A week’s worth of “business casual” outfits that don’t suck
It took me almost a half a decade to figure out the art of getting dressed for work, and I’m still learning about the do’s and don’ts of professional attire.
Thanks to fashion’s annoying pop-up trends, I am always running late for work. The cold shoulder style is borderline not appropriate for meetings with baby boomers. High heels slow you down. Black lipstick will scare your boss into working from home. Can I get a “oh hey naawww” for morning meltdowns when you find a snag or hole in your tights, missing buttons on your “go-to blazer,” “wrinkled collar shirt” that will never see a pressed to perfection state of mind!?
Seriously, I have one good black shirt and no I’m not that type that picks out my outfit the night before. However, this should probably be my new year’s resolution. As I climb up the career ladder, working with government dignitaries, international business people and traveling across the world for work events, I need to step up my dress game. Invest in one of those Celine bags bloggers wear to coffee appointments outfits that scream, “I am a boss bitch!”
Let me take you back to when most of my wardrobe was populated with Abercrombie & Fitch lowrise jeans and sweaters, basically the majority of my closet a compilation of Club Monaco sale items. I was in college and headed to my first internship in Harlem, New York. It was one of those awkward summer days in the beginning of June when I thought it was okay to wear grey polyester shorts, an A&F tee shirt that read “Fast Girls Finish First” in bold lettering on the front, and a pair of ballet flats to work.
Before you go roast me, not only was it hot outside, the office I was supposed to report to was located on a fifth-floor walkup of an old building with no air conditioner. And they had the nerve to say the dress code was business casual! And to put icing the cake, apparently, my Club Monaco shorts in the workplace were not going to fly, even if it was 95 degrees outside.
That day, I came into work sweating bullets. At every level of the staircase I ascended, I stopped briefly to say “good morning” to the staff before I made my way up to my own desk that was located on the fifth floor. It was my usual routine. However, that day, when I said my good morning to my supervisor, this middle-aged lady read me to filth. She barely said hello back to me!
So it didn’t come to a surprise that I got a very short email later on that night about the company’s dress code policy. Needless to say, the next day I came to work fully dressed in hand-me-down clothes from my best friends who were all interning on Wall Street.
The lesson I learned from this wardrobe snafu is to never wear shorts in the workplace. Just don’t do it: it’s not professional. As you start to build your own career, incorporating your personal style will make you stand out as a unforgettable employee. Find balance with office culture and make it work for you and your budget.
Currently, I hit the jackpot. I’m working in WeWork, a coworking space for startups and established companies, and as you can imagine, the dress code is what I like to call “experimental business chic.” Here’s is a breakdown of what I wore to work last week.
Let’s do this. I don’t own a suit so my dark blue stretch pants and black stretch blazer from Liverpool Denim made a great pairing with a Gap button down. I paired this look with a pair of Chelsea boots I bought eons ago in London.
Here’s to gettin’ in the work groove wearing my favorite black skater skirt and a comfy pink shaker turtleneck sweater from A&F. They have the best sweaters that don’t itch and are very affordable. I wear it almost every day. My boots are from Zara on sale.
It’s almost the end of the week. I have no meetings and there’s a bunch of happy hours and community events at work, so I wore a pair of Zara high waisted jeans and a blue silk top from & Other Stories (hand-me-down from my friend Genny) and a leather belt from a consignment shoppe in Nashville. I did bring a blazer to wear with me.
I woke up feeling so awesome. I organized two meetings with my new boss, I had a breakfast meeting for my own company, and then I afterwork I decided to go to a networking event. I couldn’t let this outfit go to waste just yet. My ruffle turtleneck and trousers are from A&F; what can I say they always have sales! My boots are from Ebay; I think they are Rag & Bone knockoffs from a random Australian Brand. Lolz.