Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pieces for Casual and Business Casual

I recently had a friend ask me to help her with her wardrobe.  One of her hopes was to have pieces that could work for both casual activities as well as business casual settings.  She has young kids and said, "I need clothes for being able to can bend down and pick up my kids but also clothes that look nice when I have to go to a meeting.  But I can't bend down and pick up my kids in a pencil skirt!"  (Oh, but you can!  We'll get to that!) 

Anyway, another reader asked me the same question so I figured it'd be a helpful topic!  I scoped out Target to show you pieces that can easily be mixed and matched to go from casual to business casual settings.

In choosing pieces for the dual purpose I simply used the rule of thumb from Part 2 of the Building a Remixable Wardrobe Series that checks if you can pair the piece with a staple for casual wear and a staple for business casual.  In my mind the most basic staples for each are dark or medium wash jeans and a pencil skirt or trousers, respectively.  So for every piece I asked, "Can it be paired with jeans AND trousers or a pencil skirt?"

Row 1 - Ponte Blazers:  Option 1  |  Option 2  |  Option 3
Quite a few people have written to me saying they like the look of blazers but feel like they don't work for casual lifestyles.  I used to say the same thing until I discovered ponte blazers.  Ponte blazers feel almost sweatshirt-like, which means you can move around and pick up kids or feel more laid back and comfortable while hanging out with friends.  However, the blazer structure helps them work for business casual settings when paired with a nicer blouse and trousers or khakis.

Row 2 - Button Up and Popover Blouses:  Option 4  |  Option 5  |  Option 6
Button ups always look nicer and can easily be tucked into a pencil skirt (or other skirt) for business casual looks.  However, they look great dressed down with jeans and sleek flats.  Option 6 isn't a button up or a popover, but it functions similarly.

Note: Each of these comes in at least 4 different patterns/colors.

Row 3 - Loose Blouses:  Option 7  |  Option 8  |  Option 9
Loose blouses are also great for toggling the line between casual and business casual.  Paired with jeans, they make for very easy and comfy outfits that you can move around easily in because they're loose.  If you get blouses with some structure and detailing they look great with trousers or a pencil skirt.

There are tons of blouses that fit this "loose blouse" category, so I chose three different kinds to show the variety: a tee, a tunic, and an empire waist.    But don't get overwhelmed--just remember the basic question, "Does it go with jeans?  Can it work with trousers or a pencil skirt?" (Or whatever type of skirt is your business causal staple.)

Note: Each comes in at least 3 different patterns.  And doesn't Option 9 look like it could be from Anthro?  Love it!  

Row 4 - Pullover Sweaters:  Option 10  |  Option 11  |  Option 12
These are very easily dressed up or down.  Just wear a white button up underneath and change up the bottom half according to the occasion!

Note: They all come in at least 3 colors.

Row 5 - Stretchy Skirts & Dresses:  Option 13  |  Option 14  |  Option 15  |  Option 16
Lastly, stretchy skirts and dresses made of either ponte or jersey material are wonderful for both casual and business casual.  I said at the beginning that you CAN bend down to pick up kids in a pencil skirt--as long as it's ponte or jersey!  Pair it with a t-shirt and denim jacket when you're going causal or wear it with one of the button ups or sweaters above for business casual.  Easy peasy!

Stretchy dresses are also awesome for the dual purpose.  Throw a blazer over them and pair with heels to instantly dress them up for a meeting!

Compensation for this post was provided by Target and ShopStyle.  All opinions are mine.  For more on PMT's sponsorship policies see disclosure.  


  1. Love Target's popover and button downs!

    Liz @ ShoppingMyCloset.com
    A $300 Kate Spade giftcard giveaway on the blog

  2. I need more blouse options, I'll take the third row!

  3. Ohh I love that Target belted tunic! Very cute! I think a Target stop is in my future! :D

  4. I was reading the post and my eye immediately was drawn to option #6. I clicked on the link and realized that I already have that top. I guess that means I really like it! I need to try it with a pencil skirt to dress it up a bit since I have only worn it with jeans. Thanks as always for the inspiration.


  5. I love the tunic #8 and have at one point or another owned a few of the same brand, but I always struggle with what to pair them with, besides jeans, because of proportions.

  6. That striped blazer is a must!

  7. How does it look tucked into a skirt without the belt?

  8. Haha! I hope it works out with the pencil skirt! Otherwise, I think it'd go well with khakis or chinos with a blazer.

  9. Haha! I REALLY love #9. Tempted to run out to a Target and find it.

  10. I'll have to try. I keep forgetting that that's even an option.

  11. I love button downs, popovers and loose blouses! I find them easy & comfortable to wear casually but struggle getting them to pull double duty at work. I usually wear trouser slacks and I just feel shapeless & messy w those tops paired w trouser shape. Does that make sense? Tucking in just doesn't seem to work on me....maybe slimmer work pants?? Help! Love your blog!

  12. If tucking them in with a belt doesn't work, then I would definitely try slimmer work pants. Or try belting them at the smallest part of your waist (usually under the ribcage) and see if that provides the definition you're looking for.

  13. great picks. love thesee!!!
    xoxox steph for www.bodeoo.com


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