What is business casual style and how can you look and feel your best wearing business casual with leggings in the office or anytime!
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What Exactly is Business Casual Attire, anyway?
I graduated from business school during a time when business professional and business casual dress codes were required in most offices. Business professional attire is suits, ties, and more formal wear from head to toe. Think of business casual attire as a step down from that, incorporating a mix of formal wear and casual pieces.
Business casual will vary depending on industry, company, and geographic location. Generally, most professionals describe it as conservative yet relaxed office attire. Today, more than ever before, casual wear is accepted in corporate dress codes. Our work uniforms are changing, and it can be confusing to figure out how to include informal items, such as leggings, into our workwear.
Having worked 8+ years in a business casual environment in the United States, this attire usually means no shorts or t-shirts. For women, this typically means skirts, trousers, polished jeans, blouses, button-down shirts or sweaters.
Are Leggings Considered Business Casual?
Now that we’ve covered the basic concept of business casual attire, let’s talk about the great debate: are leggings business casual?
This one is up for debate and highly dependent on what the dress code is for each company/office. If you are ever in doubt if something is appropriate for your job, take a look at your company’s policy and dress code! Does it call out leggings specifically? Some companies may not accept them and explicitly say so in the dress code policy. If that is the case, then the answer is no. Otherwise, leggings are a great option for casual professional attire.
Most offices are ok with leggings, under certain conditions. Generally, they are accepted if they are in a solid color and are paired with a long top.
Can Professionals Wear Leggings at Work?
Leggings can be a great option for business casual attire, if appropriate and styled somewhat modestly! They are comfortable, easy to dress up or down, and come in a variety of different styles.
I personally prefer to opt for a nice, tailored, and thick pair of leggings for the office (avoid thin material at all costs – this can turn sheer!).
It is important to remember leggings are not pants or trousers. Avoid any that might be see-through, have holes or rips, or are made for the gym!
Modesty is super super important when putting together an outfit that includes leggings for the office, which is why I recommend wearing a long, tunic style, top with leggings.
If you’re unsure if your leggings (or any clothing) are appropriate for work, just be cautious and don’t wear them. Generally, if I continuously second guess an outfit for the office, I usually don’t wear it!
Dos and Don’ts of Business Casual with Leggings
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you consider wearing leggings to the office.
- Choose leggings that are thick material, and not see through at all.
- Make sure leggings are full length or just above the ankle for a more professional look. Short, cropped leggings, can appear sporty.
- Wear long professional layers such as blazers, sweater blazers, or cardigans with your leggings.
- Wear closed toe shoes. Loafers, flats, or ankle boots are great options!
- Go for a dark colored pair. Black, Charcoal, and Navy are perfect for business casual attire.
- Wear legging that are revealing. Do a bend test: if you bend your knees and see skin through your leggings, you should probably avoid wearing that pair to the office!
- Choose leggings that have holes or rips. This is common in jeggings! Holes are a big no for office attire.
- Wear busy patterns. Patterned leggings appear more like lounge wear than office wear.
- Pair with a short top. Always pair leggings with tops that cover your bum when dressing for the office!
- Forget undergarments. Form fitting leggings require the right underwear!
How to wear leggings in the office
When putting together an outfit for work, there are a few things you might keep in mind.
- The dress code for your company. Is what you plan to wear in line with the policy? If you’re unsure about what is appropriate, err on the side of caution and choose an outfit that is more formal.
- Consider any meetings or events you will attend. If anything on your calendar for the day is important or out of the ordinary, consider a more professional look and opt for leggings another day.
- Think about the message your outfit will communicate. Do you want to appear professional and put-together? Or are you going for a more laid back and approachable look?
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at some examples of outfits that would be appropriate for business casual environments.
Wear a Blazer with Leggings
Blazers are a closet staple for business casual attire, especially when pairing with casual bottoms such as leggings. A long lined blazer offsets the casual feel associated with leggings, making for the perfect office outfit with leggings.
Pair with loafers or a timeless pair of flats to complete the look. Don’t forget jewelry for a polished finish!
Tunic Blouse Outfit
Pair leggings with a beautiful flowy blouse for the office. This outfit can be transitioned easily from day to night by swapping out office flats for a pretty pair of flashy pumps. Perfect for after work happy hour!
Business Casual Cardigan with Leggings
A chic long cardigan and ankle boots is the perfect Fall and Winter outfit for the office! I love this long camel coatigan. It is elevated but so cozy!
Long Button Down
There is something about a crisp white button-down shirt. It is effortless and extremely versatile. After hours of searching for the perfect white shirt, I finally splurged on this one! It is an essential piece for business casual attire and pair beautifully with leggings.
As dress codes become more casual, a knit blazer is a great staple to get for your office wardrobe! paired with leggings, it looks chic but feel like you’re sitting at home in loungewear! This is a great outfit for casual meeting, lunch outings, and everyday workwear.
Sweater Vest with Leggings
A long, slightly oversized sweater vest is one of my favorite tops to wear with leggings for work! Style it over a t-shirt in the Spring, over a crisp white button-down (above) in the Fall, or over a turtleneck in the Winter. Complete the outfit with loafers!
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Shop Tops to Wear with Leggings