We might not like to admit it, but how we dress at work plays a role in how we are perceived by our colleagues and clients. While dress codes have relaxed over the years, this has made the issue of “what to wear” much more complicated. Can you wear a sweater to work? What about sneakers?
Business casual has evolved to adjust to our new attitudes, meaning we can still put a professional foot forward but in a more comfortable and relaxed way. Here are a few ways to achieve this:
Oversized jumpers or sweater dresses
For women, oversized jumpers or sweaters and simple sweater dresses are a great option in a business casual workplace. Out of the office, you might wear a sweater with distressed jeans and sneakers. At work, you can style it with a skirt and leggings or black skinny jeans—pulled together with a pair of heeled boots. Try to avoid distressed jeans or clothing that is too revealing as this might be considered inappropriate for the office.
Fit for your shape
Where possible, opt for clothing that fits you correctly whether it’s meant to be worn fitted or loose. Tailor your business pants if they’re too long, and if wearing a cropped shirt be sure to have something on underneath or over the top. This helps you look more polished while still allowing you to feel comfortable.
The type of shoes you wear can set the tone of an outfit—sneakers or sport shoes might not be an issue in a more casual workplace, but business casual workplaces prefer footwear that is closer to office attire, for example boots, modest heels or loafers. If you’re really not into heels, you can still wear loafers, dress shoes or flats in a business casual setting.
Jewellery can be a great way to accessorise and personalise your outfits. A business casual workplace suits subtle jewellery like a small gold chain with a pendant or conservative earrings. Watches are also very much fine to wear at work. Avoid costume jewellery or anything too “loud” and bracelets that jangle or make noise are to be avoided also.
Tips for men
Dress shirts and trousers are an easy go-to for most men in a business setting. You may be able to wear collared polos depending on how flexible your workplace is with regards to dress. Business casual usually means smart but comfortable, so there’s no need to wear restrictive suits or a tie. You can wear comfortable leather dress shoes—as long as your shoes are in great condition it’s a safe bet.
While it might seem like a restriction on your freedom to wear what you like, pulling together a corporate image is important. As a representative of a business, you must appear capable (especially if you are dealing with clients or stakeholders) and your appearance plays a significant role in this.
Hopefully these tips can help you create a look you feel comfortable in, that also reflects the expectations of your workplace dress code.