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While working for a supply chain management company, in Human Resources, we had a “business casual” dress code. Luckily, this was typically always followed and never really became an issue. Other times, I could not believe the clothing choices I saw as I walked down the hallway.
THE BUSINESS CASUAL BRO CODE – FOR WOMEN
Thou shall wear work appropriate pants
Typical business casual pants include materials such as wool, cotton, linen, gabardine, and sometimes polyester. You want to achieve a clean and classic look. Anything too baggy or too tight may give off the wrong impression.
Most business describe denim pants to be a causal article of clothing. It’s interesting to me- I have seen denim become more popular as a part of business casual attire.
Until you find out what clothing choices your company frowns upon, I would refrain from wearing jeans. When wearing denim, I suggest colored or darker blue jeans. White and colored jeans are starting to become more and more popular these days as well. In addition, do not wear faded denim.
Thou shall not wear leggings
Although fitted pants are starting to become a very big fashion trend, refrain from leggings. Chances are someone will see right through that thin, skin-tight fabric. In exception to under a dress during the winter, do not rock the leggings.
If you are wanting to wear a fitted pant, ensure they are a durable fabric with pockets. When meeting with clients or attending meetings I would revert to the classic style of pants rather than something that is fitted.
Thou shall wear a work appropriate blouse
There are so many different styles and colors of blouses, so you really can’t go wrong! Well… almost. My favorite of mine is a white fitted blazer from H&M with a green polyester tank underneath. Colored blazers are fun, comfortable, and look great in any aspect of your job.
It surprised me how many employees wore a camisole with a nice cardigan or jacket, then would end up taking off the jacket. I can not exaggerate on how unprofessional this was. In addition, this would cause complaints of visible tattoos and markings.
Cardigans are very popular around the fall. I would tread lightly when wearing one- fitted and neutral colors seem to work best. Cardigans and sweaters that are over-sized or over the top with colors remind me (and your potential employers) of pajamas.
Thou shall not wear a cotton t-shirt as a blouse
I’m not saying your blouse needs to be sheer or silk, but make sure to be conscious of the material and quality of the blouse. Nordstrom has always been my go to for amazing flowy blouses!
Another trend we are seeing trying to be passed off as business casual is the cold shoulder tops. Most companies will not find this look professional.
Thou shall be conscious of the neckline
You do not necessarily need to break out the turtleneck, but there’s no need to teeter that professional line. Wear a camisole if needed to help with this, and always wear one under a sheer blouse. If you a wearing a v-neck I suggest bending over in front of a mirror, then decide if you still want to wear it or not.
Thou shall NOT wear shorts
This is a standard business casual rule for guys and gals. Do NOT wear shorts. No Ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Thou shall wear work appropriate dresses and skirts
Ensure dresses and skirts are an appropriate length. I suggest when sitting, the end of the dress or skirt comes to the start of your knee.
Pencil skirts are my favorite! Every time I wear one, I have the confidence to really push through my day. Pleated skirts are also a wonderful choice. You can have a pink or red skirt for a pop of color and pair it beautifully with a white button up!
Surprisingly I have found some amazing dresses and skirts off amazon! They have always been a decent price and very comfortable.
Dresses are such an easy go to for business casual attire. No pairing needed! Neckline and sleeves should be modest. If you want to go sleeveless, make sure those straps are very thick.
Again, be conscious about the length of the dress. You are there to impress– not show off. While nylon is not always needed, during the colder months this or leggings may be more comfortable under your dress.
Thou shall wear comfortable yet modest shoes
Heels and closed toed flats are the best way to go. They are fairly inexpensive at Francesca’s and can look great with any outfit. Chances are, shoes will be defined in your handbook, which is a common workforce safety practice. I never recommend open toed shoes or sandals.
Neutral colored boots are great for winter. I would stay away from the fur on the boots and even the knit covers.
Thou shall have up kept hair and hygiene
One of the biggest complaints an employee will have about a coworker is their hygiene. This could be anything from a body odor smell, bad breathe, and no deodorant. Even if you are running late, take 30 seconds and check yourself. I always keep mouthwash, gum, and deodorant at my desk just in case. This is also a good practice for after a meal break.
You don’t have to have your hair made up every time you come into work, but at least run a brush through it. No one wants to see a nappy, tangled mess. Doing your hair in the morning will also give you confidence for the day, and sometimes that little boost can make all the difference.