How to Wear Jeans to the Office on Jeans Friday

jeans Friday2017 Update: I still stand by this basic advice on how to wear jeans to the office on Jeans Friday — but you may want to check out our latest discussion on what tops to wear with jeans to the office.

We’ve heard from a few readers about their offices allowing jeans to be worn on Fridays.  As one reader put it, “I am a bit confused, however, about what type of shirt/top I should wear with the jeans.”

It’s an interesting dilemma — on the one hand, yay jeans!  You feel more comfortable, you can go out after work, and jeans need to be washed less than a lot of trousers.  On the other hand — yay, sartorial conundrum.

Pictured: These bootcut jeans from Gap are now sold out! You may want to check out our 2017 discussion on the most-loved denim at Nordstrom.

My initial thoughts on how to wear jeans to the office on Jeans Friday are thus:

  • Ripped jeans should never be worn to the office (the possible exception being on the weekend, but never if you’re working with other people on the weekend — and never ripped anywhere but the knee)
  • To me, extensively faded jeans seem a bit more casual — the darker, more solid-colored the jean, the better for the office
  • Try to wear niceish shoes with your jeans — not sneakers.  We love to wear boots with jeans; if a pump is casual enough then it’s a nice way to elevate the look.  Colorful flats, or other heeled shoes (wedges, Mary-Janes, T-straps) also go well with jeans, particularly with a stacked pump.
  • Before you leave the house, crouch down in your jeans.  How’s the situation in the back?  If “not good,” add a belt.  If  the answer is the same and you’re already wearing a belt, switch pants.
  • OK, finally, our reader’s question — what tops.  Our $.02 for professional-looking wear includes:
    • a cotton button-down top — maybe worn belted, maybe (if it’s fitted) worn untucked — maybe with a sweater vest on top
    • a twinset
    • a matchy look, like a gray t-shirt with a gray boyfriend cardigan (or, hey, black on black)
    • a blazer, either with a t-shirt beneath it or a blouse

Readers, what are your thoughts on what to wear to work on jeans Friday?  Can you wear jeans to the office?  And what do you wear with them, if you can?  (And, which brand of jeans do you prefer?)

Picture via Stencil.

If your law firm, accounting firm, or otherwise conservative office has a "Jeans Friday" (either as part of Casual Friday or Summer Friday), it can be really confusing what to wear WITH your jeans. Which work outfits look professional but appropriately casual? We answered a reader's question about jeans Friday.


  1. I could wear jeans to work at my consulting job (pre-law school) and I would usually pair them with a nice vneck or cardigan, with a matching tshirt underneath (ie dark gray tshirt with dark gray sweater, black tshirt with black sweater). My jeans were always dark, trouser-cut. Back then I wore heels all the time, so I would have probably worn heeled boots or some sort of maryjane or wedge. These days I probably prefer the flatness and sleekness of ballet flats with jeans, but I can’t wear jeans to work.

  2. falnfenix :

    Honestly, I’m thankful for my current workplace. We wear jeans, t-shirts, sweats…you name it. As long as employees are decent, they’re OK to work. One of our lab techs regularly shows up in PJs, old (clean, unripped) t-shirts, and flops/Birkenstocks.

    I realize this doesn’t work in every office, but it’s certainly a nice perk here.

    • When someone shows up looking half-way decent in my office, they either have a job interview or a doctor’s appointment.

      • falnfenix :

        Yes, that, or there’s a conference and a faculty member is presenting. Otherwise, it’s come-as-you-are (but try to shower).

  3. I work as a consultant and can get away with jeans in the office on days when we aren’t traveling. I prefer trouser-leg jeans, dark wash, with flat shoes. I agree that low rise jeans are definitely not appropriate for anyone old enough to be out of college. I love button down shirts with jeans. And a nice belt is a necessity! In fact, I would like a recommendation for a well-made, versatile belt. Anyone have any suggestions?

