A portion of this HEAT on the art of business casualwear was originally written in 2013 upon my entry into the workforce post-graduation. I can confidently say that ten years later, I still don’t know what the hell is approps to wear to work. Therefore, I have made many edits to the original “blog” now that I have almost ten years of perspective and about 6 million jobs under my belt.
Let’s talk about business casual for a second, shall we? Now despite my obvious obsession with using casj to describe everything in the world, where does casj actually come into play in business casj? Seems somewhat like an oxymoron, no? Here are my two main problems: Numero uno, I think dress “slacks” or business suits are meant for the 50 and over crowd or Hillary Clinton. This essentially rules out any of my options for weather less than 60 degrees. So basically I can’t dress for a job 9 out of the 12 months of the year in Upstate New York. Makes sense. However, this means that for those three summer months I can wear sassy dresses and look like the most feminine but also professional chick this side of the Hudson. Which leads me to my next problem: I’m 5’8”. I know that you’re thinking, oh she’s 5’8”– probably has legs for days. And you would be absolutely correct. My legs are my best asset, tysm for noticing. HOW-EV-ER, you probably didn’t account for the fact that deeze stems can turn any “normal length” dress into a downright scandal. Again, I know you’re thinking it but please don’t compare me to a Victoria’s Secret Angel, unless the Angels eat cheetos and bagels every day and haven’t had a thigh gap since middle school.
While we’re on the topic of middle school, let’s all hop into the magic school bus with me (Ms. Frizzle, obv) as your host to zip on back to 2003 when my trauma with appropriate dress truly began. It was the tragic days of pre-teendom when a girl shoots up like a beanstalk and gets little baby boobs that barely justify forcing her mom to buy her a lime green training bra at Limited Too. This is right around the same time that the school starts implementing dress codes because the 12 year olds want to show off said lime green bra to impress their AIM boyfriend who they’ve never actually talked to in person. If this sounds like folklore to you, it’s because 12 year olds today look like they’re 21 with their shiny hair and curvy bods as they earn more than their parents just by shaking their perfectly round a$$es on TikTok. If I sound bitter, please know that I am. Rest assured none of today’s lil hoochies will ever develop a sense of humor or a personality that one can only gain from the series of unfortunate events that I’m about to unfold for you. Once Spring hath Sprung, so did my little awkward body into some shorts and dresses for school. This is when I started frequently being pulled over, mid-morning commute in the busy hallway coming from homeroom. I’ve never been pulled over in real life but I can imagine that everyone walking the halls looked at me with pity much like drivers do as they zoom by someone who got nabbed on the highway for speeding. Except these were my formative years. My years when showing off your lewk on the way to Language Arts was the highest form of self-assurance. Instead I had a “supervision aide” (Note: this is a WASP way of saying hall monitor, and let’s be real if you have a fake bougie title to make your job that is completely unnecessary sound better, you’re probably the type of person who has a real power trip in life) scolding me for my “inappropriate clothing.” Just so we’re all clear, I did not have a Mean Girls-esque cool mom who let me watch Girls Gone Wild and go to school wearing belly shirts and booty shorts. Neither my asshole nor my RB curtz were visible, so this really shouldn’t have been a problem. This is when the fingertips rule was first thrust upon me. You may wonder what fresh hell the fingertips rule is and OoOh baby I’m about to tell you. This is the rule, 1 zillion percent made up by school administrators, where if you put your arms down at your sides, the dress or shorts that you’re wearing should be longer than your fingertips. I felt personally victimized by the fingertips rule. I’ve had the body of Gumby since I was 10 years old. No one with long legs has short arms. THAT WOULD BE A T-REX. So naturally, my fingertips basically hung around my ankles. Just kidding, I’m not an ape, jeeze. But seriously, I was told I could only wear shorts that passed the fingertips test.
Telling a freshly hormonal teen just trying to be cool as shit that she can only wear men’s shorts to school is basically social suicide. Naturally, like a baby bitch I cried to my mom, who promptly called the school (yeah she was a Karen before Karen’s existed so take THAT), which then led to a principal’s office fashion show. I shit you not, I was requested to model an array of American Eagle shorts for my MALE PRINCIPAL to approve if I could continue to wear them to school or not. Why? Because I was being threatened with punishment for not following the dress code JUST BECAUSE MY BODY BUILT DIFFERENT, BABY. I think we all know this scene would never take place today. Principal Creep would’ve been cancelled so fast it would’ve made your head spin while I strutted my booty shorts down the hallway. Regardless, this perv allowed a select few pairs of shorts, and I’m pretty confident they were all bermuda shorts. A trend that try as I might, I still wake up in a cold sweat thinking about how hideous they were. You know what doesn’t look good with a big ole booty and long legs? Shorts that are fitted and knee-length. Add braces, frizzy hair and an AGGRESSIVE sweating problem to that and you’ve got 7th grade Julia in a nutshell. THIS IS WHY I’M FUNNY. (Seriously, peep that wide angle, knee length khaki cargo skirt.)
