Business dress for the casual girl?
October 1, 2009 10:17 AM Subscribe
After a few years of hoodies and flip-flops, I'm re-entering a business-casual work environment - slightly clueless and very
reluctant about dressing up. Help me adhere to the dress code and look good while maximizing comfort and minimizing effort.
posted by Metroid Baby to clothing, beauty, & fashion (31 answers total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
Corporate dress codes aren't completely foreign to me: my first few jobs were in business-casual offices. However, I guess they were foreign enough to me that I was approached by two different bosses at two different jobs about needing to dress better. (On both occasions, I asked for ideas/examples of how to improve, and both times I heard "You know that suit you wore to your interview? You looked really great then.") I amassed a collection of twinsets and crinkly dry-clean-only skirts, but I felt dowdy and uncomfortable in them. And I got really, really tired of having to think about putting together work outfits. All in all, not a pleasant experience for me, and it's left me with a vague dread of dress codes in general.
The last time anyone cared what I wore to work was early 2006. Since then, my work environments have become increasingly relaxed: from unenforced business-casual, to casual, to working at home. I love having the freedom to wear what I want to work, and I love working for people who are more interested in my ideas than my wardrobe.
It probably goes without saying that my wardrobe has gotten more and more casual over the past couple of years, too. I've given away a lot of my old work clothes, and I haven't needed to replace them with similar pieces. My typical daily outfit is a t-shirt/tank top, a knit skirt or yoga pants, a track-ish jacket or hoodie, and flip-flops or sporty flats.
In a few weeks, however, I'll be back in an office with a business-casual dress code. I can't very well roll up to work in a tracksuit, as much as I wish I could. I have a few nice skirts and sweaters from my old office days, but for the most part I'm starting from scratch.
Trouble is, I don't particularly like styles that are suit-y or dressy. I've gone window-shopping with the intent of getting ideas for what I could wear to work, and every time I find myself getting shrugging at the career clothing and drifting into the juniors' or sportswear departments. I'm also not into wearing clothes or shoes that I can't walk a mile in. And I prefer my clothes to be as low-maintenance as possible – in the past, anything that's required ironing or dry-cleaning has stayed wadded in a stale wrinkly ball in the back of my closet.
Ideally, I'd like to throw on an outfit in under a minute, walk to work, and look awesome. Too unrealistic? I'd settle for not feeling like I'm wearing a uniform and not wanting to change into pajamas the second I get home.
And if that weren't picky enough, I'd like to get my work wardrobe together without spending very much money or adding too much stuff. I know I'll need to buy a few things (I have only one pair of dressy pants, for example) but I'd really rather not get a whole ton of new clothes.
I've never found a resource that has been particularly helpful. Most advice seems to fall either into "you'll know what's appropriate when you see it" or "you should wear whatever upper management is wearing."
So I'm looking for advice on what to wear, what to look for in work clothes, how to plan outfits, etc. I'm not completely new to dressing up for work, but I feel like I could stand to learn a lot, so even the most basic Garanimals-level tips are fine by me.