Style This! Business Formal

Style This! Business Formal

Style This! Business Formal by chelseahenderson featuring a cashmere shawl

Last night, I was texting with my BFF Nancy when she posed a fashion question I couldn’t answer. Nancy is the owner and CEO of Belmont, Inc. in Alexandria, and she is often invited to business networking events. Usually these events are either formal, themed, or occur after work and thus business attire is de rigueur. But she was invited to an event this weekend, for Saturday evening, and the invitation reads “business formal.” So Nancy’s question: WTF is business formal?

In my mind, I was envisioning something less than a cocktail dress but more than a business suit. After offering to put together an appropriate business formal outfit for Nancy, I did a Google search to see if my instincts were correct. I found numerous descriptions for business formal for women as being a suit with a jacket of the same color, close-toed shoes, and panty hose. Panty hose? Really? And tell me, etiquette goddesses of the interwebs, how is this look different from straightforward business attire?

I went to bed discouraged with this news because I was hoping to suggest that Nancy invest in a silky (slinky) DVF. (She could really rock the Della in cadet blue.) But then I woke up and had an epiphany. There is no reason why Nancy has to look like she’s going to a board meeting. She can wear a dress, though of the wool sheath professional variety, have fun with some accessories and look totally business appropriate.

Nancy is tall, thus she can wear just about anything, and since she is blonde, I love the idea of her in the peacock blue town hall dress from J. Crew. Since the color is so vibrant (like Nancy’s personality) I recommend she accessorize with neutrals. Her legs will look even longer than they already are (damn her) in a beige pump (close-toed, but still sexy) and the gold bag will offer a little evening shimmer (I mean, come on, it’s a Saturday). I added a white silk and cashmere wrap because it’s either cold outside or cold inside. As for jewelry, since Nancy doesn’t do earrings, I suggest she opt between the necklace or the bracelet. (I had to work a pop of orange in there somewhere, and it’s engraved “stand tall” which is so appropriate for Nancy.) She could potentially wear both if they work together. Fashion is about trial and error, I just prefer for that trial and error to be worked out in the confines of your own dressing room and not in public.

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