Now this is a really tricky one because there is just so much that can fall into this category…A neat skirt-suit can be business-casual, and on the other hand, you can get away with dressing up a pair of jeans too! So let me start by describing what business causal ISN’T.
What Business Casual Isn’t #1: Business Formal
A business suit you would wear to a job interview would be slightly too dressy for the business casual look. Business-formal implies a tailored suit and tie, the type of outfit you would reserve when meeting with high-end clients or attending a technical seminar (or ASME committee meeting). Here, women have a slight advantage since items such as skirt suits and dresses can be dressed up or down to fit either category depending on what you pair them with…
Take a look at this classic black shift dress with a blazer. This is perfect business-formal attire…
but pair with a trendy shirt and belt and shoes, and it changes the look entirely! Below left would definitely fall into the business-causal category. Its cute but still very neat and clean-cut.
and something every woman should have in her closet: a crisp, white shirt!
I also love the fact that you can throw on the season’s hottest accessories and wear the shift to a cocktail party! Which means you get three sophisticated looks from just one item! If you want to buy a dress to wear in both business casual and formal categories, keep to natural fabrics and sober colours: black, grey, cream and beige are good.
What Business Casual Isn’t #2: Casual (aka Scruffy)
There are plenty of occasions to wear your most comfortable pair of worn out jeans. Although I love my own pair of 100% cotton, tattered and patched jeans (ok fine, I bought them that way), they are not something I would take to a conference…at all…not even just for a conference golf day or museum tour!
So you’re clued up enough to know that torn jeans are out. But can you still get away with jeans at all? Here’s the good news: yes you can! I do it all the time. But you gotta be careful to make sure they are neat, fit well and paired with a good pair of heels and a well-fitted shirt or blouse and a blazer jacket. No baggy jeans! No bell-bottom jeans! Stick to straight-cuts or skinnys. And as for tops, a neat blouse is best, but a collared polo shirt is acceptable apparently (although I wouldn’t wear it). Nothing with logos! Make sure it fits well too.
|As an alternative to jeans, you can try a pair of sleek, straight-cut or skinny trousers (or a slight flare of you are tall). I personally love my charcoal pair from Mango. They fit beautifully, and have the slightest sheen to them which make them also super-trendy! You can also try capris or long, flared shorts for a fashionable summer-look as an alternative to dresses and skirts. The rule with any trousers is to make sure they fit well-not too tight and not loose and bunching everywhere!|
What Business-Casual Isn’t #3: Too Much Skin!
The point of many business-casual events you would attend is to mingle, network and conference in general. You want to give a give a good impression, and tartiness isn’t the way to do that! Make sure you never show too much skin. On the other hand, don’t be afraid of letting your femininity shine through. We are women, after all, and women have curves, women are charismatic…women draw attention. These things cant be ignored, they are part of what we are and should be embraced and used to our advantage! The idea is to use our feminine attributes with class.
Clothing should not be too tight. No cleavage should be revealed, stomachs, lower backs and buttocks (and that includes g-strings!). Try and avoid revealing bra-straps and panty-lines if possible. And lastly, keep the skirt-lengths around the knee although exceptions do exist (you may be able to get away with pairing a neat mini with a suit jacket, stockings and closed, formal shoes).
What Business Casual Isn’t #4: What Your Grandma Would Wear!
And lastly, I know many of us are students or early career engineers, new to the working world. After years of campus life in our jeans and hoodies, w may have somehow come up with this idea that ‘business’ attire means boring or old. This is the area that I think we as engineers need to work on the most. “Business attire” means neat, clean and presentable, not washed out, repressed and dull! Let your personality shine through, don’t hide it under layers or neo-feminist frump!
Business casual lets you be a bit more expressive than business formal, so accessorize! Stand out, make a statement and get noticed!
My next post 10 Wardrobe Must-haves for any Engineer-Chic, will deal more about specific features – handbags, shoes, colour and cuts…So keep the suggestions rolling in!