Your company’s dress policy should clarify the when – and whether – jeans are officeappropriate. But whether your office allows jeans every day or just on Fridays, it’s important to polish the look to maintain your professional presence.
Jeans — by the way — are defined by the styling, not by the blue denim. Details like a back yoke, rear patch pockets, stitched-down seams, bar tacks or rivets reinforcing the stress points and contrast topstitching typically put a pant into the “jeans” category, whatever the fabric or color.
The effect begins with your choice of the RIGHT jeans. The current trend toward frayed and distressed styles is strictly weekend wear –virtually NEVER career appropriate. A darker wash gives the most dressed-up look – and is the most slimming too. Colors and even patterned jeans can be office-appropriate as long as the look is subtle rather than bright.
Contrast topstitching is more casual – matched stitching is best when you can find it. Avoid excessive embellishment that draws extra attention to back pockets. Narrow legs and subtle boot-cut styles are equally appropriate. Save ultra-low-rise jeans for your day off (or for your daughter).
For tips on jean selection for adult women, check our instructional video.
Fit is critical. Jeans are intended to fit close to the body, but scrupulously avoid panty lines or any bulge of soft tissue above the waistband. Wider legs should end no more than an inch from the floor – no flood-pants or dragging. Narrow legs should end low on the ankle. Roll skinnies into a cute cuff if necessary; don’t let extra length scrunch up around your ankle.
Double-layer tops are your safest bet to add polish to a jean look. A crisp shirt and blazer or a soft blouse and cardigan are great pairings. A camisole or tank is a perfectly fine under layer, provided you wear a smooth-cup bra and keep the over-top on all day. Of course you’d NEVER wear such a bare top uncovered in a work situation.
Accessories add polish to your jean look. If the booties shown above would be killing you by 10AM, opt for a loafer, ballet flat or wedge style instead, but not an athletic shoe (unless your office is a trendy ad agency or tech firm and your sneakers are ultra-hip). Add a great belt and classy tote, usually in a color family related to the shoe.
Finish the look with a great earring and possibly a scarf or statement necklace to anchor focus at your face. No matter how cute your tushy looks in those jeans, your face should be the focal point in any workplace situation.
For more on jean fit and accessories see our second jeans video tutorial.
And if you need help polishing up your own Business Casual looks, I’d be happy to schedule a closet coordination session with you in person or on ZOOM.