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“Huh? What’s Business Casual?” : Your Guide to Dressing for Success

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“Huh? What’s Business Casual?” : Your Guide to Dressing for Success

By Nicole Artime

WHAT IS BUSINESS CASUAL? BUSINESS FORMAL? AM I UNDERDRESSED? OVERDRESSED? We’ve all asked ourselves these questions at least once. Today I’m here to help you with all of your business attire troubles. I’ve used my Polyvore account to put together some visuals.

Let’s start with Business Casual.


 So you just got a call back for a sales gig at your local mall and the interview dress code is “business casual.” What the heck does that mean?

Not to fear – to achieve the perfect “business casual” appearance, you simply want to look professional without looking too uptight. Look natural yet show some effort – A nice blouse with dress pants and closed toe shoes will do the trick.

Since we’re going casual, ditch your blazer to keep your look relaxed. Boots are fine, but heels are preferred. When going for a more professional look, make sure your shoulders are always covered, and if you’re opting for a skirt or a dress, be sure to wear stockings or panty hose!

*Note: Business casual is very similar to smart casual, but they’re not the same! Smart casual offers a lot more leeway – jeans and khakis are fine, but still look nice!


 Next, we have “business formal”. Business formal is typically the image that comes to your head when you hear “business attire.” You’re going to want some type of blazer or nice cardigan. A skirt, dress, or trousers will do, but remember your stockings or panty hose if you choose a skirt or dress! The same rules apply for business formal in regards to shoes: CLOSED TOE! Even if your pedicure is fresh, you want to make sure your toes aren’t showing.

 *Note: even though “business formal” evokes images of black pantsuits, don’t be afraid to add color! Feel free to make your look pop with accent pieces like jewelry (make sure it’s not too noisy or distracting), a pair of colored pants, or a colored blazer!


  1. When you’re shopping for new pieces, don’t be afraid to hit up your local thrift shop – it may have some awesome hidden gems! Chances are, you’ll save a lot of money – nice business attire can be expensive. If the thrift shop isn’t your scene and you prefer the mall, some of my favorite places to find business essentials are:
  • Express
  • The Limited
  • New York & Company
  • TopShop
  • H&M
  • Macy’s
  • JC Penney
  • Forever 21
  1. If you go to a more business-attire-oriented store like The Limited or Express, you’ll find some great deals in the Sales section. There’s no reason to pay more than $20 for a nice blouse or $40 for a pair of dress pants.
  1. When shopping for a pair of pantyhose, I recommend investing in a good quality pair rather than going through multiple pairs of itchy ones that rip too easily. You’ll save money in the long run.
  1. Also, please invest in a pair of good quality and comfortable heels. I recommend getting a pair of black ones and a pair of nude ones since they can be paired with any outfits. High heels may look great, but if you know you’re going to be on your feet a lot, stick with one or two-inch heels – your feet will thank you later. Keep band-aids with you at all times in case you get a blister. If your heels are new, don’t forget to break them in!
  1. Be confident. If you think you’re underdressed or overdressed, don’t show it. As long as you’re confident in what you’re wearing, others will think you’re the one who has it right.

I hope my tips on dressing for success were helpful and I wish you all the best of luck in your future roles – you’ll rock it!

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