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The best jeans to wear to work

As offices become increasingly casual, it's more and more common for employees to wear jeans to work.

Jeans can look just as polished as dress pants, especially if you pair them with blazers, silk blouses, nice shoes or boots and other dressy items. As long as you're not wearing it to an interview, and you've made sure you're dressed as nicely as your supervisors, denim is likely going to be one of your workday staples, especially if you work in fields such as media or tech.

But it's important to shop for jeans with the intention of wearing them to work. I have a mental checklist to make sure I'm choosing the nicest pairs of jeans whenever I shop. That checklist is below, as well as my three picks for "best jeans for the office."

The work-appropriate jeans checklist

Every pair of jeans you wear to the office should meet these criteria:

1. Dark. Denim comes in many different washes, and for work you want a dark, solid color. The one exception is the colored jeans that are popular this year, for which light-colored hues such as blush are fine. But there shouldn't be any whiskers or shading, and the darker the blue, the better.

2. Intact. Jeans with holes are never good for office wear. In addition, if you're on the short side, flared and trouser jeans are likely to drag the ground. If they're beaten up on the bottom, they're not going to look as dressy for work.

3. Fitted, but not too tight. Boyfriend jeans are for weekends and the youngest, hippest of offices. Otherwise, jeans should be fitted, and it's important to spend the time finding pairs that fit you perfectly.

4. Mid-rise. Low-rise jeans will probably show your fellow coworkers things they don't want to see.

Best jeans for the office

Jeans are one of the more individual fashion choices we make. It's sort of like selecting makeup -- no matter what the trends are, we choose what looks best on us. Here are three great picks, all at affordable price points, which should accommodate several different tastes for jeans. As someone who's had, at certain points in her life, more than 20 pairs, I can safely say my denim research is extensive and reliable.

Skinny jeans: 1969 Always Skinny, Gap

Almost everyone I know (including me) owns these jeans. Sometimes, I see strangers on the street wearing them, and it's all I can do not to walk up and say, "Are those jeans the best, or what?" They're a solid dark color with a flattering mid-rise and no crazy stitching or labels. In addition, they stretch a lot. So even if you're that person who buys your jeans too small or tight for work, the Gap 1969 Always Skinny jeans won't let you get away with that.

Black jeans: MOTO Black Martha Jeans, Topshop

When you're looking for a pair of black pants that's narrow at the ankle -- in other words, not a traditional trouser style -- it can be tough to find a pair that doesn't look like leggings. That's one of the reasons I think every woman should have a pair of black jeans in her wardrobe. The other reason, of course, is that every woman has a pair of black boots that will look great with straight-leg or skinny black jeans. I picked the Topshop pair because they have a higher rise, and if you don't prefer the "toothpick" cut, these have a straighter leg. They're great for skinny jean lovers and diehard flare fans.

Boot-cut jeans: Boot-cut jean in classic rinse, J.Crew

The thing I love most about J.Crew's jeans is that they're clean, so much that you can't even see the stitching. Also, the width of the boot cut isn't too wide, which creates a flattering line. I typically have to get my boot-cut jeans hemmed, and if you're wearing them for work, you should get them hemmed for heels. When you're wearing casual denim to work, it's important to dress it up with more formal items such as pumps or heeled ankle boots.

(E-mail Kristyn Schiavone at, follow her on Twitter at @KKSchiavone or write to her c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave, Ste. 1400, Chicago, IL 60611.)