Boardrooms, presentations, and meetings do not have to be a denim free zone. If you like wearing jeans, you will love our tips on how to wear jeans to work.

Quite a number of offices have, at a minimum, a casual Friday where wearing jeans is encouraged.

More and more offices, however, are embracing the spirit of permitting their employees to wear jeans to work almost every day. Plus, perhaps you’re working from home for all, or part, of the week. In which case, a smart top (for conference calls) and a pair of jeans will be perfect.

There is a catch. In most cases you are still expected to look like a professional despite the casual allure of denim.

You can also check our tips on how to wear jeans over 40 in general.

Jeans for work

In this post, we show you how to wear jeans in a professional (and stylish) manner without looking like you’re leading a meeting wearing your leisure Sunday best.

Business casual jeans: Are jeans business casual?

A business casual dress code may sound like a dream as you get to wear more casual pieces to the office.

But, it can just lead to confusion as what is acceptable varies from job to job and workplace to workplace.

One thing is clear is that business casual doesn’t mean wearing a t-shirt, sneakers and jeans. Nor does it mean a full, matching suit and high heels.

Instead, business casual attire for women falls somewhere between.

I think, depending on where you work, you can definitely wear jeans in a way to meet the business casual dress code.

5 quick rules for wearing jeans to work

If you want to wear jeans to work, keep these guidelines in mind.

1. A darker rinse looks more professional

A darker rinse jean is considered to be the standard for a more professional denim look.

Denim with a lighter wash is considered to carry a more casual tone that might not be suitable for all offices.

Choose darker blue and black hues for a more professional look.

Jeans that you can wear for work |

PAIGE Manhattan High Waist Bootcut JeansMOTHER High Waist Rider Ankle JeansNYDJ Teresa Ankle Wide Leg JeansL’AGENCE Jyothi High Waist Split Ankle Skinny Jeans

How to wear jeans to work - Fonda in jeans and a blouse |

Fonda @savvysouthernchic above opts for dark wash denim, and matches her blouse to her bag. She elevates her look by making sure she doesn’t forget her accessories, with a pair of drop earrings.

Check out this top (another option here) that you can wear with this similar pair of wide leg jeans, booties, handbag and earrings.

2. Shoes matter

To keep the look pulled together and professional, veer towards the direction of shoes you might otherwise wear at the office.

Think structured pumps, professional-looking wedges, and well-fitting flats.

Definitely steer away from sneakers and anything which looks too casual.

Naturalizer Anna Pointed Toe Pump |

Naturalizer Anna Pointed Toe Pump

For more style inspiration, read our article on how to wear blazer with jeans

3. Pull it all together with a great blazer

A tailored blazer that fits well is exactly what is needed to take a casual pair of jeans to the next level.

Do not just think you have to stick to the basic black blazer.

Depending on how much freedom you have in regard to sartorial creativity, experiment with different colors and lengths for a look that is unique, chic, and still acceptable for professional norms.

How to dress up jeans - Cathy in a check blazer and denim |

Cathy @themiddlepageblog above (read her style interview here) wears a check jacket that matches her shoes.

Get her look with this similar shirt, blazer, jeans, pumps, bag and sunglasses.

4. Keep it clean

No matter how hard you try, quite distressed denim cannot be upgraded to a very professional look.

The intrinsic nature of torn and shredded denim does not translate well to a professional office look. There are some exceptions of course, especially for those who work in creative industries.

You could try a trouser jeans style with a crease in the middle for a look which combines the feel of pants and jeans.

5. Make it tailor made

Make sure the jeans you select fit well. Whether you go with a trouser cut or skinny jeans, make sure they fit you well (note: are not too tight OR too loose) and are the appropriate hem.

Nikki wears jeans and a blazer |

Nikki @40notfrumpy above wears a pair of jeans that end perfectly at her ankle, and adds an on-trend pair of loafers.

Recreate her look with this similar shirt, blazer, jeans, loafers.

6. Add a scarf

A scarf is always a great way to pull together any outfit, and to make your jeans look work-ready. Add a scarf to your blazer, jeans and heels. Take a look at how to wear a scarf for more ideas.

Nordstrom Oversized Silk Square Scarf |

Nordstrom Oversized Silk Square Scarf

Tops and blouses to wear with your formal jeans for work

If you’re wearing jeans for work, you want to make sure that the top you choose elevates your style from casual to professional.

So, veer away from t-shirts and, instead, opt for classic white shirts, pussy bow or formal blouses and tops in luxe material like satin or silk.

