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Fashion For Amitious Ladies

Fashion For Amitious Ladies

What Is Smart Casual Work Dress Code And What to Wear

Smart casual work wear has become more and more popular these days with tech and startup work culture emerging. But this dress code is also a really difficult one to perfect if you want to look put together as well. In this post, I am sharing everything you should wear to look good in smart casual wear at work.

Smart Casual Vs Business Casual

Let’s first check what is the biggest difference between smart casual and business casual is. 

What is Business Casual

Business casual dress code definition

Business casual has been one of the most popular dress code for white collar jobs like banking, legal, media, marketing agency where you need to look put together and sophisticated.

This is where you can wear clothes like:

  • Suit sets
  • Suit dresses
  • Heels
  • Pumps
  • and so on.
business casual outfit

You would need to look put together and presentable at all times. The dress code is not your typical black tie outfits, but they are the traditional corporate culture outfits. And most work wear stores sell these styles of clothes. Some of my favorite ones are Ann Taylor, Loft, Banana Republic

The clothes are preppy and put together, but they are not necessarily super tight or extremely loose.

What is Smart Casual Dress Code?

Smart Casual by definition is a combination of clothes that make you look professional and laidback or comfortable style that  you can wear everyday.

This is for industries like technology, retail, teaching where we do not have to wear heels or close toe shoes or button up shirts all the time. You are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing and most likely there is no stress on having to look polished at all.

Which definitely becomes a challenge when you are wearing a lot of laidback clothing and footwear. You probably struggle with not looking sophisticated or put together. While this is welcomed, you probably want to do better (that is why you are here).

Breton striped sweater

What To Include in the Smart Casual Workwear

Coming from a Smart Casual Dress code myself where we were told we didn’t have any specific dress code, its really hard to understand what you should include in your capsule wardrobe. And the common answer you might find answering yourself, is well what I like to wear to work. 

Ofcourse, you should, but remember you came here to find how you can create smart casual outfits for work. So, let’s focus on those parts. Certain clothes pieces will always look smart effortlessly compared to pieces that will look really laidback. This not only helps you to create smart looks but it also will save time trying to create a smart business casual look.

Below are what you should include in your smart casual workwear and what you should not.

What You Should Include:

Build a Business Casual Wardrobe

What You Should Not Include:

  • Oversized Clothing which looks cool, but screams laidback.
  • Body hugging clothing items which will make you feel uncomfortable and not being able to focus on work.
  • Exaggerated Logos or captions (I am also guilty of in the past).
  • Wild prints that seem distracting. 
  • Strapped sandals and footwear that look like you are going to a vacation.
  • Floor length dresses like ball gowns or sequin.
  • Cutout or body con dresses that are clearly club wear.
  • Clothes that are meant for vacation like flip flops, ripped shorts, tank tops, crop tops.

Colors to consider in your workwear capsule

This is where you can really expand and enjoy your capsule wardrobe and at the same time its also a great starting point for building your workwear wardrobe. Creating a color palette for your capsule is the key to making all your outfits look cohesive and stylish easily. And this is the base for the wardrobe as well. 

If you pick too many different colors, it will be difficult to create  cohesive outfits with minimum effort. You will spend quite some time figuring out what will match with what and end up feeling frustrated with your capsule wardrobe. 

On the other hand, if you only pick one or two colors or just stick with basic color palette, you might get bored with your capsule wardrobe and hate everything in it. 

An easy solution is to start with a mix of basic shades and two fun colors that you feel confident in wearing at work and can also be mixed and matched together. This way you have a building block for wearing colors and having fun with your capsule wardrobe. 

You can easily add more color once you get comfortable with wearing the colors in your wardrobe. 

Colors to consider in your work wear

Though I am a big fan of bright colors, you don’t have to start with that. But you can definitely incorporate it when you can. Some of my favorite shades that work well with neutral shades and make work clothing items stand out and stylish are:

  • Green and shades of green
  • Blue and shades of blue
  • Lighter Pink
  • Lilac
  • Burgundy
  • Purple
  • Orange

Colors to avoid

There are a few colors that I think you should absolutely avoid because they just feel more childish and not appropriate for work:

  • Neon shades 
  • Lipstick Red
  • Fuschia (It can work but rare occasions)

How to Build Budget Friendly Smart Work capsule?

You need to consider seasons as well when building your capsule wardrobe. But here is where most people go wrong. Instead of building a capsule wardrobe for all four seasons, build your capsule wardrobe for weather. Let me elaborate. 

If you are building a capsule wardrobe for summer which will have a lot of lighter clothing pieces. You can use those items to build your fall and spring capsule wardrobe without buying everything new. You can use the same principle for winter where your clothing items can be repurposed in fall and spring as well. 

Also Read:  Wearing Jeans To Work? Here Are 6 Best Styles To Slay The Office Look

Ofcourse there will be some exception, like a Linen shirt cannot be worn in fall or spring. The same will go for a thick cashmere turtleneck sweater that can only be worn in winter, it will be too hot to wear them in fall or spring. 

Maybe a good idea will be to keep the items in those material to a minimum so you don’t have to shop a lot for the next season.

Repurposing Pieces in seasonal capsule

You need to consider seasons as well when building your capsule wardrobe. But here is where most people go wrong. Instead of building a capsule wardrobe for all four seasons, build your capsule wardrobe for weather. Let me elaborate. 

If you are building a capsule wardrobe for summer which will have a lot of lighter clothing pieces. You can use those items to build your fall and spring capsule wardrobe without buying everything new. You can use the same principle for winter where your clothing items can be repurposed in fall and spring as well. 

Ofcourse there will be some exception, like a Linen shirt cannot be worn in fall or spring. The same will go for a thick cashmere turtleneck sweater that can only be worn in winter, it will be too hot to wear them in fall or spring. 

Maybe a good idea will be to keep the items in those material to a minimum so you don’t have to shop a lot for the next season.

Choosing Color Palette for Sustainability

You need to plan out your color palette and build all four season capsule wardrobe with that in mind. Now, you don’t have to stick to the same colors, but making sure that next seasons colors can easily be worn with the previous seasons colors. 

This way you will be able to wear a lot of pieces from previous season in the next one and reduce shopping. You can check out my colorful capsule wardrobe videos where I am sharing the exact concept. 

How to put together Smart work capsule?

Lets talk about essentials and other pieces that you would need to add to your capsule wardrobe. You can then decide what should be colored and what should be in neutral. Its important to not get carried away with too many colored pieces or less colored pieces. I have a colorful capsule wardrobe guide that will help you in adding colors that will look cohesive. That will come in handy when you are building cohesive looks.

Essentials

Pieces That Will Elevate Your Style

These are items that can take your outfits and personal work style to the next level and add more confidence. I call them extra touches because they are not needed, but can make a huge difference.

Accessories

These are the most forgotten aspect of workwear. And I am including bag to it though we have started to not consider them as accessories because they are essential for work. These accessories can elevate your smart casual outfit and make you feel much more confident.

Fun Element

You can use any of these items above and shop for a fun piece that you absolutely love. This way you look forward to wearing that piece and the whole process of getting ready becomes enjoyable. 

For me getting ready to work is the best part of working everyday, no matter how much I enjoy what I do at work. Its because I find pieces in my work wear that I love wearing and looks good on me. So, its important that you find those pieces that you will gravitate towards and flatters you as well. 

You can buy a cool print blouse or a dress that flatters you a lot. This not only is fun, it also elevates your confidence. And that is the purpose of style.

For more on women's smart casual work style, please read:

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Hi, I am Suchi the Founder, Editor-in-Chief of Pink April Diary.

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