5 Guidelines for Business Casual Attire

Business Casual at WorkMy job is a large aspect of my life – I really enjoy what I do and I spend a good chuck of my weekly hours there. When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a doctor and thought that my work attire would consist of scrubs and tennis shoes, but, shortly into my Freshman year of college, I realized the medicine route was not for me (thanks, chemistry). I know that I, personally, made the right choice to go on a different career path and it is great that my office is business casual which allows me to share my personality. I have periodically posted some of my favorite looks from work (often times dresses – they are extremely comfortable and very little thinking is involved in the morning) and you can find these posts here, here and here.  Since I spend five days of the week in business casual, I thought I would share a few practices I follow for my work wardrobe! Work Attire Business Casual

Here are my 5 guidelines for dressing for the business casual work environment.

  1. Dont’ be afraid of colors: So, I have never had this problem – On the first day of my first internship, I really stood out.  I had just graduation from high school and had landed an internship with NASA. I had no idea what dressing business casual meant and I loved color. So, I wore a yellow (with sparkles) short-sleeve blazer (I mean it’s Houston in the summer), a black shirt, black slacks and these muted yellow and grey heels I found at Marshall’s. I thought I looked awesome! When I showed up on the first day, everyone else was in a sea of black, navy and grey suits, so I definitely stood out. Should I have worn a traditional suit that day? Yeah, probably so, but was anything completely ruined or was anyone completely offended by my yellow jacket – nope (well, at least not that I am aware of). I have started to adopt the mindset of “will this colorful item of clothing significantly distract my colleague or client today?” If not, I will wear the amount of color that I feel comfortable in! Fashion should be fun and, to me, wearing a bit of color, helps to make the work day a little more fun, too!
  2. Color streamline: So you may be reading this and thinking, “wait, didn’t Emily just say that I shouldn’t be afraid of colors?” Yep, I sure did. So, this is a bit different than being afraid of colors. This has to do more with your neutrals. I always recommend wearing one item of color and trying to keep the rest of your outfit neutral. It helps to make sure that the outfit is easily received by your colleagues and, especially, management. So color streamlining is choosing one or two neutrals to base most of your outfits off of. For example, I have chosen to ground my outfits with black, so I invest in a few pairs of black slacks, blazers, cardigans and shoes. And then I try to match my colored pieces to this. I think there are two main benefits of streamlining: 1) it saves a ton of time in the morning – I know that I have something that will match to my black slacks and cardigan 2) it can save money – when I first started out I had a few tops that matched with brown slacks, others that matched with navy or khaki and then those that would go with black. I ended up spending money on multiple colors of slacks when I tended to grab my black ones the most. At the end of the day, it helped me to cut back on some unnecessary items that I barely wore and therefore, saved me money.
  3. Find the right fit: Always make sure it is the right cut and lengths while sitting down – I spend probably 90% of my days sitting in meetings or at my computer, so this test is extremely important. I can’t tell you how many shirts I have purchased that fit great when I was standing up in the dressing room, but when I sit down, they slip down to show my bra or the buttons will start to pull and, again, show my bra (can you tell I have a hard time finding tops for work….) This rule also goes for skirts and dresses – when I sit down I always make sure they don’t ride up to a point that I would be uncomfortable or inappropriate for the office. Another thing that I always look for is that the item is comfortable to wear – there is nothing worse than pulling at my clothes all day.
  4. Find the right shoes: So, yes – the fit of a shoe is extremely important in terms of comfort. I have bought many pairs of shoes that I loved, but only wore for a few minutes because they killed my feet – and they were mainly heels. Since I don’t find heels to be particularly comfortable, I wear flats 95% of the time to work. There are days that I either feel like I need to wear heels for a presentation/meeting or I just want the height to flatter my outfit, but I always have a pair of Tieks on hand to quickly change into if I have to walk long distances. In my opinion, flats are just as professional as heels as long as your flats in good condition and that your pants are falling at the right length for flats. I tend to stick with a classic ballet flat for work, but there are so many options to choose now!!
  5. Accessorize wisely: If you have been following SGSB for awhile, you may know how much I love accessories, especially statement necklaces! But it is important to remember that only one statement piece can really be worn for work. I personally can’t stand wearing additional bracelets or rings during the work day because they get in the way of typing (#priorities), but necklaces are perfect to play with to add a pop. When adding a statement necklace for work, I tend to stick to the metals (gold, silver, rose gold) and the simpler the piece the better. The necklaces worn in this post and this post follow that thought process.

