What Is Business Casual, Exactly? 5 Easy Outfits Up to (Dress) Code

business casual outfits collage

Design by Amanda Lauro

Let’s get down to business... casual. What, exactly, does a “business casual” ensemble entail? A composition of pieces that are at once traditionally professional paired with more stylish, casual, and beautiful pieces. Think a combination of sophisticated pieces like a structured blazer, trousers, or a classic button-down with bright shoes, layers of jewelry, a printed blouse, a swingy silk dress, or an amazing handbag.

Business casual is the melding of professional clothing and day-to-day pieces, worn together to create a series of outfits that are more stunning than boring, while still remaining totally perfect for the workplace, long work lunches, business travel, and whatever else your office call for.

As noted by The Balance Careers, "It's wiser to dress on the conservative side rather than show up underdressed" if you're starting a new job. They also advise checking with HR on any must-know rules, as every office has its own policies when it comes to the dress code. Still: Going to the office doesn't mean leaving your personality at home.

Dressing in a business casual manner is about looking and feeling like your most confident, empowered, intelligent, moving-and-shaking self. The ideal business casual outfit can take you from a long day of meetings and emails to cocktails and dinner, all without having to change. It’ll elevate your work, because you’ll feel incredible—and when you feel and look incredible, you’ll project a glowing charge—as you project presentations onto screens and your ideas into the world.

Business casual is different for everyone and every office. Jewelry designer and chef Jennifer Fisher notes that to her, the term means “Jeans, jeans and jeans. I like denim. That’s pretty much what I wear every day. I like to keep it clean and minimal. I normally pick what jewelry I’m going to wear before I get dressed. I plan my looks accordingly so that I can go from the office to any dinner or event as I am constantly on the go.” We’ve included a look inspired by Fisher, as jeans can always be elevated to create a perfect, work-friendly outfit (even if your office only allows them on Fridays).

Meet the new office look: Business casual is here to stay, and here are five classic outfits to begin with.

Lazer-Sharp Blazer

blazer outfit collage

Design by Amanda Lauro

Let’s begin with an essential, classic workplace piece: The structured blazer. This outfit is ideal for any work situation, and we’ve jazzed it up so you can wear it out to cocktails and dinner without feeling like you’re still in the office. A great blazer is a power piece, and you can’t go wrong with this tailored essential.

Because blazers are, by definition, professional pieces, pair a great blazer with jeans and jewel-toned flats. This look is ideal for a day at the office, lunch meetings, and even business travel.

Flowering Ideas

floral dress outfit collage

Design by Amanda Lauro

Spring is here, at long last. Welcome the new season honoring the blooming flowers, blossoming ideas, and a fruitful career. Pair a stunning dress with more masculine, serious pieces—think a structured briefcase or tote and a pair of fabulous, classic pumps, for a look that’s ideal for any work situation. 

In the Navy

blue pants outfit collage

Design by Amanda Lauro

We never grow tired of a classic nautical look. Stripes are the thing for any occasion, and the office is no exception. This look is timeless and endlessly sophisticated.

Sail along through another day of your working life in a classic striped shirt like with flared, navy blue and a blue handbag. All aboard—in the boardroom.

Cocktail Attire

green dress outfit collage

Design by Amanda Lauro

Meeting for work drinks? This outfit is elegant, stunning, and cocktail hour appropriate. You’re there to exchange ideas and make deals, but you never know who you’re going to exchange glances with at the hotel lobby bar—and in this outfit, you’ll be ready for wherever life may take you.

Pair a colorful and sophisticated mid-length dress like with a powerhouse necklace and a structured jacket. Take the jacket off and you’re ready for a fabulous dinner out.

Working Abroad

printed blouse outfit collage

Design by Amanda Lauro

Traveling for work? This outfit will fold into your suitcase with ease and is as ideal for strolling through new neighborhoods, galleries, shopping, and enjoying al fresco lunches as it is for meetings and conferences. Each of these pieces is versatile, so you can compose numerous outfits without packing too much. Set your insights into the world as you jet off from one destination to the next, in your best business casual.

Wear a pair of tailored trousers with a printed blouse and colorful block heels that you can walk—and get down to business—in with ease. For evenings out, simply pile on a bit of jewelry and transfer your essentials into an evening bag. Et voilà—you're ready to travel, work, and enjoy the journey.

Let’s reframe the idea of business casual—and think of it as business elegant. These looks are for the person who is endlessly powerful, beautiful, and ready to take on whatever opportunities the universe presents. Memo taken? Good, let’s get to work—in nothing but luxurious, thoughtfully composed ensembles you’ll shine in.

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