Annual Vines to Grow

Hummingbird Vine

Annual vines grow quickly and bloom profusely in one growing season. They can camouflage unsightly fences or walls, accent pleasing architecture, or soften harsh structural lines—and at the same time add color, texture, and height. Vines are ideal for creating a temporary, natural screen for privacy or against sun, wind, or unattractive views. They also can create a welcoming habitat for birds, bees, and butterflies.

Source: Extension Store (iastate.edu)

WHAT IS BUSINESS CASUAL FOR WOMEN? Part II

BUSINESS CASUAL JACKETS OR BLAZERS

Jackets or blazers are more of a requirement during colder months for warmth going to and from home, not necessarily to wear in the office since this is business casual attire. But don’t think that means you can throw on that denim jacket and get away with it. You still need your outerwear to be professional-looking. (You never know when you might need to go to lunch with the boss or a client!)

To get the most bang for your buck, stick with neutral colors; black, charcoal, brown, and navy work best. If you want something a bit different, try a jewel tone, small pinstripe or herringbone pattern, very classic. The fit is a big issue with jackets and blazers. Nix the boxy blazer and stick to something that nips in at the waist. Make sure that the jacket doesn’t pull or gape when buttoned. As an alternative to a blazer, you can try a wool moto jacket.

I love to layer blazers over all my business casual outfits because you never know how cold an office or location will be. So instead of being cold, you are prepared and also look stylish. In the outfit below I cuffed my blazer sleeve to soften the look and show off the cute striped lining. In the business casual outfit below I layered the blazer over a forest green dress. Added a skinny belt to the dress to create some definition and added a pretty silk neck scarf to brighten up the outfit and also soften it.

BUSINESS CASUAL SKIRTS OR DRESSES

While pants might be your go-to business casual attire, don’t forget about skirts and dresses. The blouses that you wear with your pants will most likely pair well with a skirt. Try a pencil, A-line, or pleated skirt in a solid color or a pinstripe or herringbone pattern. If the skirt has a slit, make sure it is a modest one and appropriate when sitting. Try a variety of colors and prints to see which style you like best. Ann Taylor always has so many nice options to choose from.

Dresses are a natural choice for business casual attire. It’s one item on and off you go to work. With dresses, you don’t have to worry about what pants match which top or vice versa. They also work well with cardigans and blazers when the weather is chillier. Necklines and sleeves should follow the rules noted above for blouses. Hemlines for both skirts and dresses can range from a few inches above the knee to just below the knee. Minis, high-low, and asymmetrical hemlines are best left in the closet during the week.

To accessorize a simple dress think about adding a silk scarf in a pretty print and color. If you need styling ideas on wearing a scarf with various outfits check out, Ways to Wear a Scarf & How to Tie a Scarf: The Definitive Guide.

5 BUSINESS CASUAL DRESS SHOPPING TIPS

1. Length
The length of a dress or skirt should not be so short that you feel uncomfortable. Look for a skirt length that ends right above the knee or, if you are tall, a mid-thigh length. This length will make it easy to get up and down out of chairs and appropriately cover you if you are walking up stairs or on an escalator.

2. Neckline
Necklines of both dresses and blouses need to be somewhat modest and not show too much—if any—cleavage. Leave the plunging V-necks and halters at home. Try a happy medium, wearing modest v-neck, round or scoop neck, boat neck, square, keyhole, or collared style. And also consider your body shape. If you have a larger chest avoid, high necklines, boat neck or keyhole, and opt for a v-neck or scoop neck. If you have a smaller chest, you can get away with wearing a boat neck and necklines such as the dress I’m wearing.

3. Sleeves
Usually, offices are on the cold side, so for dresses opt for longer sleeves. You can go full-length with a cuff or try a three-quarter-length sleeve, which is said to be the most flattering. A three-quarter sleeve ends between your wrist and your elbow.

