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Looser Dress Codes Tighter Pants

“Are these pants too tight?” That is what my client- a millennial woman in leadership- asked me the other day.

We were working on her closet. She was trying on a pair of fitted ankle pants she loved to wear.  Her conservative company is forward thinking. They are embracing millennial ideas into their historically conservative company, in order to connect with younger consumers.

It got me thinking.

One important thing for millennials is style, and self expression through style. But what are the new professional boundaries? How tight can your pants be and still be  acceptable at work for a woman in leadership?

I looked into it:

In Corporette‘s blog post The Perfect Pants Fit, Kat suggests being able to pinch at least an inch of fabric at your thigh.  For that reason, Kat also believes skinny jeans are not appropriate for the office. Corporette is a style blog and forum largely for lawyers, so their offices are typically ultra conservative.


I read through The Perfect Pants Fit reader comments. One reader declared every pant in The Corporette’s Guide to Pants too tight in the tush.  That is why she sticks to dresses.

And, if the reader wears pants, she asks herself, “Is this something Katherine Hepburn would golf in?”  Then she goes a bit looser. This is a little extreme in my opinion, and she may have been kidding. Still, I think a full length version of these culottes (above) would be perfectly appropriate for her! source


Cosmospolitan’s take on work pants embraces the other end of the spectrum.

Cosmopolitan  suggests leather, bold patterns, elevated jogging pants, and even jumpsuits are acceptable office attire.

If you are looking to move up in your career perhaps err on the side of the most subdued and sophisticated version of these edgier trends. And of course it depends on your particular work environment. Creative work environments can handle more self-expression than conservative ones.


Sometimes you may want to wear a bolder pant. I like WhoWhatWear’s suggestion of pairing the bolder piece with a crisp white blouse.

Another great tip is to add a blazer- especially any time you are wearing fitted pants you are on the fence about.

So, what are your thoughts? How tight is too tight for pants in your office?





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