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Casual work outfit of London Jean boyfriend jeans, Oliveo blazer, unbranded striped top, geometric silk scarf, Steven Mary Janes and GNW polka dot socks

Best business casual style is not a personal style, but a work style. It’s the classics revisited for comfort when doing some “physical” work beyond the desk job. Read how you get the look right and include a bit of your personal style. Who wants to wear a uniform?

Contents
    1. A Business Casual Style Recipe: Revisit the Classics
    2. Statement Piece: Red Blazer
    3. Fall Business Casual Outfit Explained
    4. Blazer and Sweater Winter Business Casual Style
    5. Dress for the Weather, not the Season to Look Work Appropriate
    6. Look for Posh Chic Color Combinations
      • Pay Attention to Shape and Proportions for a Posh Office Look
      • Finish Your Office Look with Accessories
      • My Five Cents on Accessorizing a Business Casual Work Look
      • Have a Signature Piece
    7. Avoid a Style Rut by Adding a Twist Reflecting Your Personal Style
      • Another Summer Business Casual Outfit with a Zipper Twist
    8. Accessorizing Professional Outerwear with a Head Scarf, Russian Scarf, ….
    9. Other Business Casual Style Looks

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A Business Casual Style Recipe: Revisit the Classics

Wearing jeans with a white button-down shirt, leopard print pumps, red blazer and pearls in a modern way is a timeless business casual style work outfit for women. An easy update of this look with the Sarah Palin red blazer is to choose cuffed boyfriend jeans and a chambray shirt and multiple pearl necklaces as shown in the inspirational photos below.

 

style blogger in classic work outfit of red blazer with jeans, shirt and pearls

fashion blogger over 50 in red blazer, jeans, chambray shirt, leopard print pumps and pearls
Business casual style outfit details: Red blazer, London Jean cuffed boyfriend jeans, Oliveo chambray shirt and Aldo leopard print pumps

 

Statement Piece: Red blazer

Red is a strong, very emotionally intense color. We associate it with blood, danger, war, strength, energy, power, determination, passion and love. Seeing red affects the feelings and behavior. No wonder that historically this color was often used to indicate that the wearer is important and powerful. No wonder that the red blazer was one of the signature pieces of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. She would wear it with a black straight mini skirt or black pants (see below). After her election, many young women dressed for fun in the Midnight Sun run in a red blazer.

 

Sarah Palin by LadyPutz is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
“Sarah Palin” by LadyPutz is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

 

Stylist tip: A red blazer is an eternal classic. It looks great with jeans, a chambray shirt and leopard print pumps. A very classic office look to revisit when you have to rescue last minute dressing problems.

Fall Business Casual Outfit Explained

This fall business casual look features layering a jean jacket over a cashmere sweater over a long sleeve Tee (non-visible on purpose). The look uses classic black, white and blue. Since the skirt has some hints of tan color, I repeated the hue with a tan collar that I pinned to the jacket with safety pins. The collar was a thrift find at a store in town more than 10 years ago.

over 50 year old in business casual look

50+ woman in chic hounds tooth skirt with jean jacket

#maturestyle Alaskan woman in posh casual look
Outfit details: Great Northwest oversize denim jacket, Banana Republic hounds tooth skirt, GNW tight, L.K. Bennett boots, Jord watch, and Kieselstein Cord belt (all own)

 

 

Blazer and Sweater Winter Business Casual

polka dot socks and Mary Janes

cameo cat pendant and geometric print silk scarf

Alaskan stylist in blazer, boyfriend, sweater look
Outfit details: London Jean boyfriend jeans, smoky quartz flower statement belt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Oliveo custom-made linnen blazer, cat necklace (gift from my husband), GNW polka dot socks, Steve Madden Mary Janes, Jeanne and Pierre striped sweater and silk scarf (all own)

 

Of course, the Mary Janes are for indoors at the office. For the commute to work you can wear booties. However, the outfit just screams for some fancy shoes or socks like these polka dot pair that picks up the colors of the scarf of the indoor outfit. The cat necklace also picks up the colors of the silk scarf. My husband bought this necklace as the cat looks like my tom cat Kasimir. The linen blazer and boyfriend jeans can be worn year-round. It is just an underwear issue and and a question of layering to stay in thermal comfort.

You can find office outfit tips including safety needs in dressing for female civil engineers at the link.

