Many of us work in an environment that is not formal enough to dress business formal, but it is also not casual enough to pull off the sneakers look. This means it’s time for business casual attire. Some say it’s complicated to achieve the in-between level of formality, but with our guide, you will master this style easily.
What is Business Casual for Women?
The most straightforward explanation could be that women's business casual wear combines business formal and casual styles. Basically, it describes the vast majority of office outfits. It’s mostly about mixing those formal and less formal garments to create a look of semi-formality that will be suitable and respectable for the office but not offensively casual towards colleagues.
Here are some business casual for women examples and outfit ideas for you to take inspiration from. We will discuss it in more detail further in the blog.
How to Dress Business Casual
There are some business wardrobe staples that every woman should own. Elegant business skirts, various colors of slacks, formal and casual shirts, blazers, suits…you name it. Let’s learn how to combine these formal business pieces with casual clothes to not overdress or underdress for those office days ahead.
The basic rule we can apply for all the outfits: one formal business garment should be mixed with one informal one.
Business Casual Blazer
A blazer is perceived as a formal business piece, meaning a casual item should complement it. Pair it with a casual shirt, jeans or chinos, or a lightweight dress to keep the look clean and simple but still semi-formal.
|White Double-Breasted Blazer|
Business Casual Dress
Business dress is a very formal piece that should be mixed carefully to achieve the right level of formality. An example of a suitable and extremely versatile dress is the classic sheath dress. Try wearing it with an oversized linen blazer, bright and funky trench coat, or a chunky sweater for a more laid-back office environment.
|Bell Sleeve Shift Dress|
Business Casual Shirt
Formal shirts are crisp, perfectly fitting, and very elegant. They are the basis of business casual wear, so let’s make the most of them. Combine yours with linen chinos, dark jeans (these should not be bleached or ripped), a sweater, or an oversized trench coat. As for informal shirts with various micropatterns, stripes, or checks, mix them with clean-looking and simple slacks to keep the look elegant.
|Pink Checked Linen Shirt|
Business Casual Slacks
Women’s slacks are one of the favorite clothing pieces due to their versatility and comfort. Easily combined with anything, wear them with one of your favorite formal shirts, a casual tweed blazer, or a light sweater and ballerinas. This is one of the comfiest outfits you can create for your day in the office.
|Red Plaid Linen Pants|
Business Casual Skirt
Business skirts are modern and very elegant, so we also need to break their formality with casual elements. Let’s not compromise the length as it would be inappropriate for the professional environment. Instead, try wearing the pencil skirt with an informal shirt tucked in or a flared skirt with a plain t-shirt that fits you well. Or if you have a taste for sophistication, turn to a skirt suit. If your dress code allows it and you'd like to wear something chic, you can also turn to a mini-skirt suit. Don’t wear heels if you want to keep it informal; try reaching for your ballerinas or loafers instead.
Business Casual Suit
The suit is, without doubt, the most formal piece of all the business formal wardrobe classics but don’t think that you cannot get some wear from it in the business casual at work. Go for a suit in bright pastel colors that can be easily combined with a simple white t-shirt and ballerinas if you go for a business casual interview. For warmer days, we suggest you pick a linen suit, as the lightweight linen fabric will allow your skin to breathe, which is especially handy on stressful days. Regarding footwear, if your company allows it, go for the look with elegant leather sneakers and wear them with a women's pantsuit, such as a floral or checked pantsuit.
Can't find the perfect fitting suit? We get you! That's why we at Sumissura have decided to offer clothing for all shapes and sizes. Whether you're looking for a plus-size suit, a petite suit, or any other kind of suit, at Sumissura you will find suits that were made for you (literally). Check it out for yourself and discover the exciting world of women's tailored suits.
Business Casual Shoes
To complete the perfect business casual outfit, you should take care of your shoes. As we always say, shoes can make or break your outfit, depending on what shoes you wear and if you take care of them. The business casual dress code gives you room to play with your shoewear, so try going for sleek-looking penny loafers, casual brogues to break your otherwise formal outfit, or elegant high-quality chelsea boots to keep your feet warm on the coldest days.
Business Casual Colors
For most women, a business wardrobe consists of essential pieces in neutral colors, such as black, dark blue, beige, or white. Luckily for all, the business casual style allows us to introduce more colors into our daily outfits and make the whole color scheme available.
Start building your outfit with essentials in basic colors and slowly add some touches of color – whether it’s a pastel one or more daring, shiny colors. It’s also easy to combine neutral basics with pieces with an interesting pattern, such as dots, stripes, or even leopards. Remember, it’s all about finding the right balance!
Business Casual Attire Don’ts
- Avoid wearing flip-flops, running shoes, or strappy summer sandals.
- Yoga pants, leggings, or ripped pants are a no-go in business casual attire.
- Sportswear and sweatshirts with hoodies are also not recommended.
Business Casual Do’s
- Always wear wrinkle-free clothing.
- Your hemline should reach your knees.
- Pair prints with simple basics.
Business Casual that Works
Let’s make an easy list of the most appropriate business casual pieces you might want to wear to the office.
- Business Casual Tops: shirts, blouses, sleeveless tops (not spaghetti straps), blazers, elegant sweaters,
- Business Casual Bottoms: skirts (knee-length should be the shortest), dress pants, jeans (dark wash, no rips), chinos, business dress
- Business Casual Shoes: pumps, sandals, ballerinas, minimalist leather sneakers, elegant loafers, or dress boots
Can Jeans be Business Casual for a Woman?
Luckily jeans are considered business casual attire. Nevertheless, there are exceptions. Not all denim wear are suitable for a work environment. Therefore we need to be more cautious when option for pants. Here are the do's and don'ts when creating a business casual outfit:
- Avoid wearing ripped, teared, frayed, or faded colored jeans
- Stay away from bright colors
- Don't combine jeans with more casual clothing items
- Wear dark-colored jeans like black or dark blue
- Dress your jeans up. For example, you could combine a blazer and a button-up shirt
- Wear fitted jeans that you can comfortably move in
Are Cardigans Business Casual?
Yes, cardigans are considered a business casual item. They can be a simpler and more comfortable option to blazers. The best thing about them is their versatility and their combination potential. They can be combined with almost anything, and there is a variety of different lengths available. A long cardigan gives more attention than a mid-hip lengthed cardigan. However, it can dress your outfit down if paired with too bulky clothes. So if you are wearing a full-length cardigan, combine it with more fitted garments.
If you want to check out even more outfit ideas, watch this video to find inspiration:
Hopefully, now you have a better idea of what business casual wear for women is. We know the struggle of maintaining a useful and stylish wardrobe, which is why we also suggest you read our guide on how to create a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is a perfect tool to save time and stay stylish.
Don’t forget that at Sumissura we offer women's tailored clothing. Every garment is made to your measurements, so it will serve you and fit you well over the years. Have a look at our collection to discover more:
If you want to learn more about business casual for men, click here.