The lower the sleeve is on your forearm; the thinner your arm will appear. So a three-quarter sleeve length has many positives. It’s office-appropriate, it’s the most flattering, it hides your arms if you’re self-conscious about them, and you won’t be as cold. Layer with a cardigan or jacket like I did in this outfit if your office is on the colder side and you can easily remove the layer as needed.

4. Fit
The fit of your dress is probably paramount. Fit = Appropriateness. Too tight is certainly frowned upon and looks unprofessional, while at the other end of the spectrum, baggy and ill-fitting clothes won’t do your figure any justice and tend to look sloppy. Look for dresses that are loose but accentuate the waist. You want the dress to be figure-flattering, but not just figure-focused. A-line, shift, sheath, and classic wrap dresses are all good choices.

5. Color or Print
Your style will help dictate the color or print of your garment. When it comes to solid-colored dresses, you’ll want to wear colors that look best with your skin tone. Of course, you can also go with basic black or navy which will make everyone look nice, but dare to try a color like burgundy, midnight blue, red, or forest green. In addition to wearing colors that look good with your skin tone look for colors that go with the seasons.

And don’t be afraid of prints. Florals, pinstripe, windowpane, plaid, or houndstooth prints are all great.

BUSINESS CASUAL SHOES

When it comes to shoes, you’ve got a lot of great options. Flats, wedges, heels, boots, and certain sandals can be worn with your business casual outfits. Flats are a comfortable option, worn primarily with pants. Try a loafer or driving moc, round or pointed toe ballerina style, or even an oxford. Heels are more typical in a work environment, but keep them around 4 inches or less, to be both appropriate and more comfortable. You can slip your feet into pumps, slingbacks, T-straps, peep-toe or wedged heels. And if you are going to be walking around a lot or on your feet for most of the day either opt for flats or a very thick block heel. Skinny heels will get you tired quicker.

Color is excellent for both flats and heels, as is a subtle animal print. During the colder months, pull on a pair of booties or knee-high boots, either flat, heeled, or with a wedge. Boots should be leather (or vegan alternative) and in a neutral color without over-embellishment (multiple buckles, say). While nylons and stockings are not required with your shoes, they certainly can be worn, as can tights and socks with boots.

Summer presents some challenges for women when choosing business casual outfits. The heat or humidity in many locations warrants wearing as little as possible, which isn’t appropriate for the office. Instead, wear clothing made from breathable material (cotton, silk, linen) and lighter in color.

If pants are your average daily attire, go for lightweight cotton or linen in white, cream, or beige. Pair your pants with a wide-strapped tank in a pretty color or wear a slightly sheer blouse with a camisole that will help to wick away the moisture.

Better yet, switch to skirts and dresses. Both of these items allow air to circulate below the knee and, yes, up the skirt. Wear skirts and dresses that have some movement, rather than a pencil skirt that hugs the body. Pair skirts with tops that have short or cap sleeves or that wide-strap tank or semi-sheer blouse with a camisole, so you stay fresh throughout the day.

You can also opt for heeled sandals, rather than close-toed shoes. As with general casual shoes, the height should be around 4 inches or lower and can include a wedge. Try to avoid dressier sandals that have embellishments, lots of straps, or look like they belong at a club. And, sadly, flat sandals are really not appropriate for most business casual work environments.

WHAT IS NOT BUSINESS CASUAL FOR WOMEN?

While the business casual dress code for women isn’t written in stone, there are some hard and fast rules on what not to wear. Here is what you should avoid when the dress code for women is business casual. Remember you want to keep it classy.

  • No jeans or denim
  • No low-rise pants
  • No capri pants
  • No shorts or skorts
  • No sweatpants or yoga pants
  • No overalls
  • No leather pants or skirts
  • No short/mini skirts or dresses
  • No body-con dresses
  • No ankle- or full-length dresses
  • No tops or dresses with a plunging neckline
  • No tops or dresses with skinny straps
  • No crop tops/halters/razorback/strapless
  • No sandals/flip flops
  • No baggy clothes
  • No super tight clothes
  • No sundresses
  • No sequins
  • No neon
  • No bra showing
  • No clogs/stilettos/high-platform shoes
  • Nothing that looks like you’re hanging out with friends, going to a picnic, going to a party/club, or going on a date.

