Monday, November 20, 2006

Decoding Business Casual, Part 2 (Tops/Accessories)

Yesterday we talked about choosing the right skirt or pair of pants for the elusive business casual dress code. Today, I'm going to talk a little about the the right top.

When it comes to tops, it's acceptable to wear a blouse, a sweater set or a fitted knit sweater. Again, don't be afraid of interesting tops, as long as they are still professional. I love this cashmere turtleneck, this high-neck top and this crossover sweater.

If your industry is more creative, try a batwing sweater or a short-sleeved printed blouse. Avoid thick wool sweaters that add bulk, long sweaters or cardigans, anything low-cut and any shapes that aren't body-conscious.

If you like the simplicity of dresses, choose a dress with a simple shape, in wool, polyester or flannel. Avoid bright colors or crazy details. Unless you can dress more casually, avoid knit dresses. Here are two nice examples of a basic sheath dress and a gabardine v-neck dress.

Don't forget to keep your shoes and accessories professional. You're not required to wear hose to a business casual event, though they are a good idea if you're wearing a skirt. Keep your purse small and simple, or bring a business-like tote. Avoid anything with hardware, as it's too trendy and casual. If you need to stay on the conservative side, stick to classic pumps, flats or sling-backs. For creative industries, it's acceptable to wear open-toed shoes during the summer months. Boots are also acceptable, but make sure they are fairly conservative, nothing above the knee, no ankle boots, and keep the heel relatively low (below 3 inches). Equestrian style boots are too casual, as is anything scrunched or folded-over. Here are two nice examples- this and this.

Women are lucky in that they have far more options than men when it comes to business casual, so don't be afraid to have a little fun with that freedom!

1 comment:

colleen said...

Hi Meg,

Is it acceptable to wear pantyhose with slingbacks? I am starting my first year of medical school and need to dress professionally, and I have a cute pair of black slingbacks, but I don't think showing up in the hospital to shadow a physician without pantyhose would be okay. Plus I have super pale legs. Thanks!