    • Hello DND
      I don’t know if this is available in the US but I own a marvellous black leather belt from Massimo Dutti and it less than 6O dollars :)
      Hope this helps

  4. I agree with the dark wash, trouser leg jean advice. There are some great tailored pants that look like denim but actually are cotton/elastine, fitted in a trouser style with sharp front creases. They’re not easy to find but can turn up in Nordstrom’s store brands, Tahari and Inc (Macy’s store brand). These “jeans” have the comfort of the original with tailored style.

    Although my office has casual Fridays, we’re pretty corporate, so I always team my jeans with a jacket, with a turtleneck, cotton blouse or shell underneath. The jacket can be very creative in style, but it’s the piece that puts a jeans look into the BigLaw/corporate context.

  5. I am an attorney at a small firm where we wear jeans on Fridays. I have found that higher waisted jeans are ideal for both “the situation in the back” and to prevent muffin top. My favorite are Joe’s Jeans in the Muse cut, which have a really nice shape and look awesome with heels. On top, I typically wear a thin sweater or cardigan. Sometimes a blazer. And some sort of necklace. I think that as long as you look pulled together (no ratty tees, etc.), an office which is ok with jeans on a friday should be ok with the rest of your outfit.

  6. I’m an attorney at a small firm that goes pretty casual if we’re not meeting clients or going to court. Yesterday it was dark trouser jeans with an ivory angora turtleneck, brown herringbone flats, and pearl drop earrings. I like the black cashmere turtleneck variation too.

  7. I am an attorney at a small, relatively conservative firm. We wear jeans on Fridays and first of all, I have to agree with I in that Joe’s Jeans in the Muse cut are perfect for the office, especially in a darker wash. I always wear dark washed jeans with a blazer or lightweight cardigan in the spring and summer and a nice cashmere sweater in the winter. I typically wear my jeans with colorful ballet flats in the spring and summer and flat or stacked heel boots in the fall and winter. Since my office is conservative business casual the rest of the week (unless we have meetings or clients are in the office), I tend to err on the side of “from the waist up, you would never know that it is casual Friday.” I have even received compliments from female partners about how “put-together” I look on Fridays.

  8. I work in a small office with a flexible yet fairly professional dress code, so I generally only wear full suits when I have to go to court. I rarely wear jeans to work, and when I do, I prefer to wear them with a suit jacket and heels or boots. My boss wears jeans sometimes (more often than me actually, but I dress more casually in other ways), and he’ll often pair them with what would otherwise be professional wear – suit jacket, buttondown shirt, tie and shiny polished men’s business shoes (whatever they’re called). Kind of like what DLS said, you can wear jeans but “from the waist up,” you’d never know it was a casual office.

  9. We never wear jeans here, except on rare Fridays, and I don’t work on Fridays. I’m not disappointed, I never had nice-looking enough jeans that weren’t too tight to wear to work when my firms did have jeans days.

  10. I work in DC, in a biglaw firm where jeans days are hard to come by – we treasure them when we have them! However, even when I’m wearing the denim, that doesn’t mean I throw on a drastically different outfit. My jeans are always dark denim (much like the pictured example, from the Gap), trouser-style. My favorite pair is a little long so I usually wear some heels I’d wear any other day of the week… I have an adorable pair of burgundy suede pumps that look great under the dark blue of the denim.

    Top-wise, same thing applies as any other business-casual day. I have lots of v-neck sweaters, cardigans, button-downs, etc. I’ve also done a chocolate brown cropped/shrunken jacket before with a tank underneath, as well as some of the longer cardigans.

  11. Ripped jeans ever in the office? What IS the world coming to….

    I like what everyone has said so far. Very tasteful–except the PJs one. Dark wash for sure. Very flattering on everyone!

  12. My favorite jeans-on-Friday look is dark trouser jeans with a button down. I usually will add some slightly flashier than normal jewelry, too. Plain heels or ballet flats.

    This probably goes without saying for most, but no skinny jeans! I worked at a law firm as a student over the summer, and one of my fellow summers wore skinny jeans and high heels on casual Friday. It was a cute outfit and she looked great, but the outfit seemed very inappropriate and out of place.

