10 Ways to Work Denim at the Office

denim

Wearing jeans in a professional setting can be tricky business: Relied on as a casual wardrobe workhorse, a simple pair of jeans typically feels more weekend then workweek. But if you find the right pair, straddling the sartorial line between business and casual is easy — and your options will be endless. 

Our pick: Mango’s Chino-Fit Martina Jeans, $69.99

One of the best ways to wear denim at work is to pick a pair that feel like trousers (most other silhouettes will look too casual or trendy), and this pair from Mango is particularly flattering. A flat front keeps your middle clean, a slightly wider leg gives balance (regardless of your shape and size) and that belled-hem adds length to your legs. Pick your own in a clean, dark rinse like a rich, inky blue or black denim, and save any washed-out pairs for the weekend. A dark base will give you the perfect starting point to build your work wardrobe.

How you style your jeans will depend on your office culture and your own personal preferences. Here are 10 looks to inspire you. 

Pick the Right Pair

Pick the Right Pair

Wearing jeans in a professional setting can be tricky business: Relied on as a casual wardrobe workhorse, a simple pair of jeans typically feels more weekend then workweek. But if you find the right pair, straddling the sartorial line between business and casual is easy — and your options will be endless. 

Our pick: Mango’s Chino-Fit Martina Jeans, $69.99

One of the best ways to wear denim at work is to pick a pair that feel like trousers (most other silhouettes will look too casual or trendy), and this pair from Mango is particularly flattering. A flat front keeps your middle clean, a slightly wider leg gives balance (regardless of your shape and size) and that belled-hem adds length to your legs. Pick your own in a clean, dark rinse like a rich, inky blue or black denim, and save any washed-out pairs for the weekend. A dark base will give you the perfect starting point to build your work wardrobe.

How you style your jeans will depend on your office culture and your own personal preferences. Here are 10 looks to inspire you. 

Showcase Your Personality

Showcase Your Personality

More feminine than a cotton button-down, a shirt fabricated in silk ups the ante. Buttoned up, yet openly witty, trying a blouse that has a bit of trompe l’oeil design like this one from Joe Fresh will get you noticed for all the right reasons. Perfect for casual days when you still want to look polished, pair this look with a graphic black and white wedge to complete the statement.

Try: Joe Fresh Graphic Print Collared Shirt, $39
Aldo Elilavia Wedges, $80

Conjure up a Classic

Conjure up a Classic

There’s nothing more chic or work appropriate than a Chanel-style cardigan jacket. Its classic and clean lines are ideal for every work situation — from a first interview to a client lunch. Cropped to skim the top of your hips with a bracelet-length sleeve and jewel-neckline, this jacket is one of the most versatile pieces you could ever own: It will not only partner perfectly with your trouser jeans, but it’ll slide effortlessly into your wardrobe, working with any style pant or skirt you might already have. Wear it over a clean, fitted jersey top or a chiffon blouse without a lot of frill — perhaps in a solid neutral. Play up the look with a few more Chanel-like signature pieces like a quilted handbag and cap-toe pumps.

Try: Zara Blazer With Contrasting Embroidery, $119 
Need Supply Louise Quilted Bag, $88
Zara Leather Two-Tone High Heel Court Shoe, $89.90

Create the Perfect Contrast

Create the Perfect Contrast

The contrast of a crisp, white cotton tuxedo shirt worn by a woman is a classic take on the androgynous look. Made chic (and quite shocking at the time) by Yves Saint Laurent in the 1960s, it’s now de rigueur for women to partake in masculine guises. I love the shirt un-tucked for its lack of formality (if you can get away with it at your office). Juxtapose the mannish mood with a pair of metallic heels and gold earrings. 

Try: Madewell Collarless Tux Shirt, $78
Kate Spade Tres Chic Stud Earrings, $48
Nine West Simplistic Gold Sandal, $89

Add a Pop of Color

Add a Pop of Color

Spring is just around the corner. Celebrate with a fun floral top in a bouquet of colors, grounded by a rich navy. A riotous explosion of color is a wonderfully flattering and uplifting way to balance out a dark, simple bottom. Add dangling chandelier earrings in similar colors to complete this pretty, warm-weather look.

Try: Kate Spade Saturday Cap-Sleeve Top in Painted Floral, $95
Baublebar Primary Aztec Drop Earrings, $38

Break the Rules

Break the Rules

A sleeveless blazer-style vest is the perfect counterpoint to denim. The unexpected, no-sleeve twist will bring your jeans up to date with a fresh, minimal spin. Keep your underpinning simple and wear with a solid fitted tee or graphic print top. If you work in a creative field and can take more liberties with your wardrobe, this look will be a winner. You’ll find that it will also work with classic and cropped trousers and knee-length skirts. 
 
Try: Trouve Blazer-Style Vest, $88
BCBG AGDA Long-Sleeve Top, $78

Embrace the Exotic

Embrace the Exotic

Got a client lunch and sick of wearing the same-old, same-old? Make a fresh statement by topping your jeans with a kimono-style jacket. River Island’s structured piece has a polished blazer feel to it (rather than a silky robe style), which will appear more professional. Wear it over a simple camisole or plain tee, and add this tassel and jade earring for a playful touch. 

Try: River Island Black Abstract Print Embellished Trim Kimono, $80
Kenneth Jay Lane’s Tassel Earrings, $55

Try Modern Prep

Try Modern Prep

Forget old-school preppy. The modern prepster likes clean cuts in classic shapes with a fresh new spin. A graphic, silk-print front panel sweater is a refreshing surprise to a plain or stripe knit. Wear with the updated version of the timeless bucket bag (which is making a major comeback this season and for fall), clean-finished in a rich shade of tobacco. This look makes for a great everyday look if your office is on the casual side; it’s comfortable yet classic and polished enough. 

Try: J.Crew Merino Silk-Panel Sweater in Cubist Print, $118
Zara Drawstring Bucket Bag, $59.90

Go Long and Lean

Go Long and Lean

A tunic can work beautifully with the trouser jean, as long as it’s on the slim side. Details like a simple round neckline, a curved shirttail hem and bracelet length sleeves all add to the perfect simplicity of the look. A graphic floral print with a dash of acid color makes it cool. Wear with a funky “flatform” sandal trimmed in silver for a trendier touch. 

Try: Top Shop Fluro Flower Tunic, $76
River Island Silver Metallic Platform Sandals, $80

Master the Minimalist Look

Master the Minimalist Look

Going for a minimal look will command attention and can add a more serious, cerebral tone to your wardrobe. Staying simple is not an easy thing to do, but this elegant jersey top makes it easy to achieve with its clean lines in a powdery, pale shade of grey. The chiffon trimmed asymmetric hem adds a beautiful design detail, which is really all you need. This top is more versatile than you might think, and could just as easily work over soft or fitted trousers. 

Try: BCBG Ame Asymmetrical Top, $88

Transition From Day to Evening

Transition From Day to Evening

Your trouser jeans will adapt beautifully for a look that works during the day and at night. Achieve this with a top layer in simple black crepe, like this elegant, button-less blazer. Its clean, sharply tailored lines make the transition effortlessly, and when worn over a neat sparkly top, you have the perfect formula.

Try: Asos Crepe Blazer With Slim Lapel, $84.69
Asos Tank With Sequin Crochet Panelling, $47.05

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