Can Denim Ever Belong in the Office?

Jeans are a staple wardrobe item and they seem to have sneaked their way into office attire thanks to the likes of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

But are jeans ever acceptable in a semi-formal environment?

There’s the excuse of ‘if successful CEOs can wear them, surely they’re appropriate for me too?’, right? The problem with that is they were wearing jeans, shirts and polo neck jumpers long before they were successful.

In fact, dressing the same every day is thought to be one of the reasons for their success. By reducing the number of decisions they must make each day, they can focus on the important tasks.

So, if you’re fed up with decision fatigue and want to start wearing denim in the office, there’s a few things you need to be aware of.

Make sure you’re clued up on your office dress code

If you work for a large company or organisation, there most certainly will be a dress code hidden away in the employee manual somewhere.

Sometimes, there’s the unwritten rules to be aware of too – it might be perfectly acceptable for the management to dress casually but less so for those on the shop floor that are involved with client acquisition, negotiations and sales.

So, it’s best to err on the side of caution and save the denim for dress down Friday and charity days.

What would your clients expect to be seeing you in?

First impressions will always matter, and your clients will have expectations based on your profession.

Lawyers wear sharp savvy suits.

Doctors wear a white coat.

Dentists wear scrubs.


Have a think about what you do and the industry culture you belong to. White collar professions generally don’t feature denim whereas Silicon Valley type careers (or locations) you can get away with.

If you do opt to wear jeans in the office – make sure you’re choosing the right style

Some jeans are too casual for the office, so there are a few pointers to bear in mind.

A dark and solid wash is essential – you’re replacing suit trousers here, so you need them to be as like for like as possible. Stonewash isn’t going to work well.

Your jeans need to be at their best – sounds obvious, doesn’t it?

You don’t want to be wearing a pair of faded, worn or torn jeans when meeting a client, so they should never make an appearance in a corporate environment.

Keep them plain – patterns, embroidery and logos don’t belong in the office. If you wouldn’t have them on a suit, don’t opt for a pair of jeans with them.

So, ultimately the answer to our question is – yes, denim can be acceptable in the office. But it comes down to being aware of your company culture, client expectations and the right pair of jeans that blends in effortlessly around a sea of sharp suits.

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1 comentario

Interesting article. I thought you were going to write about denim or chambray shirts. These look smart but less formal with flannel or tweed. I’d certainly buy one if you had this as an option. Drakes make one but all their shirts are much more expensive.

Ian guiver

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