👌The Rules to Passing Leggings as Business Casual

by: Danielle Ternyila, personal stylist, Zyia Active Independent Rep

The one question on all our minds is if leggings are business casual, but the answer is a bit vague; I would say leggings can be business professional when worn appropriately. There are a few simple rules that can help guide how to wear leggings in the office or other business settings, but most important, the material and design of your leggings will really determine if they fit the business casual dress code.

I keep my rules to dressing leggings business casual as simple as I can, and I have developed some select favorite outfits to pair with them over my years working in the office setting. These tricks can be applied to create various outfits from your favorite leggings as business casual.

Cover The Booty

The office isn’t where you need to show off all your muscles and great assets, so my general rule of thumb is to keep the tops long. As long as I have my dairy-air covered and not causing distracted eyes, I feel comfortable wearing most of my leggings into the office, contingent on the following rules too. Fitted and short tops over a pair of leggings are a much more sporty casual look, which is what you want to avoid wearing leggings in the office. A long blouse or cardigan is much better suited for business casual style.

Basic Is Best, *usually

If you took a look through my own online legging boutique, you would agree there are so many patterns, styles, and trends that come with all of these beauties! You want to keep it simple for work leggings, though, so mesh or ventilated designs are not business casual-friendly leggings, for example. A solid material is best, such as the classic Black Light n Tight with its high-quality material and semi-matte appearance. Funky patterns, designs, and even some of the more unique and interesting colors, however, would not blend well with a business casual look.

That doesn’t mean basic has to be boring! I wouldn’t say everything has to be a solid color, and you could style some a unique pattern or color the right way to make it work. It all comes down to how you wear it, but these below could all look great and corporate-ready with something like an overdose sweater or cardigan and booties.

1. Light Teal Everglades Supreme legging are a fiercely stylish legging with an alligator print in a light teal color that pairs well with solid colors.

2. Distressed Blue Ankle Cinch legging looks incredible from the distressed vegan look and cinch style around the ankles; pair these with solids or print-pattern tops!

3. Sea Krait Deluxe Hi-Rise legging has a unique snake-like pattern with a blue base fabric providing a unique tint to the whole legging that can pair with many solid colors.

Quality Materials Are Key

There’s nothing less professional looking than a baggy pair of slightly see-through cotton leggings in the workplace, which makes this rule an important one for wearing leggings as business casual. My clothing brand verifies this with the squat test for all the newest leggings hitting the virtual shelves. The squat test checks for the durability in the fibers and ability to keep your undergarments concealed. No one wants to see your panties in the office, and you will regret it the day you drop your pen and have to bend over in those in front of everyone.

Consider these 3 favorites, especially, for your office attire needs:

1. Black Metallic Light n Tight legging or another metallic or solid color from the pocketless versions of the classic Light n Tight leggings in my shop.

2. Maroon Unity Leggings in the 7/8 length to come down to your ankle, or one of our newest editions to the matte, soft Unity line.

3. Black Fit N Free leggings are simple, classic leggings, or see other unique colors in the Fit n Free collection.

Pair With the Right Shoes

To pull off a business casual style with leggings, you need to make sure that outfit is being accompanied by the right shoes. What do I mean by that? Leave your sneakers, flip flops, sandals, and tennis shoes at home. You’ll be best dressed with a high boot or another business-friendly shoe with closed toes. I personally tend to limit wearing high heels with leggings to avoid looking too overly dressed or like I’m heading to the club after work, but with the right outfit, a pair of pumps can button up a business casual look.

Long Cardigans for the Win

My go-to styling tip for wearing leggings in the office is go for the long cardigan! My favorite is the Lounge Boyfriend Cardigan, which comes down half way my upper leg. When in doubt, a cardigan, drapey blouse like a Finesse Tank, and booties with a chunky necklace will do the trick anytime.

Darker Colors Are the Safer Choice

If your leggings are too bright or stand out a lot, you might start drawing the attention of your colleagues and HR, even if you’ve got everything else covered. Any shade of black, for instance, is going to look a lot more professional than the blossom pink you usually rock in the gym. It may look really great with the right outfit, but don’t draw excessive attention to yourself wearing colors that are better reserved for workouts, especially when you’re in something fitted like leggings.

