Regional Formal, Regional Casual

regional_formal_casual

Whenever I talk about office- and work-appropriate attire – especially in the wiggly “business casual” category – I am reminded that the formal-casual gradient is relative. And, in fact, here in the U.S. it seems to change regionally. What would be perfectly acceptable in many Midwestern office environments shocks some East Coasters with its informality. What is totally normal work attire in Denver might seem outlandishly casual here in Minneapolis. And there seem to be marked differences between the California definition of “casual” and the New York definition of “casual.”

Of course, there are some universals: I can’t think of anywhere in the nation where it would be appropriate to show up to work in truly filthy clothes, in clothes that show major erogenous zones like butt cheeks or midriffs, or in clothes that are specific to other professions (like a mechanic’s jumpsuit or nurse’s scrubs in an accountant’s office). MOST regions deem jeans to be casual, but they blur lines in many places and are completely acceptable in others. Open-toed footwear is a no-no in many places, but many others allow it year-round.

I consider myself to be fairly well-traveled, but cannot speak to casual/formal dressing norms in countries outside the U.S. I imagine that they, too, vary widely by country and region. This makes discussions of casual wear and work wear more complex, but also more interesting! And I’d love to hear your take:

Do you consider your region to skew casual or formal? Why? What is typical business casual attire where you live? What is typical casual attire where you live? How does denim play in? Do you feel the formal-casual gradient has shifted in your region? Are you aware of the regional definitions of casual and formal?

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  • http://newvintage.wordpress.com Andrea

    I live in the Washington DC area. This area is more formal than most of the country, but it has shifted towards more casual in the last 5 years or so. Jeans are never allowed in the workplace and you’re still more likely to see a suit than not. When I travel to other parts of the country and wear what I consider to be my casual clothes, I’m always surprised to be overdressed. The only place I didn’t feel overdressed was London.

    • http://crossingthedelebear.blogspot.com Katie

      I’ve noticed that in DC, too. Up to 4 years ago I was visiting regularly and I always saw dark suits (not just downtown). Now that we live here and I’m divided between Foggy Bottom, Downtown, and the Mall- I’m seeing a lot more casual wear. At a recent professional event, half of the people were in jeans and not even dark jeans (which I considered since it was a happy hour event). This puts me at an interesting place when going between different works places since I’m private businesses and government entities with different expectations.

  • LK

    My office in NY was way more casual than my office in Chicago. In NY we had to dress “trendy casual”. You pretty much always looked like you were going out somewhere, but I worked in the entertainment business. We all wore jeans, but we had to wear nice jeans etc. I’ve also heard people refer to the look as expensive casual.

    • Anna

      Hey, I like that term “expensive casual.” Possibly it describes my “good casual” look, which consists of new dark-wash jeans teamed up with nice tops, scarves, one or two pieces of jewelry. In my rural/small town environment, that gets me through many situations, including church on Sunday.

  • http://notdeadyetstyle.blogspot.com/ Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    I worked in Boston and Washington, DC, before moving to FL – what a wardrobe difference! Florida’s dress code is so much more casual, even at most *weddings*. Our office is casual-wear and “nice” jeans are fine, but I like to dress up a little anyway.

    • http://www.closet-coach.com Heidi/The Closet Coach

      And I’ve migrated in the other direction. It’s totally true! I think temperature has a lot to do with it, too.

    • http://unrequitedloveletter.blogspot.com Mistie

      I live in Florida, and it is casual. My Northern grandmother was always horrified by the way I would dress for outings. It was never “nice” enough.

  • Jenn

    I live in southern Arizona and let me tell – casual is the way of life! I’m sure it has to do with the weather – it is above 75 for about 8 months of the year…

    Even in the courthouse, the majority of lawyers will be wearing just a shirt, tie and slacks – not suits! Nice denim are considered business casual here – except in banking – I’ve never seen anyone in my 2 different banks in denim. Bare legs are the norm also! Exception – one of the medical centers require ALL their staff to not have bare legs – thus requiring women to wear pantyhose/tights – even in 100+ weather!

    Instead of being too formal, I wear business casual according to what is worn in our region…but draw the line at wearing yoga pants for daily wear outside the house (except for exercising)…

    • VaMarcy

      I think the temperature is the major driving force here in southern Arizona–having moved here from Wash DC metro area, I found myself with a closet of stuff that’s way too ‘dressed’ for practically everything. But I don’t mind…it’s nice to wear bare legs 9 months out of the year, and pants the other 3 months.

