Business Casual – Making It Work

Posted in Daily Outfits, Fashion.

(Sorry about the puntastic title.)

Business Casual – two words guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of any self-respecting fashionista. Not only does Business Casual conjure up images of stretch Lycra black bootcuts and sensibly-heeled courts, but the two words together simply make no sense. The phrase ‘Business Casual’ is a complete oxymoron, and it’s this confliction that leads to the pairing of stonewashed jeans with a shirt and blazer. Sometimes even a tie. Oh, the inexplicable horror!

Trying to dress for Business Casual often ends in couture carnage. Can I offset sandals by wearing a pencil skirt? Are city shorts okay if I’m sitting at my desk all day? Is denim ever acceptable in a boardroom? These endless worries about what’s appropriate for a Business Casual dress code inevitably lead to a wardrobe full of black and varying shades of grey, just to make things easier. And before you know it, you’ve got those sensibly-heeled courts on and you’re complaining to colleagues about the colour of the work experience girl’s nails.

If you don’t fancy morphing into Lorraine from Accounts, however, there are a few things you can do to spice up your office attire…

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New Look skirt and blazer, Primark top and bangles, ASOS belt, Accessorize clutch, Eden wedges via Sarenza, H&M ring

  • Introduce pops of colour with bright accessories
  • Mix office staples like the classic blazer with loose-fitting tops
  • Look for formal shapes in casual fabrics, like this denim pencil skirt 
  • Keep your look groomed – stick to neat hair and minimal make-up 

Now, before you starting shouting “my boss would kill me if I walked in looking like that!”at me, I realise this might be too casual for some workplaces. If baring a bit of leg would have you hauled in for a meeting about decent personal conduct, it’s probably best you don’t push your luck. But you can build on the basics to create a more appropriate look – swap the skirt for tailored trousers and choose flat leather pumps for a sleeker, more professional look.

What do you wear to work? Would you wear this to the office or make it more formal?

26 Comments

jaljen

I think that works really well. I would just urge you to iron that skirt! I’m sure you would. This is my idea of Dress-Down Friday. Really nice.

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A Thrifty Mrs

Lovely outfit, those Fruit Salad sweetie tones really suit you.
Your outfit would be really dressed up in my office/workplace but it would be fine to meet a client in. When I tend to work outside when not working at home (OB unti) so I have to dress for warmth. Battling frost bite and staying stylish can be hard.

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Phoebe

Don’t have the luxury of hearing ‘business casual’ just yet. I love the top, picked it up and put it back last time I was in Primark, I imagine it will have gone before I get chance to reconsider!

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invisible_squirrel

I’m lucky I wear whatever I like to work. I could go in a binbag and noone would bat an eyelid. Although I did wear heels yesterday and one guy asked me if I was going somewhere nice after work! I do tend to go for smart though just because that is my style anyway!

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Stacey

Love the look and such an interesting look. I don’t have the problem of having to look smart for work at the moment, i’m dreading actually graduating and having to get a “proper” job, i hope i can still stamp my own style onto business wear as you have πŸ™‚

Stacey xx

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alisonharriman

I like it. If denim isn’t appropriate, swap to a more traditional fabric pencil skirt. Ditto the open toe-sandals. They may not rock your work place, but you can find a great pair of wedges in a different style.

I have to wear a company supplied uniform for my work. Translation; functional ugly. I tell myself it’s better than having to shell out for wardrobe updates all the time, but dang.

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Daniela

I like it and would deffo wear it, think it looks neat and smart and yet a bit serious (but by no means boring).
I think bright coloured tops and some less casual materials can lighten the otherwise quite uninnovative business outfits up a lot and make them more wearable and enjoyable.

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Helen

I love wearing bright colours for work, but I don’t think I’d get away with a denim skirt really. I like wearing cute patterns like polka dots or stripes and bright colours to jazz up boring outfits. I absolutely HATE those lycra pants *shudder*

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bakelady

Being retired I tend to wear more casual attire. But if I go out,I certainly make sure I look reasonably smart, even if it’s Smart Casual.

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Cat

My work has a no-denim rule. I teach, but a creative subject, so I bend that to “black skinny jeans are okay, as long as I wear a smart top with them” and no-one’s ever challenged me! Definitely no blue denim though. Other than that, I mainly wear dresses with opaque tights and a cardi, or leggings instead of tights in summer, and always with (cringe phrase) statement jewellery, mainly Tatty Devine stuff, usually flat shoes, as I’m on my feet a lot. My usual rule is to migrate things into my work wardrobe once I get fed up with wearing them outside work. When I’ve worn something to work it never sees the light of day outside it again as it’s officially relegated!

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Sophie

We have a no denim rule and smart/casual dress code too, apart from dress down Fridays, but I too tend to wear my black skinnies during the week and balance it out with a smarter top.

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Alex

We have no dress code, thank god. There’s no distinction between work clothes and other clothes in my wardrobe – I can wear whatever I want, within reason, and the people at work actually seem to like my more unusual outfits.

I couldn’t cope working in a place where black trousers were normal office attire. They’re the one item of clothing that’s firmly on my hate list.

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Hazel

Luckily I can wear what I like for work, although some days a uniform would be wonderful! For meetings we are encouraged to wear something smart but as a creative agency something a little out of the ordinary often goes down well with clients. It seems to ‘fit’ their idea of a creative – it always makes me chuckle.

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LadyBugSays ...

I am quite lucky, my work is pretty relaxed(unless meeting with clients) and I am the only female I have kind of set the level of workwear attire! Love the gorgeous wedges and cute clutch!

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Kelly

Love the colours on the top.
My work place is pretty relaxed, I’ve got away with ripped jeans, heels, trainers, I do get the occasional look though. πŸ™‚

xx

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Sherin

Business Casual is always a phrase that scares me, so thanks for your tips! Bright accessories is a great idea. Skinny trousers with heels are my go-to for when I worked.
Love your look and would try is, but might exchange the denim skirt for a pencil if I had like a meeting or something.

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Vicki

im so lucky that i can wear what ever i want to work..althou im the only ‘young one’ so i do get a few stares.. but i wear shorts, denim shirts, jumpsuits. whatever takes my fancy πŸ™‚ great advice thou! xo

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Temporary:Secretary

I like your twist on business wear – especially the denim skirt. I had one similar that was navy denim and I wish i kept it now. Love the colours of the jewellery – really makes the outfit “pop”. You always get it right, Jen! x

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Lil

I’ve been scraping the barrel when it comes to office wear for so long at my temp job. I only go back in the holidays and never want to splash out on tailored skirts or trousers when I’m already deep into my overdraft, so I’ve been piecing together dodgy outfits for the last few visits at least. We have a strictly no denim policy but I like the idea of wearing classics in more casual fabrics. Xx

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vicky

I hate wearing work clothes because they are so boring so I always wear the same thing; black trousers & a colourful top. It seems to to the job all year round.

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Nicola

Luckily there’s no dress code at work, but I do try to look mildly professional, so I follow those unspoken work rules. Keep your bits covered, mainly. And I never wear peep toes for some reason! I think this rule has stuck with me from the bad old days of working in a restaurant, the number one rule was no peep toes.

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