Author Topic: Business Casual Clothes  (Read 636 times)

amysports15

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Business Casual Clothes
« on: April 05, 2021, 09:37:17 PM »
I'm going to be starting a new job in Monterey, CA in July and will need to wear "business casual" for 2 years, problem is I currently have 0 clothes fitting this description!  I know I want to have a budget-conscious, 'capsule' wardrobe but also look nice and professional to be taken seriously.  BTW I'm a woman.  The official business casual description on the website didn't say much about what counts as appropriate other than specifying leather shoes, no denim, and conservative (it's military).  I don't have a lot of fashion knowledge and would prefer to buy once and be set for years.

Any suggestions for where to shop and what kinds of clothes to get, or anything else I should consider?

WheresMyMule

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Re: Business Casual Clothes
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2021, 01:57:37 PM »
Establish a "uniform" that you're comfortable in.  I typically wear some sort of non-jeans pants (usually a dress pant or black khaki with some stretch" and either a light sweater or shell and cardigan.   Offices can get cold.  I rarely wear skirts, but skirts and knee high boots are good, too, in the winter.

I usually shop sales at the bigger department stores like Macy's, Nordstrom, I think other regions have Belks & Dillards.  Kohls and even Target can have some decent selections for basics to wear under jackets or sweaters.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Business Casual Clothes
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2021, 02:26:56 PM »
I'm uniformed military, but I work with civilians who need to dress the way you're going to need to dress.

I recommend getting a few pairs of chinos, in standard colors. Aim for pants that have hidden stitching, instead of khakis with visible stitching. No extra pockets. The legs can taper down, but don't get the 'skinny' version. Higher ankle length is okay-ish, but don't push it.

For shirts, get a few button downs or polo shirts. Get pastel colors, or patterned (no plaid!) if you like to register as feminine. Stick with regular colors if you don't mind registering as lesbian (though, CA, so maybe not?). You could branch out, and get a few blouse style tops, if you have the fashion sense for it. Just make sure they cover up a vast majority of your torso, and seem equivalent to having a collar in level of dressiness.

Get some sweaters, because no one likes being cold.

As a pro tip, iron whatever needs to be ironed. The dudes can be wrinkled, but will not be extended the same leniency.

If you truly only want to have this adventure every 2-3 years, I highly recommend going to Nordstrom's, or similar, and throwing yourself on the mercy of the clerk. It's what I've always done, and it really minimizes the pain.

meadow lark

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Re: Business Casual Clothes
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2021, 04:04:57 PM »
When I moved into an office job after wearing scrubs forever I bought 5 pairs of black dress pants, 2 pairs of comfortable black flats, black thin socks and a bunch of blouses.  The black pants and shoes are neutral enough they just fade into the background and you donít need to think about them.  If you carry a purse, you canít go wrong with a simple black leather purse.   If you want to wear jewelry, you can wear the same pair of fake diamond posts every day.  The trick to making them look real is to make sure they are small enough that you are likely to be able to afford them if they were real.  Pearl earrings also are classic enough you can wear them every day and have it look like your signature.  Itís okay to have a uniform, if it is classic enough.  Now the only decision you have to make in the morning is your blouse.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2021, 04:07:08 PM by meadow lark »

englishteacheralex

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Re: Business Casual Clothes
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2021, 04:16:09 PM »
No advice to offer but really enjoying this thread!

Well, ok, my advice is that I love Banana Republic and Ann Taylor. And that I've been really enjoying the business casual sneakers for women trend. I hate ballet flats. They're terrible for my feet. Loafers and nice leather sneakers (not the athletic kind) have been my jam for a while.

utaca

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Re: Business Casual Clothes
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2021, 04:27:34 PM »
You should check through Reddit for advice. I bet you could easily find ideas for high quality, durable business casual clothing on r/buyitforlife. Sometimes people on that board will post ridiculously expensive clothing but you'll also find many reasonable priced recommendations (like Duluth Trading Co for men - I'm not sure if they have women's office casual clothing though). 

draco44

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Re: Business Casual Clothes
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2021, 05:07:26 PM »
Ask A Manager has many posts on this topic. I suggest poking around there for brand suggestions. Here are two examples I quickly Googled:
https://www.askamanager.org/2019/08/how-do-i-put-together-a-business-casual-wardrobe.html
https://www.askamanager.org/2020/01/how-do-i-build-a-professional-wardrobe-when-im-just-starting-out.html

Have you had an opportunity to see what other people will be wearing in the particular office you'll be working in? I would assume either matching or dressing slightly better than your peers would be the goal as a new hire. Remember that you don't have to buy a wardrobe all in one go. Due to the pandemic I'm not sure if your workplace will be in person right away to see what others wear, but you can start with a small wardrobe and build as you get a clearer sense of what the expectations are.

If you are truly building a wardrobe from scratch it can be worth trying on a ton of stuff at a department store in one go, either on your own or with the help of the store's style consultant/personal stylist service. The service will be free but they are obviously hoping you'll buy stuff. Others mentioned Nordstrom, but lower-end department stores like Macy's often offer this service too. It will save you a lot of time wandering around by having them pull items for you in advance, and being on hand to grab more.

