Tips for Business Casual?

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  1. Hi everyone,

    I'm going to be starting a new job soon. It's a step up the ladder for me and I want to look the part. It's business casual which I find to be so frustrating. I almost miss wearing suits since suits are so easy to wear. You can't help but look great and competent when you wear a good suit.

    How can you do business casual without looking dowy but still look professional? Now I wear slacks and blouses and I get so bored of it. I'm little so I shy away from accessories like scarves which could dress things up a bit.

    I need to look competent and professional but want to look fashionable too. I look young for my age and am petite so I have to be err on the side of being professional over fashionable to be taken seriously.

    Any advice? I'm petite so I'm limited in my choices.

  2. I have found that if you go to a good Nordstrom or Saks or Ann Taylor (the key being a good SA) and tell them that you need business casual but you don't want to wear slacks and cardigans every day you can get some good suggestions. Also, check out little boutiques for unique slacks and pair them with a tank or shell and a fitted cute jacket. If you feel you are being boring, throw on a wild fun scarf around your neck or add some unique big necklace. Don't be afraid of the scarf!
  3. Hey Jennifer,

    I am petite as well and think I can give you some recommendations. Usually you cannot stray far from slacks and a blouse, but you can change their styles. For a top, great trendy yet conservative blouses include chloe and phillip lim. Pants, go with extra wide, form fitting, or slim. I love a great black slim pant from theory. Shoes, go with classic and not too high. A 1-2inch heel or wedge is great. I also wear scarved almost every day. I have some great alexander mcqueen and missoni ones. Only wear scarves when you feel it is necessary to complement your outfit. Simple jewelry is great too. A couple gold bangles with a beautiful john hardy ring is great.

    Here is a great example:
    chloe blouse, no scarf needed
    theory slim pants
    christian louboutin miminette wedge: i have in black b/c i think silver/gold is a bit too flashy
    ippolita matte gold bangles (3 is enough)
    hops this helps :smile:
  4. I work in a business casual setting too. For me, I like to look professional and put together. I tend to put a lot of classic clothes for work and save most of the trendy stuff for the weekends. While I don't go really trendy, it's important to find current-looking pieces. For example an 80s balzer with huge shoulder pads is clearly not current. I also emphasize fit of the clothes to maintain a more polished image.

    Here's what I do to keep from getting bored:

    1. Layer. First is think of things to wear over and under a top. For example you can wear a cami under a cardigan or sweater. You can wear a blazer in a casual fabric like cordoroy over a shell. I also love tie blouses and sweater vests (which can be pair with the blazer). Changing up the layers will help you build several looks out of a few pieces.

    2. Shoes really make an outfit look put together. I had a coworker that had the business casual look mastered and it took me a while to figure out why she always looked so pulled together - it was her shoes. They were also streamlined, current, pointed or round toe shoes. She never wore clunky shoes. (She also always had everything tailored to fit perfectly.)

    3. Prints. I think to incorporate print into my business wardrobe to add some pizzaz into the outfit. Printed tops, skirts, scarves, etc. The prints also add some dimension to the look and you can change the look up by bringing out different colors in the print. For example, it the blouse has blue, white, and yellow, you can make yellow more dominant with one outfit and the blue or white more dominant with another outfit. You can also mix in several colors and tie them together with the print.

    4. Mix up skirts and pants. Again I had a few corworkers that looked like they had the same outfit on everyday and I noticed they never mixed it up. It was always pants every day.

    5. Texture. Try to find items that bring in texture into your outfit to add some dimension. I love tweeds, silks, etc. Having several textures to an outfit make it more interesting.
  5. I work in a business casual environment too, and as Irishgal mentioned- check out Ann Taylor. It's reasonably priced, their clothes are of great quality, and they're polished and business-like but still feminine and stylish. Practically all my work clothes are from Ann Taylor! They also have a big petites section.

    Zoeyzoo mentioned some excellent points, and I also like to mix up pants and skirts. Wearing pants every day is boooring. In winter I'll alternate between pants and a warm wool or tweed skirt with black boots, and in summer I'll wear light, flowy skirts or linen pants. Good luck!
  6. I work in a business casual environment as well, so casual that you can wear jeans if you want. I have found that you need to mix it up, wear dresses with cardigans one day, and then a cute pencil skirt with streamlined blouse, and then a perfectly tailored pair of pants with a cute blouse the next. Jewelry can also spice up any outfit.

    Don't get too trendy though- its easy to do.

    try stores like ann taylor, white house/black market, and banana republic
  7. You have gotten lots of good advice and I will give you a couple of what not to do tips. If you are wearing a tight item, don't wear another tight item. For example, don't wear a fitted skirt AND a tight top. Wear one looser fitting item with a tight item so you don't look, for lack of a better word, slutty. Also, no flip flops and be careful with capris. We used to have people come to work (I am now a stay at home mom) who looked like they had just come in off the beach. VERY unprofessional.
  8. This is EXACTLY what I'm seeing! Since it's almost summer you won't believe the number of people who are showing up in tshirts, shorts, and flip flops! Very unprofessional IMO.

    I think the hardest thing about business casual is that to most people it often means sloppy, comfortable clothing and that is not the best image to project if you are in management or you want to move ahead.
  9. I think you can never go wrong with a fabulous white shirt. There are so many options out there that stray away from the conventional fitted white shirt. Why not try something with a princess cut? or puff sleeves? or ruffled?

    With shirts, you can easily wear something more fitted on the bottom like slim cut trousers or wide legged ones if you dare. And pair them with chunky heels.

    It's all about the look and accessories to pull a look together. While I must agree that shoes are super important, don't forget your hair/makeup AND accessories.

    Hair and makeup speak volumes about a person. There's no need to look like you're about to go on stage..just make sure you look healthy and are glowing.

    Accessories wise, you can use them to either dress up an outfit or dress it down. Belts, scarves, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, bags, etc. can really help you pull an entire outfit together. Remember not to overload. No one likes to see miss christmas tree walking into the office.