Red High Heels? Flip flops? What do you wear to work or an event that is “Business Casual”? Great question. Sometimes a daily question. For a lot of women a professional image is a must but a provocative one is a no-no. Moms can use business casual as a creative outlet for getting dressed. Relate to your wardrobe by mixing and matching budget items with more expensive pieces to create a functional and personal look.
Business Casual is a topic that is especially important for Mom Entrepreneurs. A large part of their day is spent toting the kids to events, parks and school. Frequently, a business meeting, sales pitches, and meet and greets are right in the middle of the kids schedule. As a Mom, either working in a business casual environment or creating your own business environment at home, you need functional, stylish and appropriate clothing. Many stay-at-home moms would benefit from dressing a bit more “business casual” in their everyday life as well.
Even PTA, school functions and girls night out can be benefited by business casual. If your spouse or significant other has company functions, business casual is probably the way to go.
What does “business casual” look like? This immediately brings to my mind Banana Republic. The clothes they have available are both classy and casual. If the prices are out of your budget, use their outfits as an inspiration. Look at how they put the outfit together, what type of shoes are worn and which accessories is the model wearing? Target has some equally stylish options at a fraction of the cost, just remember they may not last as long.
Here are they items you should have in your wardrobe when dressing business casual:
1. Pants- Look for linen, cotton or cotton-blend. Make sure they are long enough for heels. The hemline of the pants should fall between the top of the heel and mid-heel of the shoe, breaking at about the back to mid-arch of your instep. Dark denim is fine if the pants are trouser style. Don’t overdo the denim- save it for Friday.
2. Skirts – Appropriate length is important. Make sure the hem hits the knee. This will allow you the freedom to move easily and feel confident you are not exposing too much.. It will also be more comfortable for you when you are with the kids, like after karate class.
3. Tops – Unless you are wearing a tee under a vest or sweater, don’t wear it. Tees are far too casual. Instead, opt for button up tops that fit well, knit tops, woven tops and fitted sleeveless tops.
4. Jackets and Sweaters – Great for layering over your tops for chilly days or cold offices. The key factor for these pieces is fit. If you are throwing on a big sloppy sweatshirt or stretched out cardigan, you will not look professional. Match your warm pieces to your outfit. They should not be an after thought. Buy the best you can afford in classic cuts for many years of use. Cashmere is always a winner!
5. Dresses – These should be at or below the knee for the same reason a skirt should be. Sundresses and strapless dresses should be reserved for after work and weekends.
6. Shoes – They add a lot of character to your outfit. Use them to add interest to an otherwise conservative look. If open-toe is acceptable then don’t wear pantyhose with them… please! A kitten heel or low heel is perfect for business casual and still functional for chasing after the kiddos when you reunite. You can also wear ballet flats, loafers and boots, but keep the sneakers at home.
7. Handbag – Your bag says SO much about you. It should coordinate with your outfit, be clean and able to hold all the goods you need to tote during the day. Look for a bag with good construction and pockets to organize our items so you can get to them quickly.
8. Accessories – Wear them. Yes, your wedding ring is gorgeous but it doesn’t really count as a fashion accessory. Buy several necklaces that can be mixed and matched with your outfits. If you wear a watch, buy one that is classy so it goes with many looks. Earrings… every day. You determine if they are dangling or not but a beautiful and interesting earring draws attention to your face.
9. Your nails – Yes, a very important part of your overall appearance. Make sure your finger nails and toe nails are kept neat and clean.. Light colored polish is best as it hides the chips better in case you don’t have time to touch up.
10. Your undergarments – Your rear view is important. Make sure you don’t have VPL (visible panty lines) and all bra straps are tucked away. Proper undergarments, such as a slip, provide you the confidence you won’t be showing silhouettes to you co-workers.
11. Your smile – The most important thing you’ll wear.
Change your style to express different versions of yourself depending on the circumstances. If the environment you are working is more artistic in nature, you have more options like Bohemian styles, ombre and tribal trends.
The key to business casual is to remember you are representing yourself in how you look. Make sure your clothes are ironed, the hem is the right length, your accessories are appropriate, and of course, smile.