Assembling a professional wardrobe can be an overwhelming task, especially if you’re starting or changing your career. You want to look chic and stylish, while feeling confident and ready to take on the world, but what to wear? If your idea of how to dress business casual is limited to pencil skirts, taupes, and conservative ballet flats, we’ve got some ideas for you to elevate your office style, proving you don’t have to sacrifice fashion for a professional look. Obviously, the way you dress will depend on your profession and the culture of your workplace. When you start a new job, it’s always best to be a bit more conservative and formal in your attire until you get a read on how your colleagues and supervisors dress. While you might not need to show up in a suit and heels, looking your best will project that you’re ready for success! Take the time to make sure your hair and nails are on point, this shows you pay attention to small details, which is an important trait many employers look for. Here are some basic women’s clothing essentials you need in your closet.
Wardrobe Essential #1: Unstructured Black Blazer
Black is truly timeless, endlessly versatile, and effortlessly chic. Likewise, a blazer is the ultimate multifunctional wardrobe staple. Throw it on over a sheath dress for an elegant look, pair it with cropped black trousers for a relaxed take on the classic suit, or even wear it with dark jeans and white tee to keep it very casual. The unstructured black blazer is perfect for making sleeveless tops feel more office appropriate, but still leaving you the option for a flirty look to wear to after work happy hour. Black is obviously a go-to color for workwear, but a bright colored or bold printed blazer could work equally well, especially if you keep the rest of your look subded. Another great option for work ready layering is a long, kimono-esque cardigan. Find one in a sophisticated color and it can easily take the place of a blazer on days you want a more casual, comfortable look.
Wardrobe Essential #2: Wrap Blouse
Wrap front tops are universally flattering. No matter what your body type, this is a surefire style choice. A neutral color like this cement grey will ensure you can pair it with a variety of hues, but don’t be afraid to go for something that pops. A blouse that contrasts with your eye or hair color will create a subtle yet striking visual. There used to be strict “rules” on how to dress business casual, but many offices now embrace a more relaxed dress code that allows self expression. If you love color and print, don’t be afraid to embrace it!
Wardrobe Essential #3: The Trouser
The most important aspect of finding the perfect trouser is deciding what cut works for you. Wide-leg with a pleated sash waist? High rise, slim fit, and cropped? Straight leg, flat front? Ideally, you should go to a store where you can try on as many variations as you can, however if you need to order online it’s a good idea to order several styles to try on and return whatever doesn’t work. When it comes to trousers, fit is really everything! We love the ruffle detail on these trousers, a fun twist on quintessential workwear. While black is always a great choice when you want versatility, why not try a vertical stripe or subtle plaid? Look for trousers that have a subtle embellishment, like a sporty tuxedo stripe on the side. A quirky pant can be a great addition to your closet, especially if the rest of your wardrobe is somewhat conservative.
Wardrobe Essential #4: The Statement Piece
Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s important to remember to stay true to your personal style! When we’re trying to work out how to dress business casual, it’s often easy to forget that attitude is everything. Finding a statement piece, like this red floral jumpsuit, can give your confidence a boost and help you feel amazing. This garment could easily be incorporated into a work-ready look with the addition of a blazer, some flats or low boots, and a simple updo.
A slightly more subtle statement option is a button up with embellishment. The sparkle detail on the collar is eye catching, but not too out there. It would look great peeking out over a crew neck pullover sweater or buttoned all the way up, paired with a simple collar necklace. Your statement piece might be bold enamel earrings, shoes with a pop of sparkle, a ruffle detailed blouse, or something completely different! It’s always a safe bet to pair a statement piece with more neutral basics, unless you really want to stand out. Ultimately, these items should be all about expressing your personality. If you’re a minimalist at heart, don’t feel like you need to suddenly embrace loud prints and glitter. Likewise, if you live for fabulous opulence, go ahead and wear some sequins or chandelier earrings.
Overall, putting together killer business casual looks is simple once you’ve made sure your closet has all the essentials. If you’re limited on budget or space, look for items that are versatile and high quality. Don’t forget that a bright lip color or quirky earrings can really add a personal touch to a look, even if you’re wearing all black. Once you have the foundations, you can add more fun and frivolous pieces over time. The most important thing is wearing what makes you feel confident! You’ll feel your best if you don’t lose your sense of personal style. Follow these tips as you’re building your professional wardrobe and next thing you know, your friends will be coming to you as the expert on how to dress business casual.