When combining articles of clothing, you may be able to mix and match to achieve different looks depending on the occasion, or depending on the type of company you work in. In some organizations, your look may need to be more corporate to appeal to your clients. At other companies, you can wear business casual for most business situations.
Below is a lit of the different fabrics that make a more corporate-dressy look versus a business casual look:
Solids or small prints in fine weaves
- worsted wool
- wool crepe gabardine
- crepe de Chine
- satin (evening wear)
- cashmere (evening wear)
- charmuse (evening wear)
- tissue faile
Solids or medium prints in medium weaves
- oxford cloth
- cotton pique
- raw silk
- tweed – patterned
- handkerchief-weight linen
- wool flannel
Solids or medium to large prints in coarser, looser weaves
Remember that the finer the weave and the shinier the fabric, the dressier the garment. Matte finish is less dressy. When making combinations, mix:
- dressy with dressy
- dressy with less dressy
- less dressy with casual
- casual with casual
- do not mix dressy with casual
Avoid leather or suede for garments since these fabrics are considered sensual and, therefore, send mixed messages in office settings; use them for accessories only–belts, shoes and handbags. Forego shiny fabrics for day; wear them for evening or social events only.
For a Business Casual Look
select fabrics from the less dressy, dressy category (ones with a matte finish). Mix them with fabrics from the less dressy or even the casual list (if f accepted in your organization) Example: A gabardine skirt with a wool flannel jacket and a knit top; or, a linen-blend pant suit with a cotton blouse.
Select less dressy accessories such as:
- lower heel shoes
- colored shoes
- matte finish necklaces, earrings, pins
- colorful discreet accessories
- gold, silver, copper buttons
- subtle stones
- colored leather or woven belts
When completing the outfit described above (gabardine skirt, flannel jacket and knit top), add a matte-finish leather belt and medium heel shoes for a classic business casual look.
The Finished Product
Taking the time and consideration to make your look the best possible will send the right message to management, co-workers and clients. Rather than under or over-dressing, you can keep your professional look within the realm of acceptable business practices and contemporary fashion. Your updated professional look will be a significant component of your personal brand.