Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mastering "Business Casual"

The term “business casual” is one that I have fought with for as long as I can remember. I have been told to “ basically be dressed up, but not too dressed up.”  That may sound simple, but when it comes to finding something to wear for important occasions, such as job interviews, internships and presentations, I need a description a little less vague.

If you are like me, the idea of dressing professional can be scary. When I am told to dress “business casual”, my stress level automatically goes up. I rummage through my closet multiple times to find the perfect fit and appropriate length while trying to incorporate my own personal style, which can lead to nothing but frustration and a messy room.

Finding something to wear can bring just as much anxiety as whatever you are dressing up for.  But it does not have to be. You can create a fun outfit while still looking appropriate. There are just a few basics that can be incorporated with anyone’s style for professional occasions – a blazer, dress pants, and simple shoes. 

Fitted blazers are a must. I personally believe that this is one item that needs to be in every person’s closet. A blazer has the power to give even the most casual outfit a boost of professionalism and can always come in handy. Of course, it goes great with dress pants and low heels for a standard business outfit. But for a look that is more casual than business, wear one over a fun dress or with dark jeans.

Another essential for a professional look is a good pair of dress pants. A pencil skirt looks nice and can be great for a business look, but skirts always come with their own share of possible problems. A pair of black jeans work for some occasions, but can come off as too casual. Dress pants are simple, versatile and can instantly make an outfit look more put-together. The key is to have the right fit. Make sure your pair isn’t too tight or too loose. Another tip: you may want to invest in two pairs – one that is long enough to wear with heels and one that is hemmed to go with flats.

Speaking of shoes, a good pair is definitely needed. Trust me, I know your wedges and booties may be look great for a short class presentation, but it is good to have a pair of shoes that look more sensible.  Simple, closed-toed heels are ideal for the business look. Flats work well and can be found in many designs and colors, but heels can even look more professional. Keep them practical and no more than two inches high. Your feet will thank you later.

Now that you have the essentials of business-casual, bring some fun into your outfit. Fashion is all about showing your personality, even in the professional world. Pair your dress pants with a blouse that is your favorite color. If you really like to stand out, try a colored blazer. There are many different colors that, with some confidence and a good balance with neutral items, can easily be rocked for any class presentation or interview.

Another way to spice up your outfit is to add a scarf. After all, it is fall and we are all looking for any opportunity to bring out a new one, right? The list of different colors and styles of scarves is endless. Try a bold color or animal print to bring a pop of your personality to your look.

See? No need to stress over the confusing idea of “business-casual”. Just structure your outfit around a couple of essential rules and you will be fine. Now go off and be successful, you overachiever. 

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