Business casual for women is a dress-code that can get tricky when trying to balance comfort and professionalism; especially when it’s on-trend to be casual.
What does business casual mean? It can vary depending on the company and work environment, but generally, it is less formal than traditional business attire, but professional enough to be appropriate for work.
Here are 5 tips to help you choose appropriately casual attire for the workplace while staying comfortable and true to your own style.
1. Choose modest-fitting tops and blouses that flatter your figure
When thinking of tops for work, pretty much anything can work for the business casual dress code, as long as it’s not too revealing and fits you well. To avoid plunging necklines that may be too revealing, try collared blouses, boat necks, turtle and mock necks. These are styles that can be worn with any bottoms, or layered under a blazer or sweater. For more casual tops, like t-shirts, opt for something plain with no graphics or words, that you can build on, such as a white v-neck that you can wear with a blazer, a pair of dark wash jeans and loafers. Or layer your blazer with a NUMI undershirt, and save yourself from the extra laundry cycle or visit to the dry cleaners. Avoid spaghetti straps, unless you’re planning on layering a camisole under your blouse or sweater. Wrap dresses and wrap-around blouses are great options as they are flattering without being too
2. Wear skirts and dresses that aren’t too short, but comfortable.
Skirts and dresses are great ways to add some versatility to your work wardrobe with different colors and patterns. The skirt length should be comfortable enough for you to walk and sit in, and should generally reach 1 inch above the knee. For a business casual look, wear a dress on its own, or add a cardigan if it’s sleeveless or during the colder months. Pencil, A-line and pleated skirts tend to come in lengths that are work-appropriate and are comfortable to walk and sit in and can transition from season to season, just wear tights during the colder months, and there’s a dress style that works for any pair of shoes. Boots and Booties? Wear something with an A-line or a pencil skirt that reaches just below the knee, but no longer than your mid-calf. Flats or heels? All of the above. If you’re showing more leg, balance it out with longer sleeves on top, so you’re more business than casual. Similar to your blouses, your dress neckline shouldn’t be too revealing, or too tight. Sheath dresses are great as they come in different sleeve lengths, they fit any body type well, and necklines are work-appropriate. Dresses are easy to style as you don’t need to pair them with anything but adding a thin belt or scarf to add some color and structure to your outfit.
3. Stick to neutral colors and patterns for your bottoms
Neutral colors are easy to mix and match, as they tend to go with everything. But neutral doesn’t only mean black and grey and the occasional khaki. Navy, jewel tones like copper and bronze are also neutral colors. Patterns like glen plaid, which is very on-trend now, tiny checks, pinstripes and tweed are neutral patterns that are great to build a work wardrobe with. Jeans can work too, but avoid a faded wash, as dark wash looks more polished and professional. Leave the distressed clothes for your days-off, so no frayed hems or holes in your bottoms for work. Bright colors aren’t entirely ruled out, but if you wear brightly colored bottoms, try and balance it out with neutral-colored tops, to avoid being too flashy and distracting. Straight leg, wide-legged or paper-bag-waist pants are great for business-casual, as they are versatile, and fit all body types, and work with blazers, tops, or sweaters.
4. Choose comfortable yet corporate shoes.
Flashy pumps that are almost impossible to walk in may not be the best option for work, especially if you spend a considerable amount of time on your feet. Instead, opt for shoes with heels less than 3 inches and provide some support, so your feet won’t get tired quickly. Work-appropriate shoes don’t have to be boring, you can add some color to your wardrobe with your shoes, as long as it’s not too flashy. Avoid flat strappy sandals, that you would wear to the beach or a barbecue, instead wear a block heel sandal that gives more of a polished look, but is still comfortable to move around in. If you want to avoid heels altogether, wear loafers or slip-ons that don’t look like sneakers.
5. Have fun with your layers.
Sweaters, cardigans and jackets are also a great way of adding some fun to your work wardrobe. Sweaters can be worn on their own or over a button-up, so if you’re looking to add a pop of color somewhere in your wardrobe, sweaters are great. However, the fit of your layers matters because if they’re too baggy, it might make your outfit look sloppy. Adding a jacket or sweater over a NUMI shirt works for days you don’t want to think about your outfit, or you’re running late. Scarves are also great ways to accessorize for the office, as they come in so many different colors and prints, and they can keep you warm if you’re feeling cold.
How to Dress Business Casual for Women
- Choose modest-fitting tops and blouses that flatter your figure
- Wear skirts and dress that aren’t too short or revealing, but comfortable
- Stick to neutral colors and patterns for your bottoms
- Choose comfortable yet corporate shoes
- Have fun with your layers