Business casual women have an array of choices when dressing for work, but where does current thought leadership lie on what counts as a business casual dress code?
Men have always had it easier regarding what to wear and what not to wear for business casual. In other words, wear slacks and a shirt, and leave the tie and jacket at home. Business casual attire for women requires a little more thought.
So, as inflation rises and the cost of living crisis bites, female employees must choose carefully to avoid leaving themselves out of pocket. Here’s what you need to know about business casual.
What Do Business Casual Women Look Like?
Business casual is increasingly becoming the norm in the workplace. According to Randstad USA, 79% of workplaces enjoy a dress code that’s business casual, casual, or non-existent.
So, what is business casual?
The easiest way to explain this dress code is it combines formal business and casual clothing. In other words, think about what you would wear to an interview if you were wondering how to get a job in sales.
With that image in your mind, tone it down a little. For example, wearing short shorts to the office would be considered ultra-casual. On the other hand, due to personal branding purposes, your workplace may give the green light to a knee-length skirt and a top in your favorite color.
A business casual dress code aims to allow people to feel comfortable in the workplace while reinforcing that you are still in a place of business.
The problem is that every employer can view what counts as business casual differently. For example, business casual Fridays at a law office may still be more formal than if you search successfully for how to get a job in digital marketing.
If you’re confused, the best policy is to approach your boss.
What is Considered Business Casual for a Female?
Business casual women in 2023 can feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice. But it doesn’t have to be a headache, nor should you just ask ChatGPT.
Here are some tried-and-tested wardrobe choices that will work in practically any office environment:
- Top – Blouses, sleeveless shirts, vests, blazers, turtle-neck sweaters for winter, dressy tops, and casual dresses.
- Bottom – Knee-length skirts, dress pants, or pencil-cut skirts.
- Shoes – Pumps, stilettos, open-toed heels, and flats.
Like working out how to start a business, the best course of action is to avoid overthinking the issue.
Are Jeans Business Casual for Women?
No, business casual women should never wear jeans to the workplace for the same reason men shouldn’t wear khaki shorts.
As people increasingly hunt for recession-proof jobs, your workplace may be tightening up on its dress codes. But, as always, it largely depends on the workplace.
What Shoes Are Appropriate for Business Casual?
The shoes are where so many women struggle to put their business casual wardrobes together. Unlike with men, showing some foot isn’t against the rules outright.
Certain sandals may be acceptable, but opting for flats with any pair of pants is the easiest option. If wearing a dress or skirt, heels, wedges, or boots can work.
How Much Skin Can You Show at Work?
According to a survey of workplaces in 29 states, showing too much skin was the leading workplace dress code violation.
Business casual women should stay cautious when choosing their outfits, as it’s easy to fall foul of what’s acceptable. Sleeveless dresses, V-necks, and skirts will all show some skin. But, as always, ensure that you remain neat and professional.
Observe what other women wear in the office, or consult your local black career network for further advice.
What Not to Wear for Business Casual Women
Business casual is often more confusing than it needs to be because although there’s plenty of room for creativity, it’s easy to cross the line.
But here’s a list of apparel that should never figure in any business casual setting:
- Ripped jeans (or any jeans)
- Clothing with potentially offensive graphics
For women specifically, look to the top female black financial influencers in casual environments. You’ll never see casual and comfy leggings, crop tops, off-the-shoulder dresses, t-shirts, or tennis shoes.
How to Dress Business Casual for Women
Subjects like different learning styles or how to start freelancing will open up various paths for each person to pursue.
In the world of business casual women, it’s best to stick with the group instead of carving out your own path.
1. Business Casual Blazer
Blazers are considered to be a formal piece of attire. For example, you’re a customer-facing professional helping other businesses grow organic traffic. You may choose a blazer because of its professional undertones.
As it’s so formal, you must offset it, so pair it with a casual shirt/chinos or a lightweight dress.
2. Business Casual Dress
Your dress may form the center of your outfit. But business dresses are formal by nature, so you’ll need to tone it down.
Some ideas could include a linen blazer or a chunky turtle-neck sweater for those chilly winter mornings.
3. Business Casual Shirt
The shirt is another good place to start with the formal side of your outfit. On the Urban Income Show, we’ve always been fans of combining these shirts with dark jeans or even grabbing a blazer with some micropatterns.
Just ensure that your shirt color remains traditional and muted. White, baby blue or salmon are always winners.
4. Business Casual Slacks and Shirts
Slacks and skirts can be as versatile as you want them to be. With approximately half of U.S. companies operating under business casual dress codes, this is where you need to combine comfort with formality.
Simple black or grey slacks go well with basically anything. On the other hand, skirts should be paired with informal shirts. Avoid anything but plain clothing, and don’t forget to factor in length when standing and sitting.
Dress for the occasion, but don’t fear infusing your personality into your clothing. Business casual women can create head-snapping outfits while remaining within the rules using the 1:1 rule for formal vs. informal.
At Urban Income, we support you in reaching your potential. Whether you need to know about navigating treacherous office dress codes or how to get an EIN number, our experts are there to help.
Browse Urban Income to learn more about improving your financial prospects today.