Feeling comfortable at work is important, and allows us to perform at our best. You should be able to have confidence in your work and the way you come across to your colleagues and clients. A decent pair of shoes, such as brogues, can bridge that gap between smart and casual perfectly and need not cost a fortune. Peruse sites such as http://www.ebay.co.uk for inspiration for work outfits you wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen down the pub in either.
A slightly more casual dress code can allow for individuality, which is particularly important in the creative sectors. However, even law and finance offices are now using a ‘business casual’ dress code. Knowing how casual or how professional to go can be confusing, but the general rule is that you should appear put together and professional, but relaxed too.
For men, the best way to think of business casual is taking the traditional suit and tweaking it so that it looks fresh. One way to do this is to pair a suit jacket with a denim shirt and a slim cargo pant. A good jacket or blazer will do a lot of the work for you, creating a smarter look, even if your shirt isn’t perfectly pressed or you have paired it with a more casual trouser.
Another option to dress down a professional look is to team a dress shirt with a thin gauge, slim fit sweater, which will also fit under a jacket. If jeans are an option they should come across as professional as a pair of dress trousers – a dark denim with no holes or rips. Other more casual trouser options include a smart cargo pant or wool blend trousers.
A case is often necessary to carry your laptop and any papers, but something between a formal briefcase and a casual sports bag will look much more relaxed and functional. A pair of brogues or a leather boot is a good option instead of black dress shoes, and you can add colour with some interesting socks. Just make sure they tone with the rest of your outfit.
The Guardian newspaper reports on Mark Zuckerberg’s love of dressing down for business, and how it has not hampered his success.
The androgynous look is great for women in a casual officewear environment, so steal some of the boys’ tricks. A blazer is again, a great way of smartening up more casual attire – for example over a pristine, white t-shirt. Patterned blouses and shirts can inject some colour and interest into an outfit, but sheer materials should be avoided unless you add a camisole underneath.
Capri pants and silk or cotton trousers can be swapped for formal suit trousers. Ankle grazers could be teamed with pumps or brogues, depending on how androgynous you like your look. Pairing a tunic with leggings allows you to stay professional while being comfortable, too. Dresses are an outfit in one and are a great way to add some colour to your work wardrobe. Wear with tights and boots in the winter, and pumps or smart wedges in the summer.
The Daily Mail offers some good advice for women who work in an office where every day is ‘Dress Down Friday.’
Business casual can be a minefield, but keep in mind that you want to preserve a professional image while looking polished, stylish and put together.
This is a guest post