With many offices becoming more relaxed about dress codes and work etiquette nowadays, it can be difficult to know what’s appropriate for business casual wear in the workplace. One office may have a completely different expectation for their business casual dress code than another. Especially if you have just returned to work after working from home or have switched jobs, it can be difficult to know what your office may find acceptable. Today we’re going to delve deeper into this topic to answer the question: are jeans business casual?
In short, jeans are considered business casual by the majority of companies nowadays. As long as they fit you well (i.e. not too baggy), are of a classic darker color, and don’t feature any rips or tears, jeans are typically appropriate for everyday business casual wear.
However, if you find yourself working in a stricter office, jeans may only be accepted on the odd dress-down day. Additionally, if you work in a customer-facing role with a strict dress code, jeans are unlikely to be business casual. So how do you know when jeans are appropriate for business casual wear? Keep reading to find out!
What Clothing Is Considered To Be Business Casual?
Business casual covers such a broad range of clothing and can be interpreted differently by various individuals and companies. Generally, business casual is used to describe any clothing that would be appropriate to wear to work every day but doesn’t include smarter clothing such as a suit and tie. As long as you dress neatly and professionally, you’ll find that a lot of different types of clothing can be accepted under the business casual umbrella. This dress code also gives employees a chance to express their personal style at work.
Common items that are worn for business casual wear include sweaters, collared shirts, and blazers on top. On the bottom, khakis and slacks are the most appropriate options for men. As far as shoes, you’ll still generally be expected to wear closed-toe dress shoes, as these are a safe and suitable option for walking around your place of work. In regards to jeans, these are generally considered business casual, but they must be in good condition and not be faded or torn. When opting to wear jeans, you’ll want to avoid ones that are too decorated. Another consideration is the color of your jeans, and generally, darker pairs are more appropriate to match with your business casual top or sweater.
What Are The Different Types Of Business Dress Code?
Another phrase that is often thrown around in regards to business dress code is business professional. It can be difficult to know where business casual ends and where business professional begins. If your office stipulates business professional in their dress code, you can be sure you are expected to turn up to work in a suit most days. As a man, expect to wear a full suit, dress shirt, smart shoes, and a tie. Grooming will also be expected to be neat and professional at all times with a business professional dress code.
Moving on from business professional, you might be asked to wear business formal. While this is becoming far less common nowadays, it’s still encouraged in situations where you are looking to impress new clients or upper management. You would likely be required to wear a darker suit in this situation, paired with a dress shirt and maybe even a silk tie.
If you are working for a small or family business, they may opt for a casual dress code, which is far more relaxed than business casual. However, these businesses usually specify exactly what’s okay to wear each day. While they may encourage casual dress, you’ll still need to look like you are dressed for work and avoid dirty and poorly styled clothing.
Understanding Your Workplace’s Dress Code
If you are starting a new job, it’s not uncommon for the dress code to be forgotten during your induction. It can be incredibly awkward to ask if your outfit is appropriate for your new job, but at the same time, you don’t want to overdress in a suit and tie each day if you don’t need to. Your human resources department is a good first stop for information, and they may be able to offer you a guide to your workplace, listing its rules and expectations. If you find the listed specifications are still too vague to understand, ask for further clarity to avoid future issues.
Alternatively, you can usually gauge what is and isn’t appropriate by observing your colleagues and boss and seeing what they choose to wear each day to work. If your boss wears jeans to work every day, there’s certainly no reason why you can’t too! You may pick up on the fact that everyone dresses down on Fridays, and that would then be a better day to save your jeans for. However, keep in mind to not base your dress solely on one day of observations. Certain activities may allow for jeans or more casual wear, and different roles within the business may be expected to dress differently to suit their work. If you are regularly meeting clients for meetings, you’ll want to pay attention to how everyone dresses during these gatherings to ensure you are on the same page.
What Style Of Jeans Is Most Appropriate For Work?
If you’ve established that wearing jeans is an appropriate option for your workplace, you’ll want to go ahead and select jeans that are suitable for wearing to the office. A general rule of thumb to stick with is the darker, the better. Black jeans are a great option for work, although of course not the skinny style that is fashionable nowadays. These jeans rarely look like actual jeans, and they can be matched with a blazer or shirt. For something a little bit lighter, dark-wash jeans are a popular option, and they are quite similar in look and style to a regular pair of slacks.
If your workplace is particularly casual, you can probably afford to wear mid-wash or light-wash jeans, but this is where it starts to get a little bit more ambiguous. You’ll also want to be very careful with white jeans, which can also be dangerous to wear to the office as they are easily damaged and stained. As far as fit, try to avoid skinny jeans at all costs unless your office is incredibly forward-thinking. Try to stick with a classic cut and fit that will look smart and professional while still being comfortable to wear all day long at work.
How To Style Jeans For Work
After selecting the type of jeans that are most appropriate for your workplace, it’s important to match them carefully with the rest of your outfit. If you are planning to wear jeans, you don’t want to pair them with sneakers and a tank top, as this will be far too casual for a business casual dress code! Think very carefully about how you style your jeans so as not to attract too much attention to them, especially if they are of a lighter shade.
As far as blazers, you’ll want to avoid wearing a classic suit jacket and go for something a little more casual. A blazer with less structure in a thick material will look great paired with dark jeans. In warmer weather, if you’d prefer to just stick to a shirt, try one that’s patterned, or a shirt that is made from a thicker material. A light knitted sweater will also pair well with jeans. As far as shoes, try to keep things on the smarter side by opting for loafers or closed-toe dress shoes. While a classic belt in a single color can be a smart finishing touch to your jeans, try to avoid over-accessorizing with anything too shiny or distracting.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, it comes down to your individual office and their interpretation of business casual as to whether jeans are allowed or not. As long as you choose a pair of clean-looking, well-fitting, dark jeans, you’ll likely be able to wear these every day for business casual wear. However, as with any workwear, you’ll want to style your jeans appropriately and choose sensible tops and shoes to finish-off your outfit.
By choosing a pair of darker jeans, you won’t look unprofessional or scruffy for the office, and black jeans may even look like a regular pair of pants. However, if you are ever unsure, remember you can always reach out to your human resources department. They should be able to clarify any uncertainties about what’s appropriate in your place of work.
Hopefully, you’ve found this article enjoyable and it has helped to clarify whether you can wear your favorite pair of jeans to work in the future. Our goal is to provide you with style information and advice to help you look your best in any situation. And if you would like to read more content answering some of the most important style questions today, make sure you subscribe to our newsletter.