  • http://thedivinedomestics.blogspot.com Vicky

    My office has a very easy dress code: No boobs, no butt, no belly. (Some cleavage is ok….. but we haven’t really had an issue with that)

    Other than that, we sit in an office all day behind a computer with no face-to-face client interaction at all. So, they don’t care if we wear flip flops, shorts, mini-skirts, and tank tops (we are down in Central Florida).

    There are very rarely conferences we must go to, and then we are expected to go ‘business casual’, which means nice pants and top, or the company polo.

  • http://creatista.com Anna

    I live in and love Tucson Arizona. We are so casual. Jeans go just about anywhere. I feel like a country bumpkin when I visit my friend in Philly, even when I’m wearing what I consider dressed up attire. In Tucson you can tell a persons station in life by the quality of his cowboy boots.

  • Jennifer

    I work for The Man (DC area), and we have a pretty casual dress code, though you are expected to dress up for meetings with sponsors and higher-ups. You will see all sorts of odd sartorial choices from some folks (the lady that only wears purple swishy track suits comes to mind), but for the most part people observe the business casual dress code, jeans allowed. The only time I have to dress in full business attire is if I’m giving a presentation at a conference, but even there only the Americans do so. Europeans firmly believe skinny black jeans, a turtleneck sweater, and maybe a blazer, constitute appropriate conference wear (and I work in a male dominated field). No one really cares that much. As long as you’re not an eyesore, it’s more about the quality of your work, not whether you are wearing open-toe shoes. I think it’s about time.

  • http://tallpetite.blogspot.com joy

    I have lived in Texas, DC, and now NYC. Texas is pretty casual, but not overly so. DC is formal, but I always felt that anything remotely ‘trendy’ was frowned upon. Lots of suits, but very little style in my opinion. NYC is formal, but being fashion-forward is valued. You can get away with a lot more in NYC than you ever could in DC. Being overly casual in NYC (jeans and t-shirt) will almost certainly get you labeled as a tourist or new in town.

  • Virginia

    The workplace dress code also seems to vary depending on the “industry.” And by “industry” I don’t mean professions that require specific dress (such as nursing, mechanics, etc.). I work in New England, but at a high tech company. High tech has a reputation for taking “business casual” to a new extreme, no matter where the office is located. If anyone were to show up at my office in a suit, they would be shown to the door (seriously). Jeans are the norm for men and women; shorts are worn in the summer (even by women). Since high tech is also male dominated, the few women in my office tend to dress any way they want; there’s no “standard.” There are a few of us who prefer to “get dressed” to go to work. We tend to wear what ever suits our sense of fashion. As a result we out-dress the men. By a lot. But still nothing that would be considered “business formal.” Today I am wearing black tweed pants, black turtle neck, dark gray cardigan with red flats and a red scarf. I’m the dressiest person in the office.

    • http://www.wardrobeoxygen.com Alison

      I agree with this. While I have only worked in Maryland, Virginia, and DC, I have traveled for business a lot and find dress codes are less by region and more by industry. While I found my DC attire more formal than my colleagues in Arizona or parts of California, it wasn’t as drastic as it was when I changed industries.

      Office culture often dictates the severity of dress code. My current company has several offices across the country and while we all have the same exact dress code, how it is implemented varies from location to location, even if the locations are in the same region or state. I think dress code is less about your part of the country and more about how the upper management of your company feels about it.

  • bubu

    Great topic! I work in Boston — it is definitely a bit more formal but the real code here is understated (all that Yankee background) — things that would be considered normal and appropriate in Chicago or New York (where I’ve spent some time) might raise eyebrows here — e.g., animal print anything is a rarity in Boston. Also, what is considered appropriate grooming in other places in terms of hair and make-up might be considered overdone and frivolous here — as I’ve amped up my daily make-up routine, because i like how it looks and feels, I notice how many women are completely bare-faced in Boston – very accepted here but would probably seem undone elsewhere.

  • Marie

    I would consider my current city, Canada’s capital, to be a formal city. Not fashion-y though, but a lot of suits all the time.. My home city in central Canada is way more casual, the kind of workplaces where you ‘dress up’ and everyone would ask what the occasion was! This does appear to be an East vs West difference, but I never thought about it before.

    Business casual here in Ottawa would be something like khakis and a cardigan, or dark jeans and a button-down. Casual is jeans and t-shirts, or cotton sundresses in the summer. I suspect though that someone running in different circles than me would have different opinions about this, because we are a government town, but we also have a couple large universities and are home to many NGOs, so those places would skew more casual.

