It isn’t hard to tell how much the working world has changed over the past few decades, especially when it comes to office fashion. All you have to do is look around during the morning commute and you’ll see women in bright sundresses, men with no blazers and sometimes the atypical jeans and T-shirt look.
While yes, the corporate head-to-toe suit does still exist, it is decreasing. In March, multinational investment banking company Goldmach Sachs relaxed its dress code in order to create a more casual workplace environment.
It is becoming increasingly more challenging to navigate the business casual dress code, as it varies from industry to industry, with tech companies leading the way for more flexible looks. Plus, in 2018 researchers found that 70% of the world’s employees are working remotely once a week, according to the International Workplace Group.
To make things a little easier for you this week and beyond, here’s what two NoVA-based stylists—Kelly Kirchberg of Divine Style and Lindsey Evans of Lindsey Evans Studio—have to say about proper dress in the office.
What is ‘business casual’ in 2019?
KK: Business casual ranges vastly company to company, so we recommend intermixing dressier pieces with casual items to balance the look. For example, men’s dress trousers paired with a polo shirt. For women, a silk dress with sandals or flats gives a casual style to a dressier blouse or top with a cotton skirt or casual pants. Pairing prints and bold colors along with lighter fabrics gives an outfit a modern, business casual vibe, as well.
LE: I think there’s still a standard of dress that’s required in the workplace. You can’t come to work in your pajamas or athleisure wear—and if you are, you need to call me. But to be taken seriously in any business, you must look the part. If anything, I think business casual could be renamed “modern millennial attire.” You don’t really look sophisticated in any work place if you aren’t doing something chic with your wardrobe pairings now.
What are key pieces women and men should have in their closet for this type of look?
KK: Dark denim is a great piece for men and women. It can be styled with a blazer and tee or a casual button-up shirt for men, or with a print blouse or casual top for women. Dark denim works for fall and winter, while white jeans are great for spring and summer. Also, casual polished shoes are a great accessory to any outfit. For men, this can be drivers, boat shoes or leather sneakers. For women, boots and shoe booties, espadrilles, oxfords and flats or sandals give a casual, yet stylish look. The key really is for a tailored fit, with a casual style but nicer fabric.
LE: A silk charmeuse white shell is an essential piece for every woman’s wardrobe. You can find them at Zara, Club Monaco and elsewhere. Beautiful classics are key! Whereas men really need to be very concerned with the fit of their clothes when trying to look put together. I would say a great pair of trousers or chinos is a good place to start, and always keep your footwear updated and tidy!
Since there isn’t really a definition of ‘business casual,’ how would you explain it in 2019?
KK: People are showcasing more of their individual personal style in the workplace. Also recently, there is a trend to make employees look and feel comfortable in the workplace, which translates to employees ability to wear things to work that they can also wear on the weekends or going out at night. Business casual has changed from a corporate-dictated style to one that uniquely fits an individual’s look and personality while in their business role.
LE: The wonderful thing about the current economic climate with small businesses thriving is that business casual can really be individually defined. I think it comes down to looking put together and intentional, but can have many directions and interpretations, which is a lot more interesting than business casual used to be!
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