Keeping track of style etiquette is not on my list of things to do. The rules are constantly changing according to the whim of some random person in Milan, because that’s where I imagine the Fashion Illuminati have whims.
What I look like only matters in a professional setting, as far as I’m concerned. Which brings me to the topic at hand. Business casual. By definition, it’s a style of clothing that is less formal than traditional business wear, but still professional and businesslike. So, not quite suit and tie but nowhere near beach shorts and flip-flops. That’s a wide spectrum with a lot of room for error.
I wasn’t born stylish, I’ve had to pay attention. Just making sure I match takes some effort and I still make questionable choices. It took me some time to get my business attire right.
I know my comfort zone but I like to step outside the box sometimes too. I don’t like to be boring. Business casual is boring.
Here are some tips for making it interesting: (scroll down for details on each look)
- Don’t be sloppy. Wear clothes that fit properly with no rips, holes, or stains. Carry a tide stick in your purse. (if you’re anything like me, you will mess yourself at lunch).
- Layer it up. Invest in well made foundation clothing – structured jackets, tailored pants, camisoles and tanks – to build your wardrobe. Layers make boring seem interesting.
- Be classic. Trends come and go, so stick with classic pieces. Oxford’s and tweed will never go out of style.
- Embrace color. In a world full of dark suits and pleated pants, color can be your best friend. Start by incorporating your favorite color into your wardrobe.
- Work isn’t the place to take style risks. Leave thigh high boots and backless blouses for the weekend. Test out new looks with friends, not work associates.
- Don’t show any skin. Unless you work in a club it is never appropriate to show skin at work, no mini-skirts, wear tights, and keep your cleavage in check.
- Dress for the job you want. Not everyone has a dream job but we should dress like we do anyway.
- Be confident in your clothes. At the end of the day you wear the clothes, the clothes don’t wear you. Name brands don’t make you look good, your confidence does.
- Pick up on cues. Pay attention to what others are wearing in the office. I’m not suggesting you copy anyone’s style, just get a feeling for what’s appropriate.
- Be yourself. Interpret the dress code in your own unique way. You should absolutely express yourself in a way that works for work.
Button-up + Dark wash, straight-leg jean + Oxford’s = Foundation layer
Sweater + Blazer + Accessories = Finishing layers
More casual Friday than business casual but still very put together. Don’t have much use for a hot pink blazer? Are jeans forbidden in your office? That’s fine, you can pull these layers together using what you have in your closet.
Cropped blouse + High waist shorts + Knit tights + Flats = Foundation layer
Accessories + Pea coat = Finishing layers
Crop tops and shorts aren’t for everyone but this is my favorite, it’s just the right amount of quirky. You of course can interpret it in a way that works for you.
Never be boring. I’m a mom, running a freelance business out of my home, the most interesting thing that’s happened to me in the last week was the homemade chocolate ice cream I made. I am not living la vida loca by any stretch of the imagination. That doesn’t mean I have to look boring when I step out of the door. Casual, business or not, can be cute!