Business Casual for the On the Go Girl

1The agonizing throes of final exams are almost over and the school year is coming to an end! (Unless you’re on the quarter system, that is.) Some of you might be about to graduate and head into the workforce. Or maybe you’ve got your dream summer internship lined up. Whatever your plans, don’t forget about fashion! Depending on your field and your particular workplace or internship, your dress code might be casual or super-corporate and formal.

These days, it seems that the majority of workplaces, especially for college students or recent graduates, are “business casual.” This is an admittedly vague term that can leave a bit too much room for interpretation. For more info, check out this CF article that breaks down the different dress codes you might encounter.

The most foolproof way to make sure you’re dressed appropriately is to ask ahead of time and to look at what coworkers or other interns are wearing. Although looking extra-stylish is always fun, you should consider dressing comfortably as well. I’ll outline why below:

Why It’s Important to Dress for Comfort

I just got a clinical research job at a hospital that requires me to split my time between interviewing patients and inputting data at a computer. When I asked my supervisor about the dress code, all she said was, “Closed-toed shoes. No jeans.” After my first day of training, it became pretty clear that business casual would be the way to go. And since I wound up spending most of the day standing while I spoke to patients, boy was I glad that I wore flats!

If your job requires a lot of movement or standing, what you wear will make a big difference in how well you perform. It’s hard to focus on doing your work if all you can think about is how much your toes hurt or how itchy your skirt’s waistband is.

Even if you have a desk job where you’ll mostly be sitting, it’s worth it to factor comfort into your wardrobe choices. You’d be surprised how many times you get up and sit down to run errands, go to the bathroom, deliver a message, etc., and it can wind up being pretty hard on your feet. And when you’re not on the go, sitting can also wreak havoc on even the most polished of outfits, resulting in wrinkly shirts and creased skirts.

Pretty in Pink

This outfit is on the more formal side of the business casual spectrum, but a pair of slim-fit trousers in an eye-catching hue keep the look fun and fresh. Personally, I think a tucked-in shirt is one of the most uncomfortable and squirm-inducing articles of clothing ever (the winner: turtlenecks!) so I like to wear a flowy blouse that will look polished whether it’s tucked in or not. Plus, it won’t wrinkle!

The ankle cut of these trousers draws attention to your feet, so make sure you’re wearing nice shoes! I like a pair of sleek loafers: the higher vamp means a higher comfort level. Finally, a coat of sheer pink polish is pretty and appropriate for any workplace (unless, of course, you’re not supposed to wear any at all!).

Spring Classics

For a fun springtime outfit that leans more towards “casual” than “business,” try out a cute shirtdress in an always-classic gingham pattern. I like shirtdresses because they’re almost always an appropriate length (a couple inches above the knee to just below); plus, the button-down feature makes them seem a little more dressed up than they already are.

Like loafers, oxfords are a great choice if you’re going to be on your feet a lot, since the extra coverage provides extra support. Add a few pops of color with a textured scarf and fun nail polish (check to make sure it’s okay), then accessorize with classic pieces, like gold studs and a timeless watch with a feline twist.

Bold & Bright

If you love bright colors, pencil skirts are another stylish option to try out. The trick to pulling off bright colors in the office is to maintain a classic silhouette, and this jersey skirt fits the bill. In addition, the stretchy fabric means that it won’t pull uncomfortably while you’re sitting or wrinkle the way a woven skirt might.

A lightweight cardigan in a complementary color and a boldly patterned blouse keep up the bright palette without clashing, while a pair of trendy ankle-strap flats and a classic tote complete the look.

 Business Casual Blues

While denim is usually a no-no when it comes to office attire (although dark wash denim can sometimes fly under the radar), a chambray shirt is a great way to get your denim fix without breaking dress code. In a classic cut, a well-fitting chambray shirt can pretty much pass for a light blue dress shirt. Pair with printed trousers and sleek accessories for a modern prepster look!