Monday, April 22, 2013

Your Business Casual Staples?

side view of the shoes

Monday hit us like a ton of bricks.  I know Monday's just doing its job, but does it have be so rude sometimes?  Bahhh.

I wore this outfit last week to interview a potential hiree.  If it's not obvious by the outfits I post, my organization is very, very, very casual.  I could get away with wearing jeans and a sweatshirt most days and it would be normal, though as you can see I don't do that.  One of the reasons I started this blog was to figure out some balance for myself of being put-together but still pretty casual.

I feel like I settled into that pretty well for a while, but for the last couple of months I've felt an itch for more business-casual looks (whatever that ambiguous term means).  Heavy emphasis on the "casual," though.  :)  Part of it is out of necessity as I have a different job role and have new types of meetings to attend on a regular basis.  And maybe part of it is because I'm turning the big 3-0 very soon or because I care less than I used to if people ask me why I'm "so dressed up."  (Seriously guys, I put on a jersey dress and slap a belt over it and get asked why I'm so dressed up.)  Whatever the reason I feel like I've been creeping into a new evolutionary stage in my style.  I'm not making any statements or promises that I'm all of a sudden going to have business-casual looks all the time because come on, I live in laid back San Diego after all and my org is still very, very, very casual.  I'm just reflecting on the itch I've been feeling and I'm ready to let it go there and have fun with it!

My recent shopping list has been a bunch of pieces that I want to add for more business-cas attire which I'll show soon.  But I'm curious to know for those of you have to do business-casual regularly, what do you consider your 1-3 staples for business-casual?  

(SAHMs, don't worry.  I've read your emails and comments and requests and I'm thinking of putting together something for you that doesn't include business-casual anything.  :)  )



Shop for the Look:
Top: Forever 21 (similar, similarsimilarsimilar)
Cardigan: Tilly's (both really good options: similar, similar)
Pants: Banana Republic (exact, similarsimilar--straight leg in regular, tall, petite, plus)
Pumps: H&M (similar)




52 comments:

  1. This is a great outfit! Honestly, I wear a lot of the same types of things you do in my job as a Youth Services Librarian. For us, we can't wear jeans at all. I think my staples are black trousers and khakis. I do wear colored skinny pants fairly often and more skirts and dresses in warmer weather.

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  2. I dress up more when I have meetings or programs out of the building, too. :)

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  3. Oh my goodness, I have the SAME problem! My office is very, very, very casual and anytime I wear anything other than jeans and a sweater I get the "oh, don't youuu look nice today". I wore a JERSEY pencil skirt last week and I think I nearly gave some people a heart attack! I never thought I'd have to worry about looking overdressed - glad to know I'm not alone :)

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  4. Margaret HendersonMonday, April 22, 2013

    A blazer, plain trousers and a simple plain dress or pencil skirt :)

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  5. Maricel EdwardsMonday, April 22, 2013

    Ahahahaha! I get called on "dressing up" so often that once, when we had a staff meeting and were told some VIPs were coming to observe us and our admin told us we had to dress nicely, one of the teachers asked how nice and another one, completely unprompted by me, said "Just dress like Edwards does everyday." LOLOLOLOL!


    My business casual, then, is less about the clothes and more about how they're worn. That means I can elevate a pair of dark wash jeans simply by wearing heels - oh, how I love my heels! - or an ensemble gets immediately professional when I do a tuck or semi-tuck. Blazers and cardis go buttoned for business then unbuttoned for casual; hair is up for business then down for casual.


    Does that make sense?


    www.myclosetcatalogue.com

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  6. I'm a WAHM and *could* wear pjs every day to work at my desk, and then throw on some yoga pants to get the kids from school. But I really find that I do better work, and feel better prepared for anything (grocery store, someone at the door, random errands or trips to kids' schools) when I'm dressed business casual. So bring on the SAHM/WAHM business casual, or as What Not To Wear calls it . . . Mom-On-The-Go! Love that!

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  7. Cardigans, button downs, skirts and dress pants are my main staples. I work at a bank and it's pretty conservative but most people don't dress very trendy. I am one of the few that does.

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  8. As a grad student, I could literally wear sweats to work and no one would bat an eye. But as soon as I show up in a simple jersey dress from Tar-jay, everyone and their brother has to ask why I am "so dressed up".... so I totally get that. My "business-casual" go-tos would be a jersey pencil skirt, silk button down & chic lady flats (with a tiny stacked heel) - all good for dressing up and down!

    xx


    Here&Now

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  9. My top business-casual staples (that is, items that turn a standard outfit into one that's work-appropriate) are blazers, heels and pearls. Even jeans can look pretty dressy with those three additions, provided the jeans are hole-free in dark wash with good lines.

