Business Casual for Women?

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Anonymous User
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Business Casual for Women?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 11, 2011 9:40 pm

I will be an SA at a large firm this summer. We were informed that we should wear "business casual." I know that women can wear skirts/khakis and button down shirts. Can women also wear dresses (with cardigans) or is that not "business" enough for business casual?

forty-two
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby forty-two » Wed May 11, 2011 9:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I will be an SA at a large firm this summer. We were informed that we should wear "business casual." I know that women can wear skirts/khakis and button down shirts. Can women also wear dresses (with cardigans) or is that not "business" enough for business casual?

First, I'd definitely stay the heck away from an outfit of khaki pants and a button down shirt...I just don't think that look is all that professional or flattering on women. Second, I'd go with a mix of skirts, blouses, dresses, and sweaters.

Edit: these recommendations are based on my experience of what business casual means for government jobs...this could potentially be way off from what big firms would expect. However, I still wouldn't show up to work in khaki pants and a button down.
Last edited by forty-two on Wed May 11, 2011 9:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 11, 2011 9:48 pm

OP here. thanks for the information. for skirts, do they have to be typical suit skirts or can you go a little more casual than that?

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Lwoods
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby Lwoods » Wed May 11, 2011 9:53 pm

Skirts, slacks, blouses, and dresses can all be business casual. Basically, most of what you would find at Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, The Limited, etc. qualify. I agree with forty-two to stay away from button ups and khakis, both together and separate. They're rarely flattering.

Also, careful with cardigans. I love them, but as someone pointed out in another thread, they can make you look like a secretary. Try a blazer instead where you can.

Congrats on your SA position!

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Lwoods
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby Lwoods » Wed May 11, 2011 9:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. thanks for the information. for skirts, do they have to be typical suit skirts or can you go a little more casual than that?


Skirts should be knee length. My favorites include pencil skirts (these you can pair with a button up), a-line and trumpet.

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PoorOrpheus
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby PoorOrpheus » Tue May 24, 2011 9:12 am

Now that many of you have started to SA, I'd love to hear about what you've seen female associates and partners wearing for business casual. To really help clarify, are these two looks acceptable?

1
Image

2 [aka How important is it to have a third piece like a blazer or sweater?]
Image

And have you seen your female co-workers wearing dresses? If so, do they wear a blazer/cardigan? If not, is the dress sleeveless or not?

Thank you TLS!

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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 24, 2011 5:03 pm

i do not start until the 31st, but i plan on wearing dresses. however, i will definitely wear a cardigan over them (not a blazer, bc i think those just look awkward). i think sleveless (ie, no cardigan) is too casual.

stowhat
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby stowhat » Tue May 24, 2011 6:50 pm

Are button downs really that bad? I agree that khakis should be avoided at all times, but I think a nice-fitting button down shirt is fine (although I'd be careful to only wear ones that aren't too formal, i.e. no long sleeves or stiff material).

warumnicht
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby warumnicht » Tue May 24, 2011 8:27 pm

stowhat wrote:Are button downs really that bad? I agree that khakis should be avoided at all times, but I think a nice-fitting button down shirt is fine (although I'd be careful to only wear ones that aren't too formal, i.e. no long sleeves or stiff material).


I adore button downs and absolutely disagree that they are "rarely flattering." That all depends on body shape, of course, but if the shirt fits well in the shoulders, bust, and waist, it can create a lovely and feminine shape. In fact, I wear them several times a week even when it's not for work. Some short-sleeved button downs can look a little odd, so I generally stick to long-sleeved ones that aren't too gauzy (and yes, they are somewhat stiff sometimes). However, to keep things from looking stuffy, I neatly roll the sleeves to about elbow-length and make sure that I'm not too buttoned up.

The colors of the shirt and dress also make all the difference it the world. White and black look too formal, but softer pastel colors are more casual and are great for the summer months. The color scheme of the first outfit picture above is pretty much perfect. I also dress it down with the shoes: light grey, nude, or tan instead of black. Scarves with a playful pattern can also take an otherwise boring and stuff combo and make it more casual.

As for the question about sleeveless dresses, my firm has a written dress code where it specifically states that sleeveless items are not allowed unless the shoulders are covered by another article of clothing. I think a classic sheath/shell dress under a blazer in a different color fits the bill and is a perfect business casual look.

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Dany
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby Dany » Tue May 24, 2011 9:32 pm

PoorOrpheus wrote:Now that many of you have started to SA, I'd love to hear about what you've seen female associates and partners wearing for business casual. To really help clarify, are these two looks acceptable?

