What I Wore: Business (Quite) Casual

I work in a professional but casual environment, a community mental health center. What we do is professional, but there are no strict dress codes. Some of us wear scrubs, some wear jeans, and a rare few of the men will wear a tie now and then. This is the sartorial culture of our field.

So I enjoy playing with my wardrobe within wide parameters. My strict rules for myself are: nothing too tight, too short, too low cut or too sparkly. Nothing, in other words, that would distract from the business at hand or call unwanted attention to myself. But after those rules, lots of options remain.

I can wear any sort of trouser, skirt or dress in any of my favorite colors or prints. Sweaters and knits, button-downs, even dressy tees are fine. A blazer, cardigan or poncho for a topper. Heels, flats, boots, oxfords – all are welcome. I am really, truly fortunate to have this stylistic freedom!

This is a fairly casual, but still appropriate outfit for my office.
Lucky me!
I love this old pin.

Today’s look is pretty far to the casual side for me. The shirt is an all cotton, western style snap-front. It’s in my favorite olive green color that matches my eyes (Pam wrote about this today). The Kasper skirt was just thrifted this week for under a dollar, new with tags, woo-hoo! I had to make a little cut at the waistband for it to fit comfortably, but who is going to know??

The pin is about ten years old; I think it’s from Banana Republic. Hey, pins don’t go out of style or shrink in the wash. I’ve got my new favorite peacock bracelet and my comfortable Gianni Bini caramel boots. I feel great, just dressed-up enough to go to work, and creative enough to express myself.

I’d love to hear about your work dress codes, if you have them, and how you work around/through them. If you’re retired or work at home, did you have a dress code at one time? Are you happy to be done with it?

Recycled Fashion

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  1. I'm sorry I missed this outfit earlier, because I love it! The long-slung belt with the colorful maxi is so cute and I love the more utilitarian/military look of the top with the feminine florals of the skirt!

  2. I love the way you mix colors. What did you think of Style Crones comment about hats adding to humor? I think you would look great in hats.

  3. Love the brooch! I'd love to be able to work a casual, colourful and relaxed look like this one at work – alas I need to be very smart which means either suits or business separates.  I do get to relax it a bit on a Friday though!

  4. Hi Angie – so nice to see you again. I am trying to re-discover my older jewelry and your posts are helping me  : >

  5. Thanks Frances. From reading your blog, I think our wardrobes share some common themes – and comfort is a major one for me too!

  6. Hi Debbi! Thanks for your kind words. Yes, these boots are so versatile, I wear them multiple times a week. I thought about you when I picked out the pin!

  7. You have a great personal style Loren, and no dress code is going to keep you down  : >  Sounds like you can still have some fun with your work clothes.

  8. Thanks Debbie – I think I have seen you in this color combo too. It's good for us blondies.  : >

  9. Hi Anne – a community college would have a lot of the same style range as my workplace – you'd see it all! And I agree about jackets, I like mine a little softer, less corporate too.

  10. I sometimes miss the ol' paycheck  : >  but the suits, not so much. I'll bet you rocked your suits like a hurricane.

  11. This is one of your best outfits. I love how the colors play togrther and I love the old pin. You should use it more often,

  12. I teach at a community college, which is pretty casual (but with a BROAD range of looks).  You see everything from khakis and jeans on faculty — a few wear ties — but suits are generally reserved for upper management. 

     I like to hit a middle ground — trousers or skirts, fairly casual tops (lots of tunics and tees), and something to make it look a little more polished — usually an unstructured jacket, cardigan, wrap or vest.  Even my structured jackets are on the more casual side — suede or cotton.

    By the way, that pin is amazing!

  13. You are so right, pins never go out of fashion do they?  And always add such character to an outfit, I like your pin too!

  14. You look great! and those boots are wonderful! My workplace allows much latitude in dress, and I generally enjoy the option to dress up a bit although with comfort a prime consideration. . . 

  15. When I was working, our dress code was casual, but very few dressed really nice.
    You look fab in this. I love the addition of the pin on the jacket. That belt is really cool too!
    The boots are a beautiful color that looks like it would be very versatile.
    That skirt was a wonderful find.

  16. Our dress code is buisness casual. Which main mean no denim, no sneakers or opened toed shoes, no 'cargo pants', and no t-shirts.
    Which means 95% of the employees wear kakhi's and polo's EVERY DAY.
    I'd love to not have a dress code, but I understand why it exists… Even with one there are people that I think should probably go home and change.
    You are correct though, pins never go out of style, this one is lovely.

  17. Patti, Before I was a stay at home mom, I also worked at an office similar to yours and also at a health department and I always had a pretty casual dress code also.  I love the olive green with the pink; this is a beautiful combination on you.  Debbie  thriftygirlvintage.com

  18. Yes, JT, I really appreciate and relate to your work style, as seen on your blog. You have a creative way of putting looks together and staying business like at the same time. Thanks for stopping by!

  19. Good for you, for seeing the change as an opportunity! Thanks so much for coming by.

  20. Thanks Heather – I see from your blog that you bring a lot of style and originality to the office.

  21. Yes, SC, the sense of humor is so healing at the workplace. Hmmm, we don't have a hat-wearer on staff at present . . .

  22. Oh Katrina, we had the same wardrobe in the early 80's! I grew to detest pantyhose, but now I love wearing tights, go figure. Thanks for coming by  : >

  23. Your outfit would be considered dressy casual in my work environment.  I work at a museum and we cannot wear jeans or flip flops. So I am always looking like I am business casual to dressy casual. Your pin is really cool vintage; you look really pretty.

  24. I'm also lucky to work in a place where, as Style Crone put it, there is an "acceptance of differences". People tend to be very casual, but currently there is a push to present a more traditionally professional image. We also have a dress code for the first time ever; but it's not oppressive.

    Some of my co-workers are unhappy about the change, but I'm kind of enjoying it. It gives me an excuse to dress up a bit.

  25. I just adore this outfit!  I love the floral skirt paired with the olive jacket.

    We have no dress code at our office, so I have free reign to wear whatever I want. It's nice to be able to have the freedom to dress as I please!  Heather

  26. I too have worked at mental health centers, and your outfit is creative and perfect for the environment.  I loved dressing for work and the 'open' dress code. I miss the sense of humor that was shared in that setting!  And the acceptance of differences!  Which included the acceptance of 'hats.'

  27. Gah! There was actually a time when I had to wear a skirt suit, pantyhose, and pumps to work every day at a CPA firm in San Francisco (this was the early 80s). Of course it was oppressive knowing that we HAD to wear skirts, but in a way it was also a luxury because I had no choice but to buy tailored designer suits and silk blouses and push the definition of "pump" to its limits. Those years represented the high point in my lifelong wardrobe: the most expensive and the best quality.
    It's nice that we have more freedom today but in some ways I mourn the loss of that formality in business. Major kudos to you for pushing your casual code to the elegant end of the spectrum.
    I love your outfit, combining the sort of safari feeling with the pretty floral.

  28. I feel lucky to have a casual work environment, too. I love this look of yours! The top is tough, but the skirt is super-feminine, which is a great contrast. Also – the brooch is to die. I *need* more brooches.

  29. Love your outfit Pam!  The olive greeen does look good on you.  It looks awful on me–I have to color it up by my face.
    On the work thing; My workplace gets more and more casual–but I choose to dress it up a bit!

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