How to Wear Jeans to the Office

Woman in jeans using smart phone at office
Follow these rules to look chic in jeans for the office. Getty Images/Cultura RM Exclusive/Frank and Helena
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Your Guide to Wearing Jeans at Work

Woman in jeans at the office
Here's how to wear jeans to work and look professional. Igor Emmerich/Getty Images

Many offices have gotten a lot more relaxed these days, with some now offering not only denim-friendly "casual Fridays", but welcoming jeans as acceptable attire on other workdays, too. But just because your corporate policy says that you're allowed to wear jeans at work, that doesn’t mean you get a free pass to dress exactly as you would on casual weekends. So how can you wear your beloved blue jeans to the office and show off your personal style, while still looking professional and chic? We’ll show you how in our ultimate guide on how to wear jeans to the office.

Updated on March 10, 2018 by Cathy Jacobs

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Stick to Dark Denim

Office outfit with jeans
Style dark wash jeans with a tweed jacket for work. 7 for All Mankind

Generally speaking, just because your office has denim-friendly days, that doesn’t mean you should show up at work wearing ratty weekend jeans, a T-shirt and flip flops. Be a smart cookie and always aim to maintain a polished appearance at work. You can absolutely pull this off, while still being comfortable and stylish in a pair of jeans. One of the easiest ways to look sophisticated when you wear denim is by sticking to jeans that have a dark blue denim wash.

Dark blue jeans are simply dressier than faded blue denim pairs — they're actually closer to a black pant, than a casual trouser  — so they can help to make your outfit look instantly more chic. Plus, a dark wash jean acts as a neutral in your wardrobe, making it easy to pair with just about any color top, from bold bright colors to pastels, white and black separates, and printed shirts.

The exception to the dark blue denim rule would be black jeans or white jeans, which can also look classy for the office.

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Wear Skinny Jeans to Work With a Blazer

Jeans outfit with denim shirt and blazer
A blazer pulls together a double denim outfit for added polish. Current/Elliott

When styled well, skinny jeans are fashion forward and definitely can be a part of a chic office outfit. Pair your skinny jeans with a nice tunic, blouse or other work-appropriate shirt, with a tailored blazerlayered on top. You can show off your personal style by accessorizing with a long necklace, a pretty silk scarf, or a chunky boyfriend watch. Pumps or a pair of nice flats finish off this polished office fashion look, which also easily translates from day to night.

Get more outfit ideas for wearing your skinny jeans to work.

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Consider Denim Trousers for the Office

Double denim outfit for work. Diane von Furstenberg

If you feel your work environment may tolerate jeans but want a dressier way to wear them, try some wide-leg denim trousers. These sophisticated denim jeans look both polished and professional when worn with a nice tucked-in blouse or button-down shirt, and often come in both high-waisted and mid-rise styles. Trouser jeans tend to look best with a pair of high-heeled pumps to elongate the legs, as opposed to flats which can read as too casual with this grown-up jeans style.

Check out our guide to the best trouser jeans for your body.

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Accessorize Your Jeans Outfit Well for the Office

White Jeans and Colorful Blazer for Work. Citizens of Humanity

A nice blouse, button-down shirt or casual top paired with a blazer is a stylish and professional look when paired with any kind of jeans. Just remember to add some clean accessories -- such as a good quality watch, a refined leather handbag, or a beautiful necklace -- to pull the look together. The way you accessorize your jeans is just as important as the jeans you choose to wear to the office. A nice pair of shoes, in particular, is an absolute must for wearing jeans to the office, when you want to create a chic and grown-up impression. After all, even the most expensive pair of dark denim skinny jeans will still look lazy when paired with flip flops.

Get inspired to look polished in jeans by this Vogue editor's wardrobe.

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Check Your Jeans Rise for the Office

Yummie Mid Rise Skinny Leg Jean
Yummie Mid Rise Skinny Leg Jean. Yummie

As a general rule, you should only wear jeans to work that are either mid- or high-rise styles (in other words, the waistband should sit no lower than your belly button). Lower rise jeans are only acceptable if they are worn with a tunic or other long top that hits the thighs -- and even then, use caution if could possibly be bending or stretching at any time during your work day. (After all, no one wants to catch a glimpse of your stomach when you’re reaching for something or worse, plumber’s crack when you’re bending over to get those office files.)

Learn more about the best jeans for your body shape.

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Don't Wear Distressed Denim

Ripped jeans
Ripped jeans. Kayla Lui/Eye Em/Getty Images

Just like faded blue denim may be perceived as too casual, distressed denim or any kind of holes in your jeans are also a definite no-no at most offices. (Yes, this is true even when ripped jeans are considered the height of fashion. Sorry, ladies!)

While there may be an exception to this rule for those in the most creative fields, we advise you to proceed with caution. Sure, your stylish friends are going to know that your ripped jeans are expensive. But your boss or clients may see them as either juvenile or sloppy -- so why take the chance? If there's even a shadow of a doubt, skip the holey jeans to look professional at work and save the distressed denim for casual weekends, or other days spent away from the office.

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Just Say No to Jeggings

Just say no to jeggings for work. Amazon

Unless your boss is wearing them or you work in an extremely casual office environment, you'll likely want to pass on wearing any kind of denim leggings or “jeggings” to the office. (A great rule to keep in mind -- if your jeans don't have real back pockets, they're probably unsafe for work.)

Updated on March 10, 2018 by Cathy Jacobs