How to Conquer the Business Casual Dress Code
Being fashionable and appropriate in the a work setting can be tricky. You want to be cute while staying within the dress code. No one wants to work with or promote a sloppy or unkempt person, no matter how hard of a worker you are. Bottom line your appearance is important.
People often confuse business casual and casual attire, but trust me there is a difference. A very big difference. The business casual dress code in today’s environment is one of the most confusing, hardest dress codes to figure out. The most frustrating thing about it is it can even vary depending on your workplace. This post will provide you with simple tips to keep in mind while building your everyday work wardrobe.
What is Business Casual?
The business casual dress code was established to allow employees to work comfortably in the workplace. It was set for you to be comfortable yet still be professional. I think some people take casual a little too literally. Leggings may be comfortable but they are not appropriate for the office. At all! I’m dead serious about this one you guys. Absolutely no exceptions. Can you tell this is a sticking point for me? Here’s a simple rule of thumb: If you would wear it to the park or to the club, don’t wear it to the office.
Business casual entails neat yet casual attire. It is more casual than business formal but more formal than casual. I’m sorry but jeans are not considered business casual. You may also want to check to see if your office has casual Fridays where jeans can be worn.
When starting a new job, be sure to check with your manager or human resources department to find out what is considered appropriate or inappropriate. If that is not an option before the first day, I would go as conservative as possible. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
Things to Consider When Building Your Everyday Office Wear
Make sure any dresses or skirts you purchase are knee length. The appropriate knee length will make it easier to sit or get up out chairs, or walking up stairs.
Fit is most definitely an important factor. Tight clothing shouldn’t be worn to the office under any circumstances. Baggy clothing can make you look sloppy and unkempt. If you can’t find things off the rack that fit you well, find a good seamstress. There’s nothing like clothing tailored to fit. It gives you a more polished look.
Neutral colors are good first choice for your foundation pieces like blazers, slacks, and skirts, but don’t be afraid to add color and prints.
If wearing a sleeveless top, make sure you have a blazer or cardigan you can throw over for meetings. Sleeveless tops should extend to the edges of your shoulders.
Showing to much cleavage or any at all is just not appropriate in the workplace. And for some you, your cleavage is not in the shape it used to be. Your neckline should be no lower than 4 inches below your collarbone.
Create options by changing up pieces so you can have maximum versatility. Purchase long sleeves, short sleeves, pencil skirts, cardigans, jackets and cropped trousers.
Building The Basics
To begin building your basics or foundation, you can start with the following:
3 pair of slacks
8 tops (shirts/blouses)
Start with two pairs of shoes (neutral pump or flat, black pump or flat)
What Not To Wear The Office
Again if you would wear it out for a night of partying, it’s probably not suitable for the office. You guys know leggings in the workplace grate on my nerves. Here are a few more pieces you should leave at the house:
Short dresses or skirts
Shorts or skorts
Low rise pants
I am a shoe addict, so I pay a lot of attention to what shoes I wear everyday. Unless you are in a super casual office, sneakers and flip flops should not be worn. For the sake of my feet I try not to wear a heel over 4 inches. You may want to check your office dress code to find out whether open-toed shoes are allowed.
Business Casual During the Summer Months
Most of us tend to become more relaxed with what we wear to work during the warm months. I believe you still need to be office appropriate even if it is hot as the crap. Light-weight tops, slacks, skirts and dresses are the perfect pieces this time of year. Remember, when wearing skirts or dresses to the office make sure they are no more than 1 to 2 inches above the knee. When picking tops for the office, be sure to skip showing too much cleavage. Heeled sandals are great to add to your summer wardrobe if your dress code allows open-toed shoes.
Places to Find the Basics for Your Work Wardrobe
- Banana Republic
- Banana Republic Factory Store
- Ann Taylor
- J. Crew
- J.Crew Factory
- TJ Maxx
- Nordstrom Rack
- Saks Off Fifth
- Neiman Marcus Last Call
Hopefully this post helped you get a better understanding of the business casual dress code. For more tips on how to be both fashionable and dress code appropriate, grab a copy of How to Slay at the Office. If you have any questions , leave them below in the comments. You can also reach out to me on social media.