For women of a certain generation, the idea of wearing jeans to work is sartorial blasphemy. This is largely because jeans—once the chosen uniform for cowboys, miners, and other rough-and-tumble laborers—were once considered by the white-collar set to be strictly weekend wear. Nowadays, jeans have become much more ubiquitous in any stylish person’s wardrobe—and they now have the price tags to match.
MORE: How To Dress Up Your Jeans: 8 Foolproof Ways
With more office cultures embracing a casual-professional vibe when it comes to work wear, it’s increasingly commonplace to be able to wear jeans to work. However, this wardrobe flexibility comes with one big caveat: your jeans are for dressing up, not dressing down. You can’t just roll into the office wearing your favorite pair of overalls; there’s a fine line between slouchy chic and just plain lazy dressing. But we’re here to help! Here are five tips for making sure you still look work-appropriate in your jeans.
- Photo via Molly Reynolds
1. The darker the wash, the better.
When it comes to the jeans themselves, a darker wash is always better for the office. Lighter washes tend to appear more casual and give off a certain laissez-faire vibe; a dark jean says you mean business. Whether you opt for a deep blue or an honest black wash, go with a super-skinny jean for maximum sleekness.
2. Wear really great heels.
The easiest way to instantly transform a pair of casual jeans into professional pants? Throw on a pair of heels. Opting for a sleek boot with a stacked heel is a great option for fall, but you can never go wrong with a classic pump in nude or black.
3. Wear them with a blazer.
The blazer is one of the oldest “professional woman” staples in the book, and the same goes for wearing the jacket style with jeans. It’s also a great way to add color—while a blazer in black or navy blue is a standby, trying one in a feminine cream or even a more daring red or coral will jazz up your work look without making it too loud.
4. Tuck your blouse in.
This may seem like a bit of a “duh” moment, but simply tucking in your shirt is a great way to show you’re putting effort into your look. A blouse is your best bet, though a sweater in a relatively thin fabric could also look seriously chic. For an edgier approach, tuck in the front portion, but leave the back un-tucked.
5. Throw a little sparkle on top.
While wearing a Stella McCartney crop top a lá Rihanna might not be the most work-friendly wardrobe choice, wearing a little bit of sparkle on top of your denim is great way to instantly glam it up. Try a blouse embroidered with sequins, with metallic accents, or perhaps just a jacket with a subtle sheen to it.