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  10. I'm a college student so I hover between casual and business-casual (for big days like presentations)
    My winter staples are jeans, a v sweater and flats or boots. For summer I do either jeans and a polo and sandals or knee length summer dresses.
    However I choose to dress I don't think anyone would care, the other students and even the teachers range from ultra casual (hoodies and hiking boots) to ultra dressy (full suits) to barely inappropriate going out looks (some girls do this, I think it's kind of odd but I seem to be the only one)

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  11. This is pretty much what I wear to work everyday, too, minus the button downs. I don't like the look of button downs on me, and I also get warm easily. So it is usually a shell of some sort under the cardigan. I have staple dress pants (premium trousers from gap + editor pants from express), plus a mix of a few (mostly pencil) skirts.

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  12. I've just switched jobs and have gone from a position that required very casual clothes (on the floor with kids) to a position that sometimes calls for casual but sometimes calls for more "business casual". I've had so much trouble knowing what to wear when I need to dress up a bit more, so I'm excited to see what you come up with.

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  13. My staples for regular business casual would have to be nice pair of slacks (preferably slightly flared or boot cut), cardigans (that stick out by their color or by buttons, but still in a solid color) and flats. I feel that almost any shirt with these other items can be made appropriate for business as long as it doesn't have something that wouldn't work (like logos of bands, words etc). Even a t shirt can be made appropriate for business if work with the right backdrop. Especially if tucked in!

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  14. 1. Awesome slacks. I'm a stay-at-home mom now but back when I was working I much preferred slacks to skirts to wear to work. I spent bucks on my slacks. I really, really, really like the way Ann Taylor slacks fit me and they last forever.
    2. Comfortable but cute shoes. I had jobs where I spent a good chunk of time on my feet and I'm not one to sacrifice comfort for style. But I don't feel I have to sacrifice style for comfort either! A lot of comfort brands like Aerosoles and Lifestrides make cute shoes that are nice to my feet as well.
    3. Nice jeans. Sometimes we'd get Casual Friday or something like that and it's always good to have a pair of classy jeans for those occasions! I like a good, basic boot-cut in a darker wash. Add a cute blouse and a pair of flats or kitten heels and you've got a look that's Casual Friday but still professional if a client drops in! :-)

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  15. I have to wear business casual five days a week, so I have a TON of work clothes! My essentials would have to be pencil skirts, blazers, and black pointy-toe flats!

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  16. this monday has been rough but a soft cotton blazer, pencil skirt in florals, and a striped j crew tank are pulling me through

    kw, ladies in navy

    Zara giveaway

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  17. As a teacher I often lean towards the more "casual" end of business casual. Twill pants are definitely a favorite of mine, they aren't denim but they aren't a dressed up pair of slacks. Other staples are cute flats, fun cardigans, and button-downs.

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  18. I work in a university office, and I love to wear trousers. I have several pairs in a variety of neutrals. Cords are my favorite for the winter when it's not snowy and sloppy out. If I don't try it too often, I can get away with a pair of colored jeans, but regular jeans are only for Friday, and if we wear university gear, we can wear t-shirts. Cardigans have been a must for almost every outfit I wear to work, but after reading your blog for several months and doing some serious convincing of myself...I finally bought my first blazer. I can hardly wait for it to get here! I also tend to wear blouses (sleeveless or with short sleeves) with different prints, just so I don't feel so plain. I tend to only wear flats or very low heels to the office, mainly because it's a long walk in from the parking lot, and I occasionally have to walk around campus for different meeting. So, that's my list: trousers, flats, print blouses, and cardigans. :)

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  19. I was going to leave a comment, but Becky said exactly everything I was going to say. LOL I like heels and skirts/dresses on days when I don't have a lot going on, but when I teach classes/give presentations, it's trousers and non-girlie shoes all the way. I need to be able to move around freely and be on my feet for extended periods of time. The HVAC in the building is also whack, so I usually go sleeveless, short-sleeve, or scrunchable sleeves with a cardi on top.

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  20. I love my black heels like those! Great outfit!

    www.kacieskloset.blogspot.com
    www.daisyraeboutique.com

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  21. When I was a full-time teacher, my main staple was a black pencil skirt. I seriously wore that with everything from graphic tees and converse sneakers to high heels and a blouse, or even layered under a dress that was a little on the short side. It was just the best ever! Unfortunately, I wore it to death, then never replaced it. :( Boo!

