How to wear business casual

Many companies are finally going back to the office, which means it’s time to ditch those PJs and dig your work clothes out of the back of your closet. According to a pre-pandemic survey by Randstad US, about 25% of offices have a business casual dress code, and if you need a refresher on what is—and isn’t—acceptable to wear in the office, here you go in the right place.

Following are the guidelines you’ll want to follow when dressing for a business casual workplace, as well as some outfits to inspire your back-to-work shopping—because students should have fun ? Bonus: If you’re looking for a job through websites like ZipRecruiter or Indeed, these looks also double as interview clothes and will help you look professional and polished.

The rules of business casual attire

Business casual attire is designed to strike a balance between comfort and professionalism. By following this dress code, you’ll look polished and put together, but you don’t have to wear a full suit and tie, socks, or other professional attire.

For women, business casual attire often includes:

For men, business casual attire includes:

  • Collared or button-down shirts

  • Sweaters

  • Casual slacks like khakis or chinos

  • Dress shoes, loafers or nice boots

Some offices also allow nice denim—think dark, solid colors with no rips or tears—and open-toed shoes in the summer. However, it is best to check in with your employer to see if these garments are appropriate before you wear them to work.

1. Be trendy with wide leg pants

Here's what to wear when you get back to the office.

Slacks and a blouse are a classic pairing for women, but that doesn’t mean the look has to be boring. You can stay on-trend by including a pair of wide-leg pants in your work wardrobe, and the Islet Pant fits the bill. They’re made from a luxurious cotton-linen blend, and they come in white or light yellow, allowing you to add a pop of color to your outfit.

These pants pair perfectly with any simple top, but we love the Faherty Willa Peasant Blouse, which has a subtle pleated look and delicate ruffles on the sleeves and collar. The shirt is available in five different colors, and is made of 100% organic cotton.

Finally, to complete this look, slide the Naturalizer Kayden Mules onto your feet. These open-back shoes are super comfortable for long days at the office, and they have a stylish square toe and chain accents on the front for a professional look.

2. Keep it simple with a nice dress

Here's what to wear when you get back to the office.

For those days you don’t feel like mixing separates, you can get ready quickly by wearing a business casual outfit. The Floral Flutter Sleeve Flare Dress is ideal for office wear, as it has a small knee-length hemline and short sleeves. However, it’s anything but rugged, boasting a waist tie to flatter your figure and a stylish mock neck. The tan fabric is covered in large burgundy flowers, and it comes in a wide range of sizes, from 00 to 18.

This dress is easy to pair with flats or heels, and the LifeStride Giovanna 2 Pumps come in a maroon color that matches the floral motif perfectly. The shoe has an office closed toe and zip-up back that makes it easy to slip on, and its low heel height makes it comfortable to walk in.

Thin Croissant Dôme Hoops offer a classy final touch to this elegant outfit. They are handcrafted from gold vermeil, which is a thick layer of 18k gold over sterling silver, and the jewelry is sure to become a regular part of your work wardrobe.

3. Reach for wardrobe staples

Here's what to wear when you get back to the office.

Listen up, guys. You need a few pairs of good pants to wear to work every week, and the Stretch Washed Chino 2.0 is a useful addition to your wardrobe. These pants are the perfect combination of comfortable and professional, and they come in over a dozen colors to suit every style. Plus, Bonobos has a comprehensive size range, with waist sizes 28 to 46 and five different fits, including slim, tapered, tailored, athletic, and more.

You can pair these chinos with a nice button-down top, like the Organic Cotton Shirt. As its name suggests, this shirt is made from 100% organic cotton, and it comes in a variety of plaid and striped colorways. The button-down has a shorter hemline that hits right at the hip, making it easy to put on, and it’s great for layering during the winter.

Finally, you can complete your business casual look with Kenneth Cole Destin Slip-Ons. They have a sophisticated cognac leather exterior that will look right at home in the office, but the sole is cushioned for comfort, whether you’re commuting or walking on your lunch break.

4. Bundle up in cold weather

Here's what to wear when you get back to the office.

