Style + Career Style, + Work

An Outfit for Business Casual or Just Business

“Business Casual” means different things in different offices.  In my Hill office, it meant no jeans, ever.  When I worked at the court, it meant jeans but only with a jacket.  And on campaigns, it means searching a hotel room dresser for a clean candidate t-shirt.  So today’s outfit vacillates from business casual to dressy depending on your office.

This outfit from Alpa Rama is the epitome of relaxed sophistication.  It pairs classic pieces to create an outfit that would be perfect for casual Friday or a travel day in many offices, and a pulled together option for workplaces with more casual dress codes.  And most women already have the foundational pieces (a black sweater, white button-up, and black trousers in their wardrobe).

Coat. Great coats and jackets are the cherry on the sundae that is fall fashion.  This J.Crew Double-Breasted Top Coat comes in four neutral colors to complement any attire.  This darker camel hue is my favorite.

Looking for something under-$150?  This Cole Haan coat has a popped collar, and a more casual style.  I also like this Topshop coat that seemed to be on every blogger’s wishlist last year (be advised it runs a bit big).

Plus-size? This Land’s End coat is nice, though I might swap the buttons for something darker.  Tall ladies should check out this Dorothy Perkins coat, and petites should visit Topshop.

Sweater. A simple black crewneck or v-neck (depending on which is more flattering to you) is a winter wardrobe staple.  I chose this Merino Crewneck Sweater from Banana Republic because it’s machine washable and under-$40.  But if you’re looking for cashmere, Bloomingdale’s in-house line makes a nice sweater.

Prefer v-necks?  This AQUA sweater is a nice option.  Need cotton?  This Nic + Zoe sweater is wool-free.  Plus-size? Charter Club makes a good-quality cashmere sweater at a mid-range price.

Blouse. This outfit called for a classic button-up, but I was feeling something a bit more feminine.  So I chose this Claudie Pierlot blouse with a ruffled collar and cuff.  I also like this under-$80 option from Ann Taylor.

Prefer the classic button up?  Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Shirt is my favorite.

Pants. Are skinny pants in or out?  It’s so hard to tell these days.  Just when it looks like the glossy fashion mags are about to play them off the stage, they reappear.  The lesson?  Wear what you like, and what’s flattering on you.

These Ponte Slim Work Pants are a favorite of many of my friends.  They’re durable, comfortable, and budget friendly.  These NYDJ straight leg pants are also a wonderful choice.

Prefer a wider leg opening?  I bought these Nine West flare legs on a business trip, and they’re a great addition to my wardrobe.

Accessories.  My friend Hitha raves about these sunglasses.  They’re under-$25 and look just like a high-end brand.

The Express belt is a less-expensive version of the Gucci Double-G belt that so many women wear.  But if you’re not into buckles, I would suggest this Talbot’s belt with the discreet black leather buckle.

The bag is a Mansur Gavriel bucket bag, which were all the rage two years ago.  If you want this year’s “It Bag,” this Staud bucket is a nice choice.  Need something under-$100?  This Charles & Keith bag has a lot of chic for the price.

Lastly, the shoes in the inspiration photo are a snakeskin, satin moccasin.  Not exactly my first choice for work.  So I swapped them out for these Marc Fisher Anny Flats.  Looking for something in black?  I love the dramatic buckle on these Franco Sarto flats.

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  1. meghan says:

    +1 for those sunglasses. I bought them based on Hitha’s Instagram recommendation and they’re awesome. Super lightweight, and I feel glam when I wear them, even when it’s to hide my lack of makeup/tired face on a weekend coffee run.

    September 16, 2019/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I think I’m going to snap them up in the tortoise.

      September 16, 2019/Reply
  2. kk says:

    THIS is a great post! I feel like this kind of outfit (and subsequent substitute items at different price points) is what I’m always looking for in fashion blogs and influencers. Thanks for a good Monday inspo!

    September 16, 2019/Reply
    • Belle says:

      You’re welcome, thanks for the kind words.

      September 16, 2019/Reply
    • Danielle Shoolbraid says:

      Yes agree – this is a fantastic post, I want to wear this tomorrow! I especially love that I can get pretty close with things I already have in my closet. (Just need that jacket…)

      September 16, 2019/Reply
    • L says:

      Love this post and especially love seeing flats as an option! Too often ALL outfits require heels and heels aren’t an option for everyone. Thank you for the great content.

      September 16, 2019/Reply
  3. Sarah says:

    I am not past jeans at a court yet. WHAT??! lol

    September 16, 2019/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Just in the back office. Never in the actual court room, but we didn’t have hearings or see people on Fridays typically.

      September 16, 2019/Reply
      • Sarah says:

        Not a thing when I clerked. Pretty jealous! For a person who hates wearing a blazer, becoming a lawyer was a pretty terrible idea 🤣

        September 17, 2019/Reply
        • Belle says:

          One of my male friends still cannot believe he chose to be a lawyer since he hates to wear shoes that aren’t sandals. His goal is to have his own firm so he never has to cover his toes again.

          September 17, 2019/Reply
  4. Marie says:

    Just wanted to stop by and say THANK YOU for adding the “tall” options more frequently recently! There are few things more frustrating than seeing an adorable outfit, clicking over to it to check the length, and realizing it would be inappropriate in any daily setting (true for dresses, skirts, many shirts, and of course pants are always tough…).

    I also try to patronize companies that have a range of sizes that includes tall–it’s the one edge that J Crew has over J Crew Factory (*cough*looking at you, City Coat*cough*).

    September 17, 2019/Reply
  5. Caitlin says:

    Do you have any recommendations for a belt that is truly just for holding your pants up? As slim as possible with as flat a buckle as possible. A big buckle makes an odd bulge if I don’t tuck in my top. 🙁

    September 18, 2019/Reply