Dress for the Weather, not the Season to Look Work Appropriate

December has been unusually warm so far. Thus, I used this as an invitation to dress like I dress in the typically short week or two of fall. In the featured photo, I even wear my turquoise fall booties. Of course, I have to admit that on that day I had a ride to the office. Thus, my toes had not much of a chance to get cold. I had just to walk from the curbside to the entrance. Typically, in December, one has to bundle up as is shown in this December Lookbook for Alaska. But who would complain, right?

business casual fall outfit with double denim and blazer
Custom made Oliveo linen blazer and Oliveo jeans, Great Northwest denim shirt, smoky quartz belt, Ralph Lauren silver pumps, 3.1 Phillip Lim bag

 

over 50 years old fashion blogger in business casual look with thrifted boots
Anne Klein glen check blazer, Ethyl Clothing flare jeans, Oliveo button down shirt, statement belt, Escada denim booties, black pearls

 

Look for Posh Chic Color Combinations

This office outfit is created around blue shades and hues. Using neighboring colors of the color wheel always yields a chic color combination. It’s an easy analogous colors look you want to add to your dressing tricks. Doing so looks especially posh and work appropriate when the colors are based around a neutral. In the example shown here, the dark blue serves as the anchor color for a posh casual office outfit.

style blogger over 50 in chic Casual Friday look in denim and tweed

mature blogger in posh blue monochromatic work outfit
Outfit details of posh monochromatic blue office look: DIY statement necklace, Jacket Society biker tweed jacket, Oliveo denim skirt, GNW tight, Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, and Nicole suede leather fall sandals (all own)

 

Using these analogous colors gives the feel of an ageless monochromatic look when you ensure that the colors stay close to the anchor color. The advantage is that one does not have to work with different texture and shine to keep the outfit interesting. Doing so is a Must, when going for a straight monochromatic look.

 

Classic Color Combinations Work Well for the Office

Another fool-proof color combination for posh chic at work is the eternal American Classic style gray plus blue and black. In the business casual office look shown in the photo below, I re-visited the classics – gray cashmere sweater, dark gray tweed skirt, and blue cardigan. To not look Old Lady I picked a trendy long cardigan. This means the look is a twist on the typical business casual outfit of tweed skirt with twinset.

 

Pay Attention to Shape and Proportions for a Posh Office Look

Furthermore, I belted the long cardigan for shape. When layering, one has to pay an eye to the proportions. This caution applies to shape. You don’t want to layer and look fat. It also applies to the hem lines. As a rule of thumb, go for short over long or long over short. Never combine two items that have about the same hem length. It looks as if one piece shrunk. The eye gets irritated which line to look at. Any line is a break and hence attention goes to that line. When they are to close, it feels like the lines fight with each other for attention. You can find more on chic layering in the guide at the link.

 

mature fashion blogger in classic blue and gray work outfit with trendy long cardigan

 details of belt buckle, necklace, and bangles

influencer in business casual outfit with long cardigan, knee length tweed skirt and boots
Outfit details of gray and blue business casual office look: Trendy long Philosophy cardigan, knee length Eddie Bauer tweed skirt, Gucci belt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Science Jewellery DNS bangle, DIY silver and steal necklace, GNW tight, and Vince Camuto boots (all own)

 

Also go for combinations like tight with loose. Never wear a loose piece at the top and at the bottom. Doing so will add pounds that you don’t actually have. Who needs that?

It’s also a recipe to look frumpy.

Finish your Office Look with Accessories

For a great chic work look, add some accessories. Add on until it looks right. Sometimes it is hard to identify. Then look whether the added piece sends the look over the edge. If that’s the case, take the added piece off.

In other words, you are not a Christmas tree.

lady in winter outerwear with Russian scarf and white hat
Professional posh chic winter outerwear with shearling coat, Pavlova Russian scarf, shearling hat, LeatherCoatsEtc. cashmere lined leather gloves, AMS neckerchief on structured bag, GNW tight, and Vince Camuto slouchy suede boots (all own)

My Five Cents on Accessorizing a Business Casual Work Look

My rules of thumb are short or no necklace with a statement belt; long statement necklace with studs and no belt; long earrings without necklace plus statement belt. Read more on which earrings are best for you.

 

Have a Signature Piece

In my case, it’s my collier de chien bangle. It is my signature piece. As such, I don’t consider it as an accessory, but more like the identification ring of a bird. LOL. It’s part of me, not part of my outfit.

