Business Casual: Must-Have Items Great for Work

Business Casual: Must-Have Items Great for Work

Build a foundation of business casual clothes that can get you through the year.

By: Julie Meyers Pron

Business casual takes on a different meaning from field to field and even from office to office. Take mental notes of how your coworkers dress then use these tips to have a business casual wardrobe worthy of envy.

Be sure to try everything on before you buy, though. You don’t want to be the employee everyone knows as the one who wears the low-cut blouses, the high-riding dresses or the super tight skirts.

Six to Eight Blouses and Tops
Shop for different cuts and styles — one or two button-up shirts will mix well with the same pants and skirts.

Three or Four Skirts
Solid, neutral pencil skirts add versatility so you can mix and match with your top selection, but, for a little fun, look for stripes or a pattern (make sure you’ll have a solid top in your closet or in your shopping bag.) Have at least one maxi-skirt — maxis are great for days you need leg coverage and work well with nearly every top.

Five or Six Pairs of Pants
Soft plaid or pinstripe is fine, but loud pants are not usually acceptable. Look for pants in straight leg or a narrow boot cut. Be sure to buy at least two pairs of khaki/tan colors because they’re the most neutral. Navy, black, grey and brown are also safe bets. If your office is a bit more colorful, fashionable bolder colors can be considered, but because colors trend in and out often, it’s not advised to stock up on anything too crazy.


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We all know women with 30-plus pairs of shoes in her closet, but you won’t need that many for work. What you do need are pairs of solid, neutral pumps — black, brown, navy or nude. If you’re a bit more daring, a pair of fun patterned shoes can show off personality, too.

Jackets and Sweaters
Jackets and sweaters are key to layering, so you’ll need a few of these. Look for fresh navy, cream or gray blazers (one solid, one with a fun pattern), a sweater set or two, and a few additional sweaters that can be worn with or without shirts underneath. Look for solid colors (some bright, some neutral, depending on your style), a complimentary fit and movability.

Every woman should have one good, dark, neutral sheath in her closet that can double for work and family events. Dresses that can be worn with blazers, sweaters and scarves are always a great business casual option. If you’re looking to add to your basic dress stock, stick to neutral colors and a classic neckline and skirt.

Keep office accessories simple with classic stud earrings, a statement necklace and a scarf. Keep away from bracelets (they tend to get in the way if you’re typing or presenting) and big, flashy jewelry. Classic accessories will go with nearly every look you put together.

Although your offices may not require professional dress or even business casual attire, no one will question why you’re there if you wear your clothes with confidence. With these tips, you’ll be able to be comfy at work while making a strong professional first impression — even if it’s not necessary.

Julie is the owner and editor of and,a website and network focused on empowering video bloggers. She writes an education column for Rusty & Rosy’s blog page and specializes in parenting, education, organization and travel.

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