As with all most things business casual-related, there seem to be debates, arguments and possibly even worse surrounding the question of whether jeans should be considered business casual attire.
More than anything, however, the rub seems to be the juxtaposition of a blazer, button-up and tie with denim. For some, that look – business casual context or not – is straight blasphemous. Sort of like a fashion mullet where you’ve got business up top and a party down below. (Blame J.Crew, that side.) Though for others, dressing up denim is de rigueur.
I can’t really recall when “dressing up denim” became a thing. It was before hashtags, that much I’m certain. However, I do remember that the very first time I thought jeans looked beyond awesome with a blazer was sometime in the mid- to late-1980s or early 1990s.
Van Halen won some award at the MTV video music awards and when they came up on stage, Eddie Van Halen was wearing the most amazing looking burgundy blazer with a pair of faded (and probably ripped) denim. Sadly, I can’t find evidence of this via Google image search, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
I was so smitten with and inspired by this pairing by one of my guitar heroes, that I dedicated a lot of time to finding a similar blazer. Which I eventually found. And wore in my candid high school senior yearbook photo, which I wager my friend Steve will graciously post in the comments.
Back to the question hand: can you wear jeans as business casual attire? At the risk of sounding like a broken record if you’ve been following our previous, similarly styled discussions, it depends. And it’s likely that you know whether or not this would be acceptable in your workplace.
However, for the unsure, I’m going to lay it out there: yes, you can wear jeans as business casual attire. You’ve just got to make sure they’re the right pair of jeans. Assuming you’ve done your homework here on HSS and know the requisite pairs of jeans you should already own, let’s drill down and get a little more specific.
Your business casual jeans should fit well. That’s a given. Your business casual jeans should be hemmed properly. We endorse no break or a slight break. The business casual blazer and jeans look is always done a terrible disservice by dudes just throwing a blazer on over their ratty, long, frayed leg-opening jeans.
However, most of all, the best pair of business casual jeans will be one that has a dark wash. Slim, dark denim is a wardrobe essential and whether you’re willing to invest in a serious pair of esoteric brand selvedge or will plunk down a little extra for an easier to find pair, you need to have them.
If ever there was a pair of jeans to “dress up” it is a pair of dark denim. With a complete lack of fade ad signs of wear, they complement a blazer very well. (Speaking of dark jeans as dressy, don’t forget that black denim is your in-between dress pant.)