Your office dress code might exclude the wear of sweats or yoga pants, but unless the company founded that in the last 4 years, I don’t think what we call leggings today would count as yoga pants. You do not want to attract the attention of HR by standing out, looking too casual or too sexy, but with these tips as a guide, I think you could find an appropriate business casual look in leggings. Don’t forget to wear a high-quality legging, like these solid black 7/8 length leggings in my activewear boutique. Seriously: You don’t want the office seeing your undergarments with a cheap pair! Who knows when you will have to bend over to refill the copy machine or pick up your pen.

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Smart Casual vs. Business Casual: What to Know, What to Wear

Business casual is a form of attire we are pretty familiar with, but this new term “smart casual” may leave you a little confused. In reality, there are subtle differences between the business casual and smart casual styles, both often found in an office or professional setting, that make each their own unique style. Take a look at the details below on smart casual versus business casual to decide which you prefer or what is most appropriate for your professional settings.

So what is Smart Casual?

Smart casual is a balance between appropriate professionalism and leisurely attire; comfort is prioritized slightly higher with smart casual compared to business casual. For a smart casual dress code, you can relax a bit more than you normally would for an office look. This may also be a popular wardrobe choice for corporate events or conferences.

We ladies can get away with a lot more with smart casual than we normally could, whereas I would say this is not too different for men from business casual. The key is maintaining a clean and fresh look; your hair shouldn’t be made a mess and your shirt have stains. Smart casual is exactly that – you want to look smart, but casual about it. Example: Blazers over a relaxed tee, a cardigan with a lengthy skirt, or for men, a sport coat over their jeans and button down. Check out my recommendations below when it comes to getting dressed for smart casual!

What’s Business Casual?

Business casual is a more relaxed formal wear, but it is not quite sweatshirts and jeans either! Business casual is more polished than smart casual, and it probably has some more strict requirements in your office dress code. Some typical business casual styles include button-downs, collared blouses, dress slacks, and below-the-knee skirts.

Proper shoe wear includes closed-toe flats, high heels, or dress boots. You could be more creative with shoes when you’re working with a smart casual outfit versus the business casual, so sneakers and flip flops or wedged summer sandals would not be an appropriate option.

The Wardrobe Basics

Since smart casual and business casual styles are so similar, there are a few different staple items your closet should have. These can be styled various ways to accommodate your smart and business casual needs, and because of the design of these specific styles I’m featuring, they can also be used in so many other outfits, from casual and vacation to running errands and date nights.

Women’s Business and Smart Casual Staples

Everywhere Pants

These pants could work for both smart and business casual! They are the ideal pants for the office, weddings or parties, corporate events, or a casual Saturday off the clock. The no-roll waistband stabilizes the pants without adding bulk. They feature a tailored look that is very flattering on most bodies, and (my favorite) they are water- and wrinkle-resistant!

Unity Hi-Rise 7/8

A crisp matte pair of leggings with a multitude of solid color options are the perfect foundational piece to a smart casual look. The 7/8 length has a 24-inch inseam across all sizes and the most buttery soft and barely-there-feeling material you’ll find. These have an elegant, streamlined pocketless style that can be dressed up easily with a draping cardigan or a long untucked button-down blouse. Check out a few tips on how to style leggings appropriately for the workplace on the blog.

Wanderer T

This wrinkle-free and pet hair-resistant top is an upgraded version of the classic V neck t-shirt. The Wanderer is made of polyester (86%) and spandex (14%), so it is silky soft, sweat-wicking, and ventilating mesh is integrated into a stripe design for a unique and gorgeous look. This comes in a short or long sleeve length, and both are easy to layer for a simple office look, whether you pair it with the above Everywhere Pants or the Unity leggings with a blazer or cardigan!

Tribeca Skirt

Everyone loves a good sweater, but this adorable skirt brings all the warm fuzzy feels down for the ultimate smart or business casual outfit. Feel as comfy as you would in your favorite cozy sweater, and simply combine with a more casual top like the Wanderer T for smart casual or style it up for a more business-professional look with a matching sweater or a Parallel Tank and blazer.

