Is it just me or has “business casual” become a whole lot more casual in the last few years? I started dressing business casual way back in 1999 when I started taking practicum courses as an Occupational Therapy student. I had no money back then and a much smaller wardrobe (! – I had not discovered thrifting), but I still understood that no matter how small your wardrobe or budget, you don’t wear jeans except on Fridays (and even then, you dress them up) and you never wear lounge or active wear to work. Once I graduated and started working as a professional in a school setting, I found this to be a sufficiently broad dress code! I also noted that my administrators and supervisors tended to be more business and less casual.
Fast forward 18 years and I still hold fast to my early understanding of business casual but more and more I see people dressing down at work and I’m not sure I like it – feels like a slippery slope to sweatpants! Now, I work in a preschool and kindergarten school environment; I laid on the floor a few times today, there was paint, there was snot, there were indoor and outdoor shoes… I get why some of my
younger colleagues wear jeans throughout the week – but none of them only wear jeans and none wear the dreaded yoga pants to work. If you substituted “to the office” in place of “to work” that might re-frame business casual! Treat your workplace like “the office” and show it some respect, and what’s more important, command respect!
Feeling pumped now?!! Good, because I commanded respect today in … green joggers – HA!
This OOTD leads to me a few tips for old-school business casual…
- As mentioned, dressed up jeans on Fridays and NEVER yoga pants and the like.
- Wear one “casual” piece at a time.
- Polish your look off with accessories.
Let’s talk about No. 2… I consider my “joggers” the casual piece here. The fabric is not sweat pant material and that makes a big difference. I wouldn’t wear them to work EVER if they were! Still, if I paired these with sneakers and a tee, it would come off as weekend wear. Instead I wore a tailored tee in blousey fabric (again, not t-shirt material) and suede ankle boots. If you want to wear a tee, no problem, but that becomes your one and the rest of your outfit should be business – trousers, skirt, blazer, etc. This “one at a time” rule is the same advice I gave to women transitioning to a corporate wardrobe. And BTW, thrifting has changed my blazer game. I had exactly one blazer before and now I have several – most were about $6 or less. I recommend thrifting a few blazers precisely so you have something to mix with your graphic tees and casual bottoms and still keep it business casual. Now for No. 3…
Notice I’m wearing a necklace and a scarf and bracelets and earrings. Accessories make you look put together and there’s no excuse not to wear them when they’re less than a double-double! You don’t have to wear as many as I do… for example, take a look at today’s Pinspired March shot… She’s only wearing a simple delicate necklace but that’s enough!
I could have added a blazer or cardi but I
was running late knew I would work up a sweat liked my ensemble as is!
No matter what you do for work, you’ll (almost) never regret dressing up but you may regret dressing down so consider my 3 tips, enjoy your Lulu’s on the weekend and go thrifting if you need to! You’re welcome for the excuse!
P.S. Don’t forget to head over to Instagram – I’m posting daily #pinspiredmarch side-by-side shots with my Pinspiration and it’s pretty… amusing!