In this day and age, “business casual” is one of the most misunderstood styles in fashion. It’s not about wearing flip-flops or sweats to work. It’s about finding a balance between business attire and your personal style in an environment where you can be comfortable but still look professional. Still trying to determine where to start? Read on to discover some tips for dressing business casual.
1. Look Polished Without Being Overdressed
The key to dressing business casual is looking polished but not overdressed. You should look like you are prepared for work and ready to get things done, but at the same time, you shouldn’t look like you’re going on a formal date with your boss or anything like that.
2. Invest in a Great Pair of Shoes
When you’re going for a business casual look, your shoes are a vital part of your outfit. Invest in a good pair of professional shoes for women that are comfortable and stylish.
What to Look for in Professional Shoes
You want something versatile enough to pair with most outfits that also have some personality. Don’t be afraid to try new things! You don’t need to stick with classic black shoes. If there’s one thing fashion has taught us over the past few years, it’s that brown and burgundy can be just as fashionable as black if done correctly (and maybe even more so).
Choose comfortable shoes. You’ll be wearing them all day, so if they don’t fit well or hurt your feet, you will regret it later. There are plenty of comfortable heels for women to keep you looking professional without sacrificing comfort. If you’re concerned about keeping your shoes clean, look for washable shoes for women.
3. A Pair of Nice Pants Will Take You Anywhere
Dress pants are a staple of business casual. They should be hemmed to the right length, tailored to fit your body type and in a neutral color (black or gray). If you’re tall and slim with long legs, keep the pant length on the longer side. If you’re short or have shorter legs, go for something cropped at the ankle or mid-calf.
In general, avoid pleats and cuffs. If you’re wearing a suit to an interview, then the pant legs should be straight and no more than one inch wider than your shoe size.
4. Choose a Chic Business-Casual Blazer
A business-casual blazer is a great option for when you want to dress in professional layers. Wear your blazer over a button-up shirt or sweater for a chic look. Blazers come in many styles and colors. You can find everything from classic black to fun floral prints, so there are plenty of options that will work with any outfit. Blazers are great because they’re so versatile and can be worn almost anywhere.
5. Dress in Layers
Layering helps you remain comfortable in a variety of weather conditions, and rocking a layered look in the office is easy.
To stay warm in winter (or any chilly air-conditioned office), put on your shirt first and then add a sweater over top of that. You might even want to add a base layer. This method works well because it allows airflow between all three layers so that heat doesn’t get trapped too much under all those clothes (which would make you sweat).
When putting together your outfit, make sure your chosen shirt will still be appropriate for work without your outer layer. You should be able to remove your jacket or cardigan if you get warm.
6. Try a Wrap Dress with Boots or Flats
Wrap dresses are perfect for business casual environments because they’re flattering for all body types, easy to dress down or up and suitable for all seasons. Plus, they look great with heels, flats or boots.
7. Wear a Fun Top with a Simple Pencil Skirt
This is one of the best and easiest ways to dress business casual. You can go with bright colors, like red or blue, or stick to neutrals, like black or gray. It’s also not necessary for your top and skirt to match exactly. It’s okay if they’re different shades of the same color family! Just make sure that your outfit is cohesive by keeping everything else neutral (like shoes).
You can even pair a solid top with a patterned skirt. This will create a nice balance of color and texture in your outfit.
8. Don’t Forget the Details
You’ve got your outfit down, but there’s one more thing to consider: accessories. The right accessories will show off your personality and make your business casual outfit pop. If you’re wearing a button-up shirt, try adding a scarf or patterned tie.
Adding some jewelry, like bold earrings, a bracelet or a necklace, is another way to add some flair without going overboard on accessories. If you’re not sure how much jewelry is appropriate, keep it simple with just one statement piece. This will help keep your look from getting too busy or overwhelming. And don’t forget about hats and belts. These two items can be worn as part of an outfit, just like any other piece of clothing.
Dressing business casual can be a tricky balance between professional and comfortable. Keep in mind that what you wear can impact how people perceive you in the workplace and affect your confidence and productivity. By choosing the right pieces and adhering to the basic guidelines of business casual, you can create stylish and appropriate outfits for the office.
Remember to keep your accessories simple and understated, and always choose fabrics and styles that are comfortable and functional. No matter where you work, these tips and outfit ideas will help you navigate the business casual dress code with ease and style. With effort and attention to detail, you can assemble a professional and polished wardrobe you’ll be proud to show off.