Once upon a time, jeans were limited to casual Fridays. Today, women are rocking jeans every day of the work week. The trick to making jeans workplace-friendly is styling them right — which means swapping out your ripped skinnies and tees in favor of a more sophisticated approach.
Learn how to wear jeans to work with these tips for a polished look that even your boss will admire.
How to Wear Jeans to Work: 7 Rules
1. Do choose a dark wash.
Dark wash jeans are the standard for workplace environments. They’re clean and crisp and generally have a more professional vibe than jeans that are light or have an acid wash. From a distance, your dark-wash denims may even pass for a navy trouser.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are the light denim and acid-wash jeans, which can feel way too casual for the office. Also steer clear of jeans with embroidery or other embellishments that may draw attention to your ensemble.
2. Do wear skinnies or straight-leg jeans.
Most everyone holds a sweet spot for their favorite skinnies. And that’s fabulous, because they make great office jeans. Just know we’re talking skinny jeans here and not jeggings. That means they shouldn’t be too tight. Balance that fitted leg of your jeans with a loose-fitting blouse or tunic.
You could also try a timeless straight leg, or bootcut trouser style. Both will take your look to a longer, leaner silhouette.
A nice option is the Original Boot-cut Jeans by Old Navy. The dark indigo rinse will pass most office dress codes and the structured boot cut looks great with heels, pumps, or wedges.
Avoid any cut that’s too wide or too flared. These tend to look too sloppy for the office.
3. Do wear pumps.
The right shoe will set the tone and put your coworkers on notice that you’re all business. Sneakers and tennis shoes, of course, are major no-nos in the office. Sandals may also be too casual. Instead, try classic, closed-toe pumps. As a general rule of thumb, the wider the pants’ ankles are, the more pointed your shoes should be.
A basic black, closed-toe pump can take your office jeans outfit to the next level. This chic high heel pump is on-trend and has a nice, streamlined look at the base of skinny or boot-cut jeans.
4. Do pick classic styles over trendy ones.
We love that denim has expanded way beyond its humble beginnings, but you shouldn’t chase trends for your next pair of office jeans. Boyfriend jeans are too comfy for the workplace. And distressed or embellished jeans shouldn’t be anywhere near your boss.
Colored jeans, though, are a fun way to break away from basic blue. Stick with a dark shade or the always-in black.
5. Do consider high-waisted jeans.
On work days, say no to the low-rise. Please.
High-waisted trouser jeans are the better choice. They’re similar to a classic work pant, yet finished in the comfort of denim. Perfection!
6. Do add a neck scarf.
Before reaching for a chunky necklace, consider a substitution. A silk scarf wrapped around the neck can help soften your ensemble while adding a hint of elegance. Choose a complementary color that will tie the whole look together and wear it like a necklace by twisting it into a choker. Or, for a cozier work look, try a loose French knot.
An elegant and colorful printed scarf is a chic accessory for any outfit. Wear a piece like this one and it’s likely no one will even notice your jeans. And, it doesn’t have to go around your neck. In a pinch, you can tie the scarf around the strap of your tote bag, too.
7. Do style denim with a quality blazer.
When it comes to jeans in the office, a blazer is your best friend. Try a crisp, white blouse or button-down tucked into your jeans. Throw on a blazer with clean lines in a neutral color like black or grey. Once you’ve mastered the look, you can experiment with more daring colors like navy, coral, or even yellow. A blazer is an effective way to polish off your look with minimal effort.
A quality blazer like J. Crew’s Parke Blazer can be mixed-and-matched with skirts, dresses, trousers and, yes, jeans. Made of bi-stretch cotton, the blazer will be comfortable, too. This piece is a little splurgy, so make sure you get your discount for signing up for their emails!
Now that you know how to wear jeans to work, get out there and show your coworkers your masterful denim style!