The question I get asked the most IRL is, “What the heck is business casual?”
Business casual is the mythical beast of dress codes. It’s the head of a working professional and the bottom of a casual person. It lurks in the shadows at night, sometimes wearing a pencil skirt, other times wearing a sweater. It’s one of the hardest dress codes to follow because every workplace has its own culture. What I call business casual is probably not what the CEO of Google calls business casual. Please adjust these outfits as needed for your workplace.
1. Trending in Plaid
I never thought of plaid as anything close to business casual until this year, when plaid officially took over the world, including the private sector. Speaking of, did anyone see Julian Morris slay in New Girl in that plaid shirt? That was plaid done right, my friends.
I paired this amazing Old Navy plaid top with a bright J.Crew skirt, but if you don’t go to a school where fire engine red is always acceptable, this top would also be cute with a neutral pencil skirt.
2. The Pinterest-Inspired Look
Every time I go on Pinterest I see at least one picturesque woman wearing skinnies and a blazer. I paired my colored skinnies, neutral blouse and black blazer with a statement necklace, but if you have a real autumn where you live, an infinity scarf would look great, too.
I am lusting after all the plaid infinity scarves this season. In case you can’t tell, I don’t have a few favorites things. I have one, and it’s plaid. Please, Santa, come bearing scarves and everything plaid!
3. Most Loved Fall Dress
I am obsessed with this oxblood/burnt umber/vampy-I-don’t-know-colors dress. It’s suitable for just about any occasion, which is why it’s a must-have this fall. Speaking of must-haves, have you gotten yourself a pair of ankle boots? These boots are going to walk all over you, just like they’ve walked all over me and the rest of the world.
Point is, you’re going to need this outfit. There is no shame in basic, compadres.
Thanks for reading! What do you think of these outfits? Are you as obsessed with plaid as I am? Good luck on deciphering the mythical beast that is business casual, and please let me know what you want to see next down below.
14 thoughts on “3 Cute Business Casual Looks for Fall”
I’ve found some of my favorite pencil skirts at Kohls youth section, target, express and ny&co (word of warning-they do run a bit large for ny&co).
@ Courtney: DC & other major NE cities can lean towards the more corporate side of business casual.
What I’ve found is that fun accessories really help with making a look more youthful but still appropriate. Sometimes it’s earrings, a necklace or a scarf & even shoes! Just know your work environment.
& as others have noted before, if you have to ask if it’s appropriate, chances are it’s not.
Keep trying with the updos, Leah – I agree with Olive that you look really nice! I’m the exact opposite – I have a hard time leaving my hair down…
These outfits are really cute but not what I would consider “business casual,” and that is because they’re so cute. When I’m dressing for business, I don’t want to go for “cute” because I want to be taken seriously by my colleagues. I know this is a contested opinion but to be frank I’ve found the cuter I am the less I am taken seriously by male colleagues, like it or not! I am 22 years old and work in a “business causal” office in DC– the rules are much different up here, and I”m having difficulty finding clothes that are professional but attractive, yet not inappropriately childish or “mom” like. Sigh.
Courtney, I can definitely imagine that that is a problem, sadly. These outfits are mostly ones that I’ve worn recently for business casual events on campus involving students. It is so difficult to find youthful, professional business clothes. I think it’s a unserved market.
Thanks m! That’s excellent advice.
Hi Briana, I definitely will write that article and I’m happy this one helped you. Business casual can take a little while to get used to.
Courtney, it looks like they just took it down from the website, but it may still be in stores. Here’s some of Old Navy’s other plaid tops in this style: http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=72302&vid=1&pid=978516052
Olive, updos are scary… My hair is my shield. But I will definitely keep dipping my toes in that updo water until I get more comfortable. Where did you find your pencil skirt?
Hello from Portugal!
Could you please (please, please, please!) do a post on how to wear a pencil skirt with different options? Specially more work looks but also how to adapted to a night out.
Do you know if this Old Navy plaid is a current item? I love it! 🙂
That second outfit is ADORABLE. You look like you walked off the set of some movie about some fresh-faced intern working in the fashion world 🙂
I’ve metioned this before, but seriously you should do updos more often, they flatter you so much. They might not be your thing but just had to pitch in. I’m glad you mentioned the blazer, it’s an absolute must for every wardrobe. And yeessss I’m glad I’m not the only one in a style rut over my pencil skirts.
Hi Catarina, I will definitely write that article as soon as I find a pencil skirt that fits! I’ve been on the hunt for a pencil skirt for about a year now. (Why are they so hard to find? Urgh!)
Aww Emma, that is possibly the cutest comment ever! And I happen to love movies like that 🙂
The third outfit is my absolute favorite. I work in a business casual environment and found this post to be extremely helpful! Thanks! 🙂 By the way, could you do a post on transitioning outfits for fall/winter?
Was wondering if you could tell me the name of those BCBG booties?
I think I have that same red dress…I love how you styled it!
The good old pinterest look! Honestly, that is my go-to business casual look – especially for new business environments – because it is familiar and safe, but also recognized as stylish and age-appropriate.
I also wish there was a bigger market for youthful work clothes. Mango is a wonderful brand for this, especially the MNG line at JCPenney’s, but other than that…