friday's round-up...these gals are seriously stylish.

      @ bonbonchihuahuas - I feel the same way with flats, even on Casual Friday. Plus, I'm a little on the short side so flats and jeans make me look squatty.

    14. Great tips, Angeline! I can't wear denim to work now, but I used to be able to in a previous job. I applied the same rules myself. Solid tips. You even made me rethink skinnies in the office. They're totally fine with a long blazer.


    15. @ grit and glamour - glad I am resonating with others' views! I do like skinnies (although my skinnies are not tight--big difference).


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