Women’s Business Casual Attire. Getting business casual attire spot-on can be a little tricky nowadays. Every company’s dress code will vary and even where you work will affect what type of business casual wear is acceptable. What might be appropriate in one workplace might not work somewhere else. Understanding what your company’s dress code is (if you don’t work from home, that is) as well as what is considered acceptable is key, so make sure you start there.
But first things first! What even is business casual? It helps to think of business casual as a blend of traditional business attire with a few casual pieces thrown in. For example, think of a blouse with cap sleeves and flats paired with dress pants and a blazer. It is still professionally appropriate but it isn’t a full pantsuit and button-down dress shirt either.
Most workplaces require business casual attire on a regular basis so knowing how to pull together a great and stylish work outfit is really important. So in today’s post, let’s breakdown some tips on what to wear when building a business casual outfit (and what not to wear), where to find business casual clothes, and some examples of stylish business casual outfits.
How to Dress In Business Casual Attire?
Putting together business casual outfits that are both stylish and comfortable is a total must no matter the season, where you work, or the type of work that you do. And so, one of the great benefits of business casual wear is that you can incorporate clothing that is a little more comfortable as well as fun to wear. While you still want to stick to neutrals and other conservative colors, business casual attire allows you to bring in some modest prints, softer fabrics, and even comfier shoes.
Women’s Business Casual Attire Guidelines
Below you are going to find 18 business casual outfits to give you some ideas on how to nail the perfect business casual look yourself, but before that, here are some tips and dos and don’ts about stylish business casual wear.
- As aforementioned, you should keep the majority of your workwear neutral-colored: blacks, browns, beiges, white, navy, etc. If the essential pieces of your work wardrobe are neutrals, you can then bring in the occasional pop of color to brighten the outfit and mix and match your basics to create stylish looks over and over again.
- Don’t wear jeans (unless dark wash or black), low-rise pants, shorts, flip-flops, sweatpants, short skirts, or anything shorter than four inches above the knee. No tank tops, crop tops, graphic tees, etc.
- If your top is even slightly sheer, add a tank underneath it.
- Don’t wear baggy or too-tight clothing.
- Do try and get your clothing tailored. It is a foolproof way to ensure your clothing fits perfectly.
- Don’t wear wrinkled clothing. Always iron or dry-clean to ensure it’s in pristine condition.
- It goes without saying that you don’t want to be showing cleavage. A good rule of thumb is the same four-inch rule that applies to your hemline: a top should be no lower than four inches below your collarbone. Likewise, your hemline, if wearing a skirt or dress, should be no shorter than four inches above the knee.
- Be mindful of your undergarments as well. They should fit well and not be seen through your outerwear.
- Business casual dresses should not be bodycon or tight-fitting; should fall to the knee or just above it; should not be low-cut; should not be spaghetti-strapped or strapless, and should not be full-length.
And now that we have the basics covered, let’s look at some actual outfits. I learn best by seeing examples and if you are like that too then these pictures of women’s business casual attire should give you a good idea of what we are going for. Keep in mind that your workplace environment might be a little more relaxed or a little more casual, and if you work in an industry like fashion, you might find you have a whole lot more range!
So, below there should be a little something for everyone, but the basics are still the same and that is more or less reflected in these looks. Without further ado, let’s check them out!
↓ 18 – How to Style Business Casual Attire
There are a lot of fantastic looks in this post, but this one might be my favorite. The combination of neutrals is super chic and the fit of the pieces is perfection itself. Also, something you can bear in mind is that you can actually wear tanks in a business casual outfit but you’ll want to stick with wide straps (no spaghetti or skinny straps!) and it shouldn’t be sheer or low-cut. Add a blazer for a little extra coverage as well as to tie the look together.
↓ 17 – Business Casual Maternity Wear
A dress can be a great option if you are working while pregnant. It provides less restriction than pants and can give you that extra bit of legroom you may be craving! This sleeveless dress is not only the perfect length but is not low-cut at all. Pair it up with a soft-colored sweater blazer (super comfy and chic) for inside the office and finish off the look with some leopard print ballet flats. It’s the perfect blend of style and comfort. In addition to that, I love that the dress is sleeveless which means that if you are feeling hot, you can ditch the sweater and cool right down!
↓ 16 – Women’s Business Casual Attire Plus-Size
Here is a great example of how to wear jeans for business casual. The wash is dark, there are no rips and no fading, and the fit is perfect: form-fitting without looking like they were painted on. Paired with a solid-colored three-quarter length sleeved top and animal print ballet flats and this is as great as an example of any for trendy professional clothes.
↓ 15 – Business Casual Outfit with White Pants
Another fantastic ensemble I love is this one right here: jewel tones are a great way to incorporate color into your work wardrobe, particularly if you like to keep your bright colors to a minimum. This pleated top with a bow at the neck and long-sleeves means you can skip the jacket. Paired with white, wide-fitting pants and cat-eye sunglasses and you can see how stylish business casual wear can be without sacrificing an ounce of comfort. Here are some more ideas on How to Wear White Wide Legged Pants.
↓ 14 – Business Casual Wear for Women Over 50
Most of the time, it is best to tuck your tops into your pants. But when you don’t, you always want to make sure you have a few inches of fabric to go past the waistband of your pants. Otherwise, you risk baring your midriff every time you lift your arms. This top is a great example of length. You’ll note she is wearing a top underneath it too as the v-neck cuts a little low. Also, the model is wearing gray jeans but if you are worried that it will be too casual for your workplace, consider black jeans or a dark wash.
