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
- Fall Business Casual Outfit Explained
- Blazer and Sweater Winter Business Casual Style
- 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
- Avoid a Style Rut by Adding a Twist Reflecting Your Personal Style
- Another Summer Business Casual Outfit with a Zipper Twist
- Accessorizing Professional Outerwear with a Head Scarf, Russian Scarf, ….
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
More office outfit tips including safety needs in dressing for female civil engineers.
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 in neutrals. In the example below, the dark blue is the anchor color for the outfit.
Using these analogous colors creates an ageless monochromatic look. 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 for a real 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 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. The look is a twist on the tweed skirt with twinset Euro Chic Style.
Pay Attention to Shape and Proportions for a Posh Office Look
Belt a long cardigan for shape. When layering, keep an eye on the proportions. You don’t want to layer and look fat. As a rule of thumb, go for short over long or long over short. Never combine two items of 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 too close, the lines fight with each other for attention. More on chic work appropriate winter layering looks.
Also go for combinations like tight with loose. Never wear a loose piece at the top and at the bottom because it gives the illusion of being heavy, and looks frumpy.
Finish your Office Look with Accessories
For a great chic work look, wear accessories differently. 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.
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. 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. 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.
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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.
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 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 the venue and time. Another tricky situation is to dress for an EoB party. For instance, when your need 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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