What Is Business Casual For Women?
On the spectrum of dress codes from casual to black tie, “business casual” falls somewhere between traditional business wear (e.g. suits, cocktail dresses, and other corporate attire) and the more relaxed smart casual. The category is somewhat ambiguous and open to interpretation, but there are a few characteristics you can look out for.
While the word “casual” is in the label, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to mind your appearance. A business casual attire is usually clean and conservative without being too formal. You still need to look well-groomed, put together, and professional. But you can swap out dark, heavy suits with lighter, brighter fabrics.
The business casual dress code for women can include a wide range of clothing items such as knee-length dresses, silk blouses, khakis, slacks, blazers, button-downs, and pencil skirts. You can wear business casual in any colour, but loud shades and busy prints are frowned upon – stick to simple, neutral tones and minimalist patterns. Shoes can be either heeled or flat, ideally closed.
Jeans: Professional Business Casual Attire For Women Or Office No-No?
The biggest business casual debate is whether or not denim jeans are acceptable. There’s really no consensus on it – some companies will tell you that it’s inappropriate, while others will encourage you to wear your favourite pair. The vagueness of the definition allows for some leeway in this department, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
If your colleagues and/or bosses wear jeans at work, take that as a signal that it’s okay. But that doesn’t mean that any pair of jeans will do. Obviously, distressed jeans with holes and rips are best reserved for your weekend hangouts with friends. Darker jeans in a flattering cut, when paired with a good blouse and a pair of heels, can look really smart.
The Do’s And Don’t’s For Ladies’ Business Casual
To make it even easier for you, we put together this simple list of business casual do’s and don’t’s.
DON’T waste your time and money on “trendy” fashion pieces that will go out of style in a few months.
DO invest in a wardrobe of reliable “basics” that you can mix and match.
DON’T wear strappy sandals, flipflops, or slippers.
DO switch between smart flats and low heels
DON’T wear sexy, tight, or revealing clothing. This includes low-cut tops or skirts that are too short.
DO go for clothes that are loose-fitting yet still flattering.
DON’T go overboard with your makeup and hair.
DO mind your overall appearance. Keep it simple with natural hair colours and light, professional makeup.
DON’T wear obnoxiously loud colours (e.g. neon) or prints (e.g. leopard print).
DO wear neutral tones or pastel colours. The occasional pop of colour is okay if balanced out by your other clothes.
DON’T underdress if you’re not sure about what “business casual” means.
DO take notes from what your colleagues are wearing and ask around.
DON’T wing it and go into work unprepared.
DO research on business casual outfits for women, so that you have an idea of what to wear.
Women’s Business Clothes: Clothing That Fits The Business Casual Dress Code For Ladies
Business Casual Shoes For Women
Flats, dress boots, wedges, loafers, oxfords, and low heels are all great choices for work shoes. But when in doubt, you can’t go wrong with a classic black pump or stiletto heel. Added bonus: these shoes are pretty versatile, and you can wear them from day to night.
Business Casual Dresses For Women
If you don’t want to worry about matching different items of clothing, then dresses will be your go-to work attire. Shift dresses, wrap dresses, blazer dress, and A-line dresses all fit the business casual dress code.
Business Casual Pants For Women
Slacks are always your best bet when it comes to business casual pants. But you can still express your personality and have some fun with your choices.
Business Casual Shirts For Women
Polo shirts and button-downs aren’t just for men, and they’re pretty easy to match. Wear these with a good skirt or a pair of slacks and you’re all good to go!
Business Casual Tops For Women
Blouses are your business casual best friend because they’re so effortlessly chic and office-appropriate. For that extra pizzazz without going over-the-top, look for blouses with frills, lace, or other feminine details.
Business Casual Jackets For Women
Your options for women’s blazers, cardigans, and jackets are pretty much endless. Coloured jackets are great for an otherwise neutral outfit. But black, white, and tan blazers go with anything and everything.
How you dress isn’t the most important thing your bosses will be looking at, but there are zero downsides to always presenting your best, most professional self. And in a highly competitive, cut-throat job market, dressing in your best business casual can really make you stand out from the rest.
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