My business casual clients often ask for help pulling together trendier outfits with bootcut trousers that they can wear to work. They usually have a good neutral assortment of modern classic bootcut trousers, and dressy pointy toe pumps or booties to wear with them. But they want a little fashion action up top that goes beyond the classic fitted sweater, button-down shirt and blazer. That’s where the trendier pullover and coat comes in.
Choose any colour palette for your own outfit. Here are the components:
Bootcut Trousers: I’ve stuck to black bootcut trousers because they’re the most common in business casual wardrobes. But do think beyond black with shades of grey and blue, brown, cream, tan, toffee, and plaids and pinstripes. Wear them no shorter than a quarter inch off the ground with a heel height of your choice.
Current Pullovers: I’ve started the ball rolling with five options, but there are many more. All are fashionably fluid or gently oversized, with just enough structure in the rest of the style to create a professional appearance.
- Asymmetrical Tunic: Choose a fine gauge knit in a luxurious yarn like cashmere or merino wool. Asymmetrical hems work well on bootcuts because of their snug fit on the thigh and knee, which provides ample structure for the oversized silhouette. Joie’s Tambrel Sweater Tunic, Helmut Lang’s Poncho Sweater and Halogen’s Asymmetrical Sweater are good examples of the look.
- Cropped Pullover: Choose a style that is boxy to offset its short length. Make sure it covers the waistband of the trousers if it doesn’t have a welt. J.Crew’s Demylee Gisele Sweater and Collection Cashmere Chunky Turtleneck are great options. Wear a camisole the same colour as the trousers to prevent midriff exposure at work.
- Deep V-Neck Sweater: You’re after a chunky pullover with striped deep V-neck detailing. A lace camisole is lovely under this style if it’s cut too low for work. 2020Ave Deep V Neck Ribbed Sweater is one option. Cozy and comfy at the office.
- High-Low, Upscale Sweatshirt: Choose one with a fitted welt, and preferably a high-low hemline. A silk front version creates an even dressier look. J.Crew’s Exploded Floral Sweatshirt is fabulous over black bootcut trousers because of its high-low hemline, which isn’t all that visible in the photos. It’s huge, so size down a size.
- Fashionable V-Neck: This is the simplest option. Choose a fine gauge V-neck sweater in a fluid fit with a welt or high-low hemline. Partially tuck the front and add a belt to the pants for structure. Banana Republic’s Extra Fine Merino Wool Vee Pullover fits the bill.
Footwear: Pointy toe pumps and booties generally work best under flared bottoms because the toe boxes peek out from under the hems. Low or high contrasting footwear can both work.
Outerwear: Tailored coats will probably be too snug over the sweater, so a longer length coat in a fashionably roomy fit is the way to top off the outfit. Think man coat, oversized peacoat, cape or cocoon style. Check out J.Crew’s Stadium-Cloth Topcoat, Melton Swing Coat, Stadium-Cloth Drop-Waist Coat and Pinstripe Topcoat for options that are currently on sale.
Accessories: Choose a bag that tickles your fancy, and add a belt if partially tucking these tops is your preference. A chunky necklace is a nice juxtaposition with the sportier deep V-neck sweater and sweatshirt, but can work with all of these tops. Finish off the look with jewellery, watch and eyewear as desired.
I have worn this formula a couple of times over the last month with a pair of grey pinstripe bootcut trousers from Theory. I chose an oversized cabled ink metallic pullover with high-low hemline which I semi tucked with a cream belt. Cream pointy toe booties and citron clutch finished off the look. I have two man coats and an oversized cream peacoat that work well over oversized knitwear.