The disparate offerings from this season’s runways may require us to give athleisure and soft girl aesthetic a try. Still, despite the current sartorial landscape, there is one type of lewk that needs to be in our fashion arsenal no matter what: The business casual style!
While most minimalist-style dressers always seem to know exactly how to master the business casual dress code, office wear is arguably one of the areas most diluted with disarray. However, there are plenty of ways to incorporate your own aesthetic into the “traditional” office dressing alchemy.
You see, the infamous business casual look is not solely based on unimaginative black trousers and white button-ups. On the contrary, building a work-appropriate wardrobe can be fun, creative, and deeply personal.
But first, we need to understand what are business casual outfits. Keep reading to find out.
- What is the business casual style?
- Why business casual is important?
- Your 2022 business casual style guide
- What not to wear at work
- Get our sustainable closet workbook
What is the business casual style?
The business casual style is a mix of formal, professional attire and casual off-duty pieces that still looks put-together. So basically, this hybrid of business professional and casual wear doesn’t require you to wear a full-on suit, but strapless sundresses and hoodies are also out of the question.
The business casual dress code mostly focuses on simple, “clean” pieces like elegant business skirts, slacks, semi-formal tops, casual shirts, blazers, and subtle jewelry. The good news is that you can easily adjust all types of fashion styles to fit into your business casual look clothing formula.
Why business casual is important?
The business casual style was born in Silicon Valley in the early 1980s and was quickly adopted by tech companies like Atari, Apple, and Sun Microsystems. The oh-too-confusing business casual style is simply a way to give employees the freedom to wear comfortable (and work-appropriate) clothing that won’t distract them from their duties.
It’s no secret that formal suits can weigh heavily after a long day at the office. However, there are many more reasons why companies reinforce the idea of business casual dress codes. A dress code policy allows the company to set expectations regarding the image they want its team to convey.
So let’s get down to the needy greedy of styling the business casual dress code.
Your 2022 business casual style guide
Business casual suits
Do not confuse these suits with traditional formal workwear attire. Power dressing is a new era of contradictory styling. Think sharp-shouldered blazer paired up with perfectly tailored, straight, or tapered trousers enhanced with a medium waistband. You can layer them with satin button-up shirts, roll-neck sweaters, or even t-shirts. Depending on the workplace, you can style them with chunky heel slingbacks, black leather loafers, or ballet flats.
Business casual style tops
There is a slew of work-appropriate tops and blouses to choose from. Opt for colors that complement your skin tone, eyes, and hair color. From collared, boat neck, and square neck to turtleneck styles, the options are many. Muted florals, plaid, pastels, and geometric prints are all perfectly accepted. And in general, fabrics like wool, silk, and light cotton are preferred.
Business casual looks with total knits
Temperatures are dropping, so let’s make it work to your advantage. Head-to-toe neutral-colored tones like cream, beige, and caramel work perfectly together and give an elegant vibe. So opt for a sweater with V-neck, crew, or turtleneck. Cardigans are also a great alternative. These staples also come with a slew of layering possibilities. You can layer a button-down shirt underneath and pop out the collar to add some personality to your business casual look.
Business casual skirts or dresses
Pretty much every blouse, top, or shirt will also perfectly match your business casual skirts. Try a pencil, A-line, or pleated skirt in a solid color. They go perfectly with your cardigans and blazers and can also be styled with sweaters. It would be best to keep the hemline a few inches above the knee to just below the knee, just to be sure.
The business casual dress code can also adhere to your ever-lasting obsession with dresses. Just make sure they are appropriate. There are many options, from silky-soft v-neck midi dresses to maxi tea dresses. You can play around with different prints like polka dots, gingham, muted florals, etc.
Accessories for the business casual look
Printed silk scarves with much texture and color can instantly upgrade even the simplest monochromatic looks. Simple, everyday jewelry like delicate necklaces, classic studs, and gold or silver watches are also fantastic for work. Just make sure to avoid huge statement pieces that instantly draw attention.
Business casual style shoes
So what about the shoes? A classic leather pointy-toed pair of heels in dark hues is a must. It doesn’t have to be high. You can opt for kitten heels, low-block heels, and everything in between — but no platform! A heeled bootie with a classic silhouette can also be appropriate. However, leather or suede moccasins and loafers are everyone’s favorite work-ready footwear — because they are so freakin’ versatile!
What not to wear at work
Now that you have a pretty good idea of how to master the business casual style let’s go over some don’ts.
- Jeans or denim unless it’s a common work attire at your office
- Shorts or skorts are a big no-no
- Sweatpants or yoga pants and leggings should be avoided
- Leather trousers or skirts are a no (unless it’s a blazer or a coat)
- Body-con dresses and anything too-reveling
- Crop tops and strapless blouses and dresses
- Shimmer and sequins
- High-platform shoes and open-toe shoes also don’t fall into the business casual style type of dressing
- Lace or sheer clothing
- Baggy clothes with no shape
- Sneakers (if not worn regularly by other employees as well)
- Sleeveless tops or dresses with no jacket or blazer
- Low V-neck necklines
- Statement designer logos
- And lastly, too much makeup with too dark or bold statement colors