    As a SAHM, I'm looking forward to what you have may have planned for us. :)

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  22. Jackie CampbellMonday, April 22, 2013

    I think this outfit is great! That's too bad that you feel like you have to "dress down" for work. Half the time I'm probably more dressed up for work than need be. It's not like we ever have clients at our office. But I like how I feel when I'm dressed nicely! You look great, so strut your "business casual" self ;) I think for me, my business casual staples are probably much like what you tend to wear; blazer, cardigan, pencil skirt.

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  23. Cardigans (the office is freezing!), skirts (I don't like the slacks I bought), and tee- shirts. When we had "winter" (I'm in So Cal, too!), it was skirts, knee-high boots, and tights (of every color in the rainbow!).

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  24. To me, I feel that if I work in an office environment, I want to be taken seriously. Part of it is you have to dress the part. I might be perfectly competent at my job and am the most capable person at the office, but would my coworkers or my boss take me seriously if I wear maxi dress and sandals to work? How about going to a team or client meeting in jeans and halter top? No way. :)

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  25. My office is business professional so suits are required most of the year, but we get to do business casual from Memorial Day to Labor Day anits sometimes actually hard to make the transition! Last summer they just allowed cropped pants but I never got a pair. It's a goal for me this summer. I feel like you have to have stellar shoes to pull that off. Regardless of business professional or casual though, I've been favoring skirts over pants now that I have little kids because I switch from heels to flats when I go to pick them up and my pants are too long when I take off the heels.

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  26. I work in a business casual environment 5 days a week. My staples for workwear are trousers - at least one khaki, grey, and black - although i have a ton of trousers, cardigan - i think it's especially important to have one in a neutral color that goes with everything- for me that's ivory, and definitely comfortable, dressy flats. My job requires a lot of running up and down halls and stairs.

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  27. you look so cute Audrey, love the pairing of cobalt and mustard!

    ~Chioma


    C's Evolution of Style

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  28. I wore a lot of dresses to work. That was easy to dress them up or down. I also had a pair of heels in a drawer so if I had to suddenly see a client or go to a meeting I'd pop them on and instantly look a bit smarter.

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  29. My office is also super casual, and jeans and sweatshirts are not uncommon. I like to dress "business casual" with an emphasis on casual. Lately, I'm really into ankle pants, because to me, they are a more casual version to the typical business-type trouser. I recently purchase some in different colors from The Limited. When I do wear jeans, I dress them up with a blazer and heels...3 inch heels because there's nothing more frustrating than strutting around the office in super high heels that slow you down...I leave those for the weekend! What you have on is something that I would wear to work.

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  30. I live in a small town where pretty much every business is business casual. Because I love clothes, I'm always trying to mix things up a little and thrown in something fashionable. I cannot tell you the number of times I have shown up somewhere in jeans, a shirt and some cool shoes just to be asked, "Why are you so dressed up?!?" It used to make me crazy but now I just smile and say, "This is what I like to wear." I love to days outfit, btw. The blue and yellow are fantastic!

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  31. I think my 3 basic business casual items are a pencil skirt, a button down, and a cardigan. I would wear your outfit to my office, definitely! When I'm out traveling, I suppose to wear more business attire, but I try to make it in between business and b.c. because my clients aren't as formal as some in other areas.


    -AJ
    FitTravelerAJ.com

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  32. Dressing up and looking put together (even casually) does have an effect on our mood and other people's perception of our abilities to do a job. Even if we all agree that first impressions or what we wear shouldn't matter so much, the fact is it does. I love the way you make looking "put together" attainable for any woman in any stage of life. Working at home or in the office. I look forward to your "mom on the go" wardrobe tips.

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  33. My essentials are pencil skirts, cardigans & interesting tee shirts. I try to dress more on the business side of business casual, so I also often wear button down shirts, trousers and sometimes blazers as well.

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  34. I'm a professor, so business casual is where I live. Blazers and cardigans are at the core of my style. Basically, take something either too casual or too dressy for work, add a blazer or cardigan, and BAM it's businessy. I've done this with a red cocktail dress (so long as it's not too short) and with jeans and a T (so long as the jeans are dark and not too tight), and really, it works every time.

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  35. Hi Audrey,


    I'm a tenured SAHM, and say, keep the "business casual" posts coming! That style is perfect for me to go to a mom's group night out, or a volunteer meeting at church. I can also wear this style on Sundays for church (although I personally don't wear blue jeans to Mass). Each one of your posts inspires me, and your "business casual" articles are no exception.