    • I think it depends. On fridays, I sometimes wear skinny jeans tucked into brown riding boots, paired witha white button down and a herringbone jacket. But I agree the joan jett/skinny rocker jeans look really wouldn’t work at the office.

    • Yea, I think it depends on the firm, the person and the jean. Plenty of people wear skinny jeans at my firm, and they look totally fine with a nice conservative blouse/long cardigan combo.

  13. divaliscious11 :

    We wear jeans on Friday – dark wash is best. If there is any chance of heading to the C-suite, I pass, or I may wear a dark denim wrap dress I own. My favorite outfit in the world is a nice pair of jeans and a cashmere tee. We are business casual so we have some flexibility. I have worn tennis shoes, but nice dressy ones, not just nike or something for running, but the usual is like a driving shoe or a wedge heel.

  14. I use jeans days as a chance to wear my fun, colorful (but still tasteful and office-appropriate) flats. I have all my work pants hemmed to heel heighth, so I don’t get to wear flats that often to work, but I can wear some of my jeans with flats.

    I agree with the other commenters – dark, plain rinses, trouser leg are best. No rips, and no fancy fading pattenrs. And it should go without saying, but NOT TOO TIGHT. Just waiting to see someone in my office rock jeggings at our next jeans day :)

  15. I wear jeans to the office, usually paired with a top from Anthropologie, Free People, Banana Republic, Gap, etc. Anything from a t-shirt to a nice blouse, though I dislike cardigans and button downs so I don’t usually wear those. The one problem I have come across is that jeans wear on nice shirts something awful – the metal from the button creates a shiny spot and the zipper sometimes creates little holes right around that area. I have several really nice (and pricey) tops that have little holes because of this.

  16. I’m sorry that I just cannot find a link to them on Gap online, but last week bought a really great pair that I found at the store. I think they are from the same 1969 line, but can’t find them exactly on the website. They were the same price, I think- 69.50. They are a very dark wash and almost trouser-like. They have small gold buttons on the pockets on the back. I bought them specifically for casual Fridays at the Court. (Since Judge likes to wear jeans to work on Fridays, law clerks gets to too!). The cut is really great and very flattering (even on my substantial hips). And they look more professional to me than any other jeans I’ve seen lately. They seem to work great with a white or pinstripe button down and flats. Or a fitted courdoury or houndstooth jacket. (It

    • Hi there – I bought the same pants in the fall of 2009, and REALLY want another pair, but I can’t find them anywhere online! Did you ever have any luck?

  17. Boot cut, dark wash 7s, (or trouser fit, higher waisted, called Goldsign, I guess that’s the maker?) white t-shirt by Petit Bateau, blazer or cashmere cardigan, Manolo ballet flats. Over. And over. And over:). Plus a diamond on a chain. And Marc Jacobs bag.

    • divaliscious11 :

      Goldsign are the best! Hands own favorite for me. I have in boot cut and trouser cut!!

      • Oh great. Affirmation. Thanks! I just went to a boutique in SF known for having great jeans and let them hand me pairs until I found one I liked…

  18. Could Corporette also do a post about how to wear sweater dresses? Options for shoes, boots, tights, etc.? At my office, I could probably wear sweater dresses on Fridays and would love to hear some options.

  19. I don’t like jean day. It never fails that I end up needing to do something or someone comes in and I feel underdressed. My alternative – khaki pants with a kicking denim blazer I got from Eddie Bauer. I’m not wearing jeans but the denim blazer doesn’t make me look like I stand out from everybody else. And I never feel like I am dressed inappropriately.

  20. operaghost :

    I looooove casual Fridays at my firm. In the summer I wear Seven Jeans with ballet flats and a nice top, and in the winter I usually wear a darker wash trouser jeans with a turtleneck and my cowboy boots. I just bought a really cute Theory blazer that I can’t wait to wear on Fridays!

  21. I have been looking for the “perfect” pair of trouser jeans for a while. Every pair I try does not work. I do have a pair of dark 7FAMs (Dojos, I think) that are kinda sorta there but I think the logo on the pockets makes them less conservative. Any recommendations?

