Defining Business Casual with 3 Simple Rules

Upon entering the crazy new world that is Arizona State University, a college student will soon realize that there are plenty of things they don’t know how to do. After ruining a few shirts, you learn how to do laundry. After throwing up on your shoes, you realize that you can’t drink 12 shots of Jack Daniel’s. But there are certain times when you can avoid the trial and error process; dressing business casual is one of those things, so here’s the breakdown, according to some of the most stylish ladies at ASU.

Hallie Sussman
Hallie Sussman, sophomore (photo credit: Emmy Nicholson)

Rule 1: Tight is not all right

Many girls assume that as long as they throw on a blazer, whatever they’re wearing automatically becomes business casual, especially with tight dresses. “I see a lot of girls thinking that tight clothing like body con skirts are business casual,” said Victoria Fernandez, junior. When asked what to avoid Hallie Sussman, sophomore, responded with, “Anything that’s really tight and/or revealing.” So when you’re trying to decide on what type of skirt or dress to wear, stick to A-line silhouettes and leave your body con dresses for the frat parties.

Rule 2: Leave the stripper heels at home

Tina Trujillo
Tina Trujillo, freshman (photo credit: Emmy Nicholson

Along with body con dresses, you also need to leave your platform pumps in the closet. “I will wear either ballet flats or my closed-toed heels that are about one inch,” Tina Trujillo, freshman, said. “I would definitely stay away from my everyday sandals or heels that I would wear out on the weekend!” So as a general rule-of-thumb, keep your heels under four inches and make sure they are closed-toed. Note: You can never go wrong with a pair of black Tory Burch flats!

Rule 3: Keep it conservative

Emmy Nicholson
Emmy Nicholson, sophomore (photo credit: Madeline Stack)

The biggest thing about business casual, YOU AREN’T SUPPOSED TO LOOK SEXY. Business casual attire is meant for job interviews, sorority chapter meetings and lunches with your traditional, old grandmother. Cover your thighs and shoulders and leave your Bombshell bra in your lingerie drawer. According to Fernandez, “Another issue is exposed shoulders. Business casual should be modest and professional.” Wearing a dress with a lace or crochet overlay, like the one pictured on the left, will not only leave you looking classy, but also feeling super pretty.

So what can you wear?

Business casual collage
Photo created on

There are certain staples that you should always have on hand to get the perfect business casual look: a button-down, cute flats or heels and appropriate slacks or a skirt. “I always go to my blazer or long pencil skirt first and then try other pieces with it like a colorful blouse or maybe even a different, appropriate skirt,” Trujillo said. Remember: business casual doesn’t have to be boring! Utilize prints and subtle design details to make any blazer or blouse more exciting and pair neutral pants or skirts with vibrant tops. Button downs are perfect from day to night, because you can just undo a couple buttons to instantly make the look more casual. To spice up your feet, choose flats with an applique or classy heels (just make sure they’re less than four inches!).


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