Excactly 24 years ago, when I was working part-time at the Sunglass Hut in Toronto, Canada, the MANAGEMENT decided it was time to teach its hundreds of employees what their new "business casual" dress code REALLY meant.
They sent every store very, very thick manuals (kalın yasaklar/yapılacaklar klasörleri) featuring color combinations, suggested outfits (tavsiye edilen kıyafetler) and a long list of do's and don'ts.
Needless to say, WE THE EMPLOYEES, were outraged (çok sinirlendik). During coffee breaks we would angrily discuss how George Orwellian (1984) it all was.
Why were they trying to control us? Why were they infringing on our individual rights (bireysel haklarımızı çiğnemek)?
We were distraught (çok kırılmış, sinirlenmiş). Those who were able to adapt (uyum sağlayabilen), stayed on (işine devam etti). Those who were unable to adapt, left or were asked to leave.
I, being the adaptable, generally practical person that I am, found myself at the GAP and Banana Republic spending my hard-earned 3.45 dollars an hour on neutral colored, simple, plain but professional looking clothes.
Years later as General Manager of an NGO in Turkey, I found myself trying to spread the "business casual" spirit in the name of professionalisation (kurumsallaşma) both within our organization and the sector in general.
It was not an easy feat (marifet). People hated the new dress code and most of all they hated me for being the messenger. It was a new world for the NGO sector...a world which prioritised "looking professional" and "being professional" over individual style and as they put it "passion for their work".
I didn't invent "business casual" dressing. I was not the one who made it a la mode in Turkey. And now, I am yet again the messenger so, please don't shoot me.
Over three decades of working in various sectors, I have seen that the better you dress, the more professional you look, the more seriously people take you. PERIOD.
To be honest, it wasn't that difficult for me because I have always tried to dress simply, to dress well and to balance my personal taste with what is deemed acceptable and professional by customers, co-workers and THE MANAGEMENT.
I love neutral colors and simple, classic clothes for several reasons:
1) It generally looks good, calm, balanced, classy;
2) It looks professional;
3) It looks appropriate for any situation (boardroom meeting or customer visit);
4) It is neither too feminine nor masculine, neither too fancy nor casual;
4) It is more economical and practical and much easier to get dressed in the morning;
5) It has lots of room to be accessorized and personalized with good scarves, jewellery, bags, watches and shoes.
I went online and took a look at what was available mid-season and on sale to start building your business casual wardrobe. Read on to find out what I recommend that you buy from the GAP, Banana Republic and Mango to achieve this super powerful and super easy "business casual" look.
All of these items-or the like-(benzerleri) are available on SALE right now.
Please let me know where you are shopping these days or how you define business casual style!
Oh and please always bring a light BLAZER (jeket) or stylish light sweater with you to work. Just in case you are called into the boardroom to deliver a document or a last minute presentation.
And last, but not least, if you are allowed to wear jeans to work, please make sure that the rest of your outfit balances out the jeans ( i.e a silk blouse and good tailored jacket and wonderful loafers for instance).
THE GAP: The Blue Shirt & Light Sweater
The GAP: Simple Dresses & Light Sweaters
Banana Republic: Awesome Neutral Work Tops
Banana Republic: Great Pieces, Great Outfits
Banana Republic: Great Pants
Mango: Dozens of Light Jackets
Business Casual Colors Part 1:
Business Casual Colors Part 2:
Derya Akalın Uysal, founder of Etudist Training & Consulting.