How to Look “Polished,” the New “Business Casual”

How to Look “Polished,” the New “Business Casual”

We’re living in a time of transitional dressing, and we don’t mean winter to spring. With Covid changing not only how we work but what we wear to do so, personal style is shifting. Many of us will never go back to the way things were.

We spoke to Lisa Slesinger, Larrimor’s women’s buyer and co-owner of Larrimor’s, about how “polished” has replaced “business casual” as the new professional dress code, as well as how to find a middle ground between sweats and a suit.

Working closely to help outfit professionals who now take meetings over Zoom and in the boardroom, Lisa has spent a lot of time considering the ways in which work and life have become inextricably commingled.

“Business casual was prevalent for a long time, but after two years of comfort mode during the pandemic, people don’t want to associate being uncomfortable with work anymore,” Lisa says. “Now there are new modes of dressing for work. While there will always be people who love to get dressed up no matter what, most of us are asking ourselves, ‘How do we feel confident and comfortable?’”

The dress code for 2022 and beyond comes down to one word: polished.

The dress code for 2022 and beyond comes down to one word: polished.

The way Lisa sees it, “polished” is a kindness you do for others. It doesn’t matter if you’re seeing them in real life or on a screen. It means a neatly put-together presentation because you care enough about the people looking at you.

“Polished is, “I made just enough of an effort to make it look effortless,” says Lisa. “You don’t want to look like you tried too hard, but you also don’t want to look like you just came from the gym or coffee shop.”

Her new maxim for getting dressed in the morning makes a simple but important distinction: Replace “business” with “polished,” and you’re ready for whatever your day holds, from meeting clients to shuttling the kids to soccer.

Exactly how does one pull off looking polished? Here are Lisa’s five top styling tips:

1. Pick a great piece to build your outfit around.

Choose a go-to from your closet you can always count on to make you feel self-assured because you like the way it looks and feels. For her, it might be a knit cardigan that looks as fierce as it feels. For him, maybe it’s a cotton T-shirt that feels super soft and goes with absolutely everything. A signature color, accessory, piece of jewelry or makeup (two words: red lipstick) instantly conveys, “I’m on my game today.” All the better if people begin to recognize and look forward to your uniform—you just put polish on autopilot.

2. Dress in layers.

When you’re working virtually, there’s no shame in a “Zoom mullet” (put-together from the waist up; decidedly less so on your lower half)…as long as you know you won’t need to stand up to shut the door or grab a file. An even better idea is to reconceptualize your look in terms of layers. Have a versatile piece close at hand that you can quickly throw on to change the vibe, like a jacket you keep over the back of your chair for when your boss video-calls unexpectedly, or an arty oversized scarf you can wrap and drape over whatever shirt you’ve got on.

3. Clothes must fit properly.

Whatever your budget, you want your things to fit your body well and be in good condition—that’s the essence of polish yet a takeaway too many miss. Never let your appearance detract from all the things of value you bring: “When you look polished, everything you say sounds a little smarter,” says Lisa, who recommends availing yourself of the on-site tailors at Larrimor’s.

4. Don’t forget about your shoes.

While house slippers may have displaced high heels inside the house, we do still have to step out every so often. For those occasions, as in the past, shoes can make or break your outfit, so be sure your footwear is clean as well as a good match for your outfit’s level of formality. (Repeat after us: Running shoes are only for running.) A Larrimor’s stylist can always help you put your best foot forward.

5. Dress for the hour, not for the day.

Whereas we used to be able to put on one outfit for an eight-hour day at our desks, now our schedules ping-pong between—and sometimes combine—work and personal appointments. Think more in terms of neutral separates that pass muster for either or both, like a cashmere sweater, a long-sleeved Henley tee, or a favorite easy-wearing button-down, and change it up as needed.

As always, the expert staff at Larrimor’s of Pittsburgh is here for you, whether you’re craving some newness and want to start getting dressed again or you’d like to find a low-key form of polish that still lets you WFH in joggers.

Back to blog
1 of 3

Featured New Arrivals

The latest styles for him and her

1 of 8