Are leggings business casual? Learn what business casual is and how to master business casual with leggings in the office, and look great doing it!
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Originally published May 5, 2022, Updated June 6 2023
Are Leggings Business Casual?
Leggings have become a staple in many women’s wardrobes, and the debate over whether or not they are appropriate to wear as business casual attire rages on.
What is considered “business casual?” Is it a suit? A dressy blouse with slacks? The answer is not so black and white.
In general, business casual attire is clothing that is more relaxed than what you would wear to a job interview but still looks professional. Leggings can definitely be worn as part of a business casual outfit, especially with current trends like stirrup leggings and split hem leggings. But, there are some things you need to keep in mind.
In this post we will discuss what business casual attire is and give you five outfit ideas for how to go business casual with leggings in the office.
What is considered business casual attire?
Business casual attire consists of semi-formal outfits combining casual pieces with more formal pieces. Leggings are often considered as only casual or athletic attire, but there are ways to style them to be appropriate for the office. Below are some guidelines for what to wear, and not wear, as part of a business casual outfit:
- Avoid anything too revealing: Leggings that are made of thin material can be inappropriate for the office. If you’re unsure, err on the side of caution and choose a pair of leggings that are thicker in material.
- Make sure your leggings are full or slightly above ankle-length: Leggings that are too cropped and sit mid calf or below the knee look more athletic and can appear unprofessional. Opt for a pair of ankle-length or full-length leggings.
- Avoid anything with intentional holes or rips: Leggings or “jeggings” made from denim or other materials that have intentional (or unintentional) holes or rips are definitely inappropriate for the office.
- Choose dark neutral colors: When in doubt, stick to a darker neutral color like black, brown, gray, or navy. These colors appear more professional and are more appropriate as business casual attire.
- Avoid prints and patterns: Leggings with loud prints or patterns can be distracting and too casual for the office. If you want to wear leggings, we recommend you stick to a darker neutral solid color. Or, if you want to try a pattern, go with a neutral plaid as this has a more professional vibe.
There are many styles of leggings out there, many which are more professional in look and fit.
Can you wear leggings to an office job?
You can absolutely wear leggings to an office job – as long as you do it the right way. First and foremost, make sure your leggings are well-fitted and are made with a thicker quality fabric. Black is always a classic and versatile choice, but feel free to experiment with different cuts and styles: stirrup, split hem, seamed, etc.
get the look:
Above, our editor-in-chief Christal has styled leggings with Gucci loafers, a cotton striped button-up shirt, and a black oversized blazer. This combination is has an elevated appeal with the sleek loafers and black blazer.
You could easily wear this look to the office, a casual business meeting, or giving a presentation.
What To Pair With Business Casual Leggings
When it comes to dressing business casual with leggings, consider what you’ll be pairing your leggings with. A longer length button-down blouse or cardigan is always a solid option. But, you can also try pairing them with a cropped blazer or worn over a long sleeve bodysuit if you feel daring.
One of the keys to getting away with leggings as business casual is to wear them with the right footwear. Loafers, mules, pumps, or ankle boots are great professional options.
Finally, accessories are your friends. A statement necklace or pair of earrings can really elevate your look. But be careful not to go overboard – you want to look polished, not overdone.
Business Casual Leggings Outfit Ideas
Now that we’ve gone over office attire and what to avoid when choosing your business casual leggings, let’s look at a few outfit ideas for how to wear leggings in a professional setting.
Wear a Blazer
get the look:
Pair your leggings with a blazer and classy cashmere t-shirt. A blazer is a business casual staple that can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion.
Try a pair of super trendy stirrup leggings and wear a sleek set of loafers and dainty jewellery to elevate the look. Swap out the loafers for pumps to easily transition from day to night.
Wear an Oversized Sweater or Tunic
get the look:
Pair your leggings with an oversized sweater, vest, or a tunic. In the cooler months, try a chic pair of faux leather leggings and layer a long-sleeve top or button-up shirt underneath.
Wear ankle boots or pointy flats for stylish footwear. This outfit option is a great way to stay comfortable while still looking polished.
Go With A Long Cardigan
get the look:
A knee-length cardigan is an excellent option for those days when you just need to put together a quick look. Pair your leggings with a long cardigan and a high-neck tank top or a blouse.
This outfit is comfortable and easy to wear but still looks put together. You can also add a scarf or layered pendant necklaces to elevate the look.
For footwear go with a stylish pair of flats or simple, classic heels.
Wear A Shirt Dress
get the look:
This is an excellent option for those days when you need to look a little more business than casual. Pair your leggings with a shirtdress and add a belt to cinch in the waist.
This outfit looks professional and stylish and can be easily dressed up or down with accessories and footwear.
Wear An Oversized Blouse
get the look:
Pairing stirrup or split-hem leggings with a longer flowy blouse is an excellent option if you’re looking for something that will take you from the office to happy hour.
Opt for a flowy blouse in a neutral color like cream. You can also layer this look with a cardigan or blazer during the fall and winter.
get the look:
Above, our editor-in-chief Christal has styled leggings with Mary-Jane flats, an oversized knit cardigan, and a crisp white button-up shirt. This combination is casual, but still dressy enough for a relaxed office-setting.
This look works well with leggings as the shirt and cardigan are both long enough to hit below the bum, making the leggings appear more formal.
Can you wear leggings under a dress at work?
Yes! Black leggings typically work best under a dress for work, and paired with dressier shoes like loafers, ballet flats, ankle boots, or low pumps. In fact, if you have a favorite shirtdress or sweater dress that is “mini” in length, you can easily make it office-appropriate by adding leggings underneath.
We generally don’t recommend wearing a midi-length dress, or a dress longer than knee-length with leggings under, as that tends to look a bit odd. Instead, with longer dresses, go bare-legged or wear stockings or tights.
Can you wear leggings business casual?
Yes, leggings as part of a business casual outfit is perfectly acceptable, as long as you style them appropriately! When choosing leggings for work, make sure to:
- choose leggings made from a nice, thick, sturdy fabric
- opt for full-length leggings, not cropped
- try elevated legging styles with seam details, split hems, stirrups, or faux leather
- pair leggings with a nice blouse, cardigan, or tunic
- always go with business casual footwear like loafers, ballet flats, pumps, or boots
With the right pieces, you can easily create a business casual outfit that is comfortable and classy! Check out this list of Balmain blazer dupes to pair with leggings!
So, now that you know the answer to “are leggings business casual?”, you just need to find the perfect pair. With so many options available, it’s easy to find a great pair of leggings that suit your style and needs. So, go ahead and give them a try!