What do y’all think? Do you have any other practices you have when it comes for dressing for the office? I would love to hear about them!

Business Casual for Office

Dress: Boden | Wedges: Old | Bag: Tory Burch (Similar) | Earrings: Similar | Watch: Michele

Boden blue dress

Business Casual Attire

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64 Comments

  1. Laura wrote:

    I am LOVING this bag! Great post!

    Posted 10.30.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thank you, Laura!!

      Posted 11.5.15 Reply
  2. Erica MacDonald RN (@Writer_EricaMac) wrote:

    Awesome tips. I love your point about comfortable shoes! This is a real thing for me too. There is nothing WORSE than shoes that pinch or hurt your feet in a 8 hour work day (unless it is a horrible boss. lol).

    Posted 10.30.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thank you, Erica! I totally agree! When my feet are good – I am a much nicer person!

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  3. Nicole C L wrote:

    I love your outfit! Earrings and rings are the accessories that I can’t wear. I’m on the phone too much for earrings to be practical. I love your tips!

    Posted 10.30.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thank you so much, Nicole! I totally understand the earring thing. If I have a long day of calls, I will sometimes have to take my earring out or put in my headphones.

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  4. GlamKaren wrote:

    LOVING all the color! That is fabulous and you look great!
    xx, Karen
    GlamKaren

    Posted 10.30.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thank you, Karen!! I am a big proponent of color…. 😀

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  5. Natalie @ www.AFitPhilosophy.com wrote:

    You are so cute! This is a very “Adele-ish” look and I love it!

    Posted 10.30.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thanks so much, Natalie! I appreciate the sweet reference! I love Adele and can’t wait to hear her new album!

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  6. Great tips! I’m always looking for ways to spice up my work wardrobe. Do you Instagram? Tag your work looks under #myofficechic. I feature some each week.

    Posted 10.30.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thanks, Brittany! I will definitely use the hashtag for my business attire posts. Thanks for letting me know!

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  7. Amanda R wrote:

    Love the color-blocking on you!! And such great tips! <3
    xoxo,
    Amanda | http://www.TheChambrayBunny.com

    Posted 10.30.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thanks so much, Amanda!

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  8. Great tips!! I LOVE Boden! Your dress is stunning. Thanks for sharing.

    Posted 10.30.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thank you! I am obsessed with Boden, as well! 😀 There are always a ton of items in my cart….

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  9. I love the tip on color! It might seem a bit countercultural if everyone else is wearing drab clothing, but if you’re already a hard worker and a star employee it could really improve your image. And that dress is amazing!

    Posted 10.30.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thank you, Amanda! I totally agree! I, personally, feel more confident when I am in color which leads me to do better at work. But, if it is distracting to colleagues, it may be worth limiting the amount or type of color in each outfit.

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  10. Great tips, Emily! I always struggle dressing business casual because there is such a fine line!

    Posted 10.30.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thank you! It took me a while to find my work style because of all of the “rules” associated with it!

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  11. Great post! I am coveting that handbag……..she’s a beauty!

    Posted 10.30.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thank you! It was definitely an investment piece and goes with so many things!

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  12. I love your dress, you look beautiful! I definitely have been gravitating towards wearing more colour these days and I am almost always in flats!
    Charlene xo
    The Frugal Fashionista

    Posted 10.30.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thank you, Charlene! I am on the same page with you, flats + lots of color = my go to look!

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  13. I definitely agree with you on the color and the shoes! I think some color shows that you care just a little bit more.

    Posted 10.30.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      I think that color helps to lift my mood, which helps me to spread it to others! I have personally found that it this mood lifting has worked wonders on my team!

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  14. Ashleigh wrote:

    Such a great dress, I love the colors! Thank you for sharing!

    Posted 10.30.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thanks so much, Ashleigh!!

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  15. That dress is adorable. I love block prints. And you chose the right show for it. I need to get my hand on a good nude heel.

    Posted 10.30.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thanks, Chelsea! I found these wedges at Marshalls and they seem to be one of my go-tos because they are so comfortable and go with everything!

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  16. Good tips! A good fit is so important. And I personally love colors, but I still love wearing black too lol. Cute pics too btw! Really like those wedge shoes!

    http://www.HometownQueenBee.blogspot.com

    Posted 10.30.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thanks, Cindy!! There are definitely waves in my style where I gravitate towards neutrals. Right now, I am loving colors and bold prints!