This “what not to wear” is not a comprehensive list, but it does give some key points on what you should not wear.

Article by What is Business Casual for Women? [Your Definitive Guide] (stylishlyme.com)

Link to Part 1 of this story: WHAT IS BUSINESS CASUAL FOR WOMEN? [YOUR DEFINITIVE GUIDE] – TUTORING YOU

Here’s How To Use the HALT Method To Figure Out Why You’re So Grumpy

When you’re feeling worked up, it’s always better to take a pause in order to figure out what your body needs before you say or do something you’ll regret. (You’re never too old for a nap or a snack.) To do this efficiently, therapists often recommend the HALT method as an excellent way to tame emotions and create calmness by addressing basic human and bodily needs to prevent taking out your frustrations on someone else.

© Photo: Stocksy / Vertikalahalt method

What Is the HALT Method?

HALT stands for:

  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Lonely
  • Tired

The HALT method is based around the premise that you’re more likely to make poor, highly emotional decisions when hungry, angry, lonely or tired. “The purpose is to help us identify these experiences when we are tempted to engage in a negative behavior and to instead address the underlying issue,” says Kassondra Glenn, LMSW, a social worker and addiction specialist for Diamond Rehab.

The Purpose of the HALT Method

“The purpose of the HALT tool is to help us feel better when we are not feeling great emotionally, and it’s often used when we’re feeling upset or emotionally off-centered,” says physician and integrative medicine specialist Catherine Uram, MD.

Use it by asking yourself what seems “off” about your body and mindset, so if you notice you are not feeling like your usual self, you can go through the HALT acronym, questioning whether you’re hungry, angry, tired or feeling more isolated and alone, than usual.

1. How To Use the HALT Method When Hungry

When hungry, you tend to make hasty, emotional decisions, rather than use logic, as your body cries out for food and your stomach grumbles. “This is because our blood glucose (blood sugar) can be lower than usual, affecting our physiology, how we think, feel and therefore make decisions,” says Dr. Uram.

The best action plan is to identify hunger signals (rumbling stomachs, headaches, irritability, etc.) and find food as soon as possible. If hunger is the cause, it’s best to eat something light and nutritious, like vegetables, fruits, nuts, or seeds, which gradually brings physiology back to baseline

Then, later eat a meal, or add on to your snack, with slow speed and mindfulness to help you think more clearly and to feel calmer. “As your body and brain are coming back into homeostasis, you will think more clearly and feel calmer, avoiding hasty remarks and snappiness and alleviating uncomfortable moods,” says Glenn.

2. How To Use the HALT Method When Angry

Anger is a normal human emotion, but unless managed, it can lead to poor decision making in the moment. Use the HALT method by recognizing that you’re angry, and then choosing to use mindfulness to rest, with exercises that bring self-awareness, acknowledgement and a sense of calm. Glenn recommends deep breathing, sending energy into the feet, or touching fingertips together one-by-one as three simple techniques with potential to regulate anger quickly and with ease by bringing more attention to the present moment and anger.

Another way to use the HALT method is to target anger as the cause and then workout, which will release anger and stress. “Running, walking, or some other form of vigorous exercise can be helpful, because when we are angry, we have increased adrenaline and glucose (blood sugar), so intense exercise allows us to put it to good use physically, rather than keeping it all pent up inside, to then explode outwards,” says Dr. Uram.

3. How To Use the HALT Method When Lonely

People are wired to seek belonging, so when you’re feeling lonely, it may lead to depression and anxiety, as well as making decisions without connecting to yourself and your authenticity or power. There’s confusion on how to stay connected to yourself and to those around you. When depressed, HALT helps you handle emotions better and avoid taking them out on others.

