Business casual is often considered a vague, ambiguous term, but with clear elements of a formal lounge suit borrowed from more traditional, white-collar workplaces, for example. The term “business casual” is usually used to describe professional suits that are not tailored to fit the wearer’s body shape and size, as is the case with women’s suits or slacks. Such suits are appropriate for a wide variety of situations, ranging from business meetings to evenings out. It can also refer to a much broader range of business apparels, including work trousers and slacks, office wear, leisurewear, casual shirts and t-shirts, accessories such as belts and shoes, and even dresses. The colloquial use of the term has come to include any well-cut piece of clothing that conveys a certain degree of informality or comfort.
As clothing for business casual can cover a much wider spectrum than women’s formal wear, it is also less structured in its rules and scoring. Unlike formal attire, business casual dress code does not restrict the wearer to conventionally feminine styles or patterns. Black trousers, for instance, may be worn with a button-down shirt in a business casual environment, yet the shirt will never be tucked into a pocket, and will not be worn low-rise or low-stance. Likewise, a business casual dress code may not require women to wear skirts over their pants. While some do, others prefer business casual attire on skirt and pants as it permits greater mobility and flexibility.
Women’s business casual wear is characterized by short-sleeved, fitted, and wide-leg pants, fitted tops, and the use of minimal accessories. A woman may choose to wear a blouse or blazers, although not always with a matching pair of trousers. Tops may vary from sports styles, gym, or casual tops. One important business casual wear item is a shirt, and almost everyone should have one, whether they are wearing skirts or pants. The shirts should not be too tight or revealing, but at the same time they should not be so casual that they reveal even the most conservative of tops.
Like pants, the tops can vary, too. They can be skinnier, more fitted, sports, or even motorcycle type tops. A woman can find any combination of tops, whether stitched or cut, long or short, sleeveless, with or without sleeves. Women can choose solid tops, or tops with prints, stripes, embroidery, buttons, zippers, or other designs.
For a great alternative to business attire, consider wearing jeans to a Friday or Saturday lunch or dinner, as long as you do not show a lot of skin! A light-colored or denim shirt, a nice pair of jeans, and a good belt will set you apart from the crowd. The shirt can have a logo or pattern printed on it, while the jeans should be faded, off-white, or have minimal to no color in them. A pair of nice leather shoes is also a must, as well as comfortable sneakers.
Another idea for those who would like to wear business casual but do not want to show a lot of skin is to wear a blazer over their shirt, jacket, or pants. Women can select a checkered sweater, a plaid skirt, or a cardigan instead of wearing jeans. Scarves, cardigans, or shrugs with layered styles or patterns are also great options. With these outfits, you can complete the look by adding a leather or faux leather belt or some decorative accessories.