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      I don’t think it’s an east-west thing in Canada because Québec is certainly not formal. Not sure what things are like in the other eastern provinces though. I am originally from the U.S. and was surprised even by how casual things were here in general, even in English-speaking academic circles. The casual vibe here has a bit of a European/edgy feel to it overall, so it’s very different from the casual looks in the U.S. (even in big cities like Chicago), and also different from the little I have seen of the rest of Canada (visits to Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa). My husband (from Quebec) generalizes that people in the U.S. tend to wear khakis and pastel tops and button-down shirts pretty regularly, and I feel like most people in Québec tend to wear a lot of black and never tuck anything in. But most of my clothes are black, so it works pretty well for me. :)

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      After reading all the comments, maybe what I consider “casual” is actually, comparatively, dressier than some of other examples of “casual” mentioned in the comments? Like wearing jogging/track suits or hiking-type clothes….those types of casual aren’t the kind of things one would see here. I guess the “casual” here is more of a “European casual.”

  • Linda L

    I’ve lived in Denver for almost 20 years, and have always worked in the life insurance industry, but for several companies. Just about every office I’ve worked in has been business casual, jeans on Fridays. Bare legs and open toed shoes and sandals are allowed, no shorts. The guys wear collared golf shirts and khaki’s for the most part. Things I’ve seen people get called out on: camo pants, cleavage, leggings without a long top or dress over them. When I worked in Massachusetts in the late 80′s/early 90′s, no one did business casual yet, so hosiery was required and the guys wore dress shirts and slacks. Maybe things have changed since I’ve been there, but I’ve always thought of Denver as being much more casual than the East Coast. There is a great variety of style here, however, so I never feel out of place if I want to dress up a bit more (which I usually do).

  • Lark

    Midwestern academia here – somewhat baffled by all this “the Midwest is so casual” business. Scientists, now scientists are casual – and I’ve seen scientists from all over the world, so I can attest that while French researchers have nicer casual clothes, they are not more formal. I dress too casually for my role (research support) and I am wearing dressy chinos, button-front shirt tucked in, belt, cardigan and dress shoes. I’d be better off in dress pants and an unstructured jacket, but I loathe dress pants since they’re either poly-rayon-spandex or else you have to dry clean them.

    I think there’s another question here: not “how casual is your office?” but “how nice are your clothes expected to be, whether formal or casual?” If I did wear an unstructured jacket and dress pants, they would not be expected to be very contemporary or attractive or made of nice materials – the grimmest synthetic rag from TJ Maxx would do. Whereas I think on the east coast (or even in Chicago) people would make more of a distinction between “poly-rayon-spandex jacket and pants in an off purple with novelty buttons and an elastic waist”, which would count as a “suit” here, and “wool or decent synthetic crepe in a ‘business’ color with some structure and a generally fitted silhouette”. One reason I don’t wear dressier clothes is that I can only afford the demoralizing, ugly, synthetic versions, whereas I can thrift and eBay much more attractive and comfortable casual clothes.

    • Bekka

      The only place I’ll disagree with you is that it is totally possible to thrift and ebay dressier clothes at very decent price points. The vast majority of my suits and dress pants (in silk/linen, or wool flannel) have come from ebay or Goodwill.

    • http://none Heidi L.

      Lark,
      So well put!Particularly the second paragraph.Having a government job where they have a dres code…sporadically/randomly enforced…this”the grimmest synthetic rag from TJ Maxx would do. Whereas I think on the east coast (or even in Chicago) people would make more of a distinction between “poly-rayon-spandex jacket and pants in an off purple with novelty buttons and an elastic waist”, which would count as a “suit” here, and “wool or decent synthetic crepe in a ‘business’ color with some structure and a generally fitted silhouette”. …really says it.

      Heidi in L.A.

  • LinB

    Greensboro, North Carolina is still pretty much Old South for office wear, for traditional professions. Lawyers, bankers and brokers, insurance offices require matched suits, for men and for women, as a “formal” uniform. “Business casual” is a navy blazer and khaki trousers/skirt, white or blue button-down oxford shirt, loafers (with or without tassel, but DO wear socks/hose at the office). For the rest of us, the blazer and khakis rate as “formal.” College students wear whatever the heck they want, but the professors tend toward blazers/khakis — unless they are really trendy, in which case they wear tweeds and turtlenecks in the wintertime.