Parallel Tank

The Parallel is a tank everyone needs in their closet; it is the most brilliant tank with optimal coverage, wide shoulder straps, and reinforced seams that are made to last! The black or white color are the 2 basic colors that can fit in any wardrobe, but consider adding a little more color with any of the various options in my boutique. I love to layer the lilac or brick red under a cardigan or blazer for the office, and the material is just ultra soft with the ribbed effect.

Men’s Staple Professional Items

Office Chinos

Feel at ease in your business casual wear with these posh-looking—but plush-feeling—dress Chinos. From the barely-visible hem to every chafe-free seam in between, these pants will be your new favorite for the office and more. Inseams vary from 30″ to 33″, some colors may have limited sizes left.

Ventilation Collar Polo

This crisp polo with sharp edges and details is more comfortable than you would expect with its light, breathable fabric made from nylon and spandex. The material won’t cling to your dog hair either, so it will always look fresh and clean when you get dressed.

Traveler Pants

Every business casual or smart casual wardrobe for men needs this pair of high-quality matte slacks finished with low-profile pockets, belt loops, burnished hardware, and a tailored fit that skims and slims your shape. Inseams vary from 31″ to 34″, which can be rolled and cuffed at the bottom for some added style.

Meridian 1/4 Zip Sweater

This comfy sweater is the ideal option for the office, and you can take it right out to the golf course after hours too! Find 2 concealed pockets inside the lined knit fabric that cuts at a flattering position on the waist. A fabric panel sits behind the smooth-gliding zipper to keep the cold feel off your skin.

Business Attire Q&A

Can business casual be jeans?

It is arguable that smart casual outfits can feature jeans, but a business casual dress code is not usually one for jeans. Jeans have historically been a no-no in the business casual setting, perhaps only reserved for “Casual Friday” at best, so I would say avoid mixing jeans with business casual outfits. However, you could pull off jeans in a smart casual outfit when appropriate; you can easily consult your employee dress code, or observe how others are often dressing.

At the end of the day, it is most important to look clean and professional, especially if you are wearing denim jeans; don’t show up in those old torn jeans with the holes or funky patterns. I would go for a solid dark colored jean, but I don’t actually own any jeans myself anymore. Navy Everywhere Pants do the trick for me and are far more comfortable than any denim pant I’ve tried!

Is business casual and/or smart casual the same as business attire?

Settings that call for a more professional business attire may include similar features to your business casual wardrobe, but you will still want to dress a little more buttoned up than that. A formal business meeting, corporate interview, or some offices may require a more refined look that probably prohibits jeans, open-toe shoes, t-shirts, leggings, and hats.

For women, business attire should include a blazer, while for men it should include a tie and jacket of sorts. I find it easier in these situations to wear a dress and style it up with a blazer and heels, but women’s Everywhere Pants and Tribeca Skirt or the men’s Office Chinos will easily do the trick (plus be way more comfortable than what everyone else in the boardroom will be wearing).

What should I wear for a job interview?

Be prepared to impress by dressing for success; in my opinion, it is important to be comfortable in what you are wearing so you are your most confident self, but I would also aim for a business casual look over smart casual. I don’t think you could ever be overdressed for a job interview, unless perhaps you try wearing a tuxedo to a fitness-coaching job interview, or well, a tuxedo to any job interview for that matter.

Lean on a blazer or a button-down to style your outfit for a job interview, especially in the office/corporate setting; it would be better to feel overdressed than underdressed no matter what. Remember to take a look around during your interview to what other folks are wearing in the office. That will be a great indicator on how to dress for the next interview or your first day on the job!

What is better to wear for a professional headshot?

A professional headshot is essential because you never know when you will need one. Take the time to dress up and look your best when you are getting your headshots done, but you can definitely go for a more smart casual look with some jeans down below for something like this. A great headshot should actually focus on your face/upper body, so it shouldn’t matter what you wear down below if you’re pointing the camera in the right direction. Opt for solid colors over patterns and a simple background that isn’t distracting; any white or solid-painted wall would be ideal. Remember to smile and stand confident (you’ll have better posture in the photo when you stand instead of sit!).

