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 people say it’s complicated to achieve the in-between level of formality but with our guide, you will master this style easily.
So, what exactly is business casual for women?
The easiest explanation could be that women's business casual wear is a combination of 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 examples for women 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 color of slacks, formal and casual shirts, blazers, suits…you name it. Let’s learn how to combine these business formal 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 business formal garment should be mixed with one informal one.
Business Casual Blazer
Blazer is perceived as a business formal piece which means it should be complemented by a casual item. Pair it with a casual shirt, jeans or chinos or a lightweight dress to keep the look clean and simple but still semi-formal.
Business Casual Dress
Business dress is a very formal piece that should be mixed carefully to achieve the right level of formality. Try wearing it with an oversized linen blazer, bright and funky trench coat or with a chunky sweater for a more laid-back office environment.
|Pastel Pink Trench Coat|
Business Casual Shirt
Formal shirts are crisp, perfectly fitting, and very elegant. They are the absolute basis of business casual wear so let’s make the most out of them. Combine yours with linen chinos, dark jeans (these should not be bleached or ripped), 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.
|Premium Micropattern No-Iron Shirt|
Business Casual Slacks
Women’s slacks are one of the most favorite clothing pieces due to their versatility and comfort. Easily combined with basically anything, wear them with one of your favorite casual or formal shirts, with an informal tweed blazer or a light sweater and ballerinas. This is one of the comfiest outfits you can create for your day in the office.
|White Wool Blends Slacks|
Business Casual Skirt
Business skirts are modern and very elegant looking, so we also need to break their formality with some 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. Don’t wear your heels if you want to keep it informal, try reaching for your ballerinas or loafers instead.
Blue High Waisted Skirt (similar)
Business Casual Suits
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 color, that can be easily combined with a simple white t-shirt and ballerinas, if you go for a business casual interview. If your company allows it, go for the look with elegant leather sneakers and wear them with a floral or checked pantsuit.
For those in the educational sector, teacher outfits can also draw inspiration from the versatility of a suit. Teachers often aim for a balance between professional and approachable, and a suit can be a fantastic base for this. A tailored blazer over a fun, patterned blouse or even a graphic tee can strike the right note, especially when paired with comfortable slacks or a knee-length skirt. Throw on some comfortable flats or low heels, and the outfit is both classroom-appropriate and stylish.
Business Casual Outerwear: Your Final Layer of Sophistication
When it comes to business casual, your outerwear isn't just the icing on the cake—it's the cherry on top! It's the first thing people see and your last chance to make a lasting impression. So, let's make it count!
The Timeless Trench Coat:
Ah, the trench coat—the Swiss Army knife of outerwear. Light enough for those spring showers and versatile enough for a crisp fall day. Stick to classic colors like beige, black, or navy, and you've got yourself an outerwear MVP that's as reliable as your favorite colleague.
The Elegant Wool Coat:
When the temperature drops, it's time to bring out the big guns. Enter the wool coat, your winter's best friend with benefits—warmth and style. Think of it as the winter equivalent of a blazer, but with more room for holiday indulgences.
Accessorizing Your Outerwear:
Who says scarves and gloves are just for snowmen? A neutral-colored scarf can make your trench coat pop, while a pair of elegant leather gloves can make your wool coat look like it just walked off a runway.
Seasonal Business Casual Outfits for Women: A Year-Round Guide
Spring Flair: The Season of Renewal
Spring is the season of new beginnings, and your wardrobe should reflect that. Imagine wearing a light blazer, floral blouse, and tailored khakis into the office. You're not just another employee; you're the embodiment of spring!
- Must-Have Item: Pastel Blazers
- Color Palette: Think florals and soft pastels
- Fabrics: Cotton, Linen
Summer Vibes: Keep Cool and Carry On
Summer is all about staying cool while looking hot. Sleeveless blouses and knee-length skirts are your best friends. And don't forget those breathable fabrics!
- Must-Have Item: Sleeveless Button-Down Blouse
- Color Palette: Bright and light
- Fabrics: Linen, Light Cotton
Fall Elegance: Layer Like a Pro
Fall is the fashionista's dream season. It's all about layering, textures, and earthy tones. A turtleneck under a sleeveless dress? Genius. A scarf as an accessory? A masterpiece.
- Must-Have Item: Turtlenecks for layering
- Color Palette: Earthy tones
- Fabrics: Wool, Corduroy
Winter Chic: Elegance Meets Coziness
Winter is no excuse for a drab outfit. Wool slacks, stylish boots, and elegant coats should be your go-to items. And don't forget those chic winter accessories like scarves and gloves.
- Must-Have Item: Wool Slacks
- Color Palette: Deep, rich colors
- Fabrics: Wool, Cashmere
|Season||Must-Have Item||Color Palette||Fabrics|
|Spring Flair||Pastel Blazers||Florals and Soft Pastels||Cotton, Linen|
|Summer Vibes||Sleeveless Button-Down Blouse||Bright and Light||Linen, Light Cotton|
|Fall Elegance||Turtlenecks for Layering||Earthy Tones||Wool, Corduroy|
|Winter Chic||Wool Slacks||Deep, Rich Colors||Wool, Cashmere|
Business Casual Footwear for Women: Step Up Your Game
The Classic Flats:
Flats are the unsung heroes of a woman's wardrobe. They're stylish, comfortable, and versatile. Opt for neutral colors like black or beige to get the most bang for your buck. If you're looking for something a bit more formal but still want the comfort of flats, consider Oxfords or Penny Loafers.
The Elegant Low Heels:
Low heels offer the perfect balance between style and comfort. They're the Swiss Army knife of women's footwear—equally at home in a board meeting or a casual outing. Horsebit Loafers can also serve as a chic alternative to low heels, offering a touch of sophistication.
