Yes, Jeans Can Be Business Casual: Here’s How To Nail The Look

Plus our top picks for the best business casual jeans

Thanks to the increased flexibility in how we work, it’s increasingly ok to wear jeans to the office. In fact, compared to the sweatpants and pajamas we were all wearing while lounging around the home office during the pandemic (or was that just me?), jeans feel positively formal.

If your workplace allows you to wear jeans, there are plenty of ways you can style them. But remember, not all jeans are acceptable in a business-casual setting. Moving forward, you’ll find some guidelines that I think will get you on the right track toward wearing business casual jeans. I’ve also included some style inspiration at the end as well my top picks for business casual jeans.

Remember to Consider Your Unique Situation 👇

All offices are different. What works at a trendy design agency might not be acceptable at even the most open consultancy firm. With this in mind, be sure to follow the lead of others at your company.

Click this link to head straight to the list of the best business casual jeans

Are Jeans Business Casual?

Yes, but with some caveats. Jeans are acceptable in business casual settings as long as they look tidy and professional. You simply cannot wear a pair of your faded and torn rocker jeans at work.

To ace the business-casual dress code, you must balance the casual and professional elements in your outfit. This means choosing smart jeans and then balancing the rest of your outfit around them. 

What Kind of Jeans Are Business Casual?

Here are some tips to help you choose business-casual men’s jeans. TLDR? Smarter jeans in a dark color and tailored fit will tend to work best: avoid anything you’d also be happy washing the car in.

Avoid Overly Distressed Denim

Distressed or ripped denim is almost always too edgy for a professional setting. It is better to keep them restricted to casual or street-style outfits. Choose jeans without any patches and minimal or zero distressing and go for denim with a clean look instead. 

Choose Single Toned Jeans

Do not choose acid-washed or faded jeans for a work fit. Go for jeans in a single color to minimize the casual appeal. 

Jeans in darker tones are a foolproof choice for business-casual outfits, whereas light-colored jeans, when done right, work well to create a neutral, minimalistic aesthetic.

Avoid Extreme Cuts

You wouldn’t wear a baggy suit to work, so avoid loose-fit jeans in business-casual attire as well. Straight or slim-fit jeans are your safest bet for business casual. 

What to Wear with Jeans for a Business Casual Look?

Below are a few easy combinations you can make with a pair of business-casual men’s jeans. You’ll notice several of the same pieces appear repeatedly. These are classics of the business casual wardrobe and include shirts, blazers, plain knitwear, and shoes (yes, dress shoes can go with jeans). Use these images to inspire your own business casual fits.

A Blazer and Button-Down Shirt

Start by throwing a crisp button-down shirt over a pair of dark blue jeans. Tuck the shirt in and layer it with a neutral-colored blazer for a simple yet put-together outfit. Use a belt and oxford shoes to complete the look.

A Crew Neck Sweater 

A crew neck sweater makes a great pair with jeans. In the image above, the deep tones of the black sweater and jeans complement each other well, creating a laid-back but elegant look. Canvas shoes may not be the right choice for all business-casual settings, so choose formal boots or shoes instead and finish off with a decent watch. 

The Boardwalk Style Tips 👇

Knitwear goes great with jeans and is also a business casual staple. Choose plain, well-fitted designs in fine knit wool to keep things safe.

A Dress Shirt and Cable-Knit Sweater

Ralph Lauren

This is an iteration of the look above with the addition of a collared shirt underneath the sweater; It’s not the most exciting outfit, but it is for work after all. You can have some fun with the fit by a contrasting belt and shoes to take the look up a notch. The gray jeans show that you don’t always have to go for dark blue or black jeans.

A T-Shirt and Blazer 

Light Blue Jeans Brown Blazer
Photo: DepositPhotos

While a dress shirt and blazer combo is a go-to choice for creating a business-casual look with jeans, you can take things down a notch by pairing a well-fitted T-shirt with a blazer. One thing that makes the above look stand out is the minimalist sneakers, which are a good alternative to shoes in many business casual outfits.

A Grey Suit Jacket with Deep Blue Jeans

Gray Blazer White Shirt Indigo Jeans Brown Shoes
The Brdwlk

Create a sleek and contemporary fit by pairing your blue jeans with a crisp white dress shirt and throwing a modernly tailored grey suit jacket on top. Add contrasting oxford shoes for some extra flair.

An Oxford Shirt And Loafers

Black jeans dress shirt
The Brdwlk

If you want a relaxed and easy-going fit, go for a team-up of slim-fit black jeans with a smart oxford shirt. Make it more formal by layering it up with a blazer or keep it as is for a cool work fit. Go for loafers or oxfords to add a little polish to the otherwise casual look. 

With an Open Shirt And Brogues

Tan brogues jeans
Brodie Viessers

Pairing a shirt with dark blue jeans and shoes is perhaps the simplest business casual outfit you can get. It works because the lilac color of the well-fitted shirt goes will with the dark-blue jeans. I like how the model in the image above has clearly thought about the colors used in the entire outfit down to the socks.

Best Business Casual Jeans For Men: 4 Stylish Options

Here are my top picks for business casual jeans for men. Each pair fits the requirements of a clean design and a tailored fit. Hit any of the links to go to the store and buy a pair for yourself.

Massimo Dutti Slim Fit Blue-Black Jeans

Massimo Dutti Jeans
Massimo Dutti

I absolutely love the Massimo Dutti aesthetic for clothes that perfectly get the blend between formality and cool. These business casual jeans are the perfect example thanks to unique blue/black color and the slim tailored fit.

SuitSupply Off-White 5 Pocket Jeans

SuitSupply Jeans

SuitSupply is an obvious choice for business casual and their 5-pocket jeans are a perfect take on the style thanks to their clean lines and tailored fit. The jeans come in multiple colors, but these white ones are an interesting take on business casual jeans. These mid blue jeans are another stylish option.

Uniqlo Stretch Selvedge Slim-Fit Jeans

Uniqlo selvedge denim

Dark slim-fit selvedge jeans are an obvious choice for business casual. Uniqlo’s take on the style is a comfortable and affordable option.

Bonobos Extra Stretch Travel Jeans

Bonobos Jeans

Bonobos stretch travel jeans have the clean lines and tailored fit we’re looking for in business casual jeans. The extra stretch ensures you’ll stay comfortable from morning coffee to after work drinks.

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Photo of author

Duncan Elder

Duncan is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Boardwalk. He's a menswear writer who has spent the last 15 years developing his own sense of style, which lies at the cross-section of mid-noughties indie and Uniqlo-inspired minimalism.

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