  • Kelly

    I work in southeasten Virginia. My company is a great place to work, and we’ve even won awards for our great atmosphere. The dress code is defined as business casual, and people (myself included) do wear nice jeans frequently. Suits are very infrequent, especially for women. Women’s clothes are stylish, but most certainly casual. I am in managament, and today I have on black leggings, black and white stripe tunic, black and hot pink leopard print scarf, and hot pink flats.

    That being said, recently, there has been some push back from HR on enforcing the dress code. A quote from an HR email to the whole office last summer: “In general, if you would be comfortable wearing an outfit out to a club or party, it may not be appropriate for the workplace, and we ask that you reconsider your options.”

    I attribute the need for this email reminder to two things. First, we have an extremely wide age spread. We have gentlemen in their 70′s working along side the 20-somethings. The 20-somethings WERE pushing the limits of the dress code last summer and the 70′s were understandably uncomfortable. And second, we frequently have international customers in the building, especially those from Asian countries, who have at times been visibly shocked at certain “office” attire. (VP leading that tour was.not.amused.)

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that business casual (within limits) is the rule around here. It’s all about respect for each other, within the framework of one’s personal style.

  • http://shejustaintright.wordpress.com Lynne Versteeg

    I live in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada – I think we skew a little more toward the casual – small city, cold climate! Being warm & dry often trumps fashion!

  • Shannon

    I work in an engineering office on the west coast of Canada, and I still haven’t figured out what I’m supposed to be wearing as there are no female engineering mentors. Some days I wear a suit skirt with a cardigan, nylons, and leather flats. Other days I wear blue jeans with a plaid button down. At a previous office, during my orientation, I was specifically told by an older male engineer to not wear a skirt. Not sure what that was about, but I did test the water by wearing an ultra-conservative calf-length A-line linen skirt on a blisteringly hot summer day, and he did call me out on it and told me to never wear it again. Never mind that it obscured my curves far more than any dress pant. See: not working in that office anymore.

    • http://www.missoulagrace.com Grace

      You can wear a skirt suit, but not a long skirt? weird. sounds like someone has issues about women in the workplace, seriously.

  • Kat Belle

    It can also, confusingly enough, vary by location within the same organization.

    For example, I worked at one residential center where the look for employees was VERY casual – one staff member showed up to conduct my job interview in acid-washed denim jacket on acid-washed denim jeans, so basically anything not too sexualized was fine. However, I am currently interviewing for a different program under the same general management, and the look there is definitely far more business-like.

  • http://cagedyarn.com Katie

    I work in the energy industry and in a business casual environment. Officially, Friday is jeans day, but unofficially, if I’m not seeing a client and I maintain a professional air, I can wear jeans on any other day. I struggled for the first year or so on the job in trying to find the right level of dress that was polished and professional, yet casual and still a bit fun. I work with mostly men and the dress code for them is khaki pants and a collared shirt with leather shoes. Period. Day in and day out. It drove me nuts to try to dress that way. I felt underdressed and frumpy. So I stepped it up a notch and started wearing skirts and dresses a whole lot more. I live in Houston, so open toed shoes are okay as long as your feet are groomed and hose aren’t necessary with skirts and dresses.

    Generally, I interpret two different business casuals, one with and one without jeans. Most of the rest of the guidelines are pretty much the same:
    bottoms:
    slacks that are clean, wrinkle-free, and unfaded
    skirts that are closer to knee-length or halfway between fingertips and knees (I sometimes misstep here because I’m tall, so I usually make sure that I’m wearing opaque tights or leggings if my skirt’s on the shorter side)

    tops:
    sleeveless is okay, but not strappy tank tops
    cardigan, jacket or wrap to cover bare shoulders (and protect from the frigid temperatures the office is kept at)
    excessive cleavage is not okay

    all:
    No shear clothes
    following trends is okay, but not to the point of distraction

  • http://fashionforward40.com Tracey

    I am Canadian and find regional differences here as well. I have worked professionally in Ottawa, Toronto and for the past 14 years Vancouver. I have also found marked differences in what is considered casual by the type of business in which you work. Most of my career has been at ad agencies where casual was more “funky” casual and depending on your client jeans could be worn everyday. But my corporate workplaces were more about suits and separates – with a simple addition of jeans to your usual blouse/sweater/blazer top on Friday.

  • AnnR

    A lot depends on what/where you work.

    I was in a resturant in the Mid-Atlantic region listening to a woman at another table complaining she didn’t like to appear in Court in Virginia because skirts were required for women.

