Business casual wear is a tricky area to navigate. There are set rules for business formals, and we all know what casual wear is. But when it comes to business casual, one needs to find the sweet spot between formal wear and casual wear. It shouldn’t be so formal that it’s still ‘formal’. But you cannot just wear any T-shirt or tank top over a formal skirt and label it as business casual.
Since there is no strict definition of what business casual is, we have compiled this article to help you out. If you are wondering how to ace the business casual attire, keep reading on.
What is Included in Business Casual Outfits?
1. Business Casual Women Blouses, Tops, and Shirts
Having a few chic button-up shirts, elegant blouses, sleeveless shirts, dressy tops, keyhole blouses, turtlenecks, and long sleeve styles are a classic addition to your business casuals. Remember that your top attire should not have too much bling or quirky cuts or designs. Your clothes should not be overly tight or too loose. Crop tops, t-shirts, tank tops, top with cutouts, spaghetti tops, off-shoulder tops, strapless tops, plunging necklines, halters necklines, low-cut tops, backless blouses, revealing or sheer tops, etc. are a strict no-no. Also, you cannot wear sweatshirts, hoodies, or anything that falls in the athleisure range.
If the weather calls for it, you can wear a basic-colored sweater, cardigan, jacket, or blazer as a part of your business casual attire. They are not only ideal for winter but also keep you warm in an air-conditioned office in summer. They can be worn in multiple ways to add a finishing touch to any outfit. You can wear a sweater as a top with pants, jeans, and skirts, or use a cardigan to layer over shirts and dresses.
2. Business Casual Women Pants
Mid or high-rise pants are the staple of any business casual wardrobe. Wide-leg, straight, boot-cut, or slim fit dress pants, khakis, slacks, chinos, and suit pants are great for women’s business casuals. Make sure your work pants fit you well and have enough stretch for all-day comfort. The pants shouldn’t be sloppy or have frayed hems or ripped seams. Opt for neutral colors. Do not wear capris pants, leggings, shorts, joggers, sweatpants, yoga pants, leather pants, and cargo pants.
3. Business Casual Women Jeans
A pair of well-fitted jeans look great for work. You must go for mid-rise or high-waisted straight leg, wide leg, flared or boot cut dark-wash jeans with an appropriate top, shirt or blouse to create a sophisticated look. Make sure your jeans aren’t faded, ripped, torn, and don’t feature any holes or frayed hems. Also, avoid jeans with prints and embroidery. When it comes to business casual jeans, always go for neutrals colors (black, white, navy, tan, grey, and brown) which are always in style. Don’t even think about the low rise or overly skinny jeans that can generate heat.
4. Business Casual Women Dresses
Dresses are another business casual closet staple. You can wear a graceful sheath, wrap, shift, fit and flare, or A-line dress. Opt for neutral colors, and fabrics like silk, cotton, or linen. The length, fit, neckline, and sleeves of the dress should be appropriate for the work environment. The ideal length for a dress is a few inches above the knee to just below the knee. Stay away from mini, micro, maxi, sundresses, bodycon, high-low, and asymmetrical hemlines.
5. Business Casual Women Skirts
Although pants your go-to business casual attire, stylish and versatile skirts add a lovely diversity to your work closet. A-line, pencil, pleated, or wrap skirt in solid color or pinstripe/herringbone pattern offer polished femininity that’s ideal for businesswomen. The thumb rule for the business casual skirt is to pick the appropriate length and slit. The length of the skirt suitable for work is just above or right below the knees. If your skirt has a slit, then it should be the modest one. Stay away from mini, maxi, and skirts with high slit in front or back.
6. Business Casual Women Footwear
When it comes to business casual shoes, you have so many options to try. Flats, wedges, heels, boots, heels are excellent options for work. Footwear with closed-toe is more suited to an office setting than footwear with open toes.
Flats such as round-toe or pointed-toe ballerina flats, loafers, driving mocassins, brogues, or oxfords are a comfortable option for business casuals, especially if you need to walk around a lot in your workplace. If you are comfortable with heels go for pumps, slingbacks, t-straps, wedges, kitten, or block styles. Make sure that your heels should not be higher than four inches. For winter months, you can try booties or knee-high boots with an appropriate-length outfit.
Opt for black, navy, brown, tan, taupe, or nude colors for the footwear. Avoid shoes with too many straps, and embellishments. Also, stay away from stilettos, sneakers, sandals, open-toed shoes, blingy footwear, peep-toe shoes, running shoes, and high platform shoes. Make sure your shoes are clean and dust-free. And of course, no flip-flops or crocs to your office, as that would be way too casual.
7. Business Casual Women Accessories
Accessories like jewelry, watches, belts, and scarves not only add finish touches to your business casual outfit but also change your overall look.
8. Business Casual Jewelry:
Wear: Short pendant necklace, stud earrings, small hoops, a long metal delicate necklace, bracelet, ring (solitaire or eternity), a single strand white pearl necklace
Avoid: Large or costume jewelry, huge statement necklace, large flashy earrings, clanking bangles, cocktail rings, ankle bracelets, funky jewelry.
- You can even go for a gold or silver conservative watch.
- Add a silk scarf or a belt to accessorize a simple office outfit.
9. Business Casual Bags
Wear: Tote bag, laptop bag, backpack, simple-looking clutch, small briefcase, satchel, messenger bags
Avoid: Bucket bags, evening clutches, straw bags
10. Business Casual Makeup
The word ‘casual’ in business casual doesn’t give you unlimited freedom to experiment. Aim for a professional and natural look. Wear basic colored lipstick, and go for a light application of eyeliner. If you like to wear mascara, keep it natural. Always have manicured nails with a light neutral polish. Avoid fancy lipstick colors or heavy eye makeup for your workplace. We know that those things are fun, but reserve them for the weekends.
- Never wear baggy, old, or logo-ridden and offensive words or graphics garments.
- Make sure that your outfit is clean and ironed.
- Always prefer neutral and soft colors: black, grey, navy, cream, and white. Then, accentuate it with pops of color or printed pieces.
- The neckline should not be lower than 4 inches below your collarbone.
- Make sure that your bra straps are not visible.
- Avoid distracting jewelry pieces.
- Stick with one or two rings, besides a wedding ring.
- Your necklaces must not dangle between your cleavage.
- Never wear strong perfume and bold makeup.
- Must wear a camisole underneath a sheer shirt.
- Hair should be neatly combed and styled.
The idea behind business casual attire is to keep you relaxed in a professional setting. However, you are still expected to look polished and presentable. And if you have any doubt regarding your garments, makeup, or accessories, the thumb rule is to lean on the conservative side. For instance, if you are worried that your skirt is too short for wearing to work, promptly go for one that’s a bit longer.
Remember that any kind of formal attire is less about impressing and more about influencing. Confidence is the most important element of any business outfit, and that’s what you ultimately need to nail the business casual look.