Work Wardrobe ~ how to do business casual - Styled By Sally

Work Wardrobe ~ how to do business casual

How To Do Women’s Business Casual Right

Dressing appropriately for work is crucial. But in today’s varying industries and work environments, deciding what is suitable for the workplace can be a challenge. Business casual, in particular can be a tough dress code to wear right. Business casual is a hybrid of business professional and casual wear, so being too formal or too casual is often a concern.

A business casual attire allows you to work comfortably, but keep in mind that your look should still be suitable to the workplace. Your attire should be clean, unwrinkled, and look professional. Here are the basic rules to follow when it comes to dressing in business casual that can apply to most work places.


Comfortable and versatile, pants are a basic item in business casual attire. Dress pants, khakis, trousers, or corduroy pants are suitable business casual pants. Basic neutrals such as black, navy and grey are best as you can pair them with different tops and jumpers. If you would like to try a coloured pair of pants, go for a dark muted colour such as burgundy or forest green. For patterns, you can try pinstripes or a plaid.

Make sure that your pants fit you well, are wrinkle-free, and without frayed hems or ripped seams.

A higher-rise trouser is more common these days {and more flattering} particularly if you choose a wide-legged style. If you do prefer a wide leg, my advice is to always team with a heel and ensure the trouser falls towards your heel {not hover around your ankle} which will create a lovely long, dramatic line {as shown below}

If you can’t handle heels, stick to a slimmer leg trouser that sits on the shoe {no bunching} and keep the waistband high to create a little extra length.

WE RECOMMEND: Yvonne pant from Sportscraft is a classic example of a work appropriate slim leg pant (and it has seriously suited EVERY client this season!)

When shopping for business casual pants, opt for a medium to wide waistband. A wider waistband is supportive and keeps your tummy tucked in. If you have curves around the hips and thighs that you want to downplay, opt for dark colours, straight or wide legs and structured fabrics such as tropical wool.


Blouses and tops are a great way to show your personality and add a pop of colour to your business casual attire. There are so many options that are suitable. Pastels, jewel tones, plaids, muted florals, and prints like paisley, geometric, polka dot, ikat (as long as they are subtle) are all acceptable.

WE RECOMMEND: Saba Zanita silk blouse

Stay away from tops with large logos, brands, statements or those with outrageous patterns. Also, a blouse that reveals your cleavage, back or midriff is NOT acceptable.

During colder months, you can wear long sleeved or 3/4 sleeved tops. When the weather is nice and warm, you can go for short or cap sleeves. Keep your neckline modest with a collared, boat neck, square neck, or turtleneck. Tuck your shirt in, or if worn out, make sure it covers your waistband by several inches.

WE RECOMMEND: Portmans elbow length peplum top


Jumpers are a great way to keep warm and there are some beautiful soft knits around that are suitable for the office . You can wear pull-over jumpers as a top or over a top or shirt if you are layering. You can pair it with pants or a skirt, or over a dress. Make sure your jumper fits you well – stay away from anything bulky or baggy. Fine-gauge knits work best.

WE RECOMMEND: Uniqlo fine merino crew necks in almost every colour under the sun

A cardigan is also a great addition to your business casual outfit. You can choose from the basic waist-length cardigan, the longer boyfriend cardigan or waterfall style.

WE RECOMMEND: Saba Karlie knit cardigan comes in both short and long lengths. We find it the perfect mix between jacket and cardigan and works well as a business casual option.

With longer cardigans, you can use a skinny belt to show off your silhouette (while still keeping modest) add some definition to your look {as per below}

Jackets and Blazers

A good jacket is the cornerstone of any professional wardrobe, even if your workplace errs on the casual side of the dress code. Outerwear is important especially during colder months. Skip the denim jacket and keep it professional looking with a well-fitting blazer.

Stick with versatile neutral colours such as black, charcoal, brown, and navy. If you want to try something different, a jewel tone, small pinstripe or herringbone pattern can still be appropriate. An alternative to the blazer is a wool moto jacket.

WE RECOMMEND: Camilla and Marc Dimmer blazer {below} is the perfect blazer that meets the line between business casual/professional/contemporary. And it comes in a few colours.

Skirts or Dresses

Skirts and dresses are a great alternative to pants. For skirts, a pencil, A-line, or pleated skirt in a solid neutral colour or pinstripe or herringbone pattern are suitable for a business casual look. Most of your tops that go well with pants can also be paired with skirts. Avoid bright colours and prints, particularly floral as they are a less versatile and may be hard to wear with the tops you already have in your wardrobe.

WE RECOMMEND: Veronika Maine wool zip skirt

Dresses are an easy choice for business casual as you don’t usually need to pair it with pants or tops. During colder months, they can be worn with cardigans or blazers. Necklines and sleeves should follow the rules for blouses. Strictly no sundresses or skintight dresses.

WE RECOMMEND: One of the easiest dresses is the wrap and we love this All Fired Up style from Harlow (sizes 12-26) Also available in animal print and scarlet red.

Hemlines for both skirts and dresses can range from a few inches above the knee to just below the knee, but generally no shorter than three inches above the knee. Minis, high-low, and asymmetrical hemlines are best left in the closet during the work week.

WE DON’T RECOMMEND!! definite office NO-NO {below}


There are a lot of great options when it comes to business casual shoes. Flats such as a loafer or driving moccasins, round or pointed toe ballerina style, or an oxford are comfortable and stylish. You can also opt for heels like pumps, slingbacks, T-straps, peep-toe or wedged but keep the heel around 3 inches or less, to be both work appropriate and comfortable. You can go for shoes in solid colours or a subtle animal print.

WE RECOMMEND: Wittner Diablo block heel available in multiple colours

During the colder months, a pair of booties or knee-high boots, either flat, heeled or with a wedge are good options. Boots should be in a neutral colour without over-embellishment. Absolutely no sandals, flip flops, sneakers, or casual boots.

WE RECOMMEND: Jo Mercer Hepburn dressy ankle boot


Accessories are fine as long as you keep them simple. Classic accessories like a watch, stud earrings or a gold or silver bangle add simple touches to your outfit.

Don’t feel that you can’t add your own unique personality to your professional style. The above advice is supposed to give you some guidelines when considering your business casual wardrobe, but that’s not to say you can’t have some fun with it.

If you love colour, wear colour. If you love bold accessories, wear bold accessories. If you love high heels, wear high heels. It’s all about balance and maintaining an overall professional look.

Keep in mind that your outfit should always look professional. If your attire looks like you’re chilling with friends, going to a picnic, going to a party or club, going to the gym, or going on a date, then you need to go back to your wardrobe and change into something more appropriate for work.

Business casual shouldn’t be boring or hard to pull off. With the different options available, you can definitely put together a look that is comfortable yet trendy, smart and professional.

If you need help putting together your business casual wardrobe, get in touch

Some Business Casual Inspiration…






























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