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

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.