Rethinking Workwear: My Approach to Business Casual

By: Emily Whitehill.

Published on

- 4 min read

Gone are the days when workwear was synonymous with stiff suits and uncomfortable shoes. The modern workplace has evolved, and so has the definition of business casual. It’s not just about dressing down a suit anymore; it’s about integrating personal style with professionalism. In this article, I’m diving into my approach to rethinking workwear and how you can make business casual work for you.

 A full-length image of a young woman with shoulder-length brunette hair, wearing a tailored navy blue blazer paired with a soft, cream-colored silk blouse and structured tan trousers, standing in a modern office environment with natural light filtering through large windows.

The New Business Casual

The term ‘business casual’ can often feel like a paradox. On one hand, you have ‘business’—implying a level of formality and professionalism. On the other, ‘casual’ suggests a relaxed and comfortable approach. The key to mastering this style is finding the perfect balance between the two.

For starters, think of business casual as a spectrum rather than a strict code. At one end, you have your more traditional business attire, and at the other, casual pieces that can be elevated for the office. The sweet spot? Somewhere in the middle where you mix and match pieces to create an ensemble that is both polished and personal.

Elevating Basics

One of the simplest ways to achieve a modern business casual look is by elevating your basics. This means taking those pieces that are staples in your wardrobe and pairing them in a way that feels fresh and suitable for the office.

 A close-up image of a young woman with soft waves in her hair, showcasing a delicate gold pendant necklace layered over a crisp white button-down shirt, with a glimpse of high-waisted dark denim jeans, in a bright, airy workspace.

A white button-down shirt, for example, is a classic piece that works as a fantastic foundation for any outfit. Pair it with high-quality denim for a casual Friday, or tuck it into a high-waisted pencil skirt for a more traditional look. The versatility of basics allows you to play with accessories and layering to create outfits that are both comfortable and office-appropriate.

Statement Pieces

While basics form the backbone of your wardrobe, statement pieces are where you can really inject your personality into your workwear. This could be anything from a boldly patterned blazer to a pair of vibrant, textured trousers.

 A full-length image of a young woman with a sleek, low bun, wearing a bright red, belted midi dress with a subtle geometric pattern, holding a minimalist black leather tote, standing in a chic, minimalist office lobby, under soft, warm lighting.

The trick with statement pieces is to keep the rest of your outfit relatively subdued. This allows the statement piece to shine without overwhelming your look. Remember, the goal is to stand out for the right reasons—your excellent taste and ability to blend professionalism with personal style.

Comfort Meets Style

Another important aspect of rethinking workwear is considering the comfort and functionality of your outfits. After all, you’re likely spending eight hours or more in these clothes, so it’s crucial they support you throughout the day.

 A side-view image of a young woman with a sleek ponytail, wearing a soft, light gray knit sweater tucked into tailored black culottes, with simple silver hoop earrings, in a bright office setting with a view of the city skyline in the background, late afternoon.

Fabrics play a huge role in this. Opt for breathable, natural fabrics like cotton, linen, and silk that will help you stay comfortable all day. Additionally, consider the fit of your clothing. Pieces that are too tight or restrictive can be distracting and hinder your productivity. Aim for tailored pieces that offer freedom of movement without sacrificing style.

Accessorizing Wisely

Accessories can transform an outfit from basic to brilliant. They’re the finishing touches that can elevate your look and make it truly your own. However, when it comes to accessorizing for the office, less is often more.

 A close-up image of a young woman

Choose accessories that are sophisticated and understated. A classic watch, a pair of simple stud earrings, or a sleek leather bag are all excellent choices. These items add a touch of elegance to your outfit without being distracting. Remember, the goal is to complement your look, not compete with it.

Final Thoughts

Rethinking workwear doesn’t have to be daunting. By blending personal style with professionalism, you can create a business casual wardrobe that feels both authentic and appropriate for the office. Remember to balance basics with statement pieces, prioritize comfort and functionality, and accessorize wisely. With these tips, you’ll be able to navigate the modern workplace with confidence and style.

The evolution of workwear is a reflection of the changing landscape of the workplace itself. It’s more dynamic, diverse, and flexible than ever before. Embracing this change in your wardrobe can not only enhance your personal brand but also make your workday that much more enjoyable. So, take these ideas, make them your own, and redefine what business casual means to you.