Workplace dress codes have changed a lot since my pre-kid days of working in the corporate world. Back then it was a matter of choosing which of my 4 suits I was going to wear. For many in the workforce now, the dress code business casual is standard.
So if you work in such an environment, or are re-entering the work force, this style is one that needs to be mastered. Ironically, the increase in dress code freedom and decrease in formality can actually be more difficult. To add to the confusion, everyones definition of business casual is different.
In general though, its usually better to overdress than underdress in a business setting, so err on the side of formality if you are unsure. A good idea is to take a cue from how a female superior dresses. Don't duplicate her look (never a good idea), but use it as a guideline for what works in your particular environment.
To help you get started, here are some general tips to help make your casual business fashions look professional, comfortable and of course ~flirty.
- Start with the basic foundations: trousers, blazers, cardigans and layering tees. Don't be afraid to spend money on these essentials; they are worth the investment. Because this is the foundation of your look, neutral colors are your best friends...stick to black, grey, camel, white and cream for these items. You can then mix and match these pieces to create your basic solid outfit.
- You can't go wrong wearing closed toe heels or flats. Peep-toe shoes or sandals may or may not be appropriate for business-casual. If your environment is more lax, nice sandals may be ok in the warmer months but no, no, no thongs or flip flops, ever. Sorry.
- Speaking of warmer months and showing skin...if you would wear it to a club, to the beach, or to the gym, you shouldn't wear it to the office. So, that means no cleavage, no spaghetti straps, no shorts and no mini-skirts. A sleeveless top can be a great look as long as the neckline and fabrication is appropriate (i.e. no plunging tank tops, no over-the-top sequins, no logos). Make sure you have a blazer, cardigan or wrap handy too.
- You knew this one was coming...have fun with jewelry! This is the perfect way to let your fun and flirty personality be reflected in your look, while still being professional and polished. Your neutral foundation can be transformed every day if your wardrobe includes a variety of statement necklaces, cocktail rings, bangles and earrings. But remember, less is more, so stick to one or two well-placed statement pieces at a time. For example, pair funky earrings with a fun bangle or ring and skip the necklace. Or, if you pick a fab statement necklace, wear it with simple earrings so the look is chic, flirty and uncluttered.
- Now, for everyones biggest question...what about jeans? You know we flirty girls LOVE our jeans. However, like sandals, this one really depends on your work environment. In most cases, jeans will be a no-no. But IF they are appropriate in your environment, the safest bet is to go with a pair of slim, boot cut, high-quality jeans in a dark wash. It is worth investing some money on these and we love the jeans department at Nordstrom. They will help you find a pair that works best with your figure. Wear them with boots, pumps or ballet flats along with a blazer or cardigan for a polished look. Needless to say, no ripped, faded or bedazzeled jeans should be worn to work. And by now you have burned any mom-jeans, but if you haven't, would you please go take care of that right now??
- Every girl's wardrobe needs to include a great sheath dress. My advice is to stick with solids when buying this basic dress as it is a cleaner look, is easier to accessorize, and you can get away with wearing it all the time - without looking like you are wearing it all the time. You need this dress for those evening events that say business casual. Have it in your closet, ready to go and change it up with what else? ACCESSORIES.
- Speaking of accessories (notice the theme here?) the perfect way to change up these basic foundations is your arsenal of scarves and wraps. Every flirty girl should keep at least one Signature flirty Wrap in her office at all times. It is perfect for when the AC is on too high, or you are going out after work and want to look extra chic and flirty. A pretty patterned scarf is yet another great way to add personality to your basic foundation.
Here are some mix & match pieces to get you started. Get yourself a pair or great fitting, flattering-to-your-figure black trousers, some solid tops and t's (I show a cute peplum top in a neutral color to add a bit of trend to a basic foundation) and neutral blazers and cardigans. Oh, and you've got to have a classic trench too. Then change up the look and add some color and pattern with your shoes and accessories. Voila!
Any questions? Feel free to comment below; I'd love to hear from you!