Now that summer is in full-swing, we have a tendency to want to dress more casually. This is true in all facets of life whether they be play, travel, or work. While no one really cares how you dress when you are playing or traveling, aside from dressing appropriately, people do care how you dress at work. There is a difference between business casual and just plain casual. In fact, dressing too casually can even cause some bosses to think that you are not serious about your job and therefore not promote you. On top of that, the more casually you dress, the more casually people will treat you in the office. This is bound to cause some, completely avoidable, tension in the workspace.
Unfortunately, there is a bit of a double standard about business casual for men and women. Business casual for women needs to be a little more business and a little less casual. Here are some tips to maneuver the murky waters of what business casual for women means.
First of all, do not even consider those really comfortable but ripped jeans (you should actually avoid jeans altogether unless they are a dark wash and high-waisted). All seams should be finished, all holes patched, and all frays cut. Also, avoid clothing with writing on it, unless the writing is the company logo. Keeping this in mind, let’s consider what is considered appropriate such as slacks, skirts, dresses, blouses, and shoes/accessories.
Clothing: The fabric of your clothes can be anywhere from luxurious to linen or cotton. Make sure that your clothing fits appropriately, meaning not too tight, too short, or too low-cut. Under no circumstances should you wear something see-through unless you intend upon wearing a camisole underneath it. The best way to dress business casual is to wear only half of a suit. This does not suggest that you should walk around half-naked, but rather only wear the slacks or skirt of a suit and not the blazer. Another alternative is to wear the blazer over a simple cotton dress.
Shoes and Accessories: First of all, stockings are not necessary in the summer and it is way too hot for them anyhow. Your shoes should, however, still be nice. Sandals, especially flip-flops, should only make appearances at the company picnic or outing. If you don’t want to be stuck in your work stilettos every day of the summer, try wearing some wedges or strappy heels. They are more comfortable anyway and infinitely much more summery. Your other accessories should be tasteful. The general rule is to wear one statement piece and keep everything else small.
This means that if you choose to wear huge, dangling earrings, don’t wear a chunky necklace as well. This is true of your make-up too; if you want to focus on your eyes then wear a nude lipstick and vice versa. A great way to make an outfit more casual is to switch up your laptop bag. Try bringing one in a fun color instead of just a black protective case. Remember, your laptop bag and other accessories, do not have to match what you’re wearing. 100%
To conclude, if your mother wouldn’t have let you go to school ‘dressed like that’ in high school, you shouldn’t wear that outfit to work either. Of course, these are just guidelines. Every office is different and some offices may even have a section in the Employee Handbook about appropriate clothing. Make sure you double-check with human resources that there isn’t a list of specific do’s and don’ts somewhere. However, these tips should get you to work in fine fashion while still staying completely appropriate. And remember, always dress the way that you want to be treated: if you dress casually you will be treated casually!