It is not always clear whether jeans are acceptable or banned in the workplace. Black jeans are often in an especially gray area, as they toe the line between formal and casual.
However black jeans can be a welcome addition to a men’s business casual wardrobe. To make black jeans workplace acceptable, choose the right pair and accompany them with the perfect attire to match.
Choose the Right Black Jeans
Not all black jeans are created equal. When choosing a pair of black jeans for a business casual workplace, keep the following in mind.
The Perfect Fit
If you are wearing black jeans to the office, they need to fit properly. Look for the following when finding your fit:
Black jeans should be hemmed to the proper length for a clean look. The hem at its shortest should rest near the ankle, while at its longest, the hem should rest on the top of the shoes. There should be very little to no break in the pant leg.
The fabric should be taut in the legs, but not so tight that you feel it pulling when you move or bend your knees. In the seat, the fabric should be loose enough to be comfortable when you sit, but not so loose that it is baggy when you stand.
In some cases, you may need to have the pants tailored to achieve the perfect fit in both the legs and the seat.
The waist should sit around the mid to upper waist, but not below. This is slightly lower than what would be expected when wearing dress pants. The pants should fit comfortably around the waist and not require a belt to hold them up.
When choosing black jeans to wear to a business casual office, there are several key cuts to choose from. Use the following guidelines to find a look that fits your personal style.
Skinny Black Jeans
Tight jeans are the most casual style of black jeans, but if dressed up with the right shirt and shoes can be a good fit for more casual offices.
Slim Fit Black Jeans
Slim fit jeans provide the most modern look, making them a common choice for black jeans in the workplace. They can easily be dressed up for the office but also dressed down on the weekends. This versatility makes them a good addition to any man’s wardrobe.
Straight Black Jeans
Straight cut black jeans provide a more traditional look that may be helpful in offices with a more strict dress code.
What to Wear with Black Jeans
Black jeans are a great in-between pants choice for the office. While not as formal as more traditional slacks, they also are not as casual as typical blue denim. Choosing the right items to compliment the black denim in the office will help secure their place as a business casual look.
When choosing a shirt to accompany black jeans to the office, opt for a slightly more formal look as the denim will dress down your attire. Pairing black jeans with a crisp dress shirt and/or blazer is one way to provide a clean look that is suitable for the office.
When wearing a dress shirt, ensure that it remains tucked throughout the day. If you struggle to keep your shirt tucked in, shirt stays may be helpful.
In addition, adding a quality belt or tie can help bring the look together.
When choosing what shoes to wear with black jeans, start by looking for a shoe made with quality materials. As black jeans are more casual than traditional work slacks, a shoe made of quality leather or suede in a sophisticated design will help add a professional touch.
Choose a blucher, monk strap, or loafer in a neutral-colored leather to add a formal spin on your attire.
If your office allows for a more casual look, a leather sneaker or slip-on could dress down your look without losing the class.
For a full breakdown of which shoes work best in business casual offices, see our recent blog.
When are Black Jeans Not Appropriate
While black jeans can be a great choice for the office, there are some styles that will never be appropriate.
Ripped Black Jeans
Your black jeans should look sleek and clean. While ripped black jeans are stylish, they’re too in-formal or grungy for a business casual work environment. Keep those pants in your closet, but out of the office.
Faded Black Jeans
Due to the dark wash of black jeans, it is easy for their color to fade over time. Some black jeans may even be sold pre-faded to help achieve that washed out look. However, the faded trend is not appropriate for the office.
Watch your black jeans for fading over time. Once they begin to fade, take them out of your office rotation. Add them to your weekend wardrobe instead.
Baggy or ill-fitting Black Jeans
One of the most important factors when choosing black jeans for the workplace is the fit. The black jeans you wear to the office should be the best fitting out of those in your closet. If your pants are baggy or in other ways ill-fitting, they are not appropriate for the workplace.
Are Black Jeans Acceptable for the Office?
Black jeans are often a great choice for a business casual office. Pairing the perfect pair of black jeans with the right shirt and quality shoes will help them to fit in the workplace, while still showcasing their wearer’s personal sense of style.