How to dress ‘business casual’Posted by: Maria Iliffe
Sometimes it can be difficult to know what to wear to work, we've outlined our tips when it comes to 'business casual' in the office.
Dressing for work is an important yet confusing element of your job. With most companies practising business casual, employees are given the freedom to add their personal taste to professional attire. Unfortunately ambiguous, we are left questioning what we can wear, and more importantly, how we can style it. We’ve written some insight, examples and tips on how to look stylish and professional at work.
To look professional, wear tops that cover your chest and shoulders, but both short and long sleeved is allowed. Colours and simple patterns are encouraged without distracting imagery or words. Of course blouses and shirts are the most obvious but other examples include:
Printed button down
Brightly coloured long sleeve
Blazer / suit jacket as a top
Sweater vest / gilet
Wearing a blazer / jacket or even a jumper /cardigan is a great way to make a short-sleeved top less casual. Adding a jacket in winter can bring another level of professionalism, especially if the jacket is smart and more tight fitting. For styling reasons you can add a coloured shirt or turtle neck underneath a sweater / top / blazer, which would look best with matched or repeated colour. Belts and ties are optional accessories, they’re not necessary to look professional but can add a nice layer to an outfit, tying in other colours/patterns.
Jeans are accepted in some workplaces, if deemed not too causal, i.e. they can’t be baggy, but flared, straight leg and skinny jeans are often acceptable. Below knee skirts work well as business casual, no shorter is advised and longer is encouraged. Other acceptable bottoms include:
Straight leg trousers
Cargos and cargo skirts
Cigarette / capri trousers
Floor length skirts
Solid colour or printed trousers
Pairing a professional skirt with a more casual (but not revealing) top or cardigan works well. Equally adding a jacket or blazer to jeans or baggier trousers will look good. Adding large statement jewellery or accessories will help tie the outfit together, i.e. a colourful necklace, watch or earrings and if you have multiple accessories, coordinating them (being the same colour) will help style your outfit. Adding patterned or coloured tights underneath a skirt will add a new and fashionable layer to your outfit.
Generally anything accept stilettoes are acceptable with business casual! Many employers allow trainers, although some prefer them to be black. You may be allowed open toe, however it’s rare and deemed less appropriate. A list of acceptable shoes include:
Small heels (below 3 inches)
Boots (without a high heel)
Using your shoes as a way of expression works well with neutral outfits; pops of colour or patterns are added in moderation, so with minimal detail to an outfit, your shoes can bring some attention. However neutral and simple coloured / patterned shoes are advised with a louder outfit. When styling a trendy monochromatic outfit, obviously your shoes would look best matching and coordinated. Adding high boots to a skirt or pumps to suit trousers can work well, wearing suede or changing your laces, can add more style to potentially plain shoes. Of course comfort is key, especially if you’re on your feet a lot, so favour practicality over style.
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