You don’t need to get your headshots done professionally, by the way. I had done my hair and makeup one day to celebrate my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary, so I took that opportunity to get my professional headshot in while I was already looking my best; I luckily was able to have the event photographer snap a few photos of me while we were setting up for the party, but our phones today have such great camera qualities that you could easily have someone at home or in the office take a few photos for you. Try to use natural sunlight from windows to brighten your face or otherwise try to take the photo from the direction the light is pointing so your face is well lit.

Do you have a question about business style? Feel free to submit them here, or take the style quiz for a customized outfit recommendation based on your preferences and body type.

Women’s Business Casual Activewear for Every Season

by: Danielle Ternyila, ZYIA Active Independent Rep

Your office’s business casual dress code doesn’t have to be exhausting; it can be exciting and fun with the right pieces. Having worked in offices since I was 15, I’ve felt it all from morning frustrations trying to pick what to wear to sitting uncomfortably at a desk in pants that hardly fit or even have pockets for most of my day. An empowering brand has changed it all for me, and I’ll make it even simpler for you by highlighting the top business casual clothes for petite, plus size, and all the body types us ladies may have!

That’s the thing most clothing brands are forgetting when it comes to us women and what we actually want to wear; our bodies are not the same. We are all different physically, which means the confusing sizes that change from store to store and the men-run companies are NOT the way (*cough, cough cue my favorite song, “Victoria’s Secret” by Jax)!

Zyia Active is run by strong women from our co-founders Erin and Brenda Bradley to the independent representatives like myself in the United States, Canada, and now Australia, all just sharing our passions to help others. They started this company to fulfill our needs for clothing that balances comfort and style for all our shapes and sizes. And while ACTIVE is in the name, these clothes are for every part of your active life from your workouts to the office, your next big trip, and home walking the dog. This isn’t just any “active wear”!

To keep our quality clothing at its highest, you won’t see an endless surplus of the same items in our warehouse inventory; you’ll find things come and go in my boutique, but we have new releases every Wednesday, so there is always something new in store! That said, some of the items below may be running low or retiring soon, so I am always available to help you with sizing or shopping. Find your best way to contact me here whether it’s email, Instagram, or Facebook!

Piping Classy Jogger

This unique pair of work pants will give you all the cozy feels like you’re home on the couch! The Piping Classy Jogger is like your favorite soft and lightweight sweater material in a delightful business casual-friendly style.

  1. Tuck in a white button-down blouse with stilettos for a fierce feminine business casual look
  2. Pair it with the matching Piping Classy Sweater Tank and a sharp blazer jacket

*Let me disclose here that I am 4’11”, so my short women should have no fear with this! The inseam is 27.5-inch (69.8 cm), and so they are just a great length on even my petite shape. These items and the others below are all short-girl approved work bottoms!

Perfection Jogger

These joggers don’t look like your old-school gym joggers! These are advanced with superior wrinkle-resistant material, 2 deep pockets, and unique details like vertical trouser seams down the front of each leg. Shop the Perfection Joggers, currently available in a beautiful matte navy and black to pair with every color!

  1. Match these with a cute sweater or just a blazer for colder office days
  2. Pair it with a lightweight blouse in the summer with your favorite sandals

Tribeca Sweater Skirt

Who wants a timeless piece that can serve you year-round in your office outfits? The Tribeca Sweater Skirt is as comfortable and chic as it sounds; the most important features, at least to me, are the 2 deep pockets and the wide, soft ribbed waistband with a gentle stay-put elastic that doesn’t ever pinch!

  1. Simply pair the skirt with the matching Tribeca Sweater and pretty much any shoes!
  2. Tuck in any colored or patterned blouse up top
  3. Pair it with the Parallel Tank (below) and a blazer

Parallel Tank

The Parallel Tank offer simplicity with maximum coverage; it is the ideal top for tossing under a blazer, cardigan, and more! The material is sweat-wicking and ultra soft. Use it as the base for any of your business casual outfits!

  1. Layer under a long cardigan with metallic leggings, like my Metallic Light n Tights
  2. Use it as a base under your work blazer
  3. Keep warm using it as an extra layer under sweaters in the colder weather, or wear it on its own in the heat!

