Business vs. Business Casual

You’re new to the workplace. As far as you’re concerned, changing out of your pajamas is dressing up. So now that you are working in a professional environment, what do these dress code terms really mean? Understanding the distinction between business and business casual is critical to dressing within the boundaries of your company’s policy. Not all employers have the same definition of business and business casual, so be sure to pay attention to what your coworkers are wearing and ask questions.

Here are simplified and general definitions of these terms:

Business: Keep it conservative and traditional. A pant suit or a dress/skirt with pantyhose are appropriate. Avoid bright colors or bold patterns, and wear basic solids instead. Limited jewelry and simple hairstyles are preferred.

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Business Casual: A nice pair of pants or a skirt/dress without pantyhose are acceptable options. Rather than a blazer, go for a cardigan over your outfit. Jewelry can be more expressive and you can add color and pattern in moderation. 

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Since we are on the topic of dress code, it is important to understand what “casual Friday” means at your workplace. If you have a strict business dress code, “causal Friday” might not even exist. When in doubt, dress more business than casual. Again, pay attention to your colleagues attire and ask questions!

Pantyhose: To Wear or Not to Wear?

If you are like many women that I have encountered at work, you avoid dresses and skirts for interviews because you are unsure of whether or not you need to wear pantyhose. Many of us young women have never needed to wear stockings, so where do we even begin? There are positives and negatives to nylons, which leave us with a lot to consider. Sure, they keep your legs warm and look professional, but aren’t they a little outdated? Autumn Whitefield-Madrano describes her enduring love for pantyhose despite the changing opinions of others throughout the years. She feels that they speak to the lifestyle of a professional woman. Additionally, many pantyhose have a control top, which smooth lines and make you look slimmer. On the other hand, some feel that they are obsolete, uncomfortable, and too hot to wear in the summer months.

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So, are they necessary? There are numerous opinions out there. The overall consensus seems to be this: it depends. Wearing stockings is not a matter of right or wrong, but rather a matter of occasion. Emma Newcombe gives some great pointers to pantyhose in her article about wearing nylons to work or interviews, including when to wear them and when you can go bare. The most important thing to keep in mind is your employer’s dress code policy. It is always better to lean on the conservative side if you are unsure (both in interviews and at work).

If you decide to wear nylons with your dress or skirt, be wary of the color. Nude colored pantyhose should match your skin tone, so avoid the “suntan” nylons unless you are actually that tan. Black stockings are another option, and can be worn with darker colored clothing. Either the sheer or opaque options are acceptable, depending on your outfit and personal preference. Nylons for work are different from the tights that you might wear on your day off, so avoid patterns or colors in favor of a more traditional look.

Hopefully this will help you make a decision about whether or not pantyhose are necessary for your lives in the work world!