Once you have a clearer sense of what you like and what brands/sizes best fit you, you can often buy duplicates (or other colors) of items secondhand to save money. I love using Ebay for this. Others are thrift store fanatics, but I personally love being able to use Ebay's sorting functions at home while still saving money.

Kris

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Re: Business Casual Clothes
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2021, 05:34:42 PM »
My only helpful response to this is that once you find the brand/style/size that works for you, go to Poshmark and buy multiples of them in different colors, for a fraction of the price of buying new.

draco44

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Re: Business Casual Clothes
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2021, 08:09:57 PM »
I thought of one more resource. Here you go!
https://corporette.com/wardrobe-essentials-for-work/

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Business Casual Clothes
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2021, 09:41:43 AM »
I've only shopped for clothing from a guy's perspective, but for 15 years in law firms my day-to-day business causal clothing has come almost exclusively from Goodwill. There's a ton of semi-formal clothing that gets worn only a handful of times and then donated. I also add in few high-end items (e.g., a nicely tailored suit) for when the situation needs it.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2021, 11:31:13 AM by YttriumNitrate »

jeninco

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Re: Business Casual Clothes
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2021, 10:19:56 AM »
Sam's advice is probably good, except I hate wearing anything in the brown family, especially that khaki/chino color.

What color do you like? Are you a pants person, or a skirt person, or both?  (Me, it'd be black pants with black shoes: I have a pair of monk-style flat loafers that probably make me look a little gay, but are so freaking cute and comfy that I'm OK with the false messaging.)

My suggestion is to get a couple of bottoms (like 3) that you actually like (so, with real freaking pockets, or get them altered to include pockets) and a couple of dressy-ish tops (or button downs, but get something comfortable and appropriate where you don't have to work about the buttons and stuff) you like, and one or two pairs of shoes that to with the bottoms (and are comfortable. Ain't no one got time for shoes you can't walk in <-- and I am completely serious about this: I am female, and the footwear that goes with my fanciest suit is a pair of shiny low-heeled black cowboy boots. For meeting with VPs and testifying in court, should I be called on for that.)

Then go to work -- you can mix and match tops and bottoms for the first few weeks while you get a sense of what people actually wear. Unless you wear the exact same thing multiple days in a week (by accident, not because it's your statement) no one cares, and you can amass a few more items as you find things you actually like -- it's the same approach as buying furniture: take your time, buy quality items you actually like (and are flattering and comfortable).

Kris

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Re: Business Casual Clothes
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2021, 12:03:01 PM »
Actually, I realize I do have a suggestion for business casual pants: Betabrand. You can't beat them for comfort, and they are durable and machine washable. If I were starting from the beginning with a business casual wardrobe, I would get three pairs of Betabrand pants and build from there.

Malcat

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Re: Business Casual Clothes
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2021, 12:29:48 PM »
Costco actually has very well priced, good quality clothes.

For business casual I have a few pairs of stretch fabric pants I black, navy, and grey, and some nice knit fabric tops. Mix and match and you have a full wardrobe with just a handful of tops and bottoms. I also have two knit fabric blazers for when I want to business the outfits up a bit more. One black, one grey.

Dee_

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Re: Business Casual Clothes
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2021, 03:50:04 PM »
So it kind of depends on your body type and life stage. I'm going to assume you're youngish, and the environment is office (i.e. not a lab or a production facility). I also assume you want to 'dress to impress', which requires you to pay attention to the details. People perceive you (fairly or not) as more competent and smart if you look well put together.

Pants: get 3 sets of ankle length pants- brown, black and khaki. Have a brown belt and a black belt. Make sure your underwear line doesn't show when you bend over.

Tops: 3-5 tops in a low maintenance material. I'm partial to flowy button downs in rayon etc- they're feminine but practical. Get solids or small patterns.

Also get 1-2 cardigans or sweaters for warmth, on those hot summer days when outside it's 95 but the AC is at 70. I like a scarf too, my go to is a light gray pashmina style scarf.

Shoes: If your knees tolerate it, wear heels with a thick heel. I hate em but they they elevate a look instantly. If you can't, flats with a kitten heel. I like 2 pairs, patent black for the black/brown pants and patent (or matte) nude for the blue and khaki pants. If your walking to work, change your shoes when you get there. Buy orthotic supports if necessary.

Jewelry: Something long (almost boob length) and a little sparkly. One in gold, one in silver. Also some choker lengths if you want, I would start with pearls. Plain metal or gem studs, if your ears are pierced. A nice watch if you want. Match your metals, e.g. if you wear a gold necklace don't wear silver earrings.

Hair: I hate hair in my face, I can never wear it loose. I put it in a high bun with spin pins. Otherwise do whatever works for you.

Makeup: Moot if you're wearing a mask, but for non covid times some light foundation or concealer, moisturized and neutral lips, light eyeshadow , eyeliner and mascara. Find the products that work for you and keep them. My makeup takes 3 minutes.

Optional: a few dresses. I have a few shirt dresses and one sheath that rotate.