Use the HALT method by reaching out to someone you feel you can be your authentic self with, and face-to-face, if possible, to reduce the loneliness you’re feeling. “Connection promotes nervous system co-regulation, which allows us to move from depressed/anxious back toward our baseline,” says Glenn. You might try yoga and meditation, exercising, reading a book, painting or doing any other hobby you love.

4. How To Use the HALT Method When Tired

Without physical energy, it’s hard to maintain enough mental energy and focus, as well as clarity with thinking and judgment. “Tiredness causes us to feel foggier and increases stress around making decisions, causing those decisions to be more rash,” says Glenn.

Use the HALT method by targeting the root cause (tiredness), and then prioritize tasks, to check off items accordingly, but also by prioritizing sleep, as well. A break might signify sleep, a vacation, a walk outside, an episode of your favorite television show or even simply sitting in silence for a brief pause, just for yourself.

When Is the HALT Method Most Useful?

The HALT method is a beneficial tool for people with anger management issues or chronic stress, for couples who are struggling to connect intimately or communicate well, and for those recovering from addiction and require greater self-awareness and ability to pause before doing things hastily to reflect and center themselves first.

“In general, HALT requires us to pause before choosing our next action and this pause creates space in which we can identify core emotions and choose a less harmful route,” says Glenn.

It’s important to remember that the HALT method is a tool for our toolbox, and it isn’t a cure-all or a technique for every scenario. It can be useful to talk to a professional in the area(s) in which you’re struggling to determine whether the HALT method can help with handling your emotions.

Written by Isadora Baum for Well+Good©

Source: Here’s How To Use the HALT Method To Figure Out Why You’re So Grumpy (msn.com)

Ham, Egg & Asparagus Bake For Easter Brunch

Recipes to add a little sunshine to your Easter morning or any morning!

Ham, Egg, and Asparagus Bake

INGREDIENTS  

  • 1 ½ cups cooked ham, chopped
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup yellow (or red) bell peppers, chopped
  • 10 oz pkg. frozen cut asparagus, thawed, or 10 fresh stalks, cut
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¾ teaspoon dried tarragon
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

INSTRUCTIONS 

  • Preheat oven to 425º F (220 degrees C).
  • Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  • Mix ham, onion, peppers, and asparagus in the prepared baking dish.
  • In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, flour, Parmesan, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Pour over ham mixture.
  • Bake 20 minutes in preheated oven or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
  • Continue baking 3 to 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  • Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

by Beth Herman for Old Farmer’s Almanac

Source: Ham, Egg & Asparagus Bake for Easter Brunch – Farmers’ Almanac (farmersalmanac.com)

Are You Allowed to Drink Your Own Alcohol on a Plane?

It’s perfectly legal to bring alcohol onto airplanes, according to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as long as the liquor is kept in containers of 3.4 ounces or less that can fit in one clear, zip-top, quart-sized bag.

Photo by John Luke Laube on Unsplash

The only catch: You can’t drink the booze you brought while you’re on the plane. 

The U.S. government is clear as vodka on this point: “FAA regulations prohibit passengers from drinking alcohol on board the aircraft unless it is served by the air carrier,” decrees the official FAA website. 

Note that this restriction applies on U.S.-based airlines even when the plane is not in the U.S.—or over the U.S., as the case may be—because the FAA governs the country’s airlines everywhere. “What happens in Cabo, stays in Cabo” was apparently only an ironclad law on MTV’s Laguna Beach.

But wait! Perhaps you’ve spotted a loophole in that bit in the FAA rule about how the alcohol must be “served by the air carrier.”

Maybe you’re wondering if you can skirt the rule by asking the flight attendant to open your own little 3.4-ounce Jameson bottle for you before pouring it into a cup and serving it to you. 

Can you drink the stuff that way?

