Are Jeans Business Casual (Can You Wear Jeans to Work?)
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Are Jeans Business Casual? (How to Wear Jeans to Work)

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Are jeans business casual? Can you wear jeans to work? Denim to the office, really? The same thing miners wore underground in the 1800’s is now okay to wear for business casual? Well, it depends…

Let me elaborate. With workplaces becoming more and more casual these days, denim has seeped its way into modern interpretations of business casual attire.

However that doesn’t mean every workplace that labels itself business casual allows jeans. There still are many workplaces that consider chinos, khakis and dress pants as the only appropriate business casual pant options. So it’s still a smart idea to check with your workplace before deciding to wear jeans.

Can I Wear Jeans for Business Casual?

It depends on two factors. The first of which is workplace dress code and the second is the type of jeans.

If your workplace allows jeans, then you can move on to the second factor, the type of jeans. If your workplace doesn’t allow jeans, then it doesn’t matter how much you spent on your jeans or how good they look, you just can’t wear them to work.

Generally speaking, workplaces in creative fields tend to have a more lenient and flexible dress code. These types of organizations typically allow jeans to be worn as business casual attire.

However, workplaces in more conservative fields such as law and finance tend to have a more strict dress code where the norm is suits, dress pants and blazers.

But if you are adamant on wearing jeans to your 9 to 5 and have checked with the relevant people as to whether it is acceptable (i.e gotten the green signal), you still need to make sure you are wearing the right type of jeans. So what to look for and what to avoid?

Look for:

  • Dark wash jeans either in dark blue, dark gray or black that have no fading or distressing which includes rips, tears and excessive whickering.
  • A straight to slim fit with a slight taper near the leg opening. They should basically have the same fit as your dress pants and chinos.
  • Check out our Jeans Fit Guide where we cover every aspect of how a jean should fit your body from the waist down to the leg opening so you get the perfect fit!
straight fit jeans for business casual jeans

Avoid:

  • You want to avoid a skin-tight fit since that looks unprofessional. You also don’t want to be wearing a baggy fitting jean since that will just look too casual and sloppy.
tight fit jeans to avoid for business casual jeans
Source: ASOS
  • Make sure the back pockets don’t have too much design or brand stitching. The amount of design and stitching on the back pockets of typical Levi’s jeans is pretty much the most design that can be considered acceptable.
  • Personally however, I would avoid any brand stitching or design on the back pockets and would instead go with a clean back pocket.

Most dark wash blue jeans come with contrast stitching which is typically a gold color. Although jeans such as these are okay to wear in business casual settings, I would look for options that have little to no contrast stitching (i.e., the stitching is in the same color as the dark denim so you can’t tell the color difference between the fabric and the stitching).

I find these jeans to be more appropriate for business casual wear since they are dressier than other jeans with contrast stitching.

How to Wear Jeans to Work and Look Professional

Since jeans are casual in nature you want the rest of your outfit pieces to be dressier. So pair your jeans with collared shirts (dress shirts, button down collar shirts), sweaters, ties, blazers, topcoats, peacoats, sport coats and dress shoes/boots. This will dress up the jeans and make the complete outfit appropriate for business casual attire.

Some Business Casual Outfits with Jeans

Final Thoughts

I hope this guide answered the question; are jeans business casual? In summary, it depends on the workplace and the type of jeans. If your workplace allows for jeans to be worn, make sure they are the right color, fit and style. This article discussed all these factors and also gave some outfit inspiration.