Office Appropriate: Designer Denim

Depending on your lifestyle, denim is arguably the most important piece in your wardrobe. Even the professional world has become more accepting of casual work attire, allowing your favorite pair of blue jeans to be considered work appropriate.

Even if this is the case, that doesn’t mean all types of blue jeans are business appropriate. There is a fine line between a nice tailored and formal looking pair of blue jeans and a baggy outdated pair you’ve owned for the past 15 years. These jeans automatically scream unprofessional and could potentially make your bosses change the blue jean policy.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when searching for the perfect office appropriate pair of denim.

A Tailored Fit

The fit is by far the most important detail when it comes to finding a pair of jeans for the office. No matter, the color or design, if it doesn’t fit right, it won’t look right. When it comes to any clothing garment, the fit is crucial because otherwise it just looks like you’re borrowing someone else’s clothes or you aren’t sure what size you are.

A fit should be comfortable, but tailored at the same time. You don’t want any clothing item, that is restricting and doesn't allow you to move comfortably, but you also don’t want to be wearing anything that looks like it’s adding 15 lbs of weight to you.

Many men grew up purchasing jeans off the rack and have never heard of altering them. If you’re going for an office appropriate tailored look, you want a pair of jeans that look like they were custom made for you. Just like your suit pants!

The top designer denim brands have spent years and years perfecting their fit. The goal is to get the garment as close to perfect as possible. After finding that pair, it is important to team up with a tailor or alterations shop (we provide in house tailoring at Blaine's). Even if you think the pair of denim looks perfect, they can usually spot minor changes that would make a world of a difference.

If the fit is perfect, usually the length of the jeans needs to be tailored. Most designer jeans just come in 34” length, even though most men are a 32 or sometimes a 30””. With tailoring, you can always go shorter, but you can’t go longer so having a 34” length allows there to be a fit for majority of men.

Darker Wash

The next key to finding the right pair of jeans for the office is the color. Darker is always more professional. This is why suits typically come in black, shades of blue and gray.

We recommend a pair of dark navy blue jeans for the office. The darker the color is, the less the pant actually looks like a blue jean. There is nothing wrong with a traditional blue jean color, but  I would highly recommend staying away from a pair of light blue jeans for the office. A pair of light jeans are fine for hanging around the house or running errands on the weekend, but not for work meetings.

For a tailored dark wash denim, I always recommend our Paige jeans in the “Federal” cut. It is a slim straight cut, so it is tailored, but not extremely skinny. This jean looks great with a dress shirt and sport coat and is extremely comfortable. Although this cut typically fits the “average” man, it isn’t one size fits all so make sure to team up with a stylist to figure out your fit.

The Paige jeans have maximum stretch without stretching out and looking baggy. They are a fan favorite of the traveling businessman. Many men say it feels like your wearing pajama pants on the plane, but in reality you have a nice pair of formal designer denim on. That’s exactly what separates designer denim from traditional denim, the fabric and quality.

Fading and Whiskers

The more fading and whiskering the jeans have, the more casual they are going to be. Remember the point of office appropriate denim, the more formal the better. If you are pairing the jeans back to a blazer, you absolutely need to stay away from major fading and whiskering. Subtle whiskers and fading are okay if you want your pants to look more like denim and less like a dress pant.

The Paige “Federal” jean I previously mentioned follows these guidelines to a T. The pants don’t have any whiskering, but depending on the pair some may have subtle fading through the thigh. The fading adds a bit of dimension to the pant.


I was wondering if I even needed to include this in the article because this trend has been long gone, but I bet there are still some people out there that think it’s okay to rock this trend. I hope they end up reading this article, because office appropriate or not, embellished jeans should never happen.

If you aren’t yet clear on what I am referring to, embellished jeans have the designs on the back pockets either made out of stitching, or rhinestones. If you need more details or are just curious, then I recommend Googling, Rock and Republic jeans.

Perfect Office Denim

To wrap it up, find your fit and find your wash. A tailored jean, that looks like it was custom made for your body is exactly how you hold the power in the office, while being comfortable and rocking your new favorite pair of denim.

In addition to the fit, is the color. Like I previously mentioned, the darker the wash, the more formal the jean. If you’re interested in enhancing your denim game, since it is the new holy grail in a men’s wardrobe, check out our store, Blaine’s Fine Men’s Apparel,  in Montgomery, Ohio and talk with one of our in-store specialists.