    I’m not sure I’d want to hire a lawyer who gave what she “had” to wear more weight than my needs as a client.

  • http://smiletexysmile.blogspot.com D

    I grew up in San Antonio, and I’ve lived in Denver for about 10 years, and I have noticed a few regional differences in dress. I never had a job in San Antonio, as I moved right in the beginning of my adult life, but I have noticed Denver seems to swing just a bit more casual in my other experiences. I’ve had comments about how I’m soooo dressy because I regularly wear dresses and skirts in Denver, and I could wear jeans to church (and I’ve seen high school girls wearing gym shorts and yoga pants to church…). It seemed like skirts and dresses were pretty much expected in San Antonio. Luckily for me, neither city seems to have any expectations when it comes to wearing panty hose or any problems with open toe shoes.

    I am interested to see what the expectation is in Chicago when I move there in the next couple of months, I think it is going to be more formal than I’ve experienced so far!

  • Irene E

    I’m in the northeastern suburbs of Chicago, and I notice a huge variation depending on where I am, even within the suburbs or city. In general, the suburbs are more casual than the city, but not always. Also, there is a big difference in how stylish or trendy people are. For instance, whenever I go to Old Orchard mall, I feel underdressed and like the country cousin, while I almost never have that feeling up here in Lake County!

  • Anamarie

    I’m an attorney in Minneapolis and work in casual, small firm. I wear suits with appropriate (boring) shoes and accessories for court appearances or meetings with important clients – but otherwise probably push the envelope a bit. I wear patterned/textured tights, leopard/red/green shoes, wear a lot of scarves, cool jewelry, change my handbags and nail polish every couple of days, etc. I feel more dynamic and engaged if there is some speck of color in my outfits. I feel so “serious” and not particularly comfortable in a suit. Today (non-court day) I am wearing a 3/4 sleeve black blazer, cobalt pencil skirt, black and white print cowl neck top, black flat tall boots and mint nails.

    • http://www.missoulagrace.com Grace

      You sound like you have a lot of fun dressing! But, it doesn’t sound (to me) casual… even on your “off days.” It sounds more playful, but equally considered and “maintained” if you will.

      • Anamarie

        Thanks, Grace! I do think about what I’m wearing and like to have fun with my clothing and accessories.

  • http://midwesternmodernmomma.blogspot.com Jen C

    I think it is a mixture of many factors-regional, type of work, even community. I have been in education for 12 years, and have worked in 4 school districts. Each district (all in the same state) have had different expectations of dress for their staff members. My first job I showed up every single day of the week dressed in skirts, blouses, jackets, closed-toe shoes, tights, and other variations of what I refer to as “newscaster professional” wear. We did have “dress down” Fridays on the pay-day weeks if you were a contributor to the district scholarship fund. However your denim choice still needed to be more professional and your choice of top needed to be in the colors of the school. The district I work for now is quite rural. If I showed up here in suits on a regular basis, the parents and students would feel me to be a snob. I wear many tunics and leggings and boots in the winter, lots of light sweaters over maxi dresses or denim skirts with light tops in the spring and late summer months. Dressy sandals are completely acceptable. And every Friday we are wearing denim. School spirit is a big thing here.

    I feel professional when I dress for work still though-even if my suits are only brought out for conference nights, open house, and orentation. I am always neat, presentable, and make sure what I am wearing is of high quality. I think it is important for my students to see that you can look pulled-together no matter what you’re wearing. Especially when I’m doing battle with pajama pant loving teenagers:)

  • Sarah

    I am an office manager in Baltimore, and I have to say, we skew casual. I worked remotely for a company out of Florida that required me to wear heels and suits during site visits, but overall, Baltimore is super casual. I have never had a job based out of here that required suits or heels. My co-workers get away with leggings, tunics and boots regularly. I also have some co-workers who think it’s appropriate to wear 3-inch platform hooker heels and leather mini skirts to work, so take my comment with a grain of salt!!

  • Elizabeth

    Dress code can also vary from city to suburbs. I used to teach at a private school in the city of Chicago, and dress was fairly formal. Administrators wore suits, a lot of the male teachers wore ties, I wore fashionable pants with blouses/sweaters most of the time with the occasional dress/skirt outfit thrown in. Then I switched to a public school in the suburbs, and the (unstated) dress code was completely different. Most of the teachers wore jeans & gym shoes, and even the administrators were significantly more casual. (The best way I can summarize the whole thing was Banana Republic vs. Lands End.) Interestingly, the cultural/economic makeup of the two schools was very similar. I struggled for a long time to figure out how to fit in without looking completely frumpy. I don’t think I ever really succeeded!

