When putting together our work wardrobe many of us wonder ‘are skirts business casual’, and if so which styles of skirt fit the bill? With so many different types of skirts available to us it can be hard to decipher which ones we can wear to work, and which should be kept strictly casual.
To help I have put together a business casual skirt guide, covering as many types of skirts as possible, including fashion tips and inspiration to help you style easy work outfits.
Are skirts business casual?
Skirts are considered business casual attire when appropriately styled for an office environment. Avoid skirts that are too short, too brightly patterned or brightly coloured and pair with other workwear clothing items, such as a tailored jacket.
When choosing a skirt to wear for a business casual dress code, here are some easy rules to keep in mind:
- Consider a longer hemline, such as a midi length or just above the knee length style. Avoid anything too short, as this will err too far on the casual side.
- Avoid bright patterns and colours, such as neon, as this will appear too casual. Instead choose muted colours and simple patterns, such as a subtle floral or polka dot.
- Choose a quality material that is suitable for an office space, such as wool, tweed, black denim or suit material. Avoid materials like silk or tulle, as these appear too formal.
- Pick a more modest style of skirt if in doubt (such as a simple A-line), and stay away from thigh slits, graphic patterns (like owls or cats) or any branded wording on the garment.
If your skirt is on the more ‘casual’ side, such as a black denim or a summery midi skirt, make sure the rest of your outfit qualifies as ‘business’ clothing.
Feel free to wear your more casual skirt, as long as it follows the above rules in relation to cut, pattern and colour, but make sure everything else you wear is smart. Pair the skirt with heels or smart heeled black ankle boots, a nice blouse and a blazer or tailored jacket.
If the skirt could be considered both casual and smart, then feel free to pair it with other items that fit the same description. A great example of this is the two outfits I styled below with a business casual dress code in mind:
Both of the above skirts can be considered business casual, as they are formal enough to qualify as business wear, but relaxed enough to be considered casual, when styled with a t-shirt for example.
With both skirts I paired smart black tights and sleek heeled ankle boots to elongate my legs and keep the bottom half of the outfit muted. Both skirts feature black as part of their pattern, which adds a touch of sophistication and makes them easy to pair with dark tights.
For the top half of the outfit I chose to style simple turtlenecks, as they are conservative enough to be considered business casual also. Choosing simple colours, such as a plain white or a dusty pink works well for business casual wear, as they compliment the pattern on the skirt without drawing the eye too much.
To dress this outfit up further I would add court heels instead of ankle boots and layer a tailored cropped jacket on top. For summer I would switch out the tights and black boots for a simple pair of heels, and the turtlenecks for a light cream blouse.
Keep accessories to a minimum and pair with a smart handbag.
Now we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into different types of skirts and whether they qualify for this dress code…
Are maxi skirts business casual?
Maxi skirts are not considered business casual attire as the hemline is too long for an office environment. A more appropriate style of skirt would be a midi skirt as it is still long but doesn’t pass the mid calf, making it appear more tailored and professional looking.
Maxi skirts are more appropriate for summer wear, beach wear or casual weekend wear. In an office environment a maxi skirt looks odd, as a super long hemline doesn’t appear professional. A shorter hemline that reaches the knee or mid calf looks much more tailored in a business environment and pairs well with other business casual attire such as heeled sleek ankle boots, a blouse and a tailored jacket.
Are jean skirts business casual?
Jean skirts are considered business casual in an office environment that allows for denim to be worn as part of the dress code. If you are unsure, choose a dark wash jean skirt or a black jean skirt and pair with more tailored workwear, such as a blazer and smart heels.
If your office allows people to wear jeans as part of a smart casual or business casual dress code then it stands to reason that jean skirts should also be allowed. If you are in doubt it’s always best to double check with your employer.
If you are going to wear a jean skirt to the office here are some guidelines to follow to ensure you look polished:
- Make sure the jean skirt is immaculate, with no rips or distressed detailing
- Avoid painted or embroidered jean skirts and keep it simple and clean
- Choose dark wash denim over light and pair with other smart garments to dress up the skirt
- Stay away from branded jean skirts that feature brand names on the pockets or as part of the design
If you are enjoying this article you may also like How to Wear Ankle Boots With Skirts – Style Guide
Are corduroy skirts business casual?
Corduroy skirts are considered business casual attire when styled correctly for an office environment. Wear your corduroy skirt with a smart blouse, a blazer and heels, and choose a corduroy skirt of a muted colour or pattern.
Corduroy skirts can work well as part of a business casual outfit, when styled with more professional looking clothing. Remember, corduroy is considered a ‘casual’ material, so the rest of your outfit must be all ‘business’ otherwise you may end up looking too casual for this dress code.
Pair a corduroy skirt with a smart turtleneck, a tailored jacket, tights and sleek heels for a sophisticated spin on this casual fabric. Stay away from brightly coloured or patterned corduroy skirts and instead choose more muted colours, such as black, grey, navy or burgundy, to be safe.
Make sure your corduroy skirt is an appropriate length for an office environment. If in doubt always go for an above the knee or knee-length hemline, as too short or too long can look odd with this style of skirt.
Are pencil skirts business casual?
Pencil skirts are considered business casual wear when styled appropriately. Pair formal pencil skirts with a simple turtleneck to dress them down for business casual wear, and pair more casual pencil skirts with smart blouses to dress them up.
Depending on the type of pencil skirt, the garment with either need to be dressed up or down to meet the business casual definition.
More business wear style pencil skirts are typically of a simple colour such as black, grey or navy and they are made with well tailored suit material. These types of pencil skirts will need to be dressed down slightly to meet the business casual style, as the skirt will already complete the ‘business’ side of the outfit. Wear them with a simple turtleneck, or casual blouse, tights and sleek heeled ankle boots for a more relaxed style.
More casual styles of pencil skirts will be made with cheaper material, such as soft jersey fabric. In this case, these pencil skirts will form the ‘casual’ part of the outfit and will need to be dressed up a bit. Wear them with a tailored cropped jacket and heels to add a sophisticated spin. Alternatively wear them with a chic cropped jumper, tights and heeled ankle booties, as styled in the below image.
Are skater skirts business casual?
Skater skirts are considered business casual when they are of an appropriate length and colour, such as knee-length and black. Avoid short skater skirts and any overly patterned styles.
When wearing a skater skirt to the office here are a few dress code guidelines to follow:
- Make sure the skater skirt is knee-length or slightly above the knee, anything shorter than this will not look professional.
- Choose a skater skirt of a muted colour, such as black, grey, navy, or burgundy and avoid any bright or neon colours.
- Avoid skater skirts with graphic patterns, such as animals, and instead choose a simple pattern like polka dot.
- Pair your skater skirt with smart items of clothing, such as a nice blouse, blazer and a pair of heels.
Are printed skirts business casual?
Printed skirts are considered business casual wear when the print is simple, clean and professional looking. Choose a polished polka dot over a busy pattern and always keep colour in mind, avoiding anything too flashy.
Thank you for reading this business casual skirts guide – I hope you now feel confident to put together your workwear outfits!
For more fashion tips check out…
Lorna is a footwear geek and the founder of Wearably Weird. She created a YouTube channel in 2021 for fellow footwear fanatics, dedicated to detail-rich footwear reviews and info. She has a fashion media qualification (awarded in 2011).