What Does Business Casual Look Like?

Posted by Mary Elizabeth on Jun 1st 2018

Have you ever been presented with an opportunity and told that the dress code is business casual? You probably thought to yourself, what does business casual look like? Fear not, we’ve all been there, and we’re here to teach you a thing or two. Whether you’re on the search for interview outfit ideas, or just want to revamp your wardrobe, every woman should own a few staple business casual pieces. Business casual is an incredibly vague outfit description, but there’s so much riding on your choices so it can be somewhat of a hard outfit to pick. However, before we even start thinking about what to wear for a business casual event, we need to start by understanding what it is.

Plus size business casual attire is less formal than traditional business clothing but still nice enough to wear into an office. The idea is that veering too close to the business side will leave you overdressed, but going to casual will make you look less respectable. It is somewhere between Sunday church and important interview. So what are we aiming for? The objective is to look groomed and put together, but comfortable and stylish.

Business Casual for Plus Sized Women

Business casual is already somewhat difficult to find, but adding the task of finding great plus size clothing on top of that makes it even harder. Navigating department stores can make you feel somewhat discouraged because of the plethora of options that just don’t quite hug you in all the right places. So what’s most important here? Making sure that you feel great in your own skin while looking like you mean business. This means having all the corrects pieces that can be interchanged with one another to create a workweek wardrobe of great fitting and comfortable outfits. Let’s explore some options.

Tops

When searching the array of plus size interview outfit ideas, you’ll probably come across tops first. Because a top is often the center of attention, it can either make or break an outfit. A great top should be conservative and flattering, but whoever said ruffles and designs draw unwanted attention to larger areas is wrong. Keep in mind that the remainder of your outfit is relatively straightforward so you should take advantage of this area to add a little sparkle or flare. Button downs are always a safe option, but lightweight blouses can add a girly touch if you pair them with a great blazer or cardigan. With so many options to choose from, the best rule to live by is practicality. Find a few cute and comfortable tops that can be interchanged with different bottoms and jackets, and you’ll be set.

Outerwear

Outerwear provides the structure the shape of your outfit. You’ll probably want to choose options based on the weather and if the anticipated event is indoor or outdoor. Heavier jackets or blazers are great if you’re expecting to be chilly, but thin blazers and cardigans are perfect for warmer days.

Blazers

Blazers are a great way to make just about any outfit more professional looking, therefore were deeming it essential to have at least a couple in your closet. The best way to rock a blazer is to pair it with a great dress or nicely fitting top. A comfortable blazer that falls at the hip will create the illusion of a longer and leaner torso. On another note, we’re not talking about a plain black blazer. This is the time to show off your personality with a pop of color or crisp white.

Cardigans

If you want to stray away from a blazer, cardigans are the perfect alternative. They’re comfortable and can be worn all day, yet do the same job as a blazer. A gently fitted cardigan looks great with a professional dress, and a longline duster cardigan compliments a top and pants. However, because cardigans tend to look more casual, it is better to error on the professional side of the rest of your outfit.

Dresses

A great plus size dress can be on your go-to list when it comes to business casual wear. They come in so many different shapes and styles which makes finding a great fit less of a hassle. Aside from fit, dresses are incredibly easy to dress up or down as long as you opt for something relatively modest. Choosing a dress that is at least knee length and avoiding any cleavage or bra straps is a great way to make sure that you will portray a professional image. So what kind of dress are we looking for?

A-line

The A-line dress is perfect for women who want to accentuate their hourglass figure. The dress is more fitted towards the top and midsection and then lays gently along the hip and leg. A great A-line professional dress should be a sturdier fabric such as cotton or denim and avoid anything too flowy. Either choose one that has capped sleeves or add a fitted jacked to make this style more professional.

Fit and Flare

The fit and flare dress is great for women who have large hips or are considered pear-shaped. It balances the figure by accentuating the top half of the body and creating a long lean midsection and hips. Aside from that, it is one of the most comfortable dress types and can be worn all day. The fit and flare dress looks great with a nice cardigan but can be seen as a bit on the casual side so dress it up with a pair of nice heels or a scarf.

Wrap Dress

The wrap dress is great for just about any figure. It creates a v-neck and then wraps around the midsection accentuating an hourglass figure. Because this dress style usually comes with sleeves, it can be perfect for the days that you choose to not wear a jacket.