↓ 13 – Vertical Striped Top and Beige Pants
What I love about this look is how fresh and stylish it is. This is an outfit I wouldn’t mind rocking even to work at home. The fit of the trousers is great: not too tight and yet not a lot of excess fabric. Not to mention that this is a good outfit for a petite gal too. Here are all the Best Ways to Wear Striped Shirts.
↓ 12 – Business Casual Fall Outfit
Here is a great go-to outfit you can pull out once the weather starts to get nippy. To replicate the look, go for a white long-sleeved shirt and add a sleeveless cardigan sweater (this denim/chambray piece may or may not work for your particular workplace so do a little check-in with your company’s dress code before adopting it). Go for well-fitting black jeans and add a chunky round scarf. Finish off the look with a pair of nude heels.
↓ 11 – Business Casual Wear for Spring
When it comes to women’s business casual attire, bringing in elements of your own personality can sometimes feel a bit tough! Maybe you love color and loud prints so typical conservative work attire feels boring or plain to you. Whatever the case, incorporating color or extra feminine detailing can easily be done! Here is a beautiful neutral-and-pink ensemble that remains conservative and yet is both whimsical and chic. While you won’t want to bring a basket purse to work, try a white purse or one in beige to tie the look together.
↓ 10 – With Pencil Skirt
I love this classic black and white ensemble, complete with a gorgeous white pencil skirt with button detailing that could make a girl swoon. Do note that this is a great fitting skirt that isn’t overly tight and falls just below the knee. You can pair this lovely skirt with a slim black crewneck sweater and nude heels. Do check out this collection of our favorite Outfits with Pencil Skirts.
↓ 9 – Sweater Blazer and Nude Heels
Great for fall and winter, this gorgeous getup will keep you cozy warm and earn you major style points. Yes, please!
↓ 8 – Affordable Women’s Business Casual Attire
In the case of budget-friendly work clothes, there are two main ways you can approach it. You can try the method or buying fewer quality pieces (capsule wardrobe style) that you can get lots of wear from. (If you try this method, you will definitely want lots of neutral pieces and solid colors.) Or you can try scouring sales racks and clearances sales and even hitting up your local thrift store. J. Crew is one store that hosts regular sales so check them out routinely for good buys!
↓ 7 – Accessories to Wear with Business Casual Attire
When it comes to accessorizing business casual wear, less is more. In the case of this look, you can see how a great pair of sunglasses, a beautiful long necklace, and a stylish purse all complement this ensemble without overwhelming it. As Coco Chanel said: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”
↓ 6 – Footwear for Business Casual Outfits
When it comes to footwear, there are plenty of options for business casual. From flats to heels and wedges to boots, you can achieve stylish elegance while being comfortable. Heels are most traditional for office wear, but try keeping yours under four inches. Other options include certain types of sandals. Pumps, slingbacks, peep-toes and T-straps are great picks for business casual attire.
↓ 5 – Dressy Business Chic
Now, if you work in the fashion industry, you may have a little more (or a lot more) wiggle room when it comes to business casual. That’s why I wanted to include this stunning take! This high-end look is fashionista-approved and you could even rock it for after-work events, it’s just that chic.
↓ 4 – Casual Office Attire Female
Bring some texture into your outfit to get a fresh look.
↓ 3 – How to Wear Business Casual Attire
This ensemble is great for summer.
↓ 2 – Classic Neutrals and Stripe Print
Bring a print or pattern into your outfit and keep the rest neutral.
↓ 1 – Button-Down Top and Trousers
Remember that with sheer tops you always want to wear a shirt underneath to be safe! I would also go a little looser on the pant, if only for comfort’s sake! Sitting for long periods of time in close-fitting pants is not fun.
Frequently Asked Questions
Last but not least, here are some frequently asked questions about women’s business casual attire for you to check out. If you still have questions, be sure to drop them in the comments below!
Q. How should women dress for business casual?
A. Dressing business casual means creating professional outfits that aren’t as formal as, say, decidedly corporate work attire. The standards of business casual can vary, but most of the time, the hard and fast rules include wearing trousers, dress pants, or pants in a neutral color with a blouse or button-down, flats or small heels, a few accessories, and your choice of a blazer, jacket, or cardigan. You can wear sleeveless, but it has to extend to your shoulders (no narrow straps). Avoid anything overtly casual like yoga pants or light wash jeans.
Q. Where can I buy cute business casual clothes?
A. By now, you are hopefully feeling ready to take your business-casual game to the next level. So the next question is: where to buy business casual clothing? Here are six places that sell cute, stylish business casual clothes for women:
- Ann Taylor
- Banana Republic
- & Other Stories
- J. Crew
Q. Are jeans OK for business casual?
A. Are jeans business casual? It will depend on the nature of your work, your company’s dress code, and other factors, but yes, in most cases you can certainly wear dark wash or black jeans for business casual wear. In some cases, you may even wear dark gray jeans. Just try and avoid anything faded, ripped, or low-rise.
I hope this post helped clear up some of your doubts about business casual wear and hopefully gave you some ideas on how you can nail the perfect business casual outfit yourself. Stay stylish, friends!
R.H. Elias is a freelance writer, aspiring author, and freelance transcriptionist. She is a homebody all the way and loves curling up on a cold, rainy day with a good book and a warm cup of tea. Her favourite pastimes include reading, writing, and watching period films. She currently lives in Puerto Rico.