Reader Question: Business Casual vs. Business Fashionable

I am panicking. I start my new job and it’s in an office. The dress code is business casual. Normally I feel like I would know how to dress for this job. But I feel like I will be over dressed for my business casual office. Mainly because I checked out how everyone else there dresses and it seems like a dressy top and dress pants were the norm. (Boring)  I want to be my usual fashionable self. Heels, accessories, and dresses. (ya know the whole 9!)   I was thinking maybe you could do a piece on your blog or just offer up some friendly advice about what you wear in a typical work week.


First of all, congratulations on your new job! A family member just started using to help with finding a new one for her too, so fingers crossed for her! I was so excited to respond to this reader question. Not only because she’s one of my most stylish friends, and I was both flattered and shocked that she would ask me for advice but because I can totally 100% relate. I’ve worked in a business casual office for 2 years now, when I first started believe it or not, had a few older women jokingly make comments about my high heels and pencil skirts. That’s when I realized I was indeed over dressed for an environment that focused a little more on the casual end of business casual. 
Personally, I think the office is a great place to express your own style. The key is, however is it to do with taste and class. You definitely don’t want to be a distraction, not over dressed nor under dressed. You also have to take a lot of things into consideration, things like travel, location, how much walking/standing/lifting you will be doing and even the clients you may have to interact with on a regular basis. 
Now, on to your dilemma. You can most definitely maintain your stylish ways at your new job. I’ve found that accessories are key, and will spice up any boring office look. Long necklaces, scarves, broaches, belts, and hair accessories are great additions to any look. 
I love adding broaches to a button down or office cardigan.
{buy here}

Crisp button downs and pretty tops tend to be the default office look, especially after you’ve been there for a while, you don’t even want to have to think about it in the morning. However, you can still transition most items from your wardrobe to the office scene. You mentioned dresses, take a dress and add a cardigan, blazer, tights,  or an accessory.   Or, get inspired by these two designer pieces. Take a cotton or silk button down, and spice it up a little. 

Both of these blouses, Elizabeth and James on left, and Fendi on right are great ways to add a belt to a blouse.If you’re not a belt person, try adding a scarf instead.   

Shoes were a big transitional struggle for me when I first started. You have a closet full of killer heels, which wouldn’t be a problem if we were Amanda from Ugly Betty but we’re not. So, I settled for a happy medium. Find heels that are high enough to give you that extra boost, but are still appropriate for the job. I found that the Simply Vera for Kohl’s line carries a number of affordable, excellent quality, classy and very stylish heels {and flats} that you can wear with skirts, pants, and dresses. Wedged heels, or even boots are also great alternatives, they are both comofortable and extremely stylish. 

I absolutely love Simply Vera shoes from Kohl’s for work. I’ve had the same pair of heels for two years and they look and feel brand new. Watch for great sales and coupons. 

If you’re not really into the classic suit pant with top look, go for cropped or wide leg pants.  It’s a little unexpected, but still appropriate.

APC Wool Pants Dorothy Perkins Wide Leg Pants

5 great items to keep in mind: 

  1. Blazers, 
  2. Boyfriend jackets
  3. Billowy printed tops
  4. Printed dresses, 
  5. Stylish flats
Have anything to add? Please do!
Hope that helps, and good luck! 

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