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?
- A Business Casual Style Recipe: Revisit the Classics
- Statement Piece: Red Blazer
- Blazer and Sweater Winter Business Casual
- Dress for the Weather, not the Season to Look Work Appropriate
- 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
- Accessorizing Professional Outerwear with a Head Scarf, Russian Scarf, ….
- Other Work 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.
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.
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.
Blazer and Sweater Winter Business Casual
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 in the post at the link.
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.
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.
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.
Other work looks
Don’t let the right outfit be a random thing. Wear the right look in every situation by looking up what to wear when in How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy the book now.
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Photos: G. Kramm
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