 

Avoid a Style Rut by Adding a Twist Reflecting Your Personal Style

Business casual like corporate work style can easily get boring. You have to stay within the lines of the HR approved work dress code. After a while you wear your looks on repeat, feel bored and urged to buy new clothes to switch things up. However, when on a fashion budget like most of us, shopping may not be an option each time when you feel like you are caught up in a style rut or feel bored/unhappy with the options in your closet. Now what?

Stylist tip: Add a twist reflecting your personal style.

If your personal style is Rock’n Roll, a zipper detail will do the trick. This outfit is a skirt version of Casual Friday. The pumps keep the look office appropriate. For the commute to work, add a classic trench coat with a pop of color to improve the mood on a rainy day. When dressing make sure to

Be yourself - everyone else is already taken. - Oscar Wilde Click To Tweet

While this Tee had the zippers, you can easily upcycle an old T-shirt by sewing on zippers or dyeing it to give your wardrobe a new twist. Other twists could be an unusual color combination or wearing a bold color separates look.

 

 

Another Summer Business Casual Outfit with a Zipper Twist

The example below is a work outfit in all neutral colors for a warm summer day. The lizard belt is a shade darker than the shoes. The color of the shoes elongates the legs. The zippers on the side of the pants add a twist to this classic look. This look works because the black color of the top and the black in the print pick up the black weave in the linen pants. The brown hues in the cardigan pick up the hue of the Kieselstein Cord belt and sling backs.

Nicole of High Latitude Style donning a classic, casual posh look with zipper details at the ankles

blogger in linen pants, blouse, cardigan illustrating summer business casual style
Outfit details: Printed cotton 3/4 sleeve GNW cardigan, Oliveo linen pants with zipper detail, Ray Ban sunglasses, Hermes collier de chien bangle, smoky quartz necklace, Anne Klein sling back pumps, and Jones New York black silk top (all own)

 

Don’t let your outfit be a random thing. Learn How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy the book now.

 

Accessorizing Professional Outerwear with a Head Scarf, Russian Scarf, ….

When you have to meet with clients your outerwear becomes part of your work gear. Dress to impress. Accessorize your outerwear with a Russian wool scarf or any other pop of color.

business casual outerwear of loden coat with Russian scarf
Burberry motorcycle coat, London Jean jeans, GNW socks, Steve Madden Mary Janes, structured bag, Russian scarf

 

In windy climate, a hat may fly away. A knotted silk head scarf looks more professional than a pompom hat. When I was a kid I saw a photo of Sophia Loren wearing a silk scarf with a winter coat in one of my granny’s magazines. That photo inspired me to copy the look using my mom’s silk scarf. She forbid me to don the look. No, she didn’t mind at all that I had used her silk scarf. Her association with the look were the refugee tracks from areas in Germany that today belong to Poland.

I love this work outerwear look. There is such a nice tension between the heavy wool of a pea-coat and the softness of a printed silk scarf. The colors of the scarf pick up the black of the shoes and gloves, the brown of the bag and shoes, the gold and red of the coat. The scarf ties this outerwear outfit together. Speaking of a pea-coat it’s another evergreen. Learn more about what to look for in a pea-coat.

style book author in pea coat with head scarf and jeans
Classic look of LeatherCoatsEtc red pea-coat with London Jean boyfriend jeans, Michael Kors camouflage booties, YSL bag and silk scarf (all own)

 

Other Business Casual Style Looks

There are times when dressing for the office is tricky. Typically, an office appropriate  Halloween look requires careful considerations. Also whether or not to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day. Often a look that keeps people guessing can be a good way to dress for St. Patrick’s Day.

In August, during the dog days, how to beat the summer office outfit challenge is tricky.

Dressing for the office holiday party depends on whether it is an end of the day event in the meeting room of the office building or whether it is an evening in a room at a hotel. Another tricky situation is to dress for an end of business party when your work attire must do double duty, i.e. meet the work dress code and be suitable for the party with small changes. For instance, an outfit to go from work to picnic.

Finally, for the decisions which pieces to add to your business casual wardrobe  depend on their suitability for the work you perform. For instance, the best dress code tips for female engineers include safety aspects. When you have to spend a lot of your work time outside, your own interest of reducing your risk for skin cancer may include job appropriate, but sun safe work outfits.

 

Don’t let the right outfit be a random thing. Learn How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy the book now.

 

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Photos: G. Kramm

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