First of all, you should be a lawyer. 

Second of all, the answer is probably not.

While that work-around might technically satisfy the FAA, many airlines remove the service aspect altogether, stating flat out in their onboard alcohol policies that, as United puts it, “You can’t drink the alcohol you bring on our aircraft.” Alaska Airlines and JetBlue use nearly identical language.

Similarly, American, Delta, and Southwest all stipulate that alcohol brought onto planes by passengers must remain unopened, which makes drinking the contents pretty difficult.

If you still see some wiggle room in the carriers’ policies, you could always try asking the flight attendant in your cabin. Asking for permission is better than getting caught, and they like it when you’re nice. 

Airlines’ penalties for scofflaws range from simply discarding the forbidden beverage to assessing fines. A JetBlue customer on a December 2020 flight from New York to the Dominican Republic got slapped with a $14,500 fine for drinking his own alcohol and refusing to wear a mask.

That’s an awfully steep cover charge. 

By Zac Thompson for Frommer’s

Source: Are You Allowed to Drink Your Own Alcohol on a Plane? | Frommer’s (frommers.com)

Today is National Vietnam War Veterans Day March 29

On National Vietnam War Veterans Day, we honor the legacy of the millions who served our nation during the Vietnam War. On March 29, 1973, the last American combat troops left Vietnam. More than three million Americans served in-country during the war and 58,281 men and women made the ultimate sacrifice. We continue to lose Vietnam veterans every day as a result of the war’s lingering effects.

Many Vietnam veterans returned home to a divided country and, at times, little to no respect for their service. Today, we honor all they gave for their country. Together, we will continue to show our gratitude for our Vietnam veterans and work to ensure their service and sacrifices are never forgotten.

To our Vietnam veterans, “Thank you for your service and Welcome Home!”

Planning and designing a native garden

Those who love wildflowers, gardening, or an have an expansive lawn may want to plant a native plant garden this year.

But you don’t need a huge space to incorporate native plants into your existing environment.

Native plants are not only beautiful, but they also support pollinators and have environmental benefit. There are many low maintenance options that will work great for you.

Photo credit Unsplash. Illinois native plants such as these Black-eyed Susans are not only beautiful, but they also support pollinators and have environmental benefits.

Planning is key

Planning and design are an important first step towards designing a successful garden. And though the cold is currently upon us, it’s never too early to begin thinking about the warmer days ahead.

We usually think about installing, planting, and enjoying our gardens, but I encourage you to spend time this winter and early spring planning your native gardens. By making note of your garden’s conditions, you can choose plants that are most likely to thrive.

First, pay close attention to sun and soil, considering whether you want to plant your new garden bed in full sun, part sun, or shade. Determine the condition of your soil. Is it usually wet with poor drainage?

Say goodbye to existing vegetation

Be sure to kill off any existing vegetation, such as turf and weeds. My favorite eco-friendly way to kill existing vegetation is to use a weighed-down tarp or layers of wet cardboard and newspaper. You can just remove the tarp and plant directly in the soil after a few months, or put fresh soil and mulch on the cardboard and plant immediately. The materials will eventually break down.

When selecting plants and designing, keep these things in mind for success:

  • Select your state’s native species from your region.
  • Look for straight species, not cultivars, for the greatest wildlife benefit.
  • Choose locally grown plants when possible.
  • Determine the size of the plant you need to purchase (seeds, plugs, quarts, or gallons). The more the roots are developed, the easier the plant is to establish
  • Choose plants with four-season interest and aim for continuous blooms throughout the spring, summer, and fall.
  • Plant in groupings of three or five plants.
  • Layer plants for more dimension: trees, shrubs, grasses, forbs, and ground covers
  • Install edging for a well-managed look. Native gardens don’t all need to look like prairies!
  • You don’t have to plant all or nothing, mix natives and non-natives into your landscape.
  • Keep low growing plants in front of windows to keep a nice view

By Gemini Bhalsod, Horticulture Educator, Illinois Extension

Source: Gardeners Corner Spring 2021: University of Illinois Extension

Where the Sodium Lurks

healthtian.com

Sodium Can be Sneaky

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks can add up to more than 4,000 mg of sodium for the day. Throughout the day, the average American consumes nearly 3,500 mg of sodium for the day. That is more than two times the amount recommended by the American Heart Association. Too much sodium can be risky for your health. So where does it lurk? Check the list below.