  • yasmara

    My husband & I were just discussing the difference between European male casual & Upper Midwest male casual. I was at a conference (dress code business casual) & all the European males were in some variation of dark jeans, loafers/brogues/other leather shoes, long-sleeved button-down shirt (often a bold check/gingham type pattern in a bright color), and a sweater (grey/navy/black) or sportcoat over the shirt. 99% of the Upper Midwest males were in khakis/chinos with a solid color golf/polo collar shirt (short sleeved). Needless to say, the Upper Midwest American men did not compare favorably to the European men!

    I thought of this again as I was reading the new Minnesota Monthly this morning. Sal, there’s a great men’s style makeover this month (well, the March issue I think). The “before” is very typical Upper Midwest Male & the “after” is polished casual, much more European male.

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      I just made a comment that touched on this idea further up about the differences between casual looks Québec and the US. I have noticed the differences that you mention too!

  • Chanelle

    As a professional 3 years out of college and working at my first “business casual” office, this is interesting to me. I work at a large nonprofit, so it’s pretty corporate around here, especially in my very client-facing fundraising department. When we have to see clients, we wear business attire. When we don’t, it’s more lenient. And on Fridays we can wear jeans.

    And it is totally possible to thrift a professional looking wardrobe! I am cheap and shop at thrift and consignment stores almost exclusively, and I get compliments ALL the time. One coworker asked me to take her shopping because she’s tired of spending tons of money using the personal shoppers at Nordstrom!

    • Chanelle

      I should add, I’m in Ohio.

  • Michelle

    I live in the South Island of New Zealand.

    I’ve heard reports from overseas visitors that NZ women dress very casually (actually the word “slob” was used). And whenever I travel to Europe I feel dowdy (and I try to make an effort!)

    I work in an agricultural science lab so my workplace is even more casual than usual. Trackpants and running shoes aren’t uncommon. I could wear jeans and a t-shirt every day and that would be fine (and is actually a good uniform because I never know if I’m going to be in the lab or in the field). I struggle most days with what to wear. I’m inevitably covered up by a lab coat or overalls so sometimes wonder why I bother.

  • http://www.closet-coach.com Heidi/The Closet Coach

    I’ve lived in several different regions, but I’ve noticed more variation between industries than between locations. There is quite a spectrum from law office to newspaper to creative agency!

  • Karen

    Work defined business casual: Shirt with collar or department polo with logo, trousers not denim, skirt or dress. No tennis shoes. No exposed tattoos. All shall be in good repair and fit (not over tight not over loose).

  • Frenchie

    I’m in Vancouver, BC, Canada–voted the worst-dressed city in Canada (because of yoga pants and the very casual way of dressing here).

    I’m a teacher who started her career wearing business clothes. That didn’t last long. Most teachers here wear denim or track suits. I still don’t. I wear shift dresses or skirts (with or without leggings depending on season) with a cardigan or jacket and flats or boots. It’s a sporty-casual look–approachable but professional.

  • Shaye

    Here in Portland, Oregon the gal in the jean jacket would be considered fancy. ;)

  • http://pacificrain.blogspot.com Sarah

    So few NW-erners commenting! Seattle’s maybe a hair fancier than Portland? While there’s still variation by industry, we’re notoriously casual (and really into sportswear – everyone’s always clad in REI, looking like they are ready at any moment to hop in a kayak or go for a mountain hike). Jeans are appropriate “business casual” wear at my husband’s architecture firm (though admittedly, I insist that he gets nice tailored ones and pairs them with spruce oxfords and neat sweaters), and for professors at my university!

    • http://www.missoulagrace.com Grace

      Double agree. I am in Montana and, boy, howdy. :)
      There is a BIT of a dressier contingent oin certain slices of life– lawyers, certain executive types… but when you see someone in a suit you wonder why.
      Lotta fleece, lotta down jackets.
      Even weddings are notoriously casual.
      Dresses are worn more often with boots than heels.
      For me, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I do feel like a bumpkin when I visit family in the Boston area. And I had a work trip to New York last year! Yipe. I went shopping, but I still barely passed muster.

  • Mallory

    I’m in Tampa, FL and despite our already causal dress code of khakis or dress pants and collared shirt, people constantly try to push limits. They’ll wear everything from flipflops, yoga pants, and wife beaters to work. Unacceptable.