Monterey Dress

Shop the Monterey Dress in a beautiful burnt-orange Paprika or Warm Sand, as beautiful as the color sounds! Everyone enjoys this in their true size, and it drapes down and skims the body for a beautiful fit on every body that has tried this dress. Use it as a base for endless business casual ideas!

  1. Pair the dress with a blazer, and tie up a side to add a little texture to the dress
  2. Dress it up with a long cardigan and belt combo
  3. Layer a dressy blouse over for a cute skirt look in the office

Styling 2-Pc Sweater Set for Fall: 8 Looks

The Tribeca Sweater Set is a new 2-piece set to hit the boutique shelves, just in the knick of time for fall! This unique skirt and sweater combination, available in 2 colors for a limited time, is the perfect base for every outfit this fall. Dress the skirt up or down for everything from smart casual days in the office to trick-or-treating with the kids.

See the Tribeca Sweater Set and find your size before they sell out. Pair with any of the below pieces to complete this look and add some versatility to your wardrobe this season; this set guarantees the comfort of your favorite at-home sweats that you can wear everywhere.

Get any of these looks in my online boutique; I am always happy to answer questions on sizing or offer my shopping assistance, so feel free to find me on Instagram, Facebook, or reach out online here.

The Basics for a Smart Casual Dress Code

by: Danielle Ternyila

Smart Casual is a unique dress code that we are all beginning to get more used to; it sounds confusing, to just throw an adjective in now to a dress code like “smart”. However, it’s a really comforting dress code that we could all appreciate, especially if you are more often in business casual wear. Smart casual is a refined relaxed version of the business casual looks in your closet.

While a key element to the smart casual dress code is still business-friendly and professionalism, this is also your chance to dress down a bit. Jeans can be acceptable or some other items that you wouldn’t normally get away with in the corporate world. What I love most about smart casual is the emphasis on smart – smart enough to balance between comfort, casual, and corporate trends. After several years working home in our sweats, smart casual is the perfect way to incorporate some of that home comfort into a professional look.

Top 3 Smart Casual Tops

The Parallel Tank comes in many colors and serves as the perfect base to any outfit, especially smart casual! This top has a high neckline with optimum coverage on the arm holes. It is a very thick and sturdy with finely-ribbed fabric and durable reinforced edging throughout.

Pair this with jeans and a blazer or cardigan, or toss it on with a patterned skirt to match with some accessories.

Another versatile top is the Wanderer Short Sleeve T, which is also available in a long sleeve now and is the perfect smart casual top year-round. It is a lightweight and cool-to-the-touch fabric that feels silky soft against the skin and drapes gracefully from your shoulders. Integrated ventilating mesh stripes are complimented with a swooped hem and a top-stitched, reinforced V-neck collar. These tops are easy to style as smart casual or wear down on the weekend.

This light-weight top is ideal for any weather, so pair it with a summer skirt and heels or boots and a shawl for the fall.

The Party in the Back Tank is a unique bra-and-tank combination that will hug and support you the way your old Spanx would, except this top can stand on its own too! The tank has a built-in shelf bra that is supportive for A cups to D, E, F, G, and all… The fit is a compressive design, so you can size up one for a more relaxed fit, but it is meant to feel a bit tighter than other tank tops or camisoles, so keep that in mind. The slim-fitting construction makes it great for layering with any look. Unique twisting back features and straps allow this top to stand alone as a super fashionable top too.

Limited stock and sizes remain, so don’t wait to snag your Party in the Back Tank from my exclusive online boutique.

Top 3 Smart Casual Bottoms

The Perfection Joggers are an ideal pair of pants for smart casual. They are uniquely constructed with front seams down each leg, which make it look all the more clean and crisp for the business world and smart casual settings. The inseam varies from 28″ to 30″ (see chart in images here); for perspective, I am 4’11” and wear a Small; this is my true-to-size and while a bit long on my short stature, I do love wearing these regularly for my smart casual needs.

Perfection Joggers are exactly what you think: sweat pants, that are perfect for dressing up! Pair with any business blouse or a tank and blazer with the perfect shoes.

Black Metallic Light n Tight leggings combine the body-smoothing, tummy-tucking magic of our Light N Tight leggings with the classic pocketless metallic legging trend. These are the ideal business and smart casual leggings that every trendsetter needs in their closet. They can be dressed up so many ways, but the best part is the sweat-wicking performance in this material so you will feel cool from the waist down in any weather.