When the cold weather rolls around, you can trade your usual blouses for a warmer top like BP. Ribbed Crewneck Sweater. It comes in four colors, including a bold bright blue, as well as sizes XS to XXL. The top has large sleeves and chunky stitching, and looks stylish tucked in or hanging loose.

You can pair this sweater with the Essential Slim Kick Flare Pants for a stylish fall ensemble. The tailored pants hit above the ankle, allowing you to show off your shoes, and they come in a range of standard, tall, and plus sizes. The black option is a versatile choice for everyday wear, but the pants also come in other colors and patterns, as well.

This outfit calls for a cute pair of booties, and the Marc Fisher Glorify Boot is a great option for your workday. They have a leather upper and a stylish pointed toe, and you can choose from black, brown, or white styles.

5. Show your personality with bold prints

Here's what to wear when you get back to the office.

Business casual attire allows you to show more of your personality with pieces like the REISS Jackson Pencil Skirt. The high-waisted design is navy blue with a tan floral pattern, and the hem hits mid-calf, making it an office-friendly choice. There are front pockets where you can stash your phone, and a front slit gives you more mobility than traditional pencil skirts.

Since the skirt has a busy pattern, it’s best paired with a plain top like this Silky Collar Blouse. It’s made from a satin-like fabric with a pointed collar and long sleeves, and the sheer material is easy to tuck into a skirt (or whatever other bottoms you pair it with).

You can accessorize this look with a layered necklace, like the Women’s Coin Necklace Set from Madewell. It includes three complementary necklaces with staggered lengths, making it effortless to layer.

6. Cover with a cardigan

Here's what to wear when you get back to the office.

A simple dress like the Calvin Klein Sheath Dress is another must-have for your business casual wardrobe. This classic design comes in several professional colors, and is available in sizes 4 to 14. The dress is sleeveless with a flattering sheath silhouette, and it has an exposed zipper at the back.

If your workplace tends to be cold, you can easily layer the Ramie Rayon Cardigan with your outfit. This simple sweater comes in several plain colors, and it has a V-neck hem with three large buttons on the front. The semi-fitted silhouette hits at the waist, and is a versatile piece to add to your closet.

If open-toe shoes are acceptable in your workplace, you can complete this look with Soda Topshoeave Wait Womens Open Toe Sandals. They’re available in a variety of colors, including cognac, black, white, and natural, and you can’t beat the budget-friendly price.

7. Stay cozy in warm winter sweaters

Here's what to wear when you get back to the office.

Most business casual dress codes allow men to wear nice sweaters in cold weather, and the Polo Ralph Lauren Cable-Knit Cotton Sweater is a classic choice. It has a traditional cable-knit design with long sleeves and rib-knit cuffs, and is adorned with the brand’s signature embroidered pony. The sweater comes in a variety of colors, and can easily be worn with a button-down or on its own.

You can pair your favorite sweater with plain pants like the Ultimate Tech Chino Pants, which come in several neutral colors, including shades of brown, blue, and black. They’re available in sizes 26 to 54, and they even have a special lining in the pockets that cleans your phone screen—how’s that for a change?

There is no need to wear traditional shoes in a casual workplace. Instead, you can opt for something more comfortable like Sperry’s Authentic Original Boat Shoe. These iconic shoes are crafted from full-grain leather, and they have a hand-stitched moccasin construction that molds to your foot for all-day comfort.

8. Layer up for a stylish ensemble

Here's what to wear when you get back to the office.

For a super stylish work outfit, start with the rag and bone Priya Tweed Vest over a sheer long sleeve top like the Floerns Women’s Button Front Blouse. (You’ll need to wear a black T-shirt or tank top under the blouse, too.) The vest is available in sizes 00 to 16, and it has an adjustable back strap for the perfect fit.

With this layered look above, you’ll want simple pants like the Never-Fade Pixie Skinny Ankle Pants, which come in fun colors like Bourbon and Terrestrial Green. The Never-Fade fabric keeps its color no matter how many times you wash it, and the high-rise waistband has a slimming effect, to boot.

Finally, you can finish off the look with a retro shoe like the Crown Vintage Penny Loafer. They have a platform sole that will give you a little extra height, and you can style them with a pair of ankle socks for a trendy, yet office look.

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