You could also wear a dress over your jeans to create a different look.

Blazers to wear with jeans to work |

COS Macramé Shirt& Other Stories Relaxed Satin ShirtVince Camuto Snake Print Rumple BlouseAnne Klein Shirred Surplice Neck Top

Nora wears jeans and a cream blouse |

Nora @jacketsociety above (read her style interview here) tucks her shirt into her jeans.

Get her look with this similar shirt, jeans, booties, handbag, belt, earrings and sunglasses.

Blazers to wear with your women’s work jeans

As mentioned in my top 5 tips, a blazer is your best friend when it comes to styling your jeans for work.

You could opt for classic black, or you could add a pop of color or choose an on-trend print.

If it’s warm, another good option with your jeans is a sleeveless jacket, which you layer over your shirt or blouse.

Blazers to wear with jeans to work |

Theory Etiennette B Good Wool Suit JacketKaren Millen Compact Stretch Single Breasted JacketUrban CoCo Open Front BlazerKaren Millen Military Zip Front Ponte Jersey Blazer

Karen wears a navy blazer and jeans |

Karen @styledbykaren above opts for a navy jacket that is almost the same color as her jeans, along with a pair of classic nude pumps.

Recreate her outfit with this similar top, blazer, skinny jeans, pumps and sunglasses.

For more tips, check our guidelines on how to fit a blazer.

Shoes to wear with your best work jeans

Keep your shoe choices formal when it comes to workwear.

So, opt for pumps, stylish booties, pointed flats or loafers. The key is not to deviate from the shoe choice you would usually have made for work if you were wearing a skirt or pants rather than jeans.

Shoes to wear with jeans |

Tory Burch Brutalist Ankle Chain Ballet FlatsJOY IN LOVE Low Heeled pumpsCOACH Jade Knit BootiesVionic Inessa Knee High Boot

Jeans with block heels |

Dawn Lucy @fashionshouldbefun above (read her style interview here) shows how you could wear a pair of block pumps with your jeans.

Steal her look with this similar shirt, blazer, jeans, pumps, handbag and earrings.

Check out some of the latest shoe trends here.

Accessories to wear with your jeans and business casual outfits

Your accessories will also help to raise your jeans a style notch so that they are work appropriate.

Carry a formal satchel or tote bag and add a chic scarf or necklace.

Accessories to wear with jeans to work |

COACH Polished Pebble Leather Day ToteKate Spade New York All Day Leather ToteCLUCI Leather Slim Work BagPoeticEHome Mulberry Silk Neck ScarfCOACH Chunky Small Huggie Hoop EarringsIppolita ‘Rock Candy – Mini Lollipop’ 18k Gold Drop EarringsSterling Silver Multistrand Layered Necklace

Jess wears a white blazer and jeans |

Jess @elegantlydressedandstylish above (read her style interview here) wears a scarf with her blazer and jeans.

Recreate her outfit with this similar blazer, jeans, sandals, handbag, scarf and earrings.

9 work jeans outfit ideas

Below are just a few ideas on how you could put together the jeans and other pieces used above. But, there are countless other ways you could mix and match these items for work.

Work jeans outfit |

shop some of the items here:

MORE looks for the workplace in a traditional office

Below, you can see more jeans to work inspiration. While the looks below are past season, they should still help you with ideas, and for shopping similar items.

A capsule wardrobe on how to wear jeans to work |
jeans office work looks traditional conservative blazer pumps |

Three looks for a more casual office

jeans office casual look creative blazer white printed |

Which jeans meet the business casual dress code, are professional and fit well?

Three of my favorite brands for choosing jeans which are suitable for work are NYDJ, KUT from the Kloth and PAIGE. Take a look at some options from these brands below.


KUT from the Kloth


For more tips check out my article on how to wear jeans after 40

Do you wear jeans to work? What is your go to approach for making jeans more professional?

Continue reading:

  1. How To Wear Jeans Over 40 – Guidelines And Lots Of Ideas
  2. How To Wear Tunics Or Short Dresses With Pants
  3. What To Wear To Work: A Professional Capsule Wardrobe
  4. Work outfits for summer

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How to wear jeans to work |

Feature image by Cathy @themiddlepageblog


Sylvia is 40+style’s editor-in-chief and has been helping women find their unique style since 2011. An alumni of the School of Color and Design, she is devoted to empowering women of any age to look and feel their best. Read more about Sylvia and 40+style on this page.

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