Source: Hines VA Hospital

How to Grow Lettuce

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is a nutritious leafy vegetable mainly cultivated for its delicious green leaves, which have a mild taste. Lettuce is simple to grow perennial and cool-season vegetables that thrive in autumn and spring in most regions. Learn how to grow lettuce ahead!

This is an excellent crop for novices as it can be planted by seed directly into the soil once the soil can be worked. Some varieties mature in just 30 days. Some are even harvested earlier than microgreens. Since lettuce is a fast-growing plant and quickly, the most effective method is to plant only a small number of seeds per day by spreading the plantings. Lettuce flourishes when temperatures are between 60 and 70 temperatures F. Lettuce isn’t only cultivated for its leaves, but it also has seeds and stems. From your garden beds to containers for patios, these easy steps will provide plenty of fresh salad greens in all seasons.

Additionally, lettuce thrives in raised beds, making it ideal for spaces with limited space. The lettuce is an excellent container set on patios, decks, or balconies. 

© Provided by Healthier Steps

How to Cultivate Lettuce Step-by-Step Procedure:

There are two methods to grow lettuce seeds:

  • It is possible to directly sown into containers or in the garden.
  • Transplant lettuce seedlings planted indoors under grow lights or bought at a garden center.

The Best Time to Plant Lettuce

The best location for lettuce cultivation to plant lettuce in the fall and spring is in a place with full sun. If you plan to grow lettuce in the summer months or zones of the warm plantation, the partial shade will protect you from the hot summer sun. Seeding lettuce in the late summer months may require a lot of artificial coloring to keep the soil cool for germination. As the days get more relaxed, the shade can be removed to provide ample sunlight to the new lettuce plant.

Think about buying a soil analysis kit if you’ve experienced problems growing lettuce. The lettuce is sensitive to low pH, and lime can assist in bringing the pH back to a level that is 6.0 up to 7.0 in the soil.

Space Needed for Lettuce

Seeds should be planted only 1/8 – 1/4 inches deep since they need sunlight to grow. Place rows at least one foot from each other. Distance between seedlings will be determined by the size of the mature plants of the specific kind of plant. However, generally keeping the lettuce plants close to each other will help eliminate the growth of weeds. Support structures shouldn’t be required.

How to Plant Lettuce from Seed

You can start your lettuce seeds with the seed trays available in stores or create your own using an egg carton, box, or newspaper. Fill the seed trays the limit of 11 two inches (1.3 centimeters) to the edge using a soil-free growing medium. Moisten the medium before preparing for sowing seeds.

  • The seeds already have the nutrients required to sprout and grow to plant seeds in a non-soil growing medium. You can purchase an increasing medium or create one by mixing equal amounts of perlite, vermiculite, and milled sphagnum.
  • Because the seeds will be transferred to the soil once they have sprouted, the looks of your seed trays aren’t as important as their utility.
  • This gives the seeds time to germinate and grow before the soil is soft enough to be planted outside. Distribute seeds across the compartments for sources of the tray. Utilize fingertips to press seeds in the medium for growth lightly.

How to Grow Lettuce in Pots

A container for growing lettuce is an excellent method to guard it against insects. Also, you can put it in a suitable place to harvest. Check the dimensions of the specific lettuce variety you’re using. A container of between 6 and 12 inches in size is sufficient. Be sure to have drainage holes. Unglazed clay is a great container material since it allows soil moisture to pass through its walls.

