How to wear denim at the office: 10 tips for making it work!

by Keisha Reynolds

How to wear denim at the office |

Wearing denim to the office is always nice. Not having to fuss with restrictive work clothes is a welcomed change and even though the break is nice, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are 10 tips to help make denim work at the office.

1.  Go for a classic cut

Trends do not always translate well in the work place, even on a dress-down denim day. Skinny jeans or exaggerated wide leg jeans are not the best choice. There are classic cut denim choices that look sleek enough to pass for cotton business pants. Go for those!

2.  Dark denim works for work

Of all the washes of denim, dark is the most office appropriate. Light or acid washes can look nice, but not in the office. Dark denim is safe because it can act like a neutral palette and anchor an outfit, much like a black skirt or pant would.

3.  Pressed is best

Make sure the denim you choose for work is ironed or dry cleaned. Wrinkles are off putting in general, but at the office, it’s even more of a faux pas. Be sure to launder and press or dry clean your jeans before you wear them to the office.

how to wear jeans at work |

4. Fit first

Well fitted jeans keep your look clean. If tailoring will give you the perfect fit, it is worth the investment when it comes to the denim you choose to wear to work. A word of caution — you want your denim to fit well, but not be tight.

5.  Pair with business wear

This trick will ensure things don’t become too casual. A button down shirt, a pair of closed toed wedges or ankle boots are all great business wear additions. Adding a blazer would work as well. Keep everything other than the jeans, within the parameters of your office’s usual dress code. Try putting together a business outfit and then substitute the pants or skirt with a pair of classic cut, dark denim jeans.

how to wear jeans in the office |

6.  Avoid embellishments

Denim with jewels or patches of fabric or even pronounced stitching, may not be as professional a look as is expected in the office. Embellishments usually take away from the sleekness that can be achieved with the right pair of denim bottoms. (Be mindful of flashy belts too.)

7.  Avoid denim on denim

Pick your poison. A denim top or a denim pant will work.  However, paired together they are a bit too trendy. Choose one item of denim to add to your outfit and keep every other piece of clothing business formal and professional.

8.  Length matters

Attention should be paid to the length of the jeans you wear. If they are too long, you may look sloppy. Go too short, and you may look like you’re headed to a day at the beach.

jeans with black and white |

9.  Distressed is a don’t!

This seems like a no-brainer, but it is worth mentioning. Holes, rips and frays should be avoided at all costs at work.

10.  Keep it simple

Ultimately, you are heading into the office. The look you go for still has to reflect that you are a professional. Have fun, but stay within the appropriate limits.

Shop the looks below to get your hands on some items that will work when wearing denim to the office.

Do you wear jeans or denim to the office? How do you make it work?

More fabulous jeans choices below and you can also read Sylvia’s tips on how to wear jeans after 40.

keishasignature 40+Style contributor Keisha is a personal shopper and stylist who writes about style and fashion for 40+Style

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Patti

I’m retired, but never wore proper denim to the (casual) office. I think it was a holdover from my teen years when jeans weren’t even allowed at school! These are wonderful options.


2 Greetje

This is a good post Keisha, well researched, sensible advice. Fortunately we are a loose bunch in The Netherlands. And even though I work at a bank (head office though, so no client in sight), I work in the advertising department… which means nearly anything goes: skinnies, faded jeans, wide legged jeans, sometimes even sneakers. I always compensate with a smart shirt or jacket, but that is because I like the contradiction of the two. So for me personally your advice is too conservative, but I am lucky in this sense. I think for the rest of the world your advice applies.


3 Madame Hall

Like you say Greetje, it depends on your office….!
If you are working in a PR company, in the arts or any company that has a hip and ‘cool’ vibe, there’s no question that denim is an absolutely perfect choice and wouldn’t even be commented on.
Certainly I know this in Australia to be true…
I guess some countries are more conservative than others in this respect, some places are more formal than others and the cultural landscape in general needs to be considered


4 Maryann Adaezeilide

I love this I would try it out on Friday that is the only day jeans is permitted in my workplace


5 Lady j

I wear demin to office. I work as s receptionist for small office. I made demin and jeans work Is I wear black,gray white Kati jeans. I wear blue demni dress and bue demin shirt dress with belt. I have at least 21 pairs of jeans. I wear with blazers, buttin up and different shoes, purse, scaft,. I dress up my jeans. I have a pair of trozer jeans that I wear different blazers. What I do iis I wear full suit instead wearing skirt or pants I wear it with jeans think Katie Middleton.


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