We’ve all been there – staring at our wardrobe on a Monday morning pondering how to own the “smart casual” look – and you’re not alone, as 1,500 of us search for “what is smart casual?” every month. But we’ve got one word to banish that early week indecision: denim! Wearing jeans in the office is no longer the taboo it once was, and with nearly half of the UK thinking that dress codes are only going to become more causal in the future, denim should now be the ultimate staple in your work wardrobe.
That said, we know that wearing jeans to work can mean different things, depending on what your job is. That’s why we’ve teamed up with a bunch of industry experts across four different sectors – from the most formal corporate offices, through to more relaxed home working – to gather their tips about how to nail denim in the workplace.
C A S U A L F R I D A Y S I N A C O R P O R A T E O F F I C E
We know what you’re thinking. You’re not going to rock up to your banking job sporting double denim. There is a time and a place for your favourite jeans though, and it’s called casual Friday!
We chatted to Elaine Woodall, Financial Director at Chartered Insurance Brokers MRIB, who’s a casual Friday fan. She told us that it’s important for the staff, as “it brings a more relaxed feel to the office and is a good marker for the end of the working week.” But Elaine also thinks that stone washed and ripped jeans are a big no-no, saying that you “still need to look presentable and well turned out.”
So what jeans does she recommend? “Dark blue denim or black, high rise, straight, legged or boot cut for winter and an ankle crop with a pair of flats for summer.” She usually pairs her jeans with a “smart shirt (I tend to go white or black) and perhaps a water fall cardigan or a blazer” – to complete her professional denim outfit.
So next time it’s dress down Friday and the weekend is around the corner, just remember to keep calm, and wear denim…
A N E D U C A T I O N O N W E A R I N G J E A N S F O R T E A C H E R S
If you’re a school teacher, we understand that you’re a role model for your students, but that doesn’t mean you have to shun denim come mufti day. Education writer, former teacher and admirer of denim Laura McInerney, gave us a lesson on how you can stay top of the class in your favourite pair of jeans.
Whether it’s a school trip or a drop-down day, Laura says she usually goes for “a dark navy slim leg pair of jeans – the type that you’d wear for a family meal!” You’re winning with the versatility factor here – this sleek, stylish but respectful look is perfect for an outing with your class, or a Sunday roast with the in-laws.
Laura also thinks that “what you’re wearing can give off the signal that it’s a more relaxed day – the objective is that it’s a day off for the students.” So just remember, it’s okay to set the tone for a more informal feel when you don denim in front of your students.
A C E T H E S M A R T C A S U A L L O O K I N Y O U R S T A R T – U P O R M E D I A A G E N C Y
660,000 new start-ups were recorded in the UK in 2016, and 2018 is on track to be another record year. With an increase of start-up businesses full of entrepreneurs, creatives, problem-solvers, technology-embracers, risk-takers (the list goes on) – let’s face it, there’s bound to be a wardrobe to match.
We spoke to Jessie Healy, a Digital Media & Start-ups expert who has refined her start-up office look. Jessie tells us that because “it’s a creative environment, people are allowed to express their individuality a bit more,” hence why the dress code tends to be a little more relaxed than a more traditional office.
So, we asked Jessie for her advice about a great go-to outfit for this kind of workplace. She told us that if she’s meeting a regular client, she’ll “go for a more relaxed ‘mom jean’ fit, high waisted, rolled at the bottom and with trainers.” As for the tops? You can switch these up from blouses to jumpers – but you can never go wrong with a checked shirt.
Good impression? Check. Comfortable? Check. Stylish? Check.
J E A N S V S P Y J A M A S : T H E W O R K I N G F R O M H O M E C O N U N D R U M
Nearly a quarter of a million more people are working at home than ten years ago. But that doesn’t mean wearing pyjamas in bed whilst tending to a pesky spreadsheet, according to blogger and author Judy Heminsley – a home business aficionado who literally wrote the book on working at home. She tells us that “what you wear whilst working from home definitely has an effect on mindset, and I would feel sloppy wearing pyjamas or tracksuit bottoms.”
Judy goes on to say that “working from home clothes have to be practical, comfortable, and easily dressed up if I’m going out.” Because of this, she wears jeans nearly every day, and explains that “denim and stripy tops make me feel relaxed but business-like.” Her staple denim fit is either boyfriend or straight because they’re super trendy but super comfy. She’s a massive lover of Breton stripes, and for Skype calls she adds a contrasting scarf and earrings to jazz things up.
It’s time to write your own dress code for your home office, now we know that your favourite pair of jeans should appear at the top of the list!
So, there you have it. Whether you’re sat on the top floor of a banking skyscraper, or you’re at your kitchen table, denim can be a key part of your work outfit to help you stick to your office dress code – whilst still looking stylish and feeling ready to take on the day ahead.
Find your perfect pair of jeans for any working environment using our interactive denim dictionary.