    • I love my BR wide-leg, dark, trouser-style jeans…I wear them so much (outside the office) that they are now noticeably lighter at the knees – I’ve had to retire them. I will be buying a new pair as soon as get the green light from the budget man (husband). I hope I can still find them – I bought the pair I have now on sale last year!

  22. Almost everyone I know looks great in a pair of Gap dark wash jeans. I pair my bootcut style with a tucked in button down shirt (often a striped polo oxford) that’s fitted to the body and a nice leather belt. Shoes have ranged from brown boots to red heels. I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve received wearing this outfit. In the winter I’ll layer a sweater vest or sweater over the button down and jewelry is usually small pearls and a watch.

  23. Brownie D. Light :

    When I was a partner at a biglaw firm, the women partners NEVER wore jeans, even if it was a casual Friday, a special denim day, or anything else. In that culture, only secretaries and associates could indulge in denim, and it was just understood that women partners (or senior associates aspiring to partnership) never got off their game that way.

    As a solo practitioner, however, I wore jeans whenever I had to appointments or court dates. Always dark denim, bootcut leg (and always ironed), maybe teamed with a cashmere turtleneck, blazer, and boots with heels. I always made certain my makeup and hair were flawless, so I never looked too casual, even with the jeans. You never know when someone will drop by the office, so you always have to look like a lawyer, even if you’re casually dressed. The point is to convey competence and authority.

  24. We can wear jeans every day at my place (government lawyers). A lot of people go very casual (zip up fleece), but I wear a shell/tank/turtleneck and blazer. I also wear heels exclusively at work, so I think that balances it out and makes it look like I put some effort in.

    As for brands, I am sticking with Joe’s Jeans these days, but may check out some Gap jeans to add something to the rotation that are less expensive.

  25. To DND for a versatile belt.
    I love my Hermes belts—they make jeans instantly classy and pretty; look great with every suit and is timeless.

    • Thanks for the recommendation! I only wish I could tell you that my jaw didn’t drop when I saw the price. It’s definitely too expensive for me, but I did see some nice belts at Banana Republic that I might try (for $38-$49). I seem to be switching from AT to BR these days.

  26. millelilly :

    I am heavy, and I find that jeans from Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt and Lane Bryant work for the office. I do have to have the Lane Bryant jeans hemmed, though. I always pick a dark wash, and either trouser or boot-cut jeans. A sweater-set or t-shirt sweater works well on top. I have to cover a tattoo on my chest, so my struggle is finding tops that aren’t too revealing. I don’t wear much jewelry, but it can work to keep your look sophisticated in a very formal office.

  27. I work in a business casual corporate setting and we have jeans day on Fridays. For me, it’s usually dark wash, straight or boot cut, mid rise with button down (fitted, untucked)/DvF or similar wrap tops etc. No tees and yes, I do make it a point to wear jewellery (even if it’s just pearl studs and a watch).

    I have to say though that casual Fridays are abused by most of the younger women (i.e. below 30) who turn up in minis, bermudas, racer backs, strappy camis and the like! Then again, it’s not the US so I guess life at work is less formal (though I’d never dress like that & I’m just 35!)

  28. Oh, I forgot to add, for those of you in NYC, do try Mavi Jeans (you can google it for the address) – they are FAB and the prices are pretty nice too!

  29. I am interested in recommendations for affordable, dark wash jeans for an average height/weight with a small waist and a little bigger in the hips (as the result of birthing a few kids). Is Gap the “go-to” store for women that aren’t built like little girls?

    • (See my comment on the Gap 1969 jeans above). I checked them out last night. They say that they are the “curvy” on the tag. Still not finding the exact pair I bought in the store online. But maybe the other “curvys” shown online are just as good. Let’s just say my hips are disproportiontely large compared to my waist. And these are by far one of the more flattering pairs of jeans I’ve tried. I also like Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors sometimes. I think Tommy Hilfiger boot cuts fit well most of the time. And those can be on sale at Macy’s alot! But sometimes they don’t have really dark washes. And Michael Kors seems to like to put big M’s on the backside.

