How to Dress for Different Occasions A Guide to Business Casual Formal
Special occasions in one’s life can often be monumentally memorable experiences, so if you find yourself invited to these memorable gatherings it is essential that you dress appropriately.
Finding the ideal look requires striking a balance between professionalism and comfort, which business casual offers more easily than other dress codes.
No matter the occasion, arriving professionally dressed for any meeting or conference can only make an event better for both yourself and others. Make sure that when arriving feeling relaxed so you can present your best self throughout it all.
Business casual is making a comeback as an office and meeting attire choice, providing the ideal solution for people without strict dress codes, but who still must present themselves professionally. While its name might seem confusing, this combination of “business” and “casual” provides the ideal solution.
Though business casual is a very broad concept, it generally refers to attire comprising of khakis or dark wash jeans paired with either a blouse or dress shirt in a neutral tone that compliments both pants. Jeans should fit rather than baggy while collared dress shirts may also be desirable for women; in colder climates a blazer may add additional formality or warmth.
A tailored blazer can quickly elevate any wardrobe and be the finishing touch to any business casual ensemble. When selecting your tailored blazer, neutral colors such as navy blue or gray should be preferred to avoid clashing with any bright colors or loud patterns; adding unique jewelry pieces or metal cuffs can add flair and create the ideal business casual ensemble.
High-waisted trousers have become the latest trend in business casual fashion. These versatile pants can be paired with button-down shirts or blouses and heels for an elegant appearance, or worn more casually with sweaters and flat shoes for more relaxed looks.
Understanding dress codes is essential, but even more so is understanding the distinctions between business casual and formal events. A bit of preparation could save you from an embarrassing faux pas at your next business function!
MaryKathryn McArthur, a stylist with online personal styling service Short Story, notes that while many may assume business casual means wearing jeans and a T-shirt without concern about suit attire, this isn’t always true. According to McArthur, business casual is defined as the harmonious balance between your weekend wear and formal business wear; in her words “if you are a training manager responsible for moving materials all day long then casual may be appropriate while salespeople who must face clients may prefer more conservative attire”.
McArthur emphasizes the importance of knowing both what to avoid and what looks good on women. She advises them to forego crop tops and low-cut shirts as these tend to draw too much attention, in favor of more conservative bottoms like dress pants or skirts. Furthermore, she suggests skipping flip flops in favour of closed-toe shoes.
Strive for a balanced approach when dressing business casual, and don’t be afraid to experiment until you find what suits you best. Just ensure your clothing is pressed and well-fitted with flattering cuts, as well as clean, well-groomed shoes.
No matter if it’s an early networking meeting or late company holiday party, your attire must reflect the type of event. Some workplaces have strict dress code guidelines while others allow more latitude when it comes to dress codes.
How you determine what is suitable attire for a special event is determined by its formality, its location, and what others will be wearing – for instance a cocktail party at a hotel or restaurant would likely be more informal than attending an awards dinner at work.
Business casual attire aims to project an image of professionalism without appearing sloppy or uncomfortable, typically worn by employees in more relaxed professions such as finance or tech. Men can opt for jeans paired with button-up shirts or blazers while women have numerous skirts and dresses they can choose from depending on the event they are attending. Accessorising with accessories like belts or scarves may complete their look.
Women looking for business casual attire usually opt for dresses; however, blouses, midi skirts or palazzo pants can also make great choices. When attending networking events, pair your skirt or pants with a fitted top that adds structure to your silhouette for maximum impact – you could even opt for something bolder like a jumpsuit to add an element of fun and character!
Business casual attire can be perfect for many situations and occasions – whether at work or out for an evening event. Just keep in mind your specific workplace and industry’s dress code requirements; for instance, attending a business casual event at a bank may necessitate wearing more formal clothing while attending an employee appreciation event at a restaurant might simply require wearing a blazer with some slacks or jeans.
Finding clothing appropriate to different occasions can be stressful. But with some careful planning, this dilemma can finally end!
Caroline Maguire serves as Fashion Director for Shopbop, working closely with creative, buying, PR and marketing teams to drive brand strategy, product development and customer insights. Lindsey Love serves as senior brand stylist at BHLDN where she styles customers from head to toe with deep formalwear expertise and provides advice to her shoppers on how to elevate everyday looks by mixing and matching pieces together and following the latest trends – you can follow Lindsey on Instagram here.