How to Dress for Success in a Casual Office
When you work in an environment that requires you to dress formally or conservatively, the challenge you’re faced with every morning is inserting enough personality into your outfit to make you look a little different from everyone else. Looking put-together isn’t usually an issue.
But if you work somewhere that wouldn't care if you wore flip-flops and shorts every day—well, that’s a different story. How do you rock an everyday look that’s polished, that’s client-appropriate, and that shows you mean business—without looking overdone among your hoodie-wearing officemates?
With these simple styling tricks, it’ll be easy to look sophisticated but still relaxed, so you’re dressed for success in even the most casual environment.
Dark Washed Jeans Are Your Best Friend
Jeans are pretty much the uniform in most casual offices. To add some sophistication to yours, try a pair with a dark wash and a wide-leg silhouette. Pair them with a black t-shirt and a blazer or a graphic shirt and leather jacket—the extra layer over the tee will make the outfit look thought-out while still being informal.
Go for the Track Pant Look
I know it sounds crazy, but the track pant silhouette is back. Notice I said silhouette—you don’t want to go too literal with this (no polyester here!). Instead, try a slouchy pant in a more luxe material like silk or leather. The slouchiness is perfect for looking relaxed, and the fabric is unexpected but adds some class.
Another option is to find modern track pants in a slimmer cut with a stripe down the side—playfully harkening back to the original trend, but again, in a modern way. Wear these with a structured top (to offset the loose pants) and heels or heeled booties to pull everything together.
Combine the Sleek With the Casual
By pairing sleek elements with your favorite casual wear, you don’t come off as looking too dressy, but you can make your slouchiness look intentional, not sloppy. My favorite way to do this is by pairing dark washed skinny jeans with a loose, lightweight striped tee. (If you feel like the roominess of the top looks awkward, try it tucked into high-waisted skinny jeans to add more structure.)
The key to adding the polish is a great pair of heels—use them to inject a complementary pop of color (red works especially well).
Mix Your Prints
Mixing prints is something you don't often see in conservative offices, so it definitely adds a level of coolness to any outfit. Pick one piece that’s more formal (like a knee-length circle skirt or a button-down shirt) and one more casual piece (printed jeans or an animal print top) in the same color family—think a red and white polka-dot pencil skirt with a red and white striped top.
If you’re new to the mixing game, keep the prints to the same two colors and on the same scale (i.e., the polka dots and stripes are about the same size). Love the look? Play with bolder patterns—like floral prints mixed with gingham (just make sure they have some overlapping colors).
If the outfit comes out looking too formal, throw on your beat-up white low-tops. Too casual? Add a pretty necklace or some heels.
Hailing from the Peach State, Hannah Baker is a recent transplant to NYC via DC and has worked in television and social media. An obsessive pinner, she loves decorating, finding the best eats (and drinks) in her new neighborhood, and entertaining her goofy dog, Leon. Follow Hannah on Twitter @hanfranbabebake and Pinterest at HFBAKER.More from this Author