Wearing jeans to the office has been an ongoing debate for years.
However, with the growing trend of distressed jeans and cut-off hems, a new debate is on the table: can the article of clothing provide the same level of professionalism that dress slacks, pencil skirts and dresses do?
As styles come and go, denim is classic and many women have found creative ways to make it work appropriate, if allowed. From the denim trouser, dark denim and colored denim to pairing it with a blazer, dressy blouse and heels.
“I’ve worked in offices that didn’t allow jeans, ever, and others that let us wear whatever as long as we were professional,” said Kelsi Duncan. “I never really minded either way.”
The 28-year-old St. Joseph woman is working on her master’s in business administration online while working temp office jobs in St. Joseph and Kansas City, Missouri.
“I like the fact that some places give me the freedom to wear what I want, but I completely get why there is a dress code at most places,” Duncan said.
She said many employees take advantage of a lax dress code and wear clothing best suited for cleaning the house, lounging watching Netflix or going to the gym. When you’re interacting with customers face to face, yoga pants and a T-shirt with flip flops shouldn’t be allowed, she said.
Many offices have even given in to denim by allowing “jeans day” or “casual Fridays.”
While a majority of companies have strict dress codes that ban jeans, some are progressing to meet a younger generation entering the workforce. Large employers like Goldman Sachs, Target and Virgin Atlantic have relaxed their dress code.
Duncan said the key is to dress according to the customer.
“For example, an employee shouldn’t wear their favorite Levis and (T-shirt), no matter how cute, to close a million-dollar real estate deal with the leaders of a designer yacht business,” she said. “However, that same employee could wear those Levis and a nice blouse to sell million-dollar farm equipment to even the richest farmer in the state.”
It’s all about common sense and a little taste.