Not all professional environments are bound by strict dress codes. If your workplace is more relaxed and welcomes business casual attire, you might wonder if it’s possible to work your beloved flannel shirt into the mix.
It may seem tricky given the shirt’s reputation as the ultimate off-duty staple, but flannel shirts can make a fantastic addition to any professional wardrobe, provided it doesn’t break any office dress codes. Flannel may be a loungewear and sportswear staple, but it’s so easy to wear in different ways that you may not have much trouble at all adding it to your corporate collection. Here are a few ways to pull off this wardrobe element in the workplace
The first step is to give your flannel shirt a style makeover. That doesn’t necessarily refer to what you choose to wear with it, but how you wear it. If you normally throw it on untucked over a plain T-shirt or tank top and pair it with women’s jeans, it’s time to upgrade your ensemble. Play around with other possibilities: Button it nearly all the way up and tuck it into anything from pencil skirts to fit-and-flare skirts to crisp trousers. Experiment with wearing it over a V-neck or under a blazer. By changing how you wear it, you can more easily implement it in your work wardrobe.
Just as you would pair a crisp blouse and a blazer with tailored pants, you can do the same with your flannel shirt. There are a few ways to choose appropriate workplace separates when your dress code leans in the direction of business casual. A pair of women’s black jeans makes a great choice as darker washes are a little more polished and look great with everything from ballet flats to low-profile heels.
Another option is pairing a flannel shirt with a pencil skirt. This chic and refined option strikes a dramatically different tone. Balance is key to wearing flannel at the workplace, because you need to wear something that grounds the rest of your look and lends it an appropriate feel for a professional setting. Sleek pencil skirts are a perfect choice, in large part because they happen to look so great with flannel shirts.
If you don’t feel comfortable showing off your flannel shirt in its entirety, there are other ways to pull it off at work. One of the easiest ways is to add a few layering pieces. These are the toppers you can wear throughout the day that provide modest coverage but still allow a hint of your shirt to shine through so that you can show it off.
Think in terms of what’s most practical for your workplace. If you work in a more creative space, you can play around with options. Try a chic shawl, for example, that you can wear over a flannel shirt and pair with a belt to create some definition. Pair this with leggings and flat-heeled over-the-knee boots for a pulled-together look.
If your workplace’s dress code is more rigid but still permits you to wear a bright color or a pattern, then consider wearing your flannel shirt underneath a tailored blazer. Add a belt and step into a pair of sensible pumps to stay within the confines of what’s appropriate. Essentially, treating your flannel shirt like a blouse and pairing it with a skirt or pantsuit is an easy way to dress up your ensemble yet also approach your workwear in a more lighthearted way.
You can, of course, always wear a flannel shirt on casual Fridays! It’s easy to make it work when you’re dressing in a low-key manner. You may still want to convey a sense of professionalism, however, by adding at least one tailored piece to the mix. A blazer and jeans are always great options, or you can try no-fuss corduroy leggings with ballet flats for an easy, pulled-together look.
“Casual,” after all, doesn’t have to translate to unprofessional. By reining in your look with a defining piece that is more structured or studious, you can look workplace-appropriate even while wearing a laid-back flannel shirt. That’s key if you want to make this comfy top an integral part of your wardrobe when you’re in an office setting.