Dressing for work and still managing to express your style can be a hard thing to juggle. One thing I’ve noticed since joining the workforce is companies are totally different. Where I work it’s much more casual than where my friends work, but I’ve also worked at places where you have to go all-out in business attire. Also as a former sorority I had to dress up in business casual and formal attire every single Monday so I am no stranger to it. So I’ve put together some options for different types of business casual outfits!
For nicer clothing you’re spending a good deal of money, that’s why it’s worth investing in some versatile basics. One tip is that blazers make most casual outfits formal, so splurge on that if you have to because you’ll get a lot of wear out of it! Here are some blazer suggestions, I think its’a good rule of thumb to pick a lighter color, one darker one, and a fun one to spice an outfit up:
Tops are always an essential, try to pick more structured tops for a design that is timeless. A light sweater to go on top of a structured top is also an easy way to offer a little warmth for a cold office but easy to take off when you leave the office for lunch. A brightly colored top will spice up a boring outfit, like the red one pictured below (I’m pretty partial to the color red, so you’ll be seeing a lot of it). Red has been proven to attract more attention, especially from men, so even out of the office you’ll be able to put it to good use! And a neutral-colored sweater you could easily wear on the weekends or around the house, makes a nice top to wear with structured pants. A fun tip is you can actually find a lot of these tops at your local Goodwill or thrift store so you don’t have to break the bank looking for one. Sure, there will be some less than desirable, worn-out ones but occasionally you can find a solid button-down or designer top for less than bucks.
What should you wear with these new tops? This is where I would also splurge or invest, however you’d like to phrase it. Pants go with a lot of different tops so spend your money here. I love pants from Gap because they go with a lot, don’t wear over time and usually come in fun colors or patterns. Also a fun way to spice up your outfit is to pick a pan with a flare to it, it gives more shape to the pant.
Dresses are my personal favorite because it’s a one-stop shop. All you have to do is slip it on and your work is done for you. There are three things to look for when picking out a dress for work. First, look for a higher neckline, because cleavage in the office is not okay! Second, on the opposite end keep your hemline longer. I went to an all-girls high school and the rule was at least three inches above the knee. Some offices may prefer you keep your knees covered, it just depends on your environment. Last but not least, try to look for dresses with detail at the waist. This gives the dress character and lets you express yourself a little with all the other confines you are working under in putting this look together. You can find some of these dresses at thrift stores, although, I’ll be honest it’s less common than finding a solid top or even a sturdy blazer.
Sometimes I think finding the perfect pair of shoes is like finding a “solemate” because rarely are work appropriate shoes comfortable. I’m a fan of flats and boots because they are much more comfortable than heels. An alternative option are wedges, which is most of shoe collection, wedges are harder to trip in and generally more comfortable. None are pictured below, but you can typically find reasonably priced wedges. Boots tend to be expensive, but I’ll admit they’re worth the splurge because they go with a lot of outfits.
Finally accessories! Accessories are my absolute favorite because you really get to express yourself with them more than with other items you wear to work. I’ve pulled together some classic accessories that reflect my style below. A watch is a really nice investment, even if you get a simple gold one from Target because it will allow you to keep an eye on time without looking at your phone while in a meeting.
Another fantastic accessory is scarves! Even if it’s the middle of summer you can pair a scarf with a top and pull it off. I have the scarf pictured below, from The Gap (can you tell I love that store?), and it’s great because it’s got florals so it’s easy to wear any time of the year.
Best of luck to you in picking out your outfits for work, hope this helps you stay professional and fashionable. As an added treat here’s one of my work outfits. I paired a sweater with a Juicy Couture necklace that was a gift from someone special. I paired it with the red Gap pants pictured above, a button down white shirt under a patterned blue/white sweater, and nude heels.