How to Dress Business-Casual While Maintaining Your Personal Aesthetic

As Vanderbilt students, our summers are filled with internships and research opportunities, while our school year is crowded with networking events and interviews. I don’t know about you, but the first time I tried on the typical ‘business-casual’ outfit, I immediately looked at myself and thought this is so blah. I instantly began thinking of ways to add a personal edge to my workwear, while still ensuring it was appropriate for the office. Keep reading below if you want to see where I bought pieces for my summer internship and how I styled them to reflect my personal aesthetic!

Last Summer, I interned at Max Mara Fashion Group doing VIP Client and Public Relations. I was expected to wear business-casual attire to work, but I was given a little wiggle-room on what exactly I could wear. I was able to wear sneakers  since I was on my feet for the majority of the day, but the longer I was working there, the more I realized that my colleagues always came to work dressed with a personalized flare.














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Through patterned blazers and blouses, stylish belts and accessories, matching sets, and more, I was able to show off my personal aesthetic (as can be seen above). Although not everyone is granted this much autonomy in their business-casual wear, you can still gain inspiration on how to add a personal touch with the below tips and ticks!

Where to Get Flattering Workwear Basics

Finding clothes that you feel confident in but also abide by the business-casual standard is hard. Thankfully, to no ones doing except the fashion gods, there are some stores where you can find appropriate, flattering work clothes that will let you walk into the office ready to take on the day.


Aritzia has some of the best workwear basics. Everything comes in an array of colors and/or patterns. & better yet, all of their work-esque pants have a blazer that matches!


I will forever hold a special place in my heart for Zara. Regardless of the occasion, you can almost always find something chic but at a fair price point. I love Zara’s blazers, blouses, pants, and even shoes for work (and pretty much for everything). I do have some tips when shopping here though: I suggest checking their size chart when ordering pants online, as a lot of their pants vary in size. Also, be wary of the store you go to though; some of them are a lot better than others!


I recently discovered on @WeWoreWhat‘s instagram, and I must say… I am OBSESSED (a little too obsessed according to my bank account). They have a plethora of workwear options, including matching sets, unique blazers, stand-out trousers, and more!

Add a Personal Touch with Statement Accessories

By spicing up your outfit with a fun belt or a cool pair of earrings, you’re able to bring a piece of yourself into your outfit everyday. I genuinely believe that when you’re happy about what you’re wearing, you always feel confident, and I can’t imagine a single employer looking to hire someone who comes off as uncertain in their own skin 😉 Here are some things you could try:

  1. Wear a snakeskin or textured belt instead of a mundane black leather one
  2. Add a pair of small hoops or a chic pearl necklace to your outfit
  3. Why NOT bring a cute purse to work?!

Pair a Basic with a Pattern or Pop of Color

By taking your typical black, white, grey, or nude button up and pairing it with a pair of plaid trousers, your outfit will automatically transform into a workwear look that’s triple the fashion statement. Sporting a white blouse with your typical pair of black trousers can get pretty mundane, so if you’re in the mood to spice things up, try finding a pattern or color you love. You can add a pop of color in your accessories, as seen in the instagram below!

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Espressi runs

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Wear a Wrap Blazer or Add a Belt

As I was scrolling through Instagram last week, I noticed a ton of my favorite fashion influencers wearing wrap blazers. The wrap blazer style immediately takes your typical suit to the next level and brings attention to your body’s silhouette.

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Wrap 🌯 Via @rawmade

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Opt For a Textured Blouse

Rather than wearing your typical cotton button-up, why not try something with a little more flare? Adding a little texture to your blouse will bring more dimension to your look. Online and in-store fashion retailers have a variety of blouses with different textures – whether you’re looking for ruffles, silks, or thicker fabrics similar to tweed, you’ll be able to find one that you feel perfectly reflects your personality.

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Back in Oslo for a tiny bit 🥰

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Long Blazers & Pencil Skirts are All the Rage

One of my favorite trends this Fall season is long blazers, and better yet, they’re workwear appropriate. Rather than wearing your typical suit, why not try out a long blazer and a pencil skirt?! It’ll bring your outfit from 0 to 100 in seconds, and would look sophisticated yet chic when paired with loafers or flats.

Trade in your all black suit for one with a little more spunk

Tired of wearing the same sh*t to your internship everyday? Well, you’re in luck because the current fashion market is filled with a plethora of trendy suit sets in a range of patterns. I love using Storets, Aritzia, Verge Girl, and Zara for finding the latest suit set patterns & styles!

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@inthefrow before @eliesaabworld 🦋

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My Favorites














Taylor Wide Check Paints & Check Jacket with Belt














Aritzia Tie Front Check Paint & Utica Sweater 

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Zara Set


Verge Girl Set

By Isabella Sprague, Editor-in-Chief, Class of 2020