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Are skinny jeans okay at the office? Add to ...

If your office is the kind of environment where denim is no longer considered taboo, then you've got a leg up on the heavyweight lawyers, accountants and health-care professionals who typically conform to a parade of pinstripes.

But, while urban hipsters may be riding the dark-wash, skinny-leg wave, does this wetsuit-tight style of jean have too much edge for the workplace?

According to Toronto-based image consultant Sarah Collins, who founded her namesake business in 1999, you must first consider your line of work before making a daring denim statement.

Context is key: Creative industries, from ad agencies to record labels, encourage individuality, as does the retail world, where being up-to-date on the latest trends is as essential as breathing.

Still, Ms. Collins cautions against attempts to squeeze yourself into chic. "If your body type doesn't flatter the stovepipe jean - man or woman - you don't have to go there," she says.

Equally important is that you compensate for the free-spirited denim below by opting for a polished and presentable getup on top, such as a tailored blazer with structured shoulder pads.

"You're picking the one hero in your outfit," Ms. Collins says, emphasizing that you want to lay off the kooky jewellery, big belts, lacy tops and strappy shoes - those trinkets that are more conducive to nightclubs than to cubicle culture.

When in doubt, remember that while you might be the most stylin' accountant at your office, you're still projecting a career-related message with your outfit. As Ms. Collins points out, "If you're an articling student or a junior entry-level employee and you wish to rise within the ranks, envision yourself in five years -- do you want to be deemed that person that is always wearing more junior-looking clothing?"

Which is another way of saying that peg leg jeans may not be the most corporately sanctioned clothing choice for the upwardly mobile.

But bear in mind that if you're seated at a desk, most people won't even see your pants.

"White collar," after all, suggests high ranking without so much as a passing reference to your lower half.

Follow on Twitter: @amyverner

 

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