5 Tips For Choosing the Best Business Casual Clothing

In the last ten years or so, the way people dress for work has changed dramatically from a generation ago. If you take a look around a typical downtown city center in America these days, more than half the people are wearing business casual clothing, such as jeans, tee shirts, and sports shoes. While there are still those professionals who wear classic corporate clothes such as suits, more and more people are enjoying the buttoned-down look of casual business attire.

Like any other cross section of humanity, people wearing casual business attire vary in style. Whether you are going to meet up with a potential client at the local coffee shop or enjoy a nice celebration dinner with a favorite colleague, there are some good rules of thumb to consider when considering your casual business attire.

They are:

1. If you like jeans, Choose ones that are free from tears, rips, studs, chains, or other decorations. Save these for a night out with your friends at the dance club. Also, make sure they are not too low cut. Showing off the thong while dining with important clients is not the message you want to send! While jeans are becoming more and more accepted in business situations, common sense still should be your guide when looking for a pair to slip into for your day at work. There are a variety of sophisticated washes and styles now in jeans to meet just about anyone’s business taste.

2. Business casual clothing should be presentable, but that does not mean it has to be boring! Remember that many creative and freelance professionals enjoy expressing their personalities through their clothes. What to wear to work should be a reflection of what you do, so it is okay to jazz up an outfit with a pretty scarf or a fun jacket if you are more artsy, or put together a more tailored look with a blazer, turtleneck sweater, and slacks if you are more conservative.

3. Think about who you will most often interact with throughout the day when selecting your business casual clothing. Choose key foundation pieces that can be dressed up or down depending on your schedule and events. I always like to have a good supply of dressy tee-shirts in my closet that I can pair with a beautiful coat or leather jacket or even a cashmere cardigan. For guys, tee shirts are fine as long as they ares void of offensive images or language, unless you happen to be in the kind of business that encourages that sort of thing. Also, it is best to leave the sleeveless muscle tees at home unless you are meeting clients for a game of beach volleyball.

4. Business casual clothing also includes footwear, and once again, common sense prevails here. There are so many great choices these days for both men and women that extend beyond the proverbial wing-tip and pump. Boots, flats, even athletic shoes pass as acceptable footwear in today’s casual business attire climate. They key is to choose shoes that fit well and allow you to walk comfortably, especially if you work in an urban environment.

5. Finally, business casual does not equal sloppy or anything goes. Humans are quick to judge each other on how we look, so it is worth taking the time to choose a basic workable wardrobe and invest accordingly. A very good friend of mine who is a professional fashion consultant suggests that no matter what, every business casual professional should own a really good coat or jacket. This goes for both men and women. Again, the style is not as important as is the quality and the fact that you feel good when you wear it.

When trying to make money in a competitive business world, knowing what casual business attire is and is not can do wonders for your bottom line. In general, use the wisdom of the 3 P’s my Mom passed on to me when I was getting ready to enter the professional world: Would my Parents, Principal,and Priest give me the thumbs up about what I have on? Perhaps a bit old-fashioned to some readers out there, but in all fairness, those age-old ideas last for a very good reason. And with so many choices today in business casual, it’s better to be safe than wish you had checked to make sure your underwear wasn’t showing through a hole in your jeans when trying to land that lucrative client!

11 Steps to Business Casual Revealed

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.