Dressing for the office · Summer

Business Basics

Day 2 of my facebook topic requests. What do you wear to work in the summer if your dress code is business casual? What are the basics that are important to have to build that business casual wardrobe? As I’ve said before, I can definitely get away with a business casual look at work and I often do. I dress up more occasionally when I’m feeling fancy or if I’m trying to impress someone. I think there is a misconception that business basics have to be khaki pants and white button down shirts. Black capris with a polo shirt. Not in my mind. The beauty of business casual is that you can dress up something casual or dress down something dressy. So I have some ideas for how to build a  great business casual wardrobe that is in no way boring.

First of all, cropped pants for the summer are perfect. I like them to hit at the ankle or just above. I’m not a huge fan of pants that hit mid calf or even just below the knee. I mean, I don’t want to draw attention to my calves. They’re toned but they’re not nearly the best part of my body. So I keep the pants longer with just a bit of a crop. Instead of going for a simple black or white [note: white pants require very specific undergarments. Be sure you have them before wearing them to work.] try a fun pattern or a pop of color! I am all about the basic black capris as a wardrobe staple, but once you have one or two pairs of those that you like, go outside the box and try something new! Think about colors that work well for your skin and those that will go well with your tops. Make outfits in your head before buying a bold color or pattern. If a pair of pants requires you to buy several shirts to wear with it, it’s not worth it.

I love colorful crops and I think they should definitely become a closet staple. Any and all of these examples above can be worn with a number of different styles and colors of tops.

Pair patterned crops with a white shirt and pop of color cardigan. If it’s too warm for the cardigan, wear a good quality color tee.

White/off-white/ivory blouses are endlessly versatile. So if you find yourself with an abundance of white, go out and get some colorful crops!

Next, let me introduce you to the business casual t-shirt. It’s a tee that’s dressy enough to be worn with trousers, dress pants, crops, and skirts in a professional setting. My favorite is the Luxe-touch tee by Banana Republic.

As you can see, this tee looks great with a pencil skirt. It is stretchy so it will fit tightly against your chest and abdomen, as opposed to other t-shirts that are baggy and can look sloppy. Tuck in with a pencil skirt, wear under a blazer with jeans or wear over a pair of crops, these tees are great for a business casual wardrobe.

If you don’t like how tightly the above t-shirt will fit, try this J.Crew shirt. It is also form fitting, but not quite so snug on the bod.

So maybe you’re not thrilled about wearing a t-shirt to work and that’s completely understandable. If your preference is a blouse over a t-shirt, there are a lot of options that are cute and of good quality without being overly dressy. A blouse made out of chiffon or silk is light and airy for summer but can completely be dressed down. The same goes for a button down blouse. A button down cotton shirt can also be a great asset.

This top would be perfect tucked into a pair of crops and flats.

I have a top that is very similar to this one in navy from Banana Republic and am finding it to be super versatile.  Available in white, navy or orange.

Love this blouse. Again, tuck it in or leave it out. Casual, yet chic.

This is a fabulous basic shirt from Mango [totally obsessed with Mango right now in case you can’t tell]. It’s a classic button down with a little style added with the chest pockets. It comes in several colors [this color would be fab with khakis] and is a very reasonable price. Check out all of Mango’s stuff.

This blouse is great. It can be worn with any bottom! [Same blouse as above, different color.]

For shoes, flats are perfect. Don’t get too casual with flat sandals, though unless they’re pretty dressy. The flats above with the bows are great, as well as these patent pointy toes from J.Crew.

Another great idea for a summer shoe is a peep toe flat. They’re not that easy to find, but they look fab with crops or skirts.

These are a good find at Nordstrom!

Wedges are also great too, but be careful in choosing a material – jute and cork can be verrrrrry casual so just be mindful of what the appropriate dress code is for your job.

One last thought – what about skirts? What are some basic skirts for a business casual setting? Cotton, a-line skirts would work great for this purpose. While a pencil skirt is very work appropriate and can certainly be dressed down, an A-line skirt is so fun and summery to me!

Something is wrong with me – I am using orange more and more every day. Maybe it’s not so evil after all?! This combo is great because the skirt is fun and casual but skirts are inherently dressy so it balances out nicely. If you don’t like the jean jacket, a navy blazer would also look nice.

Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday and the start of a very fun and exciting 5 days as we both celebrate our birthdays, family visits and delicious meals! Perhaps I’ll do a man’s post in honor of his big day… 🙂

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