[dropcap size=small]W[/dropcap]orn by labourers in 19th century America’s Gold Rush era, denim jeans as created by Jacob Davis have since attained iconic status. But Levi’s 501 original button fly aside, denim has since been embraced by designers who have elevated its dressed down status into more formal territory.

For the transitional pre-fall collections, designers have used denim as a platform to create stylish looks with practicality in mind. Which is why the reiterations of denim this season are not only purposeful, they’re imbued with a quiet sophistication.

Consider the pre-fall 2017 dress options from Karen Walker and Ulla Johnson, with their figure-flattering and tailored silhouettes. Paired with pointed high-heeled pumps, a tailored denim shirt dress like that of Walker’s is just as office appropriate as predictable wool blazers or cotton collared shirts. Just don’t leave any buttons undone.

(RELATED: A guide to denim jeans, and why they’ve gone from streetwear to luxe.)

Stella McCartney has always had a keen interest in denim wear with a multitude of trendy yet classic options season after season. Some of McCartney’s denim winners include tailored suits and masculine-inspired coats. For pre-fall, McCartney’s two-piece skirt suit is reimagined with an edgier sensibility by way of a funnel collared overlapping jacket and pleated midi skirt.

Another key player in denim suiting for pre-fall is Italian label Max Mara whose company’s DNA from day one was to build their business around timeless clothes. Its pre-fall collection is a testament to that philosophy – a double-breasted coat in denim and a two-piece slouchy denim pantsuit show that it means business.

Your workwear denim to-buy list should also include feminine silhouettes sculpted for today’s urban warriors. Adam Lippes‘s varsity-striped plunging V-neck A-line dress may look too sexy for the office, but immediately becomes boardroom friendly when layered with a turtleneck or crisp collared shirt. For separates, Frame Denim’s flattering peplum blouse and Ulla Johnson’s halter top make ideal office companions when paired with a pair of chic high-waisted trousers or a knee-skimming A-line skirt.

(RELATED: Denim gets high-fashion updates from Louis Vuitton and Zegna.)


It may have taken a couple of centuries, but it’s safe to say that this former workman’s uniform has proved proved itself to be a major contender on the corporate wear platform.

Story first appeared on The Business Times.