Business casual for the Seasons
Dress codes for business have changed. Before, there was business and there was casual, it was considered bad form to get the two mixed up, and there were (and still are) definite codes defining each of the categories.
I recently read an excellent article on Mr. Draper, a personal shopper help website for men, explaining the Business Casual dress code. I encourage you to read the whole article, you'll find it HERE. They say that there are certain items that should be in every man's business casual wardrobe: A lightweight blazer, button-down shirts and polos, jeans and chinos, sneakers or trainers, and accessories. They also say it's better to err on the side of over-dressed than on the side of under-dressed and has several pointers for how to achieve the perfect balance, and includes a fascinating piece of information about the origin of the business casual dress code (read his whole article to get the details). And my favourite quote from the article is this one: "a dress code sends out a clear signal that you not only value your job but also yourself".
Over the years, the lines have blurred, and in some professions more than others.
And lately, with home office becoming the norm in many workplaces, it's a new definition of business casual: Business on top and casual on the bottom. And don't tell me you haven't been tempted to do this: yoga pants and bunny slippers, and silk blouse and blazer on top, for the Zoom call with the boss...
All sets and outfit collages in this blog post are created in URSTYLE.
You'll find my URSTYLE page HERE if you're interested in seeing more sets than those shown in this article.
Bright Winter business casual
Christine Scaman of 12 BLUEPRINTS and I have teamed up and made some videos that we've posted on Linkedin. The most recent one is here: Bright Winter business casual. Christine has written a blog post about Makeup for Bright Winter FAQs which we refer to in the LinkedIn video, and you can read it HERE.
Bright Winter is one of the two bright Seasons. Bright Winter is a neutral/cool version of Winter, a Winter that has moved one step towarsds the sunny Spring Seasons. Bright Winter shares the quality of high chroma (bright, highly pigmented colours) with the neighbouring season Bright Spring. And when putting together outfits, it is important to keep the contrast level high, both in the light/dark aspect and in colours (look at the examples below)
Winter Seasons are calm in their expression, and most likely to come across as worth listening to when using their powerful neutrals in larger areas (and not only black!) with one or two bold statement colours in smaller portions.
Bright Winter, being the Winter that is closest to lively Spring, has the ability to wear more colours at one time than the other two Winter Seasons, but my experience is that they prefer to do colour combinations with a certain amount of restraint. This is particularly the case in dressing for business, but as in all other situations, Bright Winter should never compromise on intensity. Keep the largest blocks neutral, and bring in the highly pigmented colours in small areas or details.
As we showed in the video on LinkedIn, there are so many colours to choose from to brighten the neutrals of an outfit.
Picture a winter landscape of snow on branches and some bright red berries. We see colours of medium grey, silvery white, a bit of black and a splash of vibrant Maraschino cherry red.
Imagine an outfit created with this image in mind.
Bright, but with the restraint of winter. Utterly professional but also casual.
Here's another winter landscape, one of the examples we used in the LinkedIn video.
Two women's outfits, one quite casual with jeans and navy and white, and one a little more formal, charcoal grey and a deep almost black grey and white, with a crystal necklace adding a little sparkle. Notice the third colour we snuck in there? The happy yellow stripe at the bottom of the navy cardigan?
In the LinkedIn video we use nine squares of seven colours as a starting point for combinations.
You see them here. Let's see how we can use these as a small capsule wardrobe and create some business casual outfits out of them.
From these nine items of clothing we've managed to build quite a few different outfits. All of them are based on two neutrals and one accent colour.
The brightness of the accent colour is nicely displayed on the background of those neutral blocks of colour, just like the bright berries were displayed against the backdrop of white, grey and black in the photo further up.
The art of dressing as a Bright Winter is to find the balance between the calm neutrals and the highly pigmented, clear accent colours.
Accessories are the what creates energy and interest, avoiding a bland and austere expression, and an opportunity to express your personality and style.
Business casual for the Bright Winter man
The Bright Winter man uses the same colour palette, and has several wonderful neutral options. Combining large areas of neutrals with some accents in his colours will come across as professional and present, adding the energy needed to catch and keep the attention in a good way.
This is a Bright Winter man casual outfit inspired by the same winter landscape as the woman's outfits above.
The steel watch with the sapphire face makes for an interesting accessory detail.
Notice how the neutrals are still the largest areas of colour, forming the backdrop dor the accent colours.
Here are some examples of accessories for a Bright Winter man.
They may seem overly bright, but keep in mind that he will only wear one of these at a time, and together with large portions of crisp Bright Winter Neutrals.
See examples below.
The large blocks of crisp Bright Winter neutrals are nicely balanced by highly pigmented accessories.
Two examples: Bright Winter man dressed in his neutrals, for a business casual look he puts on a tie with vivid stripes in pink, white and black for the Zoom cal with his boss.
Later, when leaving the house to buy groceries, he is nicely casual when he wears a warm wool scarf in red and black.
How to dress as a Bright Winter
I have created a Masterclass for Bright Winters, to help you unlock the superpowers of your Season and dress as a Bright Winter!
Read more about the Bright Winter Masterclass HERE.
Soft Summer business casual
Same as for the Bright Winter business casual video, we used a nine square grid of seven colours, and created different outfits inspired by these colour combinations. We also discussed accessories. There is an accompanying blog post on 12 BLUEPRINTS that you might find interesting, about Eyeliner Colours for Soft Summer.
Soft Summer is one of the eight neutral Seasons, needing cool/neutral versions of the colours, and the colours should be soft, not bright, the overall effect medium to dark and the contrast should be kept very low. This means that Soft Summer would not pick bright white and black, but a range from soft kitten/cotton/cloud white to charcoal grey, and can use an even narrower segment than that, say medium taupe to charcoal grey. Also, the superpower of Soft Summer is the ability to wear monochrome combinations and come across as quietly radiant.
How to use Summer neutrals
I have created a Mini-Course for all three Summer Seasons, to help you recognize your neutrals and about which colours are perfect to use as basic colours in your wardrobe!
Read more about the Neutrals for Summers Mini-Course HERE.
The spice and life of any wardrobe. Soft Summer picks from the softspoken elegance of her colour palette, and when doing so, all accessories can be used with virtually any outfit.
Business casual for the Soft Summer man
Men wear colours too, and for the Soft Summer man, he has the same colour palettes of soft hues of a neutral/cool colour dimension, thrives on low-contrast combinations, can use monochrome combinations with great effect and let's not forget his versions of red, ranging from an antique pink to deep burgundy.