First impressions matter, especially in the workplace. With styles constantly shifting and employers having different definitions of what constitutes “proper attire” in the workplace, it can be tricky to find the right mix of fun, fashion, and function in a single outfit.
Particularly when “business casual” is the lay of the land, it can be tempting to rotate through the same tried-and-true outfits that skew towards comfortability instead of style. The following six tips are designed to help you make the most of a business casual dress code.
Get yourself a blazer
Nothing says business casual like a nice, fitted blazer. Spending the extra money to get it fitted ensures that it’s more stylish than something straight off the rack, and a basic black is perfect for dressing up a wide range of blouses and shirts. If you’re feeling like making a bolder statement, consider getting several blazers in a few different colors. You can coordinate these with your shoes for a nice accent that subtly and stylishly ties your outfit together.
Keep dresses easy and simple
There’s nothing wrong with wearing a dress to a business casual workplace, but it’s important that your dress matches the workplace. Especially in a work environment where some administrators are dressed up, but other employees are dressed down, it’s important to strike the right balance with your dress. Keeping your dress simple and straightforward is one way to succeed in this area. Keep prints to a minimum and colors solid. Jewel tones and pastels, like turquoise, lilac, or pink dresses are great options because they’re vibrant colors which avoid being obnoxiously loud.
Make sure your shoes are comfortable
Heels certainly have a place in any workplace, but be sure to find heels that fit comfortably. One of the biggest factors to consider with any outfit is how restrictive it could be while you’re working. Most offices require some light manual labor or the use of stairs, so it’s important that you wearing clothes that you’re comfortable sitting in, standing in, and everything in between. Comfort is most important in your shoes, so if you really need to wear a pair that’s less-than-ideal, consider adding an insole to keep up your productivity.
Think of bags as accessories
Most people have a bag they bring to work with them every day. Often, these purses, satchels, or backpacks have a purely utilitarian purpose: holding the stuff you might need during your commute and workday. That said, thinking of bags as accessories can be a helpful way to complete an outfit that seems to be missing something. Swapping shapes, materials, and sizes can help spice up even the most run-of-the-mill outfit, adding pizzazz without sacrificing function.
Swap out the blazer for a cardigan when the weather gets colder
Blazers are great when temperatures are mild to warm, but what should you do when autumn or winter weather approaches? In these cases, it’s wise to switch your blazer for a similarly colored cardigan or a nice, cable-knit sweater. These can add much-needed warmth to the same outfits you wore with your blazer, while still allowing you to layer with different tops and button-downs to create a more professional look.
Keep jewelry simple
Many women like wearing jewelry at work, and with good reason. Jewelry is a subtle, yet effective way to accent your outfit, even if the components are pieces you’ve cycled through over the course of the last few weeks. Switching necklaces or earrings helps keep your outfits fresh, but it’s important to follow similar guidelines to your approach with dresses when it comes to these accessories. A simple bracelet or pair of stud earrings are much more effective than gaudier pieces. If the rest of your outfit is on the simpler side, though, don’t be afraid to accessorize with something a little more playful.
While navigating others’ definitions of “business casual” can be tricky from office to office, it doesn’t have to be challenging. Dress codes are meant to keep an air of professionalism, which is possible even while you’re staying up with the latest trends. With the simple tips above, you’re sure to make the right impression in any workplace.