If you’re looking for a more bold color, there are many other metallic leggings in my boutique here. Pair any of these with a long sweater or cardigan if you’re not sure what to do for a smart casual dress code. It will never fail!

Everywhere Pants are the epitome of women’s business pants. Sleek, lightweight, anti-wrinkle, sweat-wicking, fast-drying, and incredibly versatile! Those are just a few ways to describe these flattering simple pants with 2 deep front pockets and a faux back pocket for detail. Cuff the bottoms for a capri look, too!

The Everywhere Pants are a great choice for smart casual, but you could also explore the Everywhere Zipper Jogger or Peak Zipper Joggers. Each feature unique gold or silver zippers on the ankle cuff. (Which is easy to pull up for a well-deserved mani-pedi after work one day, too 😉)

Check out more styles from my boutique and get the latest customer deals in my exclusive Facebook page, here!

Business Casual Bottoms Us Shorties Really Want

by: Danielle Ternyila

I live the life of a short woman, and I will only ever dream of what the world looks like from 5-feet up. There are some downsides to being short, as much as there are upsides (good luck trying to find us in Hide n Seek!) One of the hardest challenges since joining the workforce has been finding flattering and comforting dress slacks or business pants I can wear every day. After-all, we spend the largest part of our days dressed for work, so I of course want to feel most comfortable and confident.

Every day in the office can vary for me, which is what makes some of these pants so incredible, on top of being the perfect pant for us short girls! However, they are reliable and built to last. Zyia Active prides itself on creating quality clothing, and I am still amazed that no matter how often I wear these, they always look good as new (and I should add, I am in no way a pro at doing laundry right…).

More important, this brand offers something for every body. Clothes are not designed for us and our individual bodies, as if being loved slightly more by gravity was a crime. After years working in the office setting after graduation, I found a small handful of pants that did the trick for a while, but I still just counted down to Casual Friday every week. My

For reference, I’m 4′ 11″ (149.8cm) tall. The inseam for some of these vary based on size (see sizing chart in my shop for exact inseam measurements!), but the perfect length for me has been around 25″. There are a few go-to pieces in my closet, but the Everywhere Pants, specifically, take up the most space in my closet!

Everywhere Pants

These sweat-wicking, quick dry, wrinkle-resistant… just overall, perfect pants are great for travel, the office, and especially hot days over the summer! It’s no surprise they’re called the Everywhere Pants because they will perfect for every outfit and occasion.

I’ll dress these up with something simple like a flattering but fitted Parallel Tank in a fun color tucked in, all paired with a blazer or snuggly cardigan. They look just as great with a hoodie for a grocery store run or paired with a tank on the hottest day; made with nylon and spandex, these are a great lightweight pant to protect your legs from the UV.

Similar to the Everywhere Pants, you also can’t go wrong with their somewhat-related cousin: the Everywhere Zipper Jogger, which adds just a little sparkle to your look however you wear it

Everywhere Zipper Jogger

The big difference between the Everywhere Pants and Everywhere Zipper Jogger is in the bottom cuff, observed in the photos above. The zipper is fully functional (great for pedicure day!) with silver or brass zips to match the metal-tipped drawstrings, just like the Pants have! Customers can also enjoy that same faux back pocket, which just makes these bottoms look even more smart casual.

These are just as great in the heat or on a rainy day. These are my go to when I have to drive into the office in a storm and I don’t want damp pants all day. However, if you prefer a slightly heavier and more flattering fabric, the Peak Zipper Joggers have a few subtle differences you might appreciate.

Peak Zipper Jogger

Peak Zipper Joggers have slightly more nylon and a little less spandex than the Everywhere Zipper Jogger counterparts. This means they are a little thicker, which make them perfect for chilly campfire nights, freezing office buildings, schools, hospitals, or really any where. These women’s pants also have a functional drawstring and metal-dipped at the ends , along with 2 deep pockets that can hold your phone or anything else you need to carry with you.

The reinforced, no-pinch waistband fits comfortably around the waist, and the overall jogger hugs your curves gently, so you could size down one for a more fitted look. If you do like a flowy pant leg, though, I recommend the Work Flow Pants.

