It’s the end of a long work week— a great day to take a longer lunch with your favorite colleagues, catch up on some emails, and maybe even manage a pre-5 p.m. escape to get the weekend fun started as early as possible. So, what should you wear to fully embrace the T.G.I.F. vibe?
Jeans are a great option, if your company has a “casual Friday” caveat to its dress code. After a week in pants or dresses—or whatever is part of your usual work wardrobe—the easygoing fit of denim is a welcome change in routine. Still, you might not want to get too casual—depending on where you work and your office culture, a laidback look (think: ripped jeans or athleisure) could undermine your credibility.
But how do you know where to draw the line? When it comes to jeans, there is an enormous spectrum of formality, ranging from deconstructed denim to structured denim that’s just a tad less dressy than your Monday-through-Thursday work trouser.
Here’s how to choose what jeans to wear on Fridays, based on where you work and your own personal style.
WHAT ARE THE BEST JEANS FOR A FORMAL OFFICE?
In recent years, more offices are embracing casual clothing—even when it’s not Friday. If you work in finance, corporate law, or another field that is steadfast in its commitment to buttoned-up attire, though, the expectation of a casual Friday is a more dressy style of denim.
Fortunately, you can still find jeans that are office-appropriate. Structured denim tends to have a more polished feel, and thanks to sculpting, it’s figure-flattering, too. White House Black Market’s Sculpt line not only shows your curves to your best advantage, but it’s also extremely comfortable, too, thanks to built-in stretch.
If you’re unsure whether your jeans will pass the muster in a super-formal corporate climate, add a blazer and accessorize with a closed-toe heel to be on the safe side. A statement necklace or scarf can further elevate your look. (They’re also easy to remove, if you arrive in the office and see a sea of blue jeans and tennis shoes.)
CHOOSING COMFORTABLE CASUAL FRIDAY JEANS
If you work somewhere less formal, you have many more options for casual Friday. You can manage to look relaxed, stylish and work-appropriate—if you choose the right jeans. Since fit and feel will influence how you look in your jeans, gravitate towards denim that has some flattering stretch, and is made from soft fabric.
White House Black Market’s Everyday Soft line is a good place to start. These jeans come in a variety of leg shapes, from skinny to straight to flare, and are available in rises ranging from high to low, so you can find a pair that’s most flattering to your body type. You’ll also find plenty of options to express your unique personality—whether that means wearing a black rinse, a bright color, or choosing distressed or embroidered denim.
Make sure the pair you choose passes the “sit” test—can you wear them while in the same stagnant position at your desk for hours, and feel comfortable? Denim with stretch that’s exactly the right size is key.
How do you style denim so that it’s got those Friday feels? Consider a soft tee or sweater, and some stylish kicks, like tennis shoes, mules, or sandals. If you normally go to work wearing makeup and blown out hair, let Friday be your day to go bare-faced, with just a bit of tinted moisturizer and lip balm. Loose curls, a neat ponytail or a fun braid will complete your casual Friday look.
CAN YOU WEAR DISTRESSED DENIM TO WORK?
Ripped jeans aren’t a great idea for even the most laid-back offices—most of us would not feel “ready to work” in something so uber-casual—but that doesn’t mean that with the right styling, you can’t look polished wearing distressed denim. This term refers to jeans that have been thoughtfully altered to look worn in strategic places. It’s a look that is inspired by edgy, torn denim, yet with more structure and appropriate coverage than jeans that have literally fallen apart from being worn so frequently. With the most stylish destructed denim options, you’ll note the fraying is in all the right places; the rest of the fabric is soft-yet-sturdy stretch denim.
To look professional while wearing distressed denim, choose a top and shoes that compensate for the informality of your jeans, like a blazer and boots or heels. If you do want to pair your jeans with something decidedly casual—say, a vintage concert tee—elevate the look with accessories, like a belt, or top it with a neat cardigan (which you can take off at happy hour).
Because it’s sophisticated, distressed denim pairs nicely with metals and leather. Add some hoop earrings and pop on a moto jacket for a city-slick look that emanates Friday vibes.
Casual Fridays aren’t going anywhere, and with so many sophisticated denim options, you have plenty of options for what to wear on this last day of the work week. Cheers to the weekend!