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A Guide to Business Casual Dress

Somehow it seems that the definition of business casual gets lost among the college community. I have seen girls in skin-tight club dresses with sky high heels, and see-through leggings with t-shirts at business casual events, which has led me to believe that there is too much confusion about the rights and wrongs of this type of dress. For those of you who aren’t quite sure what qualifies as business casual, here is a guide to help you find appropriate options, and ways to style a whole outfit!


Firstly, keep your look somewhat simple. Colors and patterns are perfectly fine, but be sure to wear them strategically and in moderation. As a rule, business casual means no jeans and no leggings. Make sure that if you do wear a sweater, it looks like it fits you; sweaters should not be oversized. T-shirts do not count as business casual; a turtleneck or a fitted cotton shirt should be the closest you come to wearing a t-shirt. These items will be comfy yet appear more professional.

When choosing a pant you should wear slacks, chinos, or skinny non-denim pants. Cigarette pants are extremely versatile, and tend to be somewhat of a cross between slacks and chinos. Slacks are the most formal type of pant, which means you can pair them with a less formal top, like a sweater. Chinos and skinnies can be less formal, so they should be worn with a nicer top like a button down or a silky blouse.


If you decide to wear a skirt, it should fall no higher than one inch above your knee. The same rule applies to the length of a dress, should you choose to wear one. Be careful that skirts and dresses are not too figure-hugging. If your clothes cling tightly to your behind or pull around your torso or legs, these items could be better suited for a night out. Shift dresses tend to look very flattering, as well as wrap dresses.


Button downs can go with any look and are becoming more and more popular with the rise of menswear styles. Don’t be afraid to pair a simple blouse with an interesting blazer like velvet, tweed, or patterned. Layering sweaters or button downs is another way to add character to an outfit. A piece of statement jewelry is also a good way to dress up an otherwise plain look.

Make sure when choosing heels that the heel itself is not taller than 3 inches or so. Shoes that are too tall tend to look like they are meant to be worn out at night. A simple pump in solid colored leather, snakeskin, or suede is the easiest type of heel to wear. Flats, loafers, and oxfords are good alternatives to heels. Make sure to be careful when mixing different colors of leather in shoes and belts.


Along the lines of beauty: hair should be neatly styled, whether it is worn up or down. Makeup should be simple with a focus on one feature, either eyes, lips, or skin.

Though business casual may seem hard to pull of, don’t fret! Your favorite stores are sure to have business casual pieces that you can mix and match for interviews, presentations, and meetings to come.


Image Credit: 1, 2, 3, 4

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