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  17. Jennifer wrote:

    I love that dress!! Its got just the right amount of “retro” to it!

    Posted 10.31.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thanks so much, Jennifer!

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  18. Darcy wrote:

    Fun tips! I always love incorporating color into my work wardrobe!
    http://www.amemoryofus.com

    Posted 11.1.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thanks, Darcy!

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  19. Fantastic post! I love love love that fun dress on you! When I was working full-time, accessories were definitely my friend. Can make any outfit really pop!

    Posted 11.1.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thank you, Chrissa!! I totally agree. Accessories can be an inexpensive (or expensive) way to really add some flair to an outfit.

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  20. These are great tips!! So cute!
    xx Bri
    http://www.Neutral2Neon.com

    Posted 11.1.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thanks, Briana!!

      Posted 11.6.15 Reply
  21. Love that you are encouraging color! I work in the fashion industry and there is so much black around. I try to be the little light of color to brighten things up.

    xo, c.
    The Block is Haute

    Posted 11.1.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      I totally agree! I love a pop of color and for me, personally, it boosts my confidence – which is essential when it comes to succeeding at work.

      Posted 11.10.15 Reply
  22. Elle Spann wrote:

    that dress is so fun! i love the color pattern.
    elle

    Southern Elle Style

    Posted 11.1.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thanks so much, Elle! I was immediately drawn to the fun colors, but love that the navy balances it out!

      Posted 11.10.15 Reply
  23. I have to be honest, I think that the right shoes make all the difference when it comes to business casual attire. My office lets everyone dress pretty casually, but when it comes to conferences and onsite client meetings I find that the shoes are so important for keeping me sane & not frustrated with feet pain! Lovely post! xx, adaatude.com

    Posted 11.2.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      I totally agree! I tried to go to a conference once with heels and I ended up being extremely grumpy and not productive. I have learned that wearing flats and being comfortable are more beneficial for me to be successful!

      Posted 11.10.15 Reply
  24. Amanda wrote:

    Love this dress on you!

    xx,
    Amanda || http://www.fortheloveofglitter.com

    Posted 11.2.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thanks so much, Amanda!

      Posted 11.10.15 Reply
  25. Mary wrote:

    Such great advice! That dress is perfection on you! I love the pattern!

    Sportsanista

    Posted 11.2.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thanks Mary – I really appreciate it!

      Posted 11.10.15 Reply
  26. My favorite tip is comfortable shoes!! I will admit that I buy shoes without caring if they hurt my feet after an hour but those are usually the shoes I only wear to dinner and then straight home!
    xo,
    Taylor | http://www.styleiseverythingblog.com

    Posted 11.2.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      I am with you, Taylor. There are some shoes in my closet that are strictly for going from the car to valet to the restaurant because I just could not leave them at the store! 😀 But, for work, being comfortable is key!

      Posted 11.10.15 Reply
  27. Samantha wrote:

    Great tips! Sometimes I miss working 8-5 because I loved dressing up each morning haha but I guess some people may say the same about working from home! But I love your dress in these pics and love your advice 🙂

    Posted 11.3.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thanks, Samantha! I am lucky that I sometimes get the option of both. 🙂 When I am working from home a lot, I start to miss the ability to dress up – so I totally get it.

      Posted 11.10.15 Reply
  28. This colorful dress looks so good on you!

    Posted 11.4.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thanks, Chelsea!

      Posted 11.10.15 Reply
  29. Kelly wrote:

    What a pretty dress!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

    Posted 11.11.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thank you, Kelly!!

      Posted 11.12.15 Reply
  30. SO cute! I love the colors! And that bag is amazing.

    Posted 11.12.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thank you, Caitlin!

      Posted 11.12.15 Reply
  31. I love your tip on not being afraid of color! I see so much black and gray in the office setting and color sets a fun mood which I love! Great tips dear!

    Posted 11.13.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      Thanks, J! I totally agree – I see so much black at work that I love to add color! It puts me in a good mood, which I hope rubs off on my colleagues.

      Posted 11.14.15 Reply
  32. saegan anderson wrote:

    i usually wear all black to work because it’s easy. but i’ll have to try adding color haha

    Posted 12.31.15 Reply
    • Emily wrote:

      I totally agree – black is so easy to put on for work. My recommendation and how I started to adjust was to add one or two colored pieces to my closet and make sure that they can coordinate with black. For example, maybe start with a red top, black pants and a black cardigan – perfect for work with a bit of personality!

      Posted 1.4.16 Reply

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