Cold weather conditions call for all things cozy, but if your workplace has a business casual policy, striking a balance between the two can be tricky. A winter business casual wardrobe should be sophisticated yet comfortable and office-appropriate but not over-the-top formal. In other words, you don’t have to sacrifice feeling good to look professional, and we have the expert intel to prove it.
According to Stitch Fix stylist Molly Roe, winter business casual will follow the same work outfit trends we’ve been seeing all year long, incorporating elements of sophistication, contemporary flair, and, above all, comfort. And while comfort remains paramount in a winter business casual wardrobe, style therapist Christina Stein says an emphasis on refinement is what will make the look professional. The secret, Stein says, is to find the fun in said refinement.
If you’re still standing in front of your closet with no idea what to wear for a business casual dress code in the wintertime, we have you covered. Ahead, Roe, Stein, and other stylists break down their best looks for winter business casual attire.
Layers, Layers, Layers
When venturing into the office this winter, Roe recommends referencing what Stitch Fix coined the “3 Layer Rule,” which involves a base layer, a mid-layer, and an outer shell. For example, “a breathable basic T-shirt or bodysuit for your base layer, paired with a blazer or leather jacket that isn’t too heavy for the office, and a long-line wool coat that will protect you from cold winds or snow.”
Fashion stylist Abby Young is putting us on notice: “The oversized polos and plaid midi skirts side of "Bloke-core" are here to stay for the winter season,” she says. For those who don’t know, “Bloke-core” is the soccer-inspired aesthetic making its way across social media and onto Pinterest mood boards. The look is easy to achieve if you follow Young’s breakdown: “Elements of traditionally masculine dress paired with traditionally feminine pieces."
Sweater Dresses Abound
A popular but classic winter business casual option to consider is none other than the sweater dress. Fashion stylist Naina Singla prefers a cashmere style paired with tall black boots and a maxi coat over top. “[Sweater dresses are] simple and functional pieces because they require no outfit coordination,” Singla says. However, for a more conservative style, Singla recommends layering “a lightweight black blazer on top of the dress to create a more finished look that is polished, feminine, and also comfortable.”
Go for Moto Outerwear
Wool coats and dusters are cozy, but if you want to level up your winter business casual outerwear with some edge, Roe says she’s been recommending her clients give moto jackets a chance this season. “They add the perfect flair to wear to business casual settings and can be paired with a variety of outfits for non-business settings, too.”
Metallics Are the New Neutral
“Metallics have been everywhere for a while but are a great neutral and can make your office wardrobe pop, especially in a more business casual setting,” Stein says. But if you’re drawing a blank on how to make metallics work for your office wardrobe, you needn’t be intimidated. “Grab a neutral color chunky knit and a pair of brushed metallic trousers with a sleek point-toe heel,” she suggests. “Or if you need to dress the metallic trousers up, a soft fabric blouse with a blazer can give it a whole new vibe.”
Opt for Oversized Fits
As far as Young is concerned, an oversized dress shirt is the definition of business casual. “The classic silhouette is modernized by the larger fit and long sleeves and becomes even more relaxed when you leave most of the shirt unbuttoned.”
Reach for Cable Knits
Singla has her sights on the cable-knit sweater trend for winter business casual dressing. “One way to style this look,” she says, “is to pair a white cable-knit jumper with dark grey or off-white relaxed wool trousers and heeled black leather ankle boots. This is a clean minimalistic style with an element of winter-ready, office-chic sophistication.“
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