5 Ways to Nail Business Casual

You have finally secured the job or internship of your dreams, or at least one that’ll help you gain experience and pay the bills on the way to your dream job. You aced the interview, dressed for success, and your first day is rapidly approaching. In one of the dozens of emails you have received from your supervisor and HR is the dress code: business casual. 

This phrase can be confusing; you know what business dress means and you know what casual dress means, but you don’t know what those words combined mean for you. Have no fear! Business casual clothes refer to business shirts like blouses or button-ups paired with neutral, dressier pants like dark wash jeans or khaki pants and professional shoes like closed toe flats or loafers. 

Check out your employee handbook for your exact dress code to make sure that some items such as jeans or open back flats are allowed. CareerContessa.com recommends contacting HR with specific questions and watching what the other people in your department are wearing for inspiration. I would also recommend asking your fellow coworkers or even your supervisor. With that being said, here are five ways to nail a business casual look!


  1. 1. Combining blazers and jeans


    It can be difficult to hit the right note of business and casual in some office settings. At my internship, we are allowed to wear jeans on Fridays. It is important that these jeans are free of rips, stains, and are a neutral color like dark blue, black, or white. With this in mind, I like dressing up my jeans to avoid looking too casual by adding a blazer. This can instantly dress up any look and adds an interesting layer to catch the eye. Just check out this picture of a gorgeous blue jacket! 

  2. 2. Fun accessories

    The Lalafloral Purse

    One of my favorite ways to add interest to a basic business casual outfit of a white blouse and black slacks is to add a fun accessory. I love colorful earrings but bright scarves, unique dress shoes, and even a cool purse like in the photo can go a long way in making a creative yet professional outfit. 

  3. 3. Bold pants

    woman in red blazer and white pants with face mask walking down staircase

    Wearing a dress shirt with dress pants every day of the week can be quite monotonous, especially with the color palettes typically black, white, and gray. I like to switch this up by pairing a neutral top with a bold pair of dress pants. My favorite is a high wasted, wide-legged burgundy pair of trousers, similar to these! Another option, as seen in the photo, is to pair a bold top with a pair of basic dress pants. 

  4. 4. Layers

    The Lalacoat Watch Brick Wall

    Layer, layer, layer. Offices are known for their climate-controlled environments that can leave one part of the office freezing and another part boiling hot. Also, your internship or job might have you heading outside for part of the day. In my internship, staff frequently has to walk about a block outside to meet different clients at a nearby agency. Layering with jackets, cardigans, and even scarves will help you brave whatever weather your job throws at you. 

  5. 5. Find your unique look 

    As the correspondents with CareerContessa.com discuss, it is important to develop a personal style. One correspondent discussed her interest in wearing floral, button up skirts and blouses while another woman preferred brightly colored jumpsuits. At my own agency, I see how some staff members frequently wear brightly colored cardigans or plaid scarves that have become part of their personal style. For myself, many of my shirts have unique sleeves with my favorites involving puffy sleeves or ruffles.