In many business casual work environments denim is often seen as appropriate.   However, it is important to point out what acceptable work denim is compared to weekend denim.  In today’s wear-to-work post I am giving my business casual for work tips for wearing denim.

Let’s start by covering what type of denim isn’t appropriate for work.  It’s crazy to think that something like this still needs to be covered, but it’s all too often that you see someone abusing the privilege of being allowed to wear jeans to work.  When wearing denim to the office, avoid sloppy, faded and jeans that you would wear to do errands on the weekend.   If this seems fairly obvious to you, there are some other things to consider.  Even if the denim you are wearing is crisp and new, how you style it is important.  Here are some key points.

Key points on business casual for work using denim

Create a middle ground in your looks: When wearing denim to work try styling it with pieces that are more elevated, dressier or corporate.  For example, jeans and basic sweater may say weekend, but the same jeans with a sharp blazer and dressier shoes look more work appropriate.  I talk a lot about this in a post I wrote about smart casual style.  Basically, by adding dressier to elements to more casual pieces a middle ground is created.  The dressy components elevate the jeans and the jeans bring down the dressier pieces.

Choose silhouettes in denim besides jeans: Jeans can look good in a business casual environment if styled right, however, you can also look for denim in professional silhouettes, like blazers, skirts, trouser jeans, and more.  The denim fabric adds a casual touch to these more conservative pieces while the silhouettes add an upscale, and more professional, touch to the denim.

Accessorize and finish your looks:  Another key point is to accessorize.  Take a t-shirt and and jeans, for example.  It’s hard to distinguish this as a work look or a weekend one.  If you want to add some polish to your business causal looks, try accessorizing them.  These finishing touches will make your outfits look dressier without taking the ease away from them.

Choose dark wash denim: In addition to dark wash denim being a perfect wash for work over faded or distressed ones, also look for jeans and denim pieces without a lot of contrast stitching that will make the denim more casual looking in appearance.  Another tip to keep in mind is that the more casual your jeans or denim is the dressier the other components of your look should be to create an appropriate balance.

Business causal outfits using denim

Below are three work appropriate looks using denim along with more tips on how to get it right.

Outfit #1

business casual for work

In this first outfit, this denim blazer from Black House|White Market is perfect for business causal for a variety of reasons.  First, the silhouette is a classic professional piece, and, second, the wash of the denim is dark.  What also makes this outfit appropriate is how it is styled.  The white knit top from Modcloth and olive skinny pants from J. Crew is accessorized to make the ensemble look more polished using tangerine flats from Dolce Vita and a colorful statement necklace from Max & Chloe.

Outfit #2

business casual for work

Here again I elevated denim for a business casual work environment by choosing it in a pencil skirt, using this style from Boden.  The wash is also black and dark, making it likely more appropriate than that jeans style skirt you might have for the weekends.

Next, I want you to imagine that the skirt and teal basic J. Crew sweater wasn’t accessorized, and how boring, and possibly too under-dressed the outfit would be.  Yet, by just adding some accessories and color to the outfit it now looks polished.  This is why accessorizing business casual looks is so important.  It makes a huge difference.  In this outfit, I used a long Stella & Dot necklace, an Echo Design scarf and yellow ballerina flats.

Outfit #3

business casual for work

These dark T Tahari jeans in this outfit are a perfect example of an appropriate wash for work. In addition, with matching top stitching, they look less casual. The more casual your work environment is the more casual you can go with  your denim color, but be sure to always add dressier elements to make the jeans look professional.  And don’t forget those accessories.

A blazer, like this one from Reiss, is a perfect way to add instant professionalism to a pair of jeans work work.  Here I layered it over a basic Splendid scoop neck top for a clean look.  To add polish, I finished the outfit with a pair of black and silver flats, a silver braided belt and statement necklace from Bauble Bar.

Being allowed to wear denim to work is not a free pass to dress like a slob.  Just because denim is considered a casual fabric does not mean that your outfits should reflect this.  The same thought  that goes into making dressier outfits look clean, polished, crisp and workplace appropriate should go into your denim ensembles, as well.