1

2 [aka How important is it to have a third piece like a blazer or sweater?]

I have not worked in the legal field, so this is just general opinion: The first outfit looks great, the second does not. Neither pair of shoes is office-appropriate. The silky blouse/bow/elastic neckline and odd length/cut on the pants in the second just don't look like business wear to me.

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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby Renzo » Tue May 24, 2011 10:05 pm

Dany wrote:I have not worked in the legal field, so this is just general opinion: The first outfit looks great, the second does not. Neither pair of shoes is office-appropriate. The silky blouse/bow/elastic neckline and odd length/cut on the pants in the second just don't look like business wear to me.


Yep. Except the pants in #2 are fine. It's just the black-and-silky that's too much for an office.

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Lwoods
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby Lwoods » Tue May 24, 2011 10:10 pm

Renzo wrote:
Dany wrote:I have not worked in the legal field, so this is just general opinion: The first outfit looks great, the second does not. Neither pair of shoes is office-appropriate. The silky blouse/bow/elastic neckline and odd length/cut on the pants in the second just don't look like business wear to me.


Yep. Except the pants in #2 are fine. It's just the black-and-silky that's too much for an office.


Hmm. I think that outfit looks fine for business casual, except for the shoes. I definitely saw female attorneys and investment bankers wear conservative silky blouses, but it could vary from office to office, so I wouldn't lead with it.

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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby Renzo » Tue May 24, 2011 10:13 pm

Lwoods wrote:
Renzo wrote:
Dany wrote:I have not worked in the legal field, so this is just general opinion: The first outfit looks great, the second does not. Neither pair of shoes is office-appropriate. The silky blouse/bow/elastic neckline and odd length/cut on the pants in the second just don't look like business wear to me.


Yep. Except the pants in #2 are fine. It's just the black-and-silky that's too much for an office.


Hmm. I think that outfit looks fine for business casual, except for the shoes. I definitely saw female attorneys and investment bankers wear conservative silky blouses, but it could vary from office to office, so I wouldn't lead with it.

I don't know... I think black, shiney, and a big bow is too much all together. Each of those individually might work, though.

warumnicht
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby warumnicht » Tue May 24, 2011 10:32 pm

Renzo wrote:
Lwoods wrote:
Renzo wrote:
Dany wrote:I have not worked in the legal field, so this is just general opinion: The first outfit looks great, the second does not. Neither pair of shoes is office-appropriate. The silky blouse/bow/elastic neckline and odd length/cut on the pants in the second just don't look like business wear to me.


Yep. Except the pants in #2 are fine. It's just the black-and-silky that's too much for an office.


Hmm. I think that outfit looks fine for business casual, except for the shoes. I definitely saw female attorneys and investment bankers wear conservative silky blouses, but it could vary from office to office, so I wouldn't lead with it.

I don't know... I think black, shiney, and a big bow is too much all together. Each of those individually might work, though.


Agreed. The black silky fabric would work for a blouse with a more conservative cut, and the bow would look adorable on a top in a more structured fabric.

I think the pants are cute! Paired with a different pair of shoes, they are great for a summer associate. It's a youthful look...plus, my fashion-savvy male roommate claims that the cropped look is starting to be popular with men as well. Or so his pricey tailor tells him.

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Dany
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby Dany » Tue May 24, 2011 10:41 pm

I dunno, the cropped thing just seems weird for an office IMO.

keg411
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby keg411 » Tue May 24, 2011 10:48 pm

I'd wear #2 at my old office, but not for business casual at a law office. I love #1. Obviously neither of the shoes are appropriate, and neither look comfortable. If anyone here hasn't, get a pair of nice flats - they are a savior at work.

stowhat
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby stowhat » Thu May 26, 2011 1:54 am

warumnicht wrote:
stowhat wrote:Are button downs really that bad? I agree that khakis should be avoided at all times, but I think a nice-fitting button down shirt is fine (although I'd be careful to only wear ones that aren't too formal, i.e. no long sleeves or stiff material).


I adore button downs and absolutely disagree that they are "rarely flattering." That all depends on body shape, of course, but if the shirt fits well in the shoulders, bust, and waist, it can create a lovely and feminine shape. In fact, I wear them several times a week even when it's not for work. Some short-sleeved button downs can look a little odd, so I generally stick to long-sleeved ones that aren't too gauzy (and yes, they are somewhat stiff sometimes). However, to keep things from looking stuffy, I neatly roll the sleeves to about elbow-length and make sure that I'm not too buttoned up.



