Casual Vs. Work Clothes for Women: How to Choose the Right Look
Casual vs. Work Clothes
With ever-changing trends and societal norms, the line between casual clothes and work clothes is more blurry than ever before.
Many businesses don’t require overly formal attire anymore, with work clothes extending far beyond blazers, pantsuits, or blouses. Even “business casual” has become very casual, making clothing items like jeans more than acceptable in many workplaces.
On the casual side, styles like the athleisure trend make casual styles even more casual. Athletic wear is now fair game outside the gym, with many athletic wear brands making clothing specifically for casual wear.
All this to say, the difference between work wear and casual wear largely depends on your personal style and your employer. If you’re looking for some clues in the blurred lines between work and casual, the tips below can offer you some guidance.
What to Look For: Casual
There are a lot more options on the casual side of things because it’s totally up to you and what activity you’re getting dressed for.
Running errands? Leggings and flip-flops might be your go-to. Going out to brunch with friends? A t-shirt dress could be the perfect outfit.
Whatever casual look you’re choosing, here are some general things to look for:
Pretty much anything goes for casual wear. You can be a lot more daring with pops of colour in casual looks. Neon and crazy patterns are both fair game.
Like colour, you can experiment a lot more with the fit for casual wear. You can wear something form-fitting or something baggy and oversized. The key is balance, so try something tight on top and looser on the bottom, or vice-versa.
You can show more skin for casual looks. Low-cut tops, tank tops, and short skirts and shorts are all great casual options.
Fabric can make a huge difference in a garment being casual or formal. Fabrics like cotton, denim, and athletic materials all bring an instant laid-back style to your outfit.
What to Look For: Work
What’s appropriate for work is largely dependent on your workplace. Your dress code might be more relaxed, or you might be expected to wear certain things for certain work events.
You’ll have to adjust these guidelines for your workplace, but generally speaking, here’s what to look for when it comes to work wear:
A more neutral palette is generally accepted in the workplace. While pops of colour are fine, your outfit will automatically look more polished in neutral colours like black, brown, grey, and navy.
You want your work clothes to be well fitted; not too tight and not too baggy. Look for a silhouette similar to that of a suit, even if you’re not wearing one.
It’s best to err on the side of caution when it comes to revealing cuts at work. Low-cut tops and short hems are generally not work-appropriate, so choose tops that cover your shoulders and bottoms that hit just above the knee.
Certain fabrics can automatically make your outfit look more professional. Most suits are wool, for example, so wool blazers or pants can automatically elevate your look. Some other fabrics to look for are silk, linen, polyester, and certain cotton blends.
Casual Outfit Ideas
An athletic-inspired look is the perfect choice for the more casual end of casual. Leggings and biker shorts both work great, depending on the weather. Just pair tight-fitting bottoms with a looser top for a balanced look.
You can’t go wrong with jeans and a t-shirt. For a mid-level look, make sure your jeans are well-fitted. High-waisted jeans with a half-tucked t-shirt elevates your casual look even more.
A casual dress helps you look made-up without looking over-dressed. A t-shirt dress automatically keeps the look casual. If a t-shirt dress feels too casual, almost any style of mini dress can work too.
Work Outfit Ideas
There are countless definitions of business casual. On the more casual end, you can wear jeans and a blouse. Choose a dark wash denim and a long-sleeved blouse to keep things work-appropriate.
For something a bit more formal, you can pair your jeans and blouse with a blazer for a quick upgrade. Alternatively, you can swap the jeans for dress pants if denim feels too casual.
Business formal almost always means a full suit. Matching suit pants and a blazer will always be the most casual, but you can experiment with mixing and matching suits to dress things down. A colourful top or a skirt on the bottom can help things feel more casual as well.