Fashionably Cracking the "Smart Casual" Dress Code

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As nerve wrecking as beginning a new job is, the last thing you need is to be stuck trying to figure out what is and what isn’t appropriate to wear on your first day. I’m sure we’ve all heard the terms “business casual” and “business professional,” and if you haven’t, they’re so widely known that all it takes is a simple google search to get up to speed. You’ll find the technical definitions which may slightly vary depending on the source, but all in all they’re basically telling you the same thing. You can study it all you want, but without a few examples of the “do’s and don’ts” you’ll get absolutely no where . Like okay, sure, we’re supposed to look professional but what does that mean? Are we only wearing solid colors? Is a skirt revealing our knees considered risque? Are we limited to wearing a white blouse, black bootcut dress pants and a blazer??? PLEASE clarify because the questions that could be asked are endless. Luckily, there are tons of blogs and videos out there regarding business casual and business professional attire, so no one should ever have to ask these questions; this makes it extremely easy to put together looks that will be suitable for your typical corporate dress code. Not every company has a typical dress code though, and you may find yourself reading an employee handbook with a less than vague dress code portion. Moreover, you could come across the term “smart casual,” and like my experience just a few months ago, there will be no further explanation on what it even means. I kid you not, the company I intern with touched on the dress code policy in three sentences and just moved the hell on. For someone like myself who pays attention to the attire of those working at a company that I’m interviewing for, it wasn’t a big deal. But for someone who isn’t as observant or experienced with dressing for a job, I can see where the panic would set in. But hey, no need to stress; four months into my internship and I have the smart casual dress code down pat; and once you’re done with this post you will too.

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Outfit Deets

The very first thing that crossed my mind when I came across the term “smart casual” is a laid back dress code. The “casual” part of it IS literal … so I knew I’d be safe wearing denim. Within the first couple of weeks, just from being around my coworkers in various departments, I came to realize that the dress code is really what I made it. I can dress up to the extent that my heart desires, or I can keep it chill and dress down … but not necessarily to the extent my heart desires. The tricky thing about a laid back dress code is that there are unsaid boundaries that you’re expected to know from common sense, which is where the “smart” in “smart casual” comes into play. I cannot stress how important it is to remember that despite essentially being able to wear whatever you want, you’re still going to work. You’re not going to the gym. You’re not going to the beach. You’re not going to the club. And you’re most definitely not going to bed. So don’t dress like it. The goal is to always look nice, clean, and put together, even if it is just a jeans and crew neck tee type of day. With that being said, you don’t have to put a lot of money into your work wardrobe because you’ll essentially already have everything you need. Even if on some days you want to rock a dressier look to the office, I have the perfect place to find affordable blazers and work dresses.

My girl Goodwill.

I feel like I talk about her in just about every one of my posts … and it’s because I buy so much shit from there. I never go in there on a mission to find anything in particular, but 98% of the time I’ll always leave with something. It’s easy to find items without even seriously looking, but when you actually take the time to look through the items on each rack, you’re guaranteed to find several gems. The dress I’m wearing in this look is one of my latest finds while thrifting, and I only paid $8 for it. It’s a sleeveless, printed Greylin dress with an asymmetrical hem that gives it a wrap dress kind of feel. Normally the dresses at Greylin run from $110 to $190 regularly priced, so if you feel like I’m bragging about paying less for a dress than what it’s actually worth you’re absolutely correct. I’d expect anyone else that found a good bargain to do the same exact thing honestly.

My blazer wasn’t a thrift find this time, which is actually surprising considering almost all of my blazers are results of a successful thrift stone run. It was more of an impulse purchase, but of course still a good buy. It was on clearance at Burlington for $14.99, and with my growing obsession with blazers I just had to have it. In my head I planned to pair it with these platform sneaker-type shoes that I bought a few weeks prior, but the colors didn’t match up quite how I wanted them to so I was just like “oh well, it won’t be hard to find something else to wear it with.” And sure enough, the dress came along. I can’t believe it even crossed my mind to wear it with a navy blazer because the pink offsets the navy and red perfectly. Can we also talk about how nicely these Baublebar earrings ($12.99) pull everything together? I’m normally just a gold or silver kind of girl when it comes to jewelry, but I vowed to step in up in the accessory department this year and it’s going well so far. In addition to these beauties, I’ve bought three pair from Aldo that are absolutely everything. They’re all big and quite heavy on the ear to say the least, but hey, you do what you have to do to complete a look.

Lastly, with the fact that the dress has black trim in mind, I opted for a black floppy hat (Tj Maxx, $10) and black booties from Simmi. It took me a hot minute to find the perfect pair of black booties because they needed to meet three requirements. One, they had to have a pointed toe. Two, the height up the boot itself needed to come to a certain point on my leg; I didn’t want them to be true ankle boots that just barely covered my ankle. And three, I needed to be able to wear them for a full shift at work so the heel height needed to be low. The joke is on me though because they’re still super uncomfortable after a few hours and by the end of my shift my toes normally feel like they have shards of glass in them :)) After the first few wears I started putting cotton balls in my socks to give my toes some cushion, and that made a significant difference to me throughout the work day. You’ll thank me for that tip a little later, I promise.

Fashionably Yours,


Daysia GaskinComment