Bottoms

Women sometimes have the dilemma of choosing between skirts or pants, but in this case either are acceptable as long as they’re neatly pressed. The idea is to be able to sit or stand without having to constantly pull your skirt down or adjust your pants. So what does business casual look like for a woman when it comes to choosing bottoms?

Pants

There are so many options of pants available that are fitting for an interview or office day, but which will help you feel as confident as possible? Two words, cigarette trousers. These fit a woman’s curves amazingly and are commonly seen in a stretchy fabric which is perfect for a long work day. On the other hand, dressing up a pair of nicely fitting capris is a great trick to looking comfortably professional. Slip on a pair of capris and debut the same structure of plus size pants with the great blazer and you’re good to go! Style tip: there are some great capri colors available, so this is a great opportunity to showcase your personality and express your style.

Skirts

Ahh, the plus size skirt. This is a little bit intimidating to try, but when done right it can really level up your wardrobe. As far as styles go, the pencil skirt is known for its professional facade. The pencil skirt hugs your curves but is structured in a way that gives you the hourglass shape you want. To achieve this, you’ll want to choose a fabric that is somewhat thick and sturdy to hold its shape. For meetings and interviews, make sure your pencil skirt is an appropriate length and isn’t too tight to ensure maximum confidence. As far as business casual goes, a pencil skirt can be mixed and matched with a variety of garments. A blouse and cardigan bring you towards the casual end, while a blouse and blazer combination sends a more professional message. However you choose to dress it, having a pencil skirt in your closet entourage is essential.

Shoes

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but shoes come in a close second. Women are notorious for having a prized collection in their shoe closet, but we need to know which ones work for business casual events. Luckily, we have options. Follow these guidelines to pick the best shoes for plus size women.

Heels

The best heels for plus size to wear in a business casual situation are minimal, sleek, and stylish. Think pumps or minimally strappy sandals. Depending on your outfit and personal style, you can choose shoes that are either focus pieces or supporting pieces. You’ll also want to consider practicality when it comes to heals. For example, heels with platforms tend to be more comfortable if you’re planning on walking around all day but make sure they aren’t too high. If you want to error on the safe side, pumps look most professional and can be worn with just about anything.

Flats

When we think business casual shoes, we think uncomfortable. But whoever said beauty is pain, didn’t have many options. Enter the infamous flats! Flats are the perfect alternative for the days where heels just won’t work. If you’re planning on being on your feet all day, a pair of dainty flats holds the image of just the right amount of feminine sophistication you need.

Mules

Mules are a woman’s secret weapon. They can be dressed up or down so easily and come in a variety of styles. Flat mules are great with a pair of trousers, while heeled backless mules look great with anything. The best part about them is that they provide all the support of a regular shoe, but are still dressy enough to replace flats or heels.

Accessories

This is the fun part. Feel free to accessorize, but don’t overdo it! In a business casual setting, it’s best to leave the costume jewelry at home. Dainty necklaces are perfect for showcasing beauty without distracting too much from your professionalism. Another great option is a watch. Watches tend to do a great job of portraying sophistication and confidence. On the other hand, you can use them to discreetly check the time during a long meeting… If you choose to wear earrings, think dainty hoops or pretty studs. On the other hand, a light scarf might also be appropriate depending on the outfit and occasion. One of the best things you can do is coordinate the color of your plus size fashion accessories with your whole outfit.

Colors

Yes, black flatters everyone because it downplays certain areas of the body and compliments most skin tones, but that doesn’t mean plus size women should run from color. Color can be a great tool to accentuate your god given beauty. As far as colors go, all you need to do is coordinate appropriately and look sophisticated. Favorite colors can be seen as a look into someone’s personality, so in an interview, this might be a chance for you to express yourself. In reality choosing a darker color such as brown, black, navy, or khaki is very safe for bottoms, but there is no rule against color as long as you can rock it. Same goes for blazers and cardigans. Pair colored pants and a blazer with a neutral top, or vice versa.

Why is Business Casual Important?

At some point in your life, if you haven’t already, you’re going to be given an opportunity that requires you to dress in business casual. Because of this, it is important to be prepared beforehand. Dressing up creates an image and sends the message that you are professional and ensures that others will take you seriously and show you the respect you deserve. Whether you have an interview or an advancement opportunity, the last thing you need is for someone to look you over because of your outfit choice. On the other hand, dressing professionally will help you feel confident in your own skin and give you the confidence boost to conquer the day. 

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