What Counts as Business Casual for Your Work Setting?

What is Business Casual for Women?

Business casual for women can be difficult territory to navigate. This is because the rules for what you can wear vary from company to company. While it’s important to understand exactly what the dress code is where you work, it’s a safe bet that if you use the following as a guide, you’ll be dressed right for that next big meeting.

What Items of Clothing Work with Women’s Business Casual?

The business casual female is fortunate in the sense that she has a plethora of wardrobe choices. There are so many different items of business attire for women, that you’ll always have something exciting to wear if you keep just a few essentials in your closet. These include:

  • The right pair of shoes.
  • A crisp, clean, dark pair of jeans.
  • Dresses and skirts that don’t come too far above the knee.
  • Button up blouses.
  • A nice pair of slacks.

Business Casual Shoes

When you are putting together the ideal women’s business attire, you’ll definitely want the right pair of shoes to go with your wardrobe. Picking out a versatile pair of shoes that go with everything from pants to skirts, can save you both time and money in the long run.

Heels always look great and can easily dress up any wardrobe beautifully. Not every woman feels comfortable in heels, though. You might prefer a sleek pair of black slip ons or closed toe sandals instead. Just be sure to leave sneakers in the car for after work. Those are not a business casual friendly item.

Business Casual Jeans

You are probably wondering, “Are Jeans Business Casual?” Unfortunately, the answer isn’t black or white. It’s a bit more complicated because it all depends on what kind of company you are working for and what their policy is.

Even if your workplace does allow jeans, a good rule of thumb is that the darker the denim, the more professional. Dark denim has a classic appearance that looks great with a nice pair of shoes and a dressy blouse. You’ll want to stay away from frayed or ripped denim, as well as white-washed or light-colored denim.

Business Casual Dresses

You might think that a dress is just a dress, but there are still guidelines as to what kind of dress adheres to women’s business formal standards. For example, you don’t want to wear something that is too short. The old school meaning of this is anything above the knees but nowadays, it usually pertains to anything higher than mid-thigh.

A business dress should make you feel empowered. It should be something that can take you from a meeting over coffee to an afternoon boardroom pow-wow session, all at the skip of a beat. Finding the right dress means finding something that you feel confident in.

What Items Should Be Avoided?

What Should Be Avoid in Your Business Casual Wardrobe

There are a lot of great choices if you are looking to add to your business casual wardrobe. There are some bad choices, too. Be sure to avoid the following items.

  • Sneakers
  • T-shirts
  • Ultra short dresses or skirts
  • Ripped denim jeans
  • Low cut blouses
  • Skinny jeans

There are some other important things to remember. While it’s popular to wear yoga pants to the grocery store or movie theater, work is not the place for them. The same is true for leggings and jeggings. They are far too casual, even for a “business casual” environment.

Makeup and Hair for Business Casual Women

As women, it can feel unfair that there are standards put on us that aren’t put on men. Our appearance is far more scrutinized. So much so that the scales are most certainly not even when it comes to what’s expected of us when we walk out the front door. This includes what kind of makeup we choose to wear and what kind of hairstyle we have.

Wearing a modest amount of makeup is a good look for most women. Too much makeup is distracting and no makeup at all looks like you didn’t put any effort into your appearance. Yes, it shouldn’t matter if women wear makeup, but until society catches up to that concept, it’s a good idea to put on at least a bit of powder and maybe some mascara.

When it comes to your hair, consider some of the following dos and dont’s.

  • Do wear a clean bun or braid.
  • Do wear a stylish headband.
  • Do curl your hair.
  • Don’t dye your hair an unnatural color, like pink, blue, purple, green, etc. 
  • Don’t throw your hair into a messy bun because you’re running late.  

When is it Appropriate to Dress in Business Attire?


If you are working for a company that has a dress code requiring business attire, then you’ll need to follow it according to the guidelines. Some places let employees dress however they choose on Fridays or special holidays, etc. It’s important to know what’s expected of you so you can dress the part. Work can be complicated enough without letting the way you dress unnecessarily complicate it more.


Some great advice to keep in mind when you’re shopping for a business wardrobe is to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Many people believe this helps keep you in a mindset of success and makes it easier to achieve your goals. 

It’s more possible than ever to wear the right women’s business casual wardrobe. With just a few key items, you can mix and match the pieces to create several different looks. This will save you both time and effort, leaving you free to focus on the things that matter most.


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