Work Flow Pants

These have a much higher waistband than others in my activewear boutique with our no-roll magic too. The inseams range from 22.5″-24″ (57.1-70cm), and the wide flowing leg features one box pleat that from the pocket to hem, creating a dramatic leg that can easily be styled and dressed for a business casual day. Two deep pockets is a game changer in your office attire too!

The Work Flow Pants are designed to be more fitted at the hip, so it’s recommended you size up one for a slightly more relaxed fit around the waist. They have incredible breathability with optimal sweat-wicking power, not to mention the four-way stretch fabric you’ll find in all my pants and joggers. These are great to dress up with a fitted blouse when you have to dress business casual, but you could also go for a skirt instead of pants, and for that I’d recommend the Effortless Skirt!

Effortless Skirt

End the week on a fun note! I love to stay comfortable for Casual Friday in something like our best leggings or something as cute as the Effortless Skirt! This is so easy to pair with a blazer too if you want to look the most smart casual, but this pencil skirt-inspired (or improved, perhaps?!) bottom is a knockout with 2 deep pockets for your phone or other needs. The waistband does not dig in with the wide 2″ (5.1cm) encased elastic up top. The flattering A-line design will look great on every body, especially my short girls.

Even though I am not even 5′ (152.4cm), this skirt comes to the perfect length on me to wear in the office as a business casual look with a blazer and heels, or it goes great with some sneakers and a cute tank. Check out more outfit inspiration on my instagram @Danielle-the-writer.

What styles do you struggle with or do you have a corporate dress code you have to adhere to? Let’s talk about it and more in my online Empowerment group on Facebook.

Interpreting Corporate Dress Codes: Business Casual

by: Danielle Ternyila, Zyia Active Independent Rep

While “Casual Fridays” may hold a special place in our hearts, the need for business casual is not completely unwarranted in the business world. Various dress codes can be placed and enforced in the workplace, and as the employee, it is our concern to abide by these policies and present ourselves with the appropriate level of professionalism.

Business Casual is a very common dress code I have found myself building wardrobes around since high school when I started visiting my mom’s office after school for my first “part-time” gig. While all companies decide on their own dress codes to describe in the sacred employee handbook, there are keywords that can easily indicate the expectations of the company, so you can understand exactly what is appropriate and what will not be for your new job (or just the ‘new you’ if you’re just on your next shopping bender for your ole’ 9-5!)

Dress Conservative

#813 Lilac Parallel Tank

Unless your role and company requires you to stand out (perhaps a fashion designer or a Queen), most dress codes will strive for conservative attire, meaning more formal and modest clothing choices. This refers not to just how revealing a piece is but also adherence to tradition and the tone that has already been set; if most people in the office wear blazers and jackets, you should also wear something similar.

Most people also gravitate toward neutral colors, tans, whites, or blacks and navy’s, that tend to blend in among the crowd and are easy to style, but this doesn’t mean you have to completely shy away from your favorite pink blouse or a stand-out dress that still aligns with your business casual company policies. When I want to dress my most modest, I go to the Parallel Tank first, for example, as it provides great coverage, has a full-length hem, and gentle support that flatters but does cling to your figure.

Customer-Serving Employees/Events Should Present Clear and Presentable in Appearance

#688 Black Everywhere Pants

It’s important to represent the company as your best self, so when you know you will be seeing customers or clients, it is essential that you dress most professional in these instances. Your best business casual wardrobe should include suits/skirts, dress pants, dresses, jackets/blazers, cardigans, and your nicest blouses.

In other words, look tidy and put together, not like you just ran from your third-shift position as a hockey referee and through the sprinklers before you clock in to the office. To make my own life easier, I always reach for my Everywhere Pants in these instances (above) because they are anti-wrinkle and water resistant, so they always look great, even if I had to run through the parking lot to make it to a meeting and spilled some tea a while back in the car.

Smart Casual Is Preferred

#5094 Distressed Blue Ankle Cinch Hi-Rise 7/8 24″

If your office boosts a smart casual dress code as opposed to the business casual you’ve grown accustomed to, appreciate the balance between a polished business professional look in the comfort of more casual pieces. Smart casual refers to something just a little bit more casual than the other offices before, quite progressive for a post-pandemic world! You can incorporate some of your more casual and comfortable articles of clothing into your office outfits while still dressing your best.

