Is there anything more head-spinningly confusing than the moniker “business casual”? The dress code that dominates most office environments in 2019 is also one of the most difficult to parse. “Business” connotes suits, ties, loafers, and pencil skirts; “casual” serves up images of t-shirts, khakis, cotton, and sneakers. Where’s the middle ground, especially for our intrepid shopping audience, who gives more than a few damns about how they look when they walk out the door in the morning?
While we haven't created an official PowerPoint deck on the subject, we’ve certainly done our homework on what to wear to work by dress code and have some nuggs of wisdom to share. Sam Spica, publicist at women-focused career hub, Fairygodboss, told us that business casual “takes [professional office attire] down a step,” allowing for “flats, nice shirts, a cute dress here and there, and sneakers — everybody’s favorite word.” We think of it as the deconstructed version of the professional wardrobe, where the separate components (suit jacket, button down, pencil skirt) are liberated from their normal pairings and allowed to interact with other elements of your wardrobe.
Now, we know that every office is different, and where one company embraces this mixed-signal dress code with t-shirts and tennis shoes, another would frown on anything less formal than a blazer and shiny shoes. As Spica says, “no two companies are exactly the same, so I always say to overdress [when you’re new to the job], and then get a feel for what everybody wears.” Bearing this in mind, we included a range of items that cover the spectrum between the business and the casual, so that you can pick and choose the pieces that are going to a.) make you feel cute and b.) won’t raise any eyebrows at the Monday meeting.
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