When I started my business 15 years ago I never wore jeans to work.  Problem was, I am a jeans person, always have been.  It wasn’t until I got comfortable enough in my job that I let go of the notion that I needed to be something I wasn’t and started wearing jeans when seeing clients.  While my job may look glamorous, my work can get quite physical and I have spent plenty of time sitting on the dirty floors of department stores, making jeans quite ideal.  Thankfully, I am in a position where I can call my own shots with how I choose to dress.  I know this isn’t the case with everyone.

With workplaces becoming more relaxed, wearing jeans to work continues to become more acceptable.  However, just like me, wearing jeans and wearing jeans are two totally different things when it comes to wearing them professionally.  The permission to wear jeans does not mean what you would wear the same jeans you would to go food shopping on the weekends.  Attention needs to be paid to how a professional jeans look is created, same as anything else you would wear to your workplace.  To give you some ideas, I put together five jeans to work looks using this pair from Madewell.  Check the outfits out below.

Five Ways to Wear Jeans to Work

Outfit #1

jeans to work

The simplest and likely most obvious way to wear jeans to work is by pairing your denim with a blazer, like  I did using this basic black L.K. Bennett blazer.  Keep in mind, however, blazers don’t always stay on all day, so it is important that you are smart about what you layer underneath them.  A simple t-shirt won’t necessarily work if you plan on taking your jacket off and your work environment isn’t casual enough.  You want your outfit to look professional enough with or without a blazer.  Instead of a t-shirt, I layered this Reiss top underneath that is basic yet dressier than a basic tank top or tee.  Lastly, dressier components give denim an elevated appearance.  I finished the outfit with a beaded station necklace from Stella & Dot and red block heel pumps from Marc Fisher.  For a handbag, I used this grey style from Skagen.

Outfit #2

jeans to work

Cardigans and business casual work environments go together like needle and thread.  They can be an excellent topper piece with jeans as long as the cardigan isn’t too casual.  The jeans are casual enough, you don’t want to look too weekend on your workdays.  Cardigans can also provide coverage of bare arms which, even in the most casual of workplaces, isn’t okay.  Plus, temperature fluctuations in most offices make cardigans most ideal.  I styled this Vince style over a sleeveless Banana Republic top and finished the look with a pair of Sole Society heeled loafers, ivory bag from Frances Valentine and blue studs from Kate Spade.

Outfit #3

jeans to work

A sweater over a button down shirt worn with jeans can look chic and professional.  Yet, we all know what a pain in the butt getting a sweater over a button down can be.  That’s why I like this J. Crew style with the collar built in.  To elevate the look, I added these seriously fun metallic Cole Haan loafers and finished the look with a black bag from Nordstrom and silver drop earrings.

Outfit #4

jeans to work

I love this top from Lush.  I own several.  Admittedly, the ivory is a little sheer but I do fine by just layering a tank underneath it.  Tops like this are just easy.  Throw on and done.  I wear mine constantly.  They’re also SUPER affordable.  To give this top and jeans some polish, I added a soft scarf from Michael Stars, a pair of fern green booties from Sole Society, Kendra Scott drop earrings and light peach bag from AllSaints.

Outfit #5

jeans to work

Jeans and a sweater is an easy staple for a dress down workplace.  However, just like your cardigans, these sweaters should not be too casual.  Avoid too-relaxed weekend knits, low quality styles and sweaters that have become misshapen.  Better quality knits will elevate the look of your dress-down jeans.  For this look, I added this navy tunic sweater from Reiss to create a sleek column ensemble.  I finished the look with a pair of tan peep toe booties by Sole Society, yellow bag from Marc Jacobs, earrings from Bauble Bar and bracelet by Gorjana.  Remember, your workplace may accept jeans but check with their open toe policy before assuming that casual means this is acceptable.

Wearing jeans to work is a privilege that should never be disrespected or taken for granted.  Be sure to create professional dress-down looks with your jeans that are appropriate and professional despite their casual nature.