Today is the third post in a series I’m calling Spring Style Profiles, which is a series that talks through building blocks according to what style you’re going for. Like, what are building blocks for a spring athleisure wardrobe? How about for a casual on-the-go wardrobe? Business casual? We’ll talk through some, and you’ll be able to add as many or as few of these types of pieces as you need, depending how often you dress in that style.
The first week we talked about a put-together comfy casual style, and last week we covered building blocks for a dressy casual style. Today is building blocks for spring business casual style! For me, the business casual building blocks overlap a bit with the dressy casual style, just as some of the dressy casual elements overlapped with the comfy casual style. If you go back through the posts and pay attention to the overlap in pieces, you’ll be able to buy less pieces while creating a more versatile wardrobe.
Business Casual Style
Every time I write about business casual style I feel the need to say that the definition of business casual style is pretty broad. I’ve listened to hundreds of women at this point describe the dress code at their business casual work environments, and they run the gamut of being able to wear jeans to not being able to wear jeans but able to get away with colored denim like olive and maroon to not being able to wear jeans at all. (And beyond that would be called “business professional” and no longer “business casual.”) That is just to say the pieces shown here may or may not work for your business casual environment, with some being too casual to some being too dressy. But overall, I avoided denim in the shopping options (though they are featured in my outfit examples) just to keep it more in the middle.
Onto the pieces!
SHOP THE ITEMS:
blazer | magenta cardigan | yellow cardigan | yellow pullover | printed pullover
lace top | coral top | floral top | floral ruffle top | flutter sleeve | blue printed
blue floral dress | polka dot dress | red dress
black slacks | olive slacks | blush pants
taupe flats | leopard print flats | red flats | black pumps | nude pumps
If you are building a small business casual section, I would start with a neutral blazer and a couple of colored cardigans. I sometimes wear moto jackets for business casual looks, but in the spirit of sticking to building blocks, I left those out of this post.
Blazers. I absolutely love how blazers sharpen every outfit. You can make a graphic t-shirt look cool and sharp by throwing a blazer over it as opposed to a cardigan! So, for office attire, a blazer is the best go-to to have in your wardrobe.
When I was looking for my first blazer, I thought it could only come from part of a suit, which was not only more expensive, but was also too fancy and tailored for a more business casual style. There are plenty of blazers out there that are more toned down–and cheaper–and some of them are linked in the shopping widget below. (If you are viewing this post through Bloglovin’ you’ll have to click out of the Bloglovin’ frame to be able to shop through the widgets.) I own the tan one in the collage above, which also comes in black and navy. It runs large, as I’m usually size 6/8 and wear that blazer in size 4.
Business casual outfits with blazers below:
Colored Cardigans (fitted). While I absolutely love and these days prefer oversized cardigans in casual looks, for business casual looks I tend to stick with more standard fitted cardigans. While I would wear oversized cardigans in the more casual business casual settings, I think fitted cardigans look a little neater and more tailored. When I used to dress in business casual outfits more often, I wore so many different colored cardigans as a means to liven up my looks! See some below. Almost all of these cardigans are the same one from ModCloth in several different colors. Shop that cardigan in the current colors HERE, and know they rotate different colors in every season. I wear this cardigan in M.
SHOP BLAZERS AND CARDIGANS
SOLID & PRINTED BLOUSES
While I can certainly appreciate a statement blouse for a more interesting business casual wardrobe, for building blocks I lean towards blouses with simpler silhouettes. Particularly crew necklines allow you to rotate between various statement necklaces and pendants. Also, tops with simpler sleeves will be better for rotating through blazers and cardigans. Those details will help maximize each top. Also, make sure your tops have special details like lace, pleats, prints, ruffles, or special seaming and drape to make outfits more interesting and also more sophisticated looking without having to try harder!
Sweaters. For colder springs, sweaters are also great for office attire. Wear them alone with a statement necklace or layer them over button ups. Some business casual outfits with sweaters:
SHOP SOLID BLOUSES
SHOP PRINTED BLOUSES
BUSINESS CASUAL DRESSES
Just as discussed above about tops with details, find dresses with details as well. Also, non-cotton and non-jersey material will look more sophisticated, sharp, and professional, so if your work is on the more “business” end of business casual, lean away from cotton and knits.
While many people find that solid dresses are more versatile, allowing you to pair them with various prints or colors, I actually personally find printed dresses easier to mix and match. I can usually still wear a variety of different colored cardigans, blazers, shoes, and necklaces with them, but thanks to the prints they are more visually interesting and I don’t have to work as hard to have a put together looking outfit. The print does a lot of the work for you.
SHOP BUSINESS CASUAL DRESSES
SLACKS, CHINOS, AND SKIRTS
The rule of thumb I use for colored denim in my everyday casual style is basically the same one I apply to workwear: get them in several different colors. My workwear go-to colors are black, grey, olive, and maroon. For some reason I find it much easier to wear colorful pants like blush, mustard yellow, bright red, or even prints (!!) as slacks or chinos for work versus denim. Perhaps it is that workwear pants aren’t usually as tight, or maybe it’s the material they’re made of. But whatever the reason, I have always been way less self conscious about “louder” pants in a workwear over denim–especially in the spring!
Skirts. I didn’t list any skirts in my building blocks because I’ve hesitation about skirts from SO many women. They are definitely an option for work, but they are not a necessity. I personally love skirts for workwear though, especially printed ones! Overall I think they are even easier to incorporate color with than pants are, and they can add a lot of color and vibrancy to workwear.
SHOP BUSINESS CASUAL PANTS AND SKIRTS
FLATS AND HEELS
Lastly, I’ve said before that shoe choices can instantly change the feel of an outfit, taking it from dressy casual to dressed up to fancy–or to more professional. While I have worn ballet flats and rounder toe flats in many business casual outfits, these days I prefer flats with a pointy toe. They don’t have to be super crazy pointy, but I think a pointy toe sharpens up an entire outfit in an amazing way. For heels and pumps, I could go either way with pointy toes versus round toes.
My staples are usually black pumps, nude pumps and flats, and leopard print pumps and flats. I also wear maroon pumps and red flats often to make outfits pop.
SHOP FLATS AND HEELS
BUY MORE OR LESS OF EACH
Those are my general building blocks for a business casual wardrobe. If you’ll wear this style most days of the week, I’d get more of each category. Like, a few more blazers and cardigans in other colors, more of the kinds of tops we talked about plus a few statement tops/sweaters, add skirts, and a fuller range of neutral pants and maybe some more colored ones, etc. But if you’ll only need this style a couple days a week, buy less of each category to keep that section of your wardrobe smaller.
How often do you dress in this business casual, if ever? I used to dress business casual 1-2 times a week, and now it’s almost never except to style outfits for yall on the blog, haha! 🙂 See the rest of the Spring Style Profiles HERE!
And see more of my Business Casual Outfits HERE. (Note: In the link for my business casual outfits, some are buried within posts that have casual outfits as well. Just an FYI if you’re looking at a post wondering how some of the outfits are business casual–ONE of the outfits in the post is, while the rest may be casual.) You can always find my business casual outfits by going to the menubar at the top of this blog –> Style Help –> Business Casual outfits.