What does “Business Casual” mean in today’s professional world? At a time when there are a variety of hashtags on social media around the fashion industry, one of the thousands being #OTD (outfit of the day), the meaning of “business casual” can feel like an can be more of an enigma. This dress code, at one point, was meant to alleviate the stress of what to wear to the office. Now, it’s complicated.
Your work environment, job description, and goals for promotion all play a key role in your professional wardrobe choices. Don’t misconstrue the word “casual” with “relaxed.” Keep in mind that business casual should still be office professional and acceptable in the workplace.
Today, business casual can be somewhat ambiguous and puzzling with so many options. Are you tired of scrolling through Pinterest? Afraid to enter your closet? Learn how to put your best foot forward and elevate your brand with these do’s and don’ts—no matter the dress code.
If denim is permitted, then consider a tailored pair in a darker wash with a blazer and a pretty underpinning. Distressed denim albeit chic is fabulous for an evening out, but is typically not appropriate for the office. With this look, a casual cotton or wool pant (depending on the season) can replace the denim if you choose. Heels always look perfect with this look, but a pair of polished flats are just as beautiful.
The casual dress—that is an elusive category! What does that mean for the office? Consider a shift dress or a wrap-around silhouette and finish off with a kitten heel shoe.
Skirts and shirts. With this category, be mindful of the skirt length. With never-ending options from a-line, to maxi or just above the knee, all are a winning choice. Pair your skirt with a light-weight sweater for transitional purposes, or pair it with a ruffled blouse for that feminine touch. Going for a more minimal look? A cotton shirt in varying sleeve lengths is a must-have staple. Finish off with a wedge heel for a more casual touch.
Flip flops, Birkenstocks, or any sandal with a separated toe strap are fabulous for the beach or that weekend getaway—but let’s keep them there. Although there are many bedazzled versions showcased on the runway, they are not office-friendly. If you are going to wear an open-toe shoe, take notice of your pedicure.
Athleisure. This wardrobe choice is perfect for running your errands, working from home, the casual brunch or going to that Barre class—not for the workplace.
Anything transparent—save it for date night or drinks with the girls.
What you wear is a statement of your personal brand and who you are in every aspect of your life. In the workplace, it is important to keep in mind what you want to communicate. You should always command respect, display professionalism as a form of expression. As women today, our wardrobe choices are endless, but it is the message we deliver that we should always be mindful of.
Over the years, I have learned to dress first and foremost for myself, just as anyone should—the first person to impress is yourself! Being cautious and mindful of your environment is a big part of showing respect to others. The perfect fit for you, a pressed wardrobe is a perfect place to start. Being polished, pulled together and groomed will have you being the CEO of your brand— after all, that is the ultimate goal.