Business casual is a very common term, but when you think about it, it's actually a bit of an oxymoron, right? It can be a challenge for many people to master a polished and professional look in a work environment that leans more to the casual end of the spectrum. While it's fantastic that people are allowed more freedom these days in choosing what they want to wear, sometimes this freedom can be overwhelming and a bit daunting.
What started out as a movement a decade or so ago, with the ever popular Casual Friday has really grown and evolved. Today whole industries and geographies are (ie Silicon Valley) becoming very casual, every day. Even typically conservative industries like finance and law are slowly loosening up their dress codes, and there’s a whole range in between. This can make it tough for anyone to figure out what to wear on a daily basis.
Consider this interesting data from Euromonitor. In the last 10 years, the US market for women’s suits shrank by about 77%, while the market for leggings more than quadrupled. That’s a dramatic shift, and pretty telling about trends and formality.
While every company has its own unique culture and vibe, there are a few universal dos and don'ts that will help you navigate the confusing world of business casual. Don’t forget you can shop our favorite pieces related to each of these tips on our ‘Shop the Blog’ page.
Trends are fun and fresh. Who doesn’t love trends? Our advice on trends is to go for it. Pick one or two each season that excite you and incorporate them into your work wardrobe, in small doses. A couple of our favorite trends this summer, ruffles and wider leg pants, can be great in the office. That said, don’t over do it. Avoid going head to toe trend, make sure to feature a couple classic pieces as well.
Do incorporate a couple of your favorite season trends.
Don’t wear trend pieces head to toe.
A dress is a great option for a casual work environment, when done right. Some of our favorite casual dress styles are absolutely office appropriate: a shirt dress, wrap, chambray. However, some casual dresses can cross that line and be too casual. Here’s a good rule of thumb, if you’d wear it to the beach or a pool, save it for the weekend.
Do wear dresses to the office.
Don’t mistake a cover up for a dress.
We love denim for a casual office. What’s not to love? It's easy to wear and care for and so comfy, not to mention there are so many amazing denim styles to choose from. When choosing denim for the office, remember darker denim is always a bit less casual than a lighter wash. Not to say you can’t wear a lighter wash, but just putting it in perspective. With denim at work, fit is key. Make sure your denim doesn’t have a low rise or gaps at the waist. A skinny style is fine, but too tight isn’t. We’d also avoid overly distressed denim at work. If you want to incorporate a trendier denim this season a high rise wide leg is a fabulous option!
Do wear denim to the office. Focus on fit and style.
Don’t wear ill fitting or overly distressed styles.
Accessories can be really fun and they’re a great way to show off your personal style, at work and on the weekend. In the office you can definitely go bold with statement jewelry, if that’s your thing. One piece of advice though is to avoid any jewelry that can be distracting to you or your colleagues; think jangly bracelets or necklaces that bounce when you walk.
Do use accessories to showcase your personal style.
Don’t let them be a distraction.
In a casual workplace, your shoe options are practically limitless, especially in the summer months. Anything from a fashion sneaker to a great pair of sandals can be appropriate. That said, one of our biggest no-nos are flip flops. Not only are they distracting - who wants to hear FLIP FLOP, FLIP FLOP all day long as you’re walking around the office? - they’re also one of the worst choices for foot health. If you must wear a flip flop, please save them for the beach!
Do wear fashion sneakers and fun sandals that show off your summer pedi.
Don’t sport a flip flop (because a flip is always a flop).
Enjoy the freedom that comes with a casual workplace. Show off your personal style and have fun dressing each and every day. Be creative, be comfortable but never compromise your professionalism!