How to navigate the workday in style

Business casual has become the new norm, sweeping through the workplace with its comfortable yet professional style. While this growing trend is less formal than the traditional corporate attire, that doesn’t mean it’s any less put together.

There is a delicate balance between formal and casual — one that must be weighed carefully to achieve a look that gives the right impression while providing all-day comfort. When it comes to perfecting the business casual look, there isn’t one single rule. The style will vary depending on the industry and its environment. However, it is crucial for both men and women to pull off this look because of its impact on their social image and everyday performance.

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For women, in particular, business casual attire can be a diverse, ambiguous concept, making it difficult for them to pinpoint specific dos and don’ts. The options are nearly endless, with many of them contingent on current trends, industry or work environment.

Yet, despite the seemingly dizzying choices, women should pursue the right style because of its ability to influence their career and personality in professional surroundings. In today’s highly competitive corporate environment, appearances speak volumes, so the power of proper fashion apparel shouldn’t be overlooked.

To succeed in the modern workplace, the following key workwear elements can be implemented to enhance a woman’s professional status and advancement:

Professional attire

Industry, job title, and local climate are some of the factors that inspire professional attire. Traditionally, men wore dark suits, neckties, white shirts, etc., while women opted for suits, skirts, and tights or stockings. But the new trend in business casual has upheaved this old scenario, giving people the freedom to experiment and be creative with their personal style.

Women can now access more motivating and enjoyable fashion pieces, but that doesn’t mean their selections shouldn’t be carefully considered. The choice of colors is especially important since it can easily send the wrong message. Apparel that is too bright will turn heads and attract attention for the wrong reasons, conveying a negative impression of the person wearing the clothes.

In the workplace, business casual should be stylish yet subdued, and now that the top fashion brands are replacing the standard dark, grim suits and dresses with trendsetting casual styles that catch the eye, this is becoming much easier for both men and women to accomplish.

Dressing for an interview

Employers no longer expect women to wear full formal suits at job interviews. A great tip to nail the interview look is to mix elements of both formal and informal wear.

A woman can certainly wear a blazer, skirt or pants, but doesn’t have to combine them all to achieve the right look. A professional pencil skirt, for instance, can go well with a simple cardigan. The best way to determine the perfect attire is to dress for the job and industry that is being applied for.

In some cases, donning a full suit may be the ideal choice. And again, colors play an important role. For job interviews, it is recommended to stick with neutral tones such as black, gray, navy, brown, beige or white because a mélange of varying colors may distract and make an unfavorable first impression.

White collar vs. blue collar

Regardless of the industry, both white collar and blue collar jobs require employees to spend a significant amount of time without rest or downtime. Employees that dress comfortably will ultimately perform better, but this isn’t always possible for white collar workers who are subjected to standard formal dress codes that compromise comfort and mobility.

Traditional dress standards can also create a slew of problems that interfere with day-to-day productivity. Bracelets can jingle while typing, disrupting colleagues, while wearing stiletto heels can cause long-term health problems. That’s why the new business casual is the perfect alternative to rigid clothing rules. Adopting this trend enables employees to look professional while performing their tasks with added comfort and ease of movement.

Modern business casual

Contemporary business casual requires some thought before getting dressed. To look stylish yet professional and tidy, the right choice needs to be made. Wearing expensive brands isn’t the most viable option, and neither is donning a strapless dress and flip-flops. Instead, women can opt for a wide range of tops that are fashionable without being too revealing.

As for men, a sports coat with tailored slacks and an open-collared shirt will go a long way in a white-collar business casual environment.

Some important things to keep in mind

Whatever the job or industry, the most important aspect to consider when adopting modern business casual attire is to wear clothing that will reflect confidence and intelligence, and incite respect. Doing so will create a positive image of one’s personality and send the right message to colleagues, clients, and superiors. Wearing apparel that is too fancy, sloppy, lazy or distressed will hinder an employee’s professional growth and let others know he or she shouldn’t be taken seriously.

On the same token, clothing should be well fitted because items that hang off the body or cling too much will give the impression that appearance isn’t a priority, thus turning people away from crucial work connections and collaboration. The business casual dress code should also not be limited to clothing because accessories can enhance any outfit. The key is to use them correctly. An expensive diamond wristwatch, for instance, would not go well with a casual style.

When it comes to special events that require travel, it is essential to dress to impress — possibly donning a more traditional formal attire — since most professional affairs are a representation of the business itself. Similarly, corporate environments such as those of the finance or legal industries may also require employees to adopt this formal style. On the other hand, tech startups or construction businesses may encourage their team members to implement the business casual trend. But in all circumstances, a woman’s best look is her confidence, and this, she should wear with pride and dignity no matter where she goes.

Mehri Babayeva is the Founder and CEO of Maraley, an elegant line of made-to-measure women’s attire that celebrates female beauty, charm, and intuition in a professional way. From business formal to business casual, Maraley caters to the needs of modern women by offering a wide range of styles and personalized outfits that embrace their individuality.

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