Yes - totally agree with this. Long sleeves on button downs should always be rolled although the shirt should still be ironed. J. Crew has some great button downs that look flattering but aren't too stuffy and don't look like part of a uniform (the flight attendant look should be avoided).

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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 27, 2011 7:56 pm

A V10 associate in NYC created a blog - http://www.professionelleblog.com and she has a summer associate wardrobe guide:

--LinkRemoved--

Generally, I think conservative solid or muted print dresses are acceptable if paired with a blazer or cardigan. Also, silky blouses are generally ok, but I agree with the other posters that black silky shirts seem too evening.

I think I'm a pretty good dresser but I don't usually wear jewelry. Someone suggested I get some pieces, would it look sloppy to not wear any at all?

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Dany
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby Dany » Fri May 27, 2011 8:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I think I'm a pretty good dresser but I don't usually wear jewelry. Someone suggested I get some pieces, would it look sloppy to not wear any at all?

Are your ears pierced?

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jbarl1
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby jbarl1 » Fri May 27, 2011 8:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:A V10 associate in NYC created a blog - http://www.professionelleblog.com and she has a summer associate wardrobe guide:

--LinkRemoved--

Generally, I think conservative solid or muted print dresses are acceptable if paired with a blazer or cardigan. Also, silky blouses are generally ok, but I agree with the other posters that black silky shirts seem too evening.

I think I'm a pretty good dresser but I don't usually wear jewelry. Someone suggested I get some pieces, would it look sloppy to not wear any at all?


You might want to get a few simple pieces, like some stud earrings and a simple necklace. Having some jewelery can really expand your business casual wardrobe because the right accessories can make something look a lot dressier.

nyu2012
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby nyu2012 » Fri May 27, 2011 8:42 pm

Yes ears pierced. Yeah, I might pick up some earrings or something I guess.

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Dany
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby Dany » Fri May 27, 2011 8:44 pm

nyu2012 wrote:Yes ears pierced. Yeah, I might pick up some earrings or something I guess.

I don't wear any jewelry except earrings (I don't like stuff around my neck, wrists, etc.) so you could probably just get some simple studs and be good to go! I usually wear pearls or small gold stud earrings.

forty-two
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby forty-two » Fri May 27, 2011 8:45 pm

nyu2012 wrote:Yes ears pierced. Yeah, I might pick up some earrings or something I guess.

I have some pearl earrings that I wear a lot with business clothing. I like pearl studs because they're simple, they pretty much go with everything, and they always look professional.

formerbiglawpartner
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby formerbiglawpartner » Mon May 30, 2011 2:27 pm

As for the photos posted above, I wouldn't go for either for an SA business casual look. The first one is close, but I would stay away from pastels. Also, wearing a cardigan can make you look more like a legal assistant or a secretary so, if you must, I would stick with black, navy, or gray. The shoes are a no-no. Always stick with closed toe pumps --no stiletto heels. The second outfit--except for the pants--is totally wrong. Never wear shiny material to work ever. No strappy sandals. Just because you may see a woman partner wear something on the edge, don't fall into the trap of thinking it is OK for you. She's earned her stripes. You haven't. Err on the side of dressing conservatively. Frankly, I would consider a more casual pantsuit, e.g., khaki vs. pin stripe, to be a good business casual option. Also, a sheath dress or pencil skirt in black or navy, with solid or stripe shirts would work. Personally, I would stay away from florals, too. You already probably look really young. Do you want to underscore it? By all means wear the most flattering styles for you. Many women simply don't look good in pants. Period.

As for jewelry, you can't go wrong with simple pearls, gold or silver jewelry. You don't absolutely have to wear only stud earrings, but keep the real dangly stuff at home. The bottom line is you want the focus to be on you and your work--not your wardrobe. Of course, you can wear some more feminine, stylish attire to the weekend events, but stay conservative during the week.

sidhesadie
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Re: Business Casual for Women?

Postby sidhesadie » Mon May 30, 2011 3:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:A V10 associate in NYC created a blog - http://www.professionelleblog.com and she has a summer associate wardrobe guide:

--LinkRemoved--

Generally, I think conservative solid or muted print dresses are acceptable if paired with a blazer or cardigan. Also, silky blouses are generally ok, but I agree with the other posters that black silky shirts seem too evening.

I think I'm a pretty good dresser but I don't usually wear jewelry. Someone suggested I get some pieces, would it look sloppy to not wear any at all?



Oh the vivienne westwood suit listed for Cravath....want. WANT.




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