Are you confused about business casual dress in the workplace?
Here’s an explanation of what business casual means, and how you can put together a wardrobe that still looks professional.
Business casual dress combines the formal, dark colors of business wear, with the relaxed, comfortable look of casual wear. It’s not weekend wear, or sportswear. It’s somewhere in the middle ground.
Here are 9 dress guidelines for business casual attire:
1. Don’t think that anything goes. The biggest mistake in creating a business casual wardrobe is to think that you can just throw on anything you like. That may work for a few days. But you’ll soon find that you are running out of things to wear.
2. Keep your outfits simple. Pair a crisp shirt or blouse, or a nice sweater, with pants or a skirt that fit you well, in a neutral color. Add some accessories, such as a good watch, classic necklace or earrings, and you’re set for the workplace.
3. Plan your wardrobe. You have to plan your business casual wardrobe in the same way you plan a business formal wardrobe. You have to think about your needs, your body shape and personality, and your work environment. Then you have to shop carefully to put together a wardrobe that won’t cause you grief every morning as you wonder what to wear.
4. Create a capsule wardrobe: Create a capsule wardrobe based on a neutral pallet of navy, grey or black. Put together a few basic such as a jacket and pants or skirt that fit you well. Now you are all set to add color and accessories to suit your work style. This way you always have something to wear, and you’ll know that all the parts of your outfits work well together.
5. Dress for your industry and for your company. If you are meeting clients, in most companies it’s a good idea to have a jacket handy. A jacket instantly upgrades your look, and presents a polished, professional appearance, even if you normally wear business casual.
6. Choose your accessories carefully. You may be wearing a sweater and pants, but make sure your shoes are shined and stylish. Carry a good quality leather briefcase or handbag. Invest in a sharp-looking watch with a leather or metal band. Wear a leather belt to tie your look together.
7. Coordinate colors. Keep your color pallet simple, so everything works with every else. You don’t need to dress in charcoal grey or navy exclusively, but these neutral colors are a great basis for a capsule wardrobe. When you begin with 2 or 3 pairs of pants in black, navy or grey, you can add any color shirt or sweater and still look business-like. When you top it off with a jacket, you look ready for any business event.
8. Check your grooming. Make sure your hair is clean and has a style that suits you. Check that your fingernails are filed, with no jagged edges. Sometimes we don’t realize that we look less than fresh at the end of the day, when we may be heading out to see clients.
9. Give yourself a once-over in the mirror before you step outside. Look for loose threads, missing buttons, and scuffed heels. All of these details play an even bigger part of the picture when you wear business casual attire.