Ty Washington is a recent graduate from the University of Michigan. She currently teaches 5th grade in Arizona and is an avid writer and soon-to-be author.
So, you’ve finally been accepted to that internship you’ve worked so hard to get, or maybe you’re ready to start frequenting career fairs. Maybe you’ve taken a work study job or an office job on campus. Whatever your motivation, you know it’s time to start dressing the part. As you mosey on toward your wardrobe, your confidence begins to dissipate, and slowly, anxiety creeps in. All of a sudden, sweats, hoodies and Uggs won’t cut it. You’ve been told that the dress code is business casual. You’ve watched enough Shark Tank to know what business means, and you’re an expert on casual attire, but what, exactly, is business casual?
Tops & Dresses
My go to are cardigans and button-up blouses. Having these items in your closet will take you a long way. Solid colors are best when choosing your cardigan. Feel free to be creative with the blouse, and also try accentuating your neckline with a scarf or a dazzling necklace. In addition to having cardigans and blouses, stock your closet with knits, sweaters, and dresses. Add a blazer or a jacket to a dress for a stylish touch, and keep in mind that dresses should be at least knee-length.
Pencil skirts are in. Personally, I prefer trousers and straight-leg pants. Once again, solid colors are usually best. Striped pants are an exception to this rule. When choosing a color for your skirts and pants, stick to black, grey (all shades), navy, brown, taupe and navy. Do not be afraid to try brighter colors for brighter seasons, like spring and summer, and earthier colors in the fall.
What to wear on the feet? Heels work for some people; flats are far better for most. Depending on where you live, the dress code for shoes may be different. When I worked in the east, open-toed shoes were usually banned, though peep-toe shoes might be okay. When I worked in the west, sandals were fine. Be sure to have a selection of flats and some nicer shoes for nicer occasions. Brown, black and gray shoes will accommodate most clothing items in your wardrobe. If you will be working long hours, don’t forget to consider comfort as a major factor in your shoe decision-making process.
Business casual for men is just a slight step down from the business code. Some men still prefer to wear a three-piece. For a more comfortable fit, stock up on trousers and khakis. Pair these with dress shirts and sport coats. Lighter colored dress shirts and darker sport coats work nicely. You might also don a light vest or sweater over your dress shirt.
Things to avoid:
The term “casual” may confuse some people. “Business casual” and “casual” are not synonymous. Avoid wearing jeans, torn clothing, t-shirts, and flip-flops. Remember these three C’s: clean, covered and classy. Over all, don’t sweat it. The Business Casual dress code is significantly more flexible than the Business dress code, and cheaper too. Have fun with it.