In the last few decades what is considered acceptable office dress code has changed considerably; according to a 2016 survey released by OfficeTeam, half of senior managers believe their workers wear less formal clothing than they did five years ago.
For better or worse, notions of ‘acceptable work attire’ are changing and more people are wearing denim to work. Even Starbucks have released a lookbook that references selvedge denim as suitable attire.
Does this mean denim is in danger of becoming the new workplace uniform staple, synonymous with a point collar shirt?
Almost certainly not. But it might mean it’s slightly more difficult to stand out in an ocean of denim. Following these simple rules will help you do just that.
1: Buy quality denim
Low-end denim companies typically make fits that work for everyone. The issue is that, like any off the rack clothing, although it may fit you, it might not fit you well. Denim comes in all shapes and sizes, and it is important you find a pair of jeans that compliments your body shape.
According to a 2000 study into dress codes and productivity, a good pair of jeans can be the difference between doing a good job and a bad one: “The way you look directly affects the way you think, feel, and act… When you dress down, you sit down, and you’re not as effective” . Buying quality denim will mean you are bound to find a perfect pair of jeans for work.
2: Look after your jeans
A good quality pair of jeans will last a long time, and therefore offset the extra cost. However, this is only the case if you look after them properly. Most damage done to jeans is not done at work, but in the washing machine.
There are lots of theories on how you should or shouldn’t wash jeans, from the freezer technique cited by Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh to the idea that you should never wash your jeans. Although many myths persist about jeans, machine washes are more likely to lead to fading. To tackle this you should wait around 6 to 7 months before washing a new pair of raw denim jeans, and when you do finally wash them, be sure to do so by hand.
In their denim care guide, the jean experts at Mr. Black state that hand soaking is one of the best ways to wash jeans. This is because you can control the intensity and temperature of the wash and “spare your jeans an aggressive spin cycle”.
3: Choose a dark wash
There are a whole host of different styles, shapes and colours to wear. There is a pair of jeans to suit everyone, and what might be right for you may not be right for some, however certain styles are smarter than others.
For example, jeans with ‘fashionable’ cuts and rips probably may not give the right impression in the office. O creative director Adam Glassman suggests choosing dark wash jeans for professional settings. He also adds denim trousers, shirts, jackets and pencil skirts can all look professional, however he warns workers off denim shorts, ripped denim, and the so-called ‘Texas tuxedo’. Glassman also suggest choosing a pair of straight-cut jeans, as opposed to anything too skinny or too baggy.
It’s not just important to ’dress the part’ but to find a look that helps you feel comfortable. On this subject, British fashion designer Ozwald Boateng told the BBC that “if you’re wearing clothes where you’re confident in them, and you’re enjoying them, that will reflect on the way you treat everyone around you.”