The Versatile Boots:
Boots come in various styles to suit different needs and seasons. Ankle Boots are your winter saviors—stylish, warm, and versatile. For a more casual look, consider Chukka Boots. If you're aiming for something sleek and timeless, Chelsea Boots are the way to go.
The Dapper Derbies:
Derby Shoes offer a less formal but still polished alternative to Oxfords. They're perfect for those days when you want to look put-together but not overly formal.
|Type of Footwear||Best For||Avoid When|
|Flats, Oxfords, Penny Loafers||Everyday Office Wear||Formal Meetings|
|Low Heels, Horsebit Loafers||Client Meetings, Interviews||Long Walking Hours|
|Ankle Boots, Chelsea Boots, Chukka Boots||Winter, Casual Fridays||Summer, Formal Events|
|Derby Shoes||Semi-Formal Events, Casual Fridays||Very Formal Events|
Business Casual for Petite Women: Mastering Proportions
When it comes to business casual for petite women, the key is to create outfits that elongate the silhouette while maintaining a professional appearance.
Tailored Pieces are Your Best Friend:
Petite women often struggle with off-the-rack sizes that don't quite fit. Tailored petite suits, blazers, slacks, and skirts can make a world of difference in how you present yourself.
Vertical Lines and High-Waisted Styles:
Vertical lines can elongate your frame. High-waisted pants or skirts can also make your legs appear longer, creating a more balanced look.
Opt for low heels to give you a bit of height without sacrificing comfort. Nude-colored footwear can also elongate the leg line.
Avoid Overwhelming Prints:
Large prints can overwhelm a petite frame. Stick to smaller patterns or solid colors to maintain a balanced look.
Start building your confidence business wardrobe with petite clothing. No size limit, and 100% made to measure.
Business Casual for Plus-Size Women: Flaunt Your Curves
Business casual attire for plus-size women should focus on flattering cuts, comfortable fabrics, and a touch of personal style.
Structured Blazers and Cardigans:
A well-structured blazer can define your waist and add polish to any outfit. Cardigans offer a softer look but still maintain a professional edge.
Wide-Leg Pants and A-Line Skirts:
These styles can balance out the hips and create a flattering silhouette. Pair them with more fitted tops to avoid looking too baggy.
Chunky heels or wedges offer more surface area for stability and comfort. Flats can also be a good option, especially if they offer good arch support.
Don't Shy Away from Color:
While it's often advised to stick to darker colors for a slimming effect, don't be afraid to incorporate pops of color or even patterns into your business casual wardrobe. It adds personality and breaks the monotony of neutral shades.
Get the perfect fitting plus-size suit online. Tailored to your measurements, no size limitation.
Business Casual Attire Don’ts
- Avoid wearing flip-flops, running shoes, or strappy summer sandals.
- Yoga pants, leggings, or ripped pants are a definitive no-go in business casual attire.
- Sportswear and sweatshirts with hoodies are also not recommended.
- Avoid clothing with large, distracting logos or overly bold graphics.
- Steer clear of outfits that are too tight or too revealing.
- See-through fabrics or lace should be worn with caution, always ensuring coverage in professional settings.
- Tank tops or spaghetti straps should generally be paired with a cardigan or blazer.
- Jeans are typically acceptable only if they're dark-washed and without distressing; light-wash or heavily faded jeans might not be considered appropriate.
- Skirts and dresses should not be too short; ideally, they should be knee-length or longer.
- Avoid flashy jewelry or accessories that may be distracting or noisy.
- Hats or caps, unless for religious or medical reasons, are usually unsuitable for business casual environments.
- T-shirts with controversial or inappropriate prints or slogans are not advisable.
- Steer clear of clothing that is overly wrinkled or looks unkempt. Always aim for a neat appearance.
- Working from home? Your home dress code should be the same as in the office.
Business Casual Attire Do's:
- Opt for closed-toe flats or heels. If sandals are appropriate, they should be polished and not too casual.
- Choose tailored pants, slacks, or chinos. These can be paired with blouses or structured tops for a sophisticated look.
- Wear blouses or tops that aren't too low-cut. Materials like silk, soft cotton, or blends can look both elegant and casual.
- Layer with cardigans, blazers, or vests. They can instantly elevate a basic outfit and add some flair.
- Neutral and pastel colors often work best. They are versatile and can be mixed with patterns or solids.
- Dresses and skirts are great options. Just ensure they are of appropriate length, ideally knee-length or slightly above.
- Limit jewelry to modest pieces. Think stud earrings, pendant necklaces, bracelets, or classic watches.
- Sweaters or pullovers can be an excellent choice, especially in cooler weather. Pair them with skirts or tailored pants.
- Ensure outfits are well-fitted. Clothes shouldn't be too tight or too baggy.
- Belts can be used to accentuate the waist or add a touch of class to trousers or dresses.
- Opaque tights or stockings can be worn with skirts or dresses, especially in more conservative settings or during cooler months.
- Always ensure clothes are clean, free from stains, and well-ironed.
- Carry a professional-looking handbag or tote. Ensure it's neat and not overly bulky.
- If makeup is worn, opt for a more neutral and polished look rather than anything too bold or flashy.
- When in doubt, lean towards the more formal side of business casual. It's better to look slightly overdressed than too casual.
It's essential to remember that workplaces can vary in their interpretation of "business casual," so always take cues from your office environment or ask for guidelines if you're unsure.
If you want to check out even more outfit ideas, watch this video to find inspiration:
Hopefully, you can better understand of what business casual wear for women is now. Don’t forget that at Sumissura, every garment is made to your measure so it will serve you and fit you well over the course of years. Have a look at our collection to discover more: