“I’m all done with suits.” I can still clearly hear the response spoken in a networking conversation several years ago.
For many, that may very well be the case, as societal choices and dress policies have relaxed throughout the years. It unfortunately has left many in a conundrum of what really is appropriate to wear to work, and even more so when considering denim in the workplace. In the “I’m all done with suits” scenario, she most certainly should be done with a suit. Having moved from a corporate position to working as a barista in a coffee shop! Unless worn as a uniform and part of the company brand, a suit would not have been the correct selection in work attire.
With many organizations having a casual Friday dress policy that includes denim, and a few companies adopting denim as a daily dress option, follow these tips to denim ‘done well’ in the workplace.
Frayed Vs. Worn
Worn denim, with thinning, ripping, fraying inner thigh, knee or hems are best kept for casual and non-workplace dress. Although certainly on trend, ‘frayed’ denim may or may not be an option for the work place. Creative to casual manufacturing industries may best suit a frayed denim look. Check your dress policy for approval however.
Premium or Not
Premium denim (PD) is often a heavier more durable jean stock. It allows for additional treatments that may occur to the fabric, such as destroying or aging (fraying). Additional distinctions in PD include stylized stitching that sets the brand apart from other “premium” and “non-premium” brands, distinguishable labels, and contoured cuts for better fit and in a variety of fits to cater to different body types. Since PD brands cost more, meeting your budget needs or finding a fit that suits you may answer your question as to wearing “premium” or “non-premium” brands. Best options in work wear denim, whether premium or not, should be visually clean and free of distractions.
Complete your look as you would any other professional business casual ensemble. Pairing your denim first with a complementary top or shirt, then a cardigan or novelty jacket in a refined fabric and Classic style. This will give you garments that easily mix and match together, with denim or the occasional needed dress pant, creating multiples of ensembles from only a few garments.
Workplace denim looks need to be ‘finished.’ By that I mean that the garments are worn along with a current styled haircut, natural finished make-up application, and coordinating footwear and accessories that complete your ensemble. Finally, in navigating the denim decision, always consider the industry that you work in, the people that you work with and encounter, the environment that you work or meet in, and lastly your own career and personal brand aspirations.
Kelly Duggan is an Image Consultant specializing in executive and personal image development, etiquette and communication skills. She is a certified member of the Association of Image Consultants International. Contact Kelly at: www.kellyduggan.com.