    • I highly recommend Jackson cut Banana Republic jeans. I’m curvy with a smaller waist and wider hips, and they fit great!! No gap at the waist and conservative dark washes. Looks good, sometimes have a bit of stretch.

    • Anonymous :

      Just bought two pair of tommy Hilfiger – Hope from Macy’s and love them. I have a small waist but big thighs and these fit great. They have a super dark wash that’s perfect for the office.

  30. Hello ladies
    What I did last week is that I wore black Levi’s Jeans (really black, high waist and ow so comfy) and a white tank top with a very classic boyish white shirt with black stripes
    It was awesome, but we have jeans day only once every quarter so I enjoy it to the max!!

  31. Can anyone comment on the quality of Ann Taylor Loft jeans? I’ve never bought them before, but they’re cheap (only $59) and I can’t really afford expensive designer jeans right now. Any suggestions on other cheap, fashionable, good-quality jeans?

    • I would recommend not buying the ATL curvy jeans unless you are truly curvy– I bought a pair (b/c my hips are wide and I thought that constituted as curvy, and I liked them in the fitting room), but when I wore them a few times I realized that they are for women with a fuller stomach too. They are also on the shorter side. I’m 5’9″, and I can wear mine with flats but definitely nothing higher. I am going to give the Gap jeans a try myself–the ones pictured on the main C page, and maybe save up for a pair of Joe’s Jeans (Muse cut, Halle wash)– thanks for those recs!

    • I have a pair of Loft jeans that have stood up well – they are almost 2 years old and have very little signs of wear. Gap jeans are about the same price and are pretty good qualitiy too. Both are cut for actual women with figures, in my opinion.

      Nordstrom Rack and Off 5th sometimes have great designer jeans for under $60. I also can usually find Lucky and Calvin Klein jeans for crazy cheap (under $40) at TJ Maxx or Marshall’s, although I know some people don’t like shopping at those kind of stores.

  32. Erica Foley :

    Great advice all around, I think! I’m an attorney in a large firm, and we do occasionally have jeans days on Fridays. I’m actually partial to wearing a nice bodysuit top with jeans. Advantages: no possibility of showing skin or (eek) the top of your underwear if you need to bend over or crouch down, doesn’t become untucked and just looks very polished all over. Disadvantages: it’s hard to find nice bodysuits and you look absolutely awful if the jeans are too tight in the waist.

  33. My favorite trouser jeans came from The Limited. Nice dark washes, and some of the cuts are more conservative. Many of their trouser jeans don’t have bling-y logos and stuff all over the butt, too. Mine are unmarked, nice button-flap back pockets, slash pockets in the front, tab waist, and long enough for heels (that one’s hard for me, since I’m tall and a bit anemic). I get compliments on them all the time. Best part is I got them on sale for about $35! Jeans there usually run in the $70-80 range, so they’re not too bad even full price.

  34. How to wear jeans to the office?

    On Saturday.

  35. Haha. Here in Silicon Valley we can wear jeans almost every day. Just no lederhosen. That’s only for the genius geeks. They can go naked if they want. We just close their doors…

  36. Once in a while, we have “casual for a cause” days — and I wear dark wash jeans, boot cuts, and always with a sweater or nice blouse and always throw a blazer. As a matter of fact, some of the jeans that I have almost look like my regular black trousers (I like the Tahari jeans). And when I need to see clients/customers–I skip the jeans all together. I wear jeans maybe once or twice a year max.

  37. On Fridays I love my jean trousers, I pair it with a pair of sling back pumps, a frilly blouse and a black cardigan.

  38. I love Joe’s Jeans, the Provocateur (their petite cut) since I’m 5’2 in a dark wash. I wear them with the 3/4 length scoop neck tees from Eddie Bauer (I’m not overly well-endowed in front so I can wear a scoop without it being too much skin). Blazer on top completes the look with a pair of cute colored flats.

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