Leggings have become a wardrobe staple for many women due to their versatility and comfort. However, whether leggings are appropriate attire for the workplace is still up for debate. Can you wear leggings in business casual environments? The answer depends on the style, fabric, fit and how they are styled.
This comprehensive guide examines if and when leggings meet business casual dress code standards. We will cover:
Defining Business Casual Dress Code
Before determining if leggings are business casual appropriate, let’s define this tricky dress code. Business casual falls between formal workwear and casual everyday attire.
Overview of Business Casual Style Guidelines
Compared to formal attire, business casual allows for:
- More casual fabrics like knits, cotton, jersey
- Simple patterns and muted colors
- Some denim pieces
- Unstructured blazers and jackets
- Closed-toe loafers, Oxfords, ballet flats
However, business casual still requires polish. Clothing should be:
- Not too tight or revealing
- Free of stains, tears or fading
- Higher-end over discount brands
Simple jewelry like watches, small earrings, and basic necklaces or scarves also work.
Business Casual vs. Business Professional
Contrasted with business professional, business casual permits:
- Fewer suits and tailored dresses
- More versatile separates like skirts, blouses, blazers
- Dark denim instead of slacks
- Knit tops over silks or stiff fabrics
- Flats instead of high heels
Variations Between Workplaces
Interpretation of business casual varies. Some workplaces allow casual jeans, while others require dressier slacks and blouses. Ask your manager for guidance.
Now let’s assess if leggings meet business casual standards.
Are Leggings Appropriate for Business Casual?
Can leggings be business casual? With strategic choices in fabric, fit, length, and styling, certain leggings can work for professional offices.
Opaque vs. Sheer Leggings
- Opaque leggings in solid neutrals or subtle patterns can look business casual under dresses or longer tops.
- Sheer leggings showing skin or undergarments are never office-appropriate.
Leggings Fit and Length
Fit and length impact whether leggings are professional:
Avoid Overly Tight Leggings
Skin-tight leggings appear unprofessional. Seek a legging with light compression that follows your shape smoothly without hugging.
Leggings Should Hit at Ankle or Below
Leggings ending at the ankle or lower maintain a polished vibe. Styles cropped above the ankle are casual.
Leggings Fabrics and Finishes
Fabric and construction determine if leggings are business casual suitable:
Ponte, Twill & Jersey Leggings Fabrics
Leggings in ponte knit, twill or jersey can look business casual. They provide comfortable stretch while maintaining structure and opacity.
Steer Clear of Leather, Mesh, Lace & Printed Leggings
Leggings with embellished or casual fabrics like leather, mesh, lace or bold prints appear unprofessional for offices.
Styling Leggings for a Business Casual Look
How you style leggings also impacts their work appropriateness:
Pair with Longer-Length Tops
Leggings work best with tops, tunics or dresses long enough to cover your rear. Cropped or short tops show too much skin.
Add Blazers, Cardigans or Tailored Jackets
Layering tailored blazers, cardigans or polished jackets over leggings elevates them to business casual. The contrast creates balance.
Choose Flats, Loafers, or Low Heels
Flats, loafers or low kitten heels keep leggings office-appropriate. Avoid towering stilettos or casual sneakers.
If your workplace prohibits leggings, alternatives provide a similar look while meeting dress code.
Leggings Alternatives for Business Casual Offices
These options deliver legging-like ease while abiding by business casual guidelines:
Ankle-length slim pants mimic leggings but use traditional fabrics like twill, ponte and corduroy. They look polished with blazers, sweaters and blouses.
A tailored sleeveless jumpsuit offers legging comfort in one piece. Seek business casual fabrics like jersey, ponte or woven with minimal embellishments. Keep necklines professional.
Shift dresses in stretch knits provide legging flexibility while maintaining polish. Focus on knee-length hemlines and pair with blazers or cardigans.
Straight Leg Trousers
Slim cut straight leg ankle pants offer a legging-inspired skinny trouser. Avoid hugging fits by sizing up, and use thick fabrics like twill, wool blends and scuba crepe.
Patterned Pants or Trousers
Ankle-length trousers in subtle plaids, houndstooth or printed ponte feel like leggings with structure. Pair with solid sweaters or blouses on top.
Now let’s summarize guidelines for wearing leggings to business casual workplaces.
Business Casual Leggings Do’s and Don’ts
Leggings Do’s for Workplaces
DO choose leggings that are:
- Opaque, not see-through
- Dark neutrals and subtle patterns
- Fitted but not skin-tight
- Hitting at the ankle or lower
- Ponte, twill or jersey fabrics
- Under dresses, skirts or longer tops
Leggings Don’ts for Offices
DON’T wear leggings that are:
- Sheer or show undergarments
- Made with mesh, lace, leather or shiny fabrics
- Ripped, torn or distressed
- Baggy or loose in knees or rear
- Cropped above mid-calf
- Solo like pants with shorter-length tops
- Bold neon or graphic prints
Now let’s review frequently asked questions about wearing leggings to work.
FAQs About Wearing Leggings to Work
Can You Wear Black Leggings to Work?
Yes, solid black leggings are universally business casual. Stick to opaque, ankle-length ponte or twill. Ensure rich black color without fading.
Are Leggings with Boots Business Casual?
Leggings can look work-appropriate with over-the-knee flat or low block heel suede/leather boots. Avoid Ugg or chunky combat style boots.
Do Jeggings Work for Business Casual?
Jeggings, or leggings styled as denim jeans, lean casual for offices. Dark ponte leggings are a safer choice, saving jeggings for casual Fridays.
Can You Wear Leggings to Court or Legal Proceedings?
Leggings are not recommended for court or legal proceedings, even if opaque and dark. Their casual vibe remains unsuitable for courtrooms.
Are Athletic Brand Leggings Like Lululemon Okay for Work?
Some athletic brand leggings like Lululemon’s thick ponte ankle-length styles work for business casual when paired properly. Avoid large logos or light colors.
In conclusion, with thoughtful choices in fabric, fit, length, and styling, leggings can potentially meet business casual dress code. Follow the advice in this guide to ensure your leggings outfit hits the professional mark.