Upon landing my first interview for an internship, I was requested to wear “business casual.” An abundance of questions popped into my head. How do “business” and “casual” go together? Should I wear a suit? What colors are appropriate? If you’ve ever been in this situation, you know how stressful it can be. It’s difficult to dress for success when you don’t know exactly what to wear. Here is your detailed guide for a complete business wardrobe and exploring business casual vs. business professional.
Business casual allows much more leniency – find the medium between classic and individual style. When dressing business casual, it is safe to either wear dress pants paired with a blouse or a dress. Dresses should have some sort of sleeve and be at least near the knee in length. As for shoes, close-toed shoes are always recommended. It’s best to wear flats or heels depending on how much walking is being done throughout the day. While it’s more versatile to have pieces that are in a neutral palette, you can add pops of color and extra accessories.
This first outfit includes dress pants, a loose blouse, heels, and a casual necklace. While these colors are rather neutral, the necklace adds a pop of color: appropriate in business casual wear.
This second business casual outfit includes a printed floral dress, nude heels, and a gold watch. While the dress has multiple colors and has a busy pattern, the neutral shoes and accessory balances personal style while remaining professional and classic.
Business professional is much simpler because the rules remain rather consistent. The color palette should be neutrals: black, navy blue, white, cream, and grey. Options for a business professional outfit include either a blouse and blazer paired with dress pants or a pencil skirt, or a neutral-colored dress paired with a blazer. If you are thinking that you would never wear a suit, prepare to change your mind. A suit that is fitted to be professional yet flattering is an essential in your closet. Not only will it make you look like a female boss, but it will make you feel invincible. Add simple accessories such as a small necklace or a classic watch.
This first business professional outfit is simple yet classic. All of these items should be basics in your closet: a white button-up blouse, black pencil skirt, black blazer, and black pair of heels. Keep in mind that a pencil skirt should hit at least directly above the knee. When picking out a pair of everyday work heels, make sure that the heel is rather short and that you can walk easily. You may be walking a lot throughout the day, so comfort should be a priority.
This second business professional outfit involves a holy grail – the suit. If you own one piece of professional wear, it should be a well-tailored suit. Many people will not love the idea of a suit at first, but when you strut into a business meeting, you will not be sorry. Pair a suit with simple jewelry such as a necklace or watch and a pair of neutral heels. You cannot go wrong with this trio.
By sticking to these guidelines, you will be set up for success in any work day, meeting, or conference. Keep in mind that while these are general rules for business professional and casual dress codes, however each workplace will have their own individual expectations as well. Don’t be afraid to ask what your workplace’s specific dress code is before you arrive. It’s always better to dress up than to dress down. What you wear plays a tremendous part of your personal brand. Show others the professional girl boss that you are with a perfect work wardrobe.
Image Credits: Sarah Vickers