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Business casual is the most common dress code for offices today. If your job or event calls for business casual clothing, you are are expected to wear classic, understated styles. If you can wear it to a picnic or a club, says the Virgina Tech Career Center, it's not appropriate for the office. "You are not trying to stand out for your cutting-edge look, but for your good judgment in a business environment."
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Research the specific guidelines for dress set by your employer. Business casual does not mean the same thing to everyone. Your company may have some of its own dress code policies under the umbrella definition of business casual. For example, some offices ban open-toed shoes while others require pantyhose for women. You'll want to know these guidelines before investing in your business casual wardrobe.
Determine your budget. Dressing business casual does not mean you have to shop at high-end stores. You can shop for work on a budget. A study by the UK-based Sheila's Wheels insurance company found that an average woman's outfit costs about
$135. This includes shoes and accessories. After you determine your budget, you can choose the best place to shop for your business casual wardrobe.
High-end retail establishments that sell business casual clothes for women include Ann Taylor, Nordstrom and Chicos. You'll find mid-range pricing at stores like JC Penney, Kohls and Dress Barn. Women on tighter budgets can find nice business casual clothing at stores like Walmart and Target.
MyShape.com is a great online tool for buying women's clothes. The website will help you make a profile based on your measurements, style preferences and budget, and then recommend clothing that is suited to your body type and style. More than 250 designers are represented through MyShape.
Go shopping -- whether in store or online -- and use the following standards laid out by the Virginia Tech Career Center for business casual attire: Khaki or dress pants, neatly pressed, tailored and creased, and not tight fitting. Skirts should be at least knee length while sitting. Tailored, crisp blouses, sweaters and sweater sets are appropriate. Avoid tight-fitting and cleavage-bearing tops. Err on the side of conservative when dressing for work.