So, as you can see from my digression, the fingertip rule has haunted me my entire life and posed a real problem when faced with business casj. The first job that I was required to dress professionally (not wearing a Wegmans polo and black pants) was working for my dad at his small window and door business. By small I mean it was me, my dad and one other employee who was in her early twenties. Most people who work for their dad get that straight nepotism treatment and collect their check as if it’s basically allowance. When I worked for my dad, he made me cry for what I thought was perfectly acceptable office attire. WHAT A MEAN DAD. I showed up to my first day of work the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college wearing a shiny short sleeve blouse with beads around the neck, black shorts and black flats fit for the Mayflower with a ginormous silver buckle on them. My dad immediately shouted WHAT ARE YOU WEARING?! And told me to go home and change. Sweat trickled down my back as I flashed back to 7th grade and looked around to see if my crush Brogan was watching this go down. Then I remembered I was 20 years old and thought I could WEAR SHORTS TO AN OFFICE. No seriously, I fought him on this. I go these are my dressy business shorts. BUSINESS. SHORTS. Who the hell did 20 year old Ju think she was? I dug my buckled flats right into the carpet and told him this was a nice outfit. I even brought my mom into the fold trying to get her to defend me. I was on my own for this one, partner. We were back to the Principal’s fashion show except this time, my mom was taking me to the mall to buy business casj and model it for my DAD afterward. Needless to say, the shorts were never worn to the office again. I can confirm, however, that I wore them out on the town NO LESS THAN 100 TIMES, further proving that these shorts had no business being near the word business. Frat parties, bars, concerts, you name it, these shorts made an appearance over the next 5 years until I inevitably got too fat for them. Please enjoy a slideshow of my “business professional” black “dress” shorts. (Sorry for being a trash monster employee, dad.)
From there we graduated to knowing that shorts were a hard no, but learning that I could wear bike shorts underneath my dresses that were too short. That way, if I bent over someone gets an eyeful of black spandex rather than butthole. It was genius. I could continue to go from daywear to evening wear with just the removal of my spanky pants. No more measuring the fingertip to fabric ratio in the Forever 21 dressing room when you’ve got a failsafe. Think smarter not harder. I continued to do this with crop tops–add a tank top underneath and wear a high skirt, bingo bango, biz casj. I really started to push it when working with my sister at my first full time job post-college. My boss was no longer my dad, but I pushed hard for the reinstatement of casual Friday’s, emboldened by the fact that my sister was now my co-worker and everyone listened to whatever she said. Casj Friday’s consisted of us rolling in hungover from Dollar Thursday’s at the Sky Chiefs game wearing jeans, a graphic tee and reeking of Bud Lattes. Apparently casual days also extended to all of winter as I took the liberty of wearing my zebra Snuggie full-time because the heat wasn’t properly circulating in my cubicle. The issue that many people face, but few discuss with a Snuggie is that it’s far too long to walk in and there’s nothing that keeps it intact as you move freely about the cabin. Again, it was my big brain that tackled this fashion faux pa by instructing my sister to snap the back of my Snuggie shut with binder clips and walk the halls of our office like I was checking in on my disciples.
As I cycled through jobs (ooh baby did I cycle), I always started out strong, trying my hardest to look profesh. Putting my best foot forward. I began to wear dresses that ALMOST hit my knees and begrudgingly, I began to accept that business slacks were inevitable. When I started a new job in spring of 2019, I got all sorts of jazzed for the fresh start, went out and bought leopard and red biz pants to show that not only was I destined to be in the C suite someday but also I’d be trendy as hell when I finally made it. My first day I rocked those red pants like you wouldn’t believe. Came home and made my boyfriend do a full photoshoot of me on the porch like it was the first day of school. Went to change into my jammies later on and THAT’S when I realized there was a gaping hole right down the seam of the butt of these pants. My first day ABIDING BY THE LAWS OF BIZ CASJ and everyone still got front row seats to my buhhole. What a treat for all.
It was then (and three days later when while wearing my leopard dress pants my boss quit and left me high and dry at a brand new job) that I decided it was time to give up on perfecting the art of business casualwear. Being that I was working in the entertainment industry, it was finally time to let my freak flag fly. Graphic tees and jeans AWL DAY. And guess what? Never once did I get canned for my 🔥 flamin fits, SO HA.
And once again, we’ve come full circle, as life tends to do. After being unemployed for almost 2 years, wearing coordinated sweatsuits or jazzy bike shorts depending on the season, ditching the notion of a bra completely, I am once again expected to dress in officewear. What was a problem for my lanky ass body in 7th grade, is even more of a problem today as the length of any fabric of clothing (top or bottom) has ceased to exist. I was recently at a country concert in the year of our Lord 2021 and saw so much belly and bits between the crops and the junderwear on the youths, I felt like we needed Chris Hansen to come break up the party, STAT. And I’ve gotta find dresses that are long enough for work?! Get the hell out of here. Unless I’m shopping at Target’s recent colonial woman churning butter collection (the women’s section), I’m fresh out of options. Picking out a work outfit that isn’t pajamas and isn’t a “try to keep up with the trends so you don’t look old in a bar” specialty is a straight up nightmare. And therefore, I propose we eliminate the mere notion of BUSINESS CASUAL. What EVEN IS IT?! Me rocking my fresh new leopard fanny pack to work with a stack of my business cards inside of it? That’s biz casj as hell. I do my job just as well in my cozies as I would in ripped slacks trying to fit the part. SO LET IT HAPPEN. Who’s with me?! Let’s hit the picket line. ABOLISH BIZ CASJ OR WE STRIKE!