College is such an exciting (and scary) time, as we are all figuring out what to do with our lives. No matter what you’re going into, whether it is finance on Wall Street, fashion in Milan, or the peace corps, chances are you will have to be professional at some point in your job searching process. I am a member of a business fraternity (Delta Sigma Pi), and we have talked a lot about business appropriate attire, and I thought I would pass on this information to you guys. In part two of this article, I will discuss business casual attire. Part 1 dealt with business professional attire, and Part 3 will give some ideas for business appropriate hair and makeup.
Most of the fundamentals for business professional apply to business casual attire. You can view the whole post on business professional appropriate attire here. If you have no need for business professional attire, since it is typically only used for conservative jobs, such as a finance job or a law related job, this part of the guide is for you! Business casual attire is used most often at your typical company across all sectors, from engineers to human resources staff. It is easier to be a little more fashionable and show your personality when wearing business casual as opposed to business professional. Here is a list of some vital pieces to a business casual wardrobe. Some pieces are repeated from the business professional post. If you want suggestions for those pieces that double as pieces for business professional, click the link shown below them!
- 1-2 pencil skirts
- a pair of dress pants
- 2-3 blouses
(See post on business professional for suggestions for the pieces above)
- a pair of nice khaki pants, or a khaki pencil skirt
- dresses, dresses, dresses!
- 1-2 fun skirts
- 1-2 cardigans
- 2-3 sweaters
- thin belt
- 2 pairs of conservative heels
(See post on business professional for suggestions on the pieces above)
- thick belt
- 2 pairs of fun heels or flats
- a cute, carryall bag
- some cute jewelry
Business casual is where you can wear some more trendy pieces or louder patterns, but try to pair them with classics. You want to be fashionable, but still appropriate. Instead of investing in expensive, classic pieces to last you years (like you would for the business professional pieces), you can buy trendy pieces for cheaper prices, because styles tend to go in and out. I know I would not want to spend too much money on a dress that may only be considered fashionable for a few years. This is your chance to have fun with your wardrobe at work! For business casual, I tend to shop at Express, Victoria’s Secret, Kohl’s, Macy’s, ModCloth, H&M, and ASOS. I also like Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe, but only in moderation, as a lot of their pieces tend to be too sexy or revealing for work. You can pretty much shop anywhere and find something that would be appropriate for business casual attire, as it is a loose term.
A cardigan and a dress is always a safe bet. If you have a cute flyaway cardigan, a belt would work great on top of it. I, personally, love shoes, so I tend to wear exciting shoes when I have the opportunity to be in business casual attire. As far as shoes are concerned, try to stay away from anything really sexy (high stilettos, bright red heels, etc.), but open toe is okay. My suggestions are only just a few of the myriad of pieces considered acceptable for business casual. I cannot stress this enough – wear colors, patterns, layers, and have fun with it!
Guidelines for Business Casual Wear
- Pantyhose are not always necessary, but acceptable if you want to wear them. If the weather is cold though, wear pantyhose or tights.
- Still keep make up fairly conservative. You can have a bit more fun with it (a little cat eye, some lipstick), but you do not want it to be distracting.
- Try to wear some conservative colors mixed with fun colors, so you don’t come across as over-the-top.
- Shoes don’t always have to be closed toe, but flip flops are not okay either.
- A blazer is not required at all, but still acceptable. A full suit is considered too much.
- Have fun with business casual attire! This is your opportunity to show your personality at work. There aren’t too many concrete guidelines. Business casual pretty much means “just look nice.”
- Show cleavage, too much leg etc.
- Wear clothes that are too tight.
- Put on strong perfume.
- Wear anything that resembles lingerie, or anything you could wear to the club that night.
- Wear athletic shoes.
- Wear jeans (unless, after you have been there a few days, you realize everyone else wears jeans with a nice top/blazer, and you know it is acceptable).
One word of caution: Some companies designate their dress code as “business casual,” but in reality it is a lot more informal or a lot more formal. This is a very ambiguous dress code term, and you just have to guess, then alter what you wear based on what you see others wearing when you get there. One of the best business tips is to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Plus when you look nice, you will be more confident!
What do you think?
Do you have a great business casual outfit idea, or some fashion advice? Leave us a comment!