Mastering the business casual style can be a difficult thing to do. It’s very vague and can mean many different things to many different people. Fortunately, there are a few ways to make sure you’ll always get it right and be dressed appropriately.
Business casual basically just means your outfit falls somewhere between business formal and what you would wear every day. The degree of how far on the laidback side you can go depends on your work environment. It should be easy to gauge based on the daily atmosphere of your office.
We all want to look professional and be dressed to impress, but we definitely don’t want to look like we’re trying too hard. Besides, business casual really lets you have fun and step outside of the realm of boring black pantsuits day in and day out.
1. Save Your Jeans for the Weekend
As much as you probably think you can dress up your jeans, they’re normally not deemed appropriate for office wear. Save your denim for the weekend, and invest in some slacks or a nicely fitted pair of black pants.
2. Don’t Roll Up in Last Night’s Party Dress
A lot of thought goes into getting dolled up for a night on the town, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to wear it to work, even on casual Friday. Just because the outfit is black and dressy does not mean it’s suitable for the office.
Even when dressing for business casual, separate your “going out” tops and your professional ones. Additionally, skirts should always fall below the knee, so check the length before you start calling that a pencil skirt. Get inspired by some of your favorite designers when choosing a skirt for work.
3. Leave Your Flip-flops at the Beach
It’s safe to go out on a limb here and say you should never wear flip-flops to the office, no matter how casual it is. No one wants to hear you flopping down the halls, stumbling on your feet. For the most part, stick to closed-toe shoes. Sandals can be appropriate at certain offices during the warmer months, but again, keep it professional. There are tons of acceptable options to explore before breaking out the flip-flops.
4. Nothing Too Flashy
While business casual does allow you to play around with different styles, colors and patterns, it doesn’t allow you to get too glitzy. Anything containing sequins, sparkles or neon should really not be allowed on the premises. This includes tiny purses or other accessories you think you can sneak on by with. When it comes to pants, stick with neutral colors, and always make sure they are a good fit.
5. Going without a Jacket Is OK
In a business casual office, it’s not necessary to wear a pantsuit with a matching blazer or jacket every day. Opting for a button-down blouse, knit shirt or sweater is perfectly fine and professional. Just be sure to button all of your buttons. Pairing a striped cardigan with a professional shirt underneath and a comfortable pair of pants is a great way to go.
Some guidelines will vary from office to office, but sticking to these rules will ensure your ensemble is always appropriate. Striving to look put-together will go a long way, because nothing will be acceptable if you look like a mess wearing it. If it’s something you’d be comfortable wearing to the mall on a Tuesday afternoon, chances are that’s where it belongs.
Appearances mean a lot and so do first impressions, so don’t get judged for an outfit that’s not up to par.