Lettuce Plant Care

Set the container in a sun-lit window. Keep the medium that you are growing in consistently moist. If you allow it to dry out, seeds may not succeed.

The seed tray can be covered with a tray by a couple of layers of newspaper for the first week or a few weeks until the seeds sprout. Make sure that the newspaper is kept moist with water, and then remove the newspaper as you start to see sprouting green shoots.

Water

You’re looking to encourage the growth of the leaf over rooting. The watering of lettuce should be gentle, constant, regular, and consistent.  Beware not to overwater, leading to root rot, illness, and slowing growth.

Temperature and Humidity

The soil temperature must reach 40 deg (4degC). However, seeds are most productive when they are in temperatures between 55 and 65 degF (13 up to 18degrees Celsius). Seedlings typically sprout in seven to 10 days.

Strategies: To plant a fall crop, prepare excellent soil in the last week in August. Water the soil, then the soil with straw bales. After a week, the ground underneath the bale will be around 10 degrees Fahrenheit (6degC), more remarkable than the remainder of your garden. Sow a three-foot row of lettuce seeds every two weeks. Just turn the straw bale in the park.

Fertilizer

Mix compost into the soil before planting to improve the quantity of organic material. Use fertilizers that are high in nitrogen, beginning about the three-week mark after you grow and following the directions on the label. This will encourage the healthy, vigorous growth of your leaves.

The Final Thought

You know everything you need to learn about cultivating lettuce in your backyard. Go ahead! Create your mini garden filled with tasty fruit, vegetables, herbs, or anything else you’d like. We would like to hear your gardening tales. Make sure to have top-quality seeds.

Article by Healthier Steps 

Source: How to Grow Lettuce (msn.com)

WHAT IS BUSINESS CASUAL FOR WOMEN? [YOUR DEFINITIVE GUIDE]

Trying to decipher what is business casual for women can be a little difficult in today’s work environment. A business casual dress code can vary depending on the company you work for, the work you do on a day-to-day basis, and the city you’re based in. As you know a business casual dress code is different depending on which cities, states, and parts of the world you’re in. Because dressing appropriately can often make or break a career, it’s wise to follow a few simple rules when it comes to business casual for women.

WHAT IS BUSINESS CASUAL FOR WOMEN?

The easiest way to think of business casual is a hybrid of business professional and casual wear. Business casual is not wearing a full-on suit, but a strapless sundress with flip-flops is not appropriate. It’s more about mixing elements of more formal business attire, like a blazer, suit skirt, or pants in neutral colors with more casual pieces like a patterned shell top or leopard print flats.

For the majority of companies, business casual is a daily requirement. So understanding how to put together stylish work outfits is essential if you don’t work from home.

It’s wise to have the majority of your main business clothing in neutral colors: black, gray, navy, brown, beige, and white. Starting with essential pieces in neutral colors and then adding pops of color not only allow you to bring some life and personality to your office outfits but you will also get a lot of use from your essential pieces. You could wear a pair of gray trousers two to three times a week and swap the top and accessories. If you get a pair of bright printed pants, you would only get away with wearing them once in a while as they would be very memorable.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN BUSINESS CASUAL ATTIRE

One of the most challenging aspects of dressing for work is finding the right business casual pieces. Shopping for business casual clothing is half of the challenge, then you have to put those items together in stylish and comfortable outfits for work.

In the following sections, I’ll share a few shopping tips when you’re looking to add business casual pants, tops and sweaters.

WOMEN’S BUSINESS CASUAL PANTS

Pants are an obvious choice and the first option for most women in the workplace. Make sure that they fit you well, are wrinkle-free, and without frayed hems or ripped seams. I like wool, cotton (including corduroy), linen and gabardine, and you can also add in polyester, which is easy to care for. There is also a nice selection of colored denim available these days, make sure the color is pure with no fading, and it’s good to have a bit of stretch in them to make them more comfortable for sitting for long periods.

