Office Politics: How to Wear Jeans to Work and Get Away With It

If casual workwear is your MO, you have Hawaii to thank for that. Back in 1966, the Hawaiian Fashion Guild needed a quick fix to boost sales for its iconic floral shirts. So it came up with “Aloha Fridays,” which allowed all employees to wear Hawaiian shirts on the job at the end of each work week. Eventually, the laid-back look became tradition and made its way to the mainland in the 90s under a new name — Casual Fridays.  

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Despite the popularity of dressed-down work days, professionals and their employers weren’t exactly sure how to navigate this new sartorial territory. That’s when Levi Strauss & Co. seized an opportunity. Inspired by Hawaii’s “Aloha Fridays,” the brand promoted its Dockers trousers, which were declining in sales, in a handy-dandy styling how-to called “Guide to Casual Business Wear.” In 1992, the pamphlet was mailed to 25,000 HR departments and casual workwear spread like wildfire. In just three years, 9 out of 10 companies allowed their staff to dress informally, either on Fridays or full time, which was up from only two-thirds in 1992. Dockers even sponsored office fashion shows and provided a help hotline for “dress code emergencies.”

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And yet we’re all still a little perplexed about how to dress casually at the office. To clear up the confusion, we’ve tackled the biggest workwear dilemma of all: Jeans. Click on the gallery above to find out how to wear jeans to work and still look professional. 

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Images: Getty