    Thanks!! --Becky in Oregon

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  36. Blazer or jackets, black dress pants, pencil skirts, cardigans, bright or patterned tops and dark jeans are my go-tos for the office. I suppose most of my outfits border on business casual but more business than casual. So, kind of the opposite of you!

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  37. In general, a nice blouse or button-up shirt, trousers, or pencil skirt, and close-toed pumps or flats. As a medical student, I have some unique restrictions on what I wear, given that the medical field is fairly conservative (also, no toppers since we always have the white coat on!). Also, I generally can't wear things like bangles or rings or long necklaces.

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  38. In my office, the everyday dress code is "business casual" but what that really means is: business, but you can wear colors other than black, gray, navy, and white. So, my staples are several neutral suits. I always buy suits that have a jacket, pencil skirt, and slacks, so I can mix it up. I have several solid color silk tops for summer and cashmere sweaters for winter. I also have a few colorful tweed jackets.

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  39. This is the perfect business casual outfit. Love it.

    Don't forget to enter my stella & dot giveaway and join me this thursday April 25 for my link up.

    Agi:)

    vodkainfusedlemonade.com

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  40. Love your business casual look, it is perfect. I think my staples are, black dress pants, dresses and blazers! Throw in a couple of dress shirts and your good to go!

    Pia
    pjmscloset.blogspot.ca

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  41. I used to work for the org you work for and apparently there
    used to be more of a “dress code.” I don’t know exactly when things in the
    field changed, but when I went to my Orientation, we were told to dress “nice
    casual – like you would wear on a student appointment. Not as nice as you would
    wear to meet a donor, but not jeans and t-shirts like you wear to camp.” We all
    got there and asked each other if we had every seen a staff member not in
    jeans. Most of us had to buy clothes that fit the Orientation dress code before
    left for Madison.

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  42. Ha, that's funny! I was just in Madison for Spring Meetings and it was "business casual," but there were still jeans for sure. Nice jeans with a nice top, but still jeans.

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  43. I love your outfit and the color combo!

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  44. my staples are slim black pants, lbd's, and wedges. they can go from casual to professional pretty quickly.

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  45. you look stunning! :)
    It's a giveaway on blog and I'm waiting for you!
    http://lusciousstyle.blogspot.com/2013/04/stylegodis-giveaway.html

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  46. Black pants are my absolute first staple. I wear them all the time. Black/gray/ivory cardigans are another staple, if only so I can wear sleeveless and short-sleeved tops in January. (I'm from the Northeast. :)) Then a nice pair of flats or wedges, probably. I tend to go with black, gray or metallic, so I don't have to think too much about coordinating colors, but I do have a really fun red pair. My last job was strictly business casual, so I have a closet full of appropriate clothes.

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  47. I like what others are saying about business casual basics. I will add some notes about shoes: I hate heels, they hurt my feet, so I'm a big fan of flat bus-cas shoes. This winter I have LOVED the trend of mens-style oxfords for women. They look great with a pair of slacks, and I love that I can wear them with socks (my favorites are argyle but mostly I use solids) so my feet don't get cold in midwest winters.
    Let me also proclaim my love of the cotton button up, with pants, with a skirt, with a cardigan, with a blazer. Always looks professional. Sometimes other types of blouses are too low on me or make me sweat, I heart my cotton button ups for being modest and breathable.

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  48. Aw, sorry to hear your Monday was rough, Kelsey! I hope it got better as the week went on.

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  49. ashley @ sunnysideshlee.comFriday, April 26, 2013

    My office is business casual and my outfits are boring! I've been itching to re-vamp my entire wardrobe, but don't have the budget to do that. My go-to is a black cardigan that I can pair with almost anything. I recently purchased some knee-high riding boots that I'm looking forward to getting a lot of miles on because you can pair them with pants, or tights and a skirt and still look professional. I also have tons and tons of "undershirts" to pair with cardigans. Basically, sleeveless shirts that are all different colors and patterns.

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  50. Four Seasons One WardrobeSaturday, April 27, 2013

    Don't worry about being too dressed up - life is too short to wearing boring clothes! Sheer blouses and dark wash jeans are staple pieces in my business casual wardrobe.

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  51. The "why are you so dressed up?" question has been bugging me lately! Between your blog and Pinterest I have been feeling good about how I look. Putting outfits together is so fun. Yesterday to visit my parents I put on black skinny jeans, leopard flats, a grey vintage looking long sleeved shirt, and an infinity scarf. I thought it was very casual.....but I got the dreaded question!!!

    From now on I think my response will be "Because I wanted to!"

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  52. You have formed a cute look by combining these colours.

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