I’d expect in a smart casual office setting, you could get away with something like the Distressed Blue Ankle Cinch Hi-Rise in my activewear boutique (above) and a nice bootie, or you could even a pair of comfortable slip-on’s and a long cardigan.

No Yoga/Sweat Pants

#1096 Black Metallic Light n Tight Hi-Rise 7/8 24″

This is not a policy I take lightly as a part-time activewear rep, and there is a fine line between properly accessorizing athleisure wear for the office and stinking up the cubicles in your old alma mater sweats. When we see yoga pants listed on the no-no list, that indicates that it is important to be at your most presentable; booty-enhancing or bright tight leggings are a few of the things HR wants to avoid, but matte leggings paired with a lengthy sweater dress or Metallic Light N Tights (above) add a touch of personality to a draping blouse and cardigan that can look just as business casual as your dress slacks and cardigan.

Be considerate in what you are wearing if you do choose to seek the comfort of athleisure wear in your business casual wardrobe. My rule of thumb for leggings, specifically, is to cover the bum and pair with more conservator blouse or cardigan options to avoid any scrutiny.

Take a Deeper Look Into the Specifics

If you’re ever unsure about your dress code, there is nothing smarter than simply asking your HR representative for some guidance; that’s what they are there for, and if anything else, to dress for success, some suggest you dress like your boss; mimic their fashion choices in your own.

Appropriate Tops According to Policy

  • Suits and/or coats and ties is a specific example your company may call out in their employee style guidelines, but it is also helps describe their expectations. For women, this can send mixed messages about what may be appropriate, though this can also indicate that blazers or cardigans will play an essential role in your closet. Be sure to consider what others wear around you in the office.
  • Polo, Crewneck, and Collared Tops are safe go-to’s for the office, but you could also consider high-neck blouses, sweaters, or button-up’s. What isn’t appropriate would be see-through or revealing pieces, t-shirts or “torn” looking tops, and anything showing distracting, inappropriate or racy graphics (even if it’s a really cool vintage band tee).

Appropriate Bottoms for Business Professionals

  • Casual Slacks would be considered pants or bottoms that resemble your traditional dress pants; they should not be tight-fitted or elastic like your gym sweats or clubbing outfits. If the dress code indicates for a more casual approach, this could also include a thoughtfully designed pair of denim bottoms, so long as they are not blue, tight, or appear casual in any way.
  • Dress Slacks specifically are a more formal pair of pants and shouldn’t be confused with jeans, yoga pants, or shorts.
  • Skirts and Dresses should be of an appropriate length; mini-skirts, skorts, or any tight little skirt better suited for a vacation to Miami Beach are never the answer, but with careful accessorizing and perhaps a pair of stockings, a long flowy or pencil skirt can be a great alternative to pants in the office.

Footwear for the Office

Flip-flops, crocs, mud boots, your hiking shoes, and smelly gym sneakers are not often acceptable in the office setting, but you could still get away with a stylish boot that goes with a nice jacket and blouse or your sparkling-like-new tennis shoes. Clean athletic shoes or more casual slip-on’s can also work, but be mindful of what others wear in the office too as a guide.

There remains the other shoes you can wear too: the heels, sandals, flats, or in the more casual setting some stylish boat shoes. Depending on the outfit you’re working with, I’m convinced you can make any shoe work, unless you work somewhere that requires closed toe or steel-dipped shoes (then don’t break any rules for your own safety!)

Casual Friday’s

Not every company chooses to have a dress-down day, but if your HR team does allow this, remember to continue dressing to impress in the most “business casual” fashion you can; this is still not the day to wear your track pants and old faded hoodies or funny T-shirts. Take advantage of this day by wearing your favorite jeans if that’s what you desire, but avoid drawing attention to yourself by getting too comfortable. If the CEO or President of your company bumped into you in the lunch room that day, would you feel appropriate in what you wore? Keep that in mind when you get yourself ready for another Fri-yay!

Take a look at some of my favorite office outfits and business casual must-haves from my activewear boutique.