9 professional and casual outfit ideas for work

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As that back-to-the-office date slowly creeps onto the calendar, so too does the uncertainty of what to wear. Whether your employer has reinstated a new dress code or you have to follow the same rules, if you’re heading back to the office, it’s probably time to freshen up your closet with more office clothes. Business casual clothes should be comfortable, while helping you look polished: think blazers, fitted skirts, pantsuits and sheath dresses that fit well and can be easily mixed and matched with your standard basics.

Putting together a smart outfit with a business casual outfit will require tapping into your existing arsenal of stackable staples like buttonholes and dressy tees. But you don’t have to be limited to an everyday uniform. When shopping for casual pieces, items like knee-length skirts and closed-toe shoes might be high on your list, but you can still incorporate your personality with the right accessories. Work in a designer handbag or your favorite jewelry to differentiate your business-casual look.

What is Business Casual?

The term “business casual” has different definitions depending on the company you work for, your job, and the location of your office. The easiest way to think of it is a hybrid way of dressing between formal business attire and everyday casual attire. It’s not essential to wear a full costume, necessarily, but ideally your outfit is still “done” enough to make it look like you’ve thought about your wardrobe. Consider mixing in interesting pieces and accessories, like a sleek moto jacket and new jewelry, or keep it relatively safe in neutral pants and a patterned blouse. Style-wise, the business-casual approach allows for generally more edgy and personality-driven workwear.

Business Casual vs. Business Professional

While business casual has room for interpretation and allows you to step out on the casual side of your closet more frequently, business professional is a traditional dress code typically reserved for stricter work environments like government, law or the bank. In this context, suits, blazers and shirts are neat (no creases!) and tailored. It is better to avoid too bright colors and keep accessories to a minimum, except for a simple belt or discreet jewelry.

Where to buy business and casual clothes

Go-to places for the POPSUGAR Fashion Team to find stylish and casual clothes include COS, The Frankie Shop, Club Monaco, Henning, Universal Standard, Misha Nonoo, Tibi, Anine Bing, Nanushka, Vince, Veronica Beard and Victoria Beckham. Keep reading for a curated selection of business casual items, plus some style tips.

About Catharine C. Bean

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