There’s something deeply chic and sophisticated about a pair of non-distressed, dark-wash, wide-leg jeans. Not only do these babies give legs for days, but also the dark, clean lines exude a polished vibe that lends itself well to a professional setting. I basically think of dark denim flares/wide-legs/whatever as trousers, not jeans.
Dark denim: They’re Friday’s black pants.
I know Julieta has been a longtime fan of a clean, dark wash, and so has Gwen, our other resident sophisticate (and they both love this exact pair of wide-leg jeans despite their 7-inch height difference). Personally, I’ve always gravitated to the broken-in jeans — a lighter wash with extra distressing, please. Which, obviously, is limiting (perhaps career limiting, haha) in an office setting.
My issue with a truly dark wash is that my usual go-to move — *cough* black sweater *cough* — is underwhelming with dark denim. While black cashmere sweaters are a beautiful offset to perfectly broken-in denim, when paired with a clean, dark wash, the look is too often…boring.
Here to illustrate my point is Banana Republic’s latest model, Bonnie Sue.
That may or may not be her real name, but Daisy Mae here can’t even save her boring outfit with that epic hat/bolo-tie combo.
So, how to come up with inspired ways to wear dark-wash denim?
Dark-Wash Denim Trousers Are Friday’s Black Pants: 5 Office-Ready Outfits
Since dark-wash denim is such a natural for the office, I decided to start here. So. Below are five solid office outfit ideas, all using dark-wash denim trousers. Some outfit ideas include pieces I’m really excited to wear this spring, some include pieces we may already have in our closets, and other ideas tweak my usual jeans-and-a-sweater to make it feel fresh.
And since denim wide-leg trousers are the sort of pants that one — typically — has to commit to a hem length, I’ve included options for both heels or flats, depending on how you like to wear your jeans.
Happen to be in the market for dark denim? I have some solid recommendations at the bottom of this article (or click here to jump).
Casual Friday Outfit 1: Dark Denim, A Cashmere T-Shirt & Luxe Accessories
The combo of rich, warm tans and dark-wash denim exudes a quiet luxury I can’t get enough of. Reinforce this idea with a camel-tone belt, but keep the leg line long with dark shoes (black is fine). Clogs feel exactly right.
NOTES: If we’re leaning into this idea of quiet luxury…a cashmere tee is definitely the way to go. It also elevates the denim, giving just a playful hint of “Hi, It’s Me, A T-shirt and Jeans,” while remaining office appropriate. Also, can we acknowledge that the wood-bottomed sole of this clogs ties everything in soooo nicely? (*S gives self a high-five.*)
Casual Friday Outfit 2: Dark Denim, A Navy Sweater & Statement Shoes
It took years of pairing black sweaters with dark-wash jeans and being low-key annoyed all day (anyone else get grumpy when looking in the office bathroom mirror and hating their outfit?)….before I REALIZED THE FIX: a navy sweater! When in doubt, go monochrome.
NOTES: A navy sweater (I love cashmere) always looks fresh and chic with dark denim trousers. If you have any old leopard-print pumps (or flats) in your closet, they’re perfect for this look. If you want an excuse to buy something new…I LOVE the idea of pairing this outfit with shiny, metallic shoes. Gahhh, so fun.
Casual Friday Outfit 3: Dark Denim, A Victorian Blouse & 2-Tone Loafers
While there’s something very, “Hello, I’ll be your server today,” about a white blouse & black pants…swapping in dark-wash denim completely eliminates that issue. In fact, dark-wash denim lets a pretty white top shine.
NOTES: I do love a vintage-inspired white blouse — something almost Victorian, with a bit of lace. It’s a nice counterpoint to the sharper, masculine shapes that oft dominate office environs. And the loafers are a nod to that fact. These two-tone loafers are completely calling my name (and here’s another). SWOON.
Casual Friday Outfit 4: Dark Denim, Ditsy Floral Tops & Tan Shoes
Ditsy floral prints are powerful en masse. While the flower design itself is tiny, the effect, when printed all over a shirt, is substantial enough to hold up to the darkest, inkiest wash. That said, there’s a balance to these ditsy florals, and black shoes would upset that balance. Honor it instead with lighter shoes.
NOTES: Since I’m basically crafting outfits for mahself…I’m pairing this one with two of my favorite pairs of shoes: Reformation’s cowboy boots and Everlane’s leather flats. Both are incredibly comfortable, and I’ve walked all over the city in each of them. Also, be sure to click through and see that floral Doen blouse (#6 above) on the model. It’s incredible.
Casual Friday Outfit 5: Dark Denim, Stripes & Cap-Toe Shoes
Banker stripes, pinstripes — whatever you call them, that’s what we’re going for. Reinforce the “I Might Work On Wall Street” vibe with Serious Eyeglasses and Something That Could Be A Briefcase, and then, for the piece de resistance…Possibly Chanel Shoes.
NOTES: Fun fact: Those are my exact glasses. I now can see that I need a pair of cap-toe shoes, just to wear with said glasses into the office with literally everything. P.S. These French Sole cap-toe ballet flats just got restocked.
Looking For Dark-Wash Denim? These.
In case you don’t happen to have a pair already hanging in your closet, here are my top recommendations (at every price point).