Having to put on clothes for any dress code that mentions “business” almost immediately conjures images of suits, neutral colors, khaki pants, and other seemingly uneventful wardrobe combinations. On top of that, office attire has long been thought of as being expressionless, forcing you into conforming to a cubicle-inspired uniform. However, with the amount of ever-growing wardrobe options out there, expressing yourself has never been easier. Sure, business formal may be a little tough to customize, but when it comes to business casual, the options are abundant. Essentially, the “casual” part allows you to have fun by being yourself. Read on for a few suggestions on how to do just that.
Step Up Your Color Game
Of course, you can’t go wrong with sticking to the basic office colors–blue, gray, and khaki–but there’s always room for color. More likely than not, you won’t want to go too bold, so stick to pastels and darker, rich colors. Try pairing up a lavender oxford with dark khakis or a teal dress shirt with dark blue pants. Color is about finding a balance without letting part of your outfit be overkill.
Be Bold With Fabric and Pattern
There’s more to business casual than a simple poplin (the fabric your dress shirt is probably made out of). Look for fabrics with more interesting textures, like chambray or oxford. There’s plenty of options, it’s just a matter of veering away from the “dress shirt” section. In terms of patterns, you can essentially wear anything on top as long as you’re not doubling up with bold pants, too. Try polka dots or horizontal striped shirts. If any pattern feels to loud, simply throw a jacket over it. Make sure to match with the colors in the pattern so as to avoid clashing with other parts of your outfit.
Have Fun With Your Accessories
Accessories are where you get to have extra fun–a tie, socks, belt, pocket square, and even a lapel pin are all potential self expression capsules. An easy way to choose a tie to add to your outfit is by keeping a simple rule in mind. If your shirt is loud, pick a muted tie (preferably in a neutral color). If it’s the inverse, go for a muted shirt with an eye-catching tie. With socks, you essentially have free reign. You’re free to go with whatever complementary color you want in any pattern. When it comes to belts, although it is the most streamlined look, a belt does not necessarily have to match your shoes. Consider a belt that simply works with the outfit as a whole. Leather belts are limited in colors, but fabric or knit belts are available in endless options. The same can be said about pocket squares. Even if you’re attending prom, it’s tacky to match a pocket square to your tie, so stick to something that complements or contrasts the tie instead. It’s easy to appear over-accessorized with a lapel pin. The key here is to go with something subtle (unless you limit the rest of your accessories so the lapel can shine) that won’t distract from the rest of your look.
Business casual gives you room to have fun. Whether it’s to impress your boss, wow your SO, or simply express yourself, have fun with it.
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