Basic neutrals work best, as you can pair them with a lot of colored tops, but you can opt for colored pants in a dark muted color like burgundy or forest green. You can also try pinstripes or a small plaid. Mid- or high-rise both work, and the hems can be cuffed or uncuffed. I like wide-legged trousers, but you can also go with a straight leg, boot cut, or ankle-length.

You can also change up the style of your business casual pants during the seasons. During the fall and winter look for thicker fabrics in dark colors and patterns more synonymous with the season.

In the spring and summer look for lighter pants in fabric and color. You also have a lot more options during this time of year. Depending on your style you could even wear wide-leg cropped pants in white or blush.

BUSINESS CASUAL BLOUSES AND TOPS

To add a pop of color or pattern to an outfit, think blouses and tops. There are a lot of choices out there in pretty colors that will complement your skin tone, eyes, and hair color. Pastels, jewel tones, plaids, muted florals, and prints (paisley, geometric, polka dot, ikat) are all acceptable.

In colder months, stick with long or ¾ sleeves; for spring and summer, short or cap sleeves work well, and you can even wear a wide-strapped tank. In the warmer months look for light blouses with cap sleeves, sleeveless, and shell tops in silk, light cotton, or other light fabrics.

Keep your neckline somewhat modest with a collared, boat neck, square neck, or turtleneck. If you go with a scoop or V-neck, make sure that cleavage is not on display. Keep your shirt tucked in or, if worn out, make sure it covers your waistband by several inches. And it should go without saying that you must wear a bra, and a tank or camisole if your blouse is at all sheer.

SHOPPING FOR BUSINESS BLOUSES AND TOPS

Shirts and tops are a category where you have almost unlimited options. It’s easy to get carried away because of the variety and affordable options. You’ll invest more money in pants and blazers as those are the work essentials that you’ll wear over and over through the years. But with tops, you don’t need to invest so much in them as you’ll most likely want to add a few new business casual blouses every year.

In summer and spring look for shirts in bright colors and fun prints. Like polka dots, florals, lace, windowpane, stripes, leaf prints, and mixed prints. If you light colors on the lighter side, opt for blush, pale yellow, pink, baby blue, light gray, or cream. If you love brights, look for tops in pink, green, yellow, orange, red, and bright blue.

I know it can get cold in the office so even if you wear a sleeveless silk top you might want to layer with a blazer. In the business casual outfit below I paired a green silk polka dot top with a striped blazer. The two colors look great together and added neck detail on the shirt adds to the dimension and looks great against the straight-cut blazer. This is the variety and fun you can have with business casual

BUSINESS CASUAL SWEATERS

You can also wear sweaters in a variety of ways, either as a top or over a shirt if you want to layer, with pants or a skirt, or over a dress. The fit of the sweater is essential here, so try to stay away from anything too baggy or ill-fitted. Fine-gauge knits work best; bulky sweaters not so much.

Your basic cardigan is a staple in business casual attire, and it can be a simple waist-length cardigan or a longer boyfriend one. Your sweater can have buttons, no buttons, or have a draped front collar. With longer cardigans, you can even use a skinny belt to add some definition and a different look to an outfit.

My favorite types of sweaters to wear to the office is thin, v-neck, long sleeve sweaters, like the pink one I’m wearing below. I love business casual sweaters because you can layer a button-down shirt underneath and pop out the collar over the sweater like in the outfit example below. The bright pink sweater is a high contrast between the striped collard shirt and black bottoms.

Another business casual sweater that I believe is essential is the simple long black cardigan. You can see in the outfit below I paired it with the pink v-neck sweater, this is an excellent option for fall and the colder months. You can layer a long black cardigan over a variety of outfits, and it’s also very comfortable.

More business casual attire (Blazer’s, skirts, dresses and shoes) in tomorrow’s post.

Source: What is Business Casual for Women? [Your Definitive Guide] (stylishlyme.com)