When updating my clients’ wardrobes for Spring and Summer, I’ve found that eight items in particular have been most effective in refreshing their business casual looks. These items were easily integrated into existing business casual capsules, increasing the trend quotient of their outfits and providing a fresh vibe for warm weather career wear. Choose them in neutrals, colours, solids or patterns.
1. Leather Jacket or Sleeveless Jacket
It’s amazing how effectively lightweight leather jackets in light neutrals and pastels with minimal hardware have to some extent replaced the formal modern classic blazer. They add a good dose of Modern when worn over sheath dresses, or over outfits with dressy slacks or pencil skirts.
The sleeveless jacket takes many forms and is available in many fabrications. Long, short, moto-inspired, eclectically drapey, asymmetrical or classically tailored, the sleeveless jacket — also referred to as a vest or gilet — is an interesting third piece to add to an outfit. A practical layering piece for hot weather.
2. Flared Trousers
3. Boxy Cropped Top
Choose lengths that are a little longer than the natural waist and wear them over pencil skirts and trousers with mid or high rises. A boxy fit offsets the shorter length. Wear a camisole under the top for extra insulation if you feel too exposed.
4. Soft ‘70s Blouses
Soft, sensual and best worn tucked or partially tucked into flared trousers. Think pussy bow blouses, ruffled silhouettes, styles with flutter sleeves, drape-front blouses, styles with bell sleeves, and blouses with poufy sleeves.
5. Ankle Pants
Think tailored or slouchy styles in solids or patterns that are tapered at the hem and worn an inch or two above the ankle bone.
6. Ankle Strap Footwear
These are a natural pairing for ankle pants because they “fill the gap”. Closed-toe pumps with ankle straps are a great way to go if open-toed footwear is not an option. Ankle strap pumps are also a fab way to update a dress or skirt outfit.
7. High-Vamped Sandal Booties
If open-toed footwear is part of your dress code, think styles like peep-toe booties or cage heels. These high-vamped styles are another natural match for ankle pants, and look just as fab with skirts and dresses.
8. Warm Weather Handbag
A bright, pastel, metallic or light neutral handbag takes your work look into Spring and Summer more effectively than you might expect.
For the more fashion forward there’s culottes to wear in the same way you would wear a flared skirt, and white jeans or dark wash trouser jeans for casual Fridays.
Finally, here is a collection that includes a few nice examples for each of these 8 items.