What is Business Casual? Well first, whatever happened to the good old suit and tie meetings?
Though many professionals do not wear flip flops to work (most of them anyway), many have traded in the suit and tie for something a little less stuffy.
A little more relaxed while still maintaining a business flair.
Business casual is wearing something that would be considered casual and adding a business like a twist to it like a suit jacket or shoes.
For example, the shoes are one of the key components to the business causal assemble.
Without the right shoes, the whole outfit falls apart.
Even if you were to wear a suit and tie, but without the right shoes, the whole outfit starts looking tacky.
True business causal warriors would never do something like that.
They know that they have a reputation to uphold, though that reputation allows them to be viewed as laid back but still professional, and should be taken seriously as such.
I don’t like name dropping brand names, because with the right eye any brand-name can be made to work well with an outfit.
And conversely, just because a piece of clothing is a brand name does not make it great.
Business casual is all the rage these days. Gone are the stuffy professional ties and suitcases of the greatest generation days.
Business people have relaxed a tremendous amount on what is considered professional or not.
There are certain places that you can never get away with business casual, well at least for now.
Places like courtrooms, boardrooms, and old rooms. Just joking.
But business casual do have certain guidnes that make it effective, keep reading to find out how.
Business Casual Attire Basics
What to Wear for Women
Women should wear a combination of a skirt or dress slacks, blouse, sweater, twinset, jacket (optional), and hosiery (optional) with closed-toe shoes. Sandals or peep-toe shoes may be permissible in some offices but save flip-flops for the weekend. Any working girl should have the following staples in her wardrobe:
Khaki, corduroy, twill, or cotton pants or conservative-length skirts
Sweaters, twinsets, cardigans, polo/knit shirts
A professional dress – try a sheath silhouette
Solid colors are preferable over bright patterns
What to Wear for Men
For men, appropriate business casual attire is dress slacks or chinos, a button-down shirt, dark socks, and dress shoes. Avoid wearing polo shirts to an interview, even if they are acceptable for the job in question. Do not wear jeans or shorts. The following will help you solidify good standing at a new position:
Khaki, gabardine, wool, or cotton pants, neatly pressed
Cotton long-sleeve, button-down shirts, pressed
Leather shoes, in black and brown
Leather belt, in black and brown
A selection of ties
Additional Dress Code Rules to Consider
Look Before You Leap: If you are new to a job, avoid dressing like you’re heading to a picnic until you understand the company standards.
It’s wiser to dress on the conservative side rather than showing up underdressed. Check with HR or a colleague to determine what exactly business casual means for your company.
During job interviews, always opt for the more formal version of business casual. Even if you show up and your interviewer is clad in shorts or a short skirt, that doesn’t mean it would be appropriate for you to dress that way. During a job interview, you want to make a good impression, and part of that is dressing professionally. Here are outfits you shouldn’t wear to a job interview, regardless of the dress code.
Maintain Consistency: If you wear professional and conservative outfits Monday through Thursday, don’t show up Friday looking unrecognizable. That’s true even if your office has “casual Fridays.” On casual Fridays, you can dress down a bit.
It’s acceptable at many companies, for instance, to wear jeans. But opt for your best jeans, not a pair with stains or ripped cuffs. Your outfit should still be formal enough that you can comfortably attend an unexpected meeting with your boss or client.
No matter what kind of company you work for, maintaining a consistent image helps to establish trust and credibility with you as an employee.
Consider Your Calendar: If you’re meeting with clients or scheduling a business lunch, dress on the conservative side out of to respect the people you’re meeting with; save the casual comfort for a time when you’ll be in the office all day.
What Not to Wear When the Dress Code is Business Casual
When the dress code is business casual, it’s not appropriate to wear your favorite old t-shirt, ripped jeans, ratty sneakers, or flip-flops. Remember the “business” part of business casual, and leave your old comfortable clothes at home; outfits should still be clean, pressed, and fit properly.
Avoid clothing with logos or potentially offensive words or graphics.
Men do not have the option to skip shaving or go without a belt. Women should not wear anything that’s too tight, flowing, short, or low cut. Make sure that bra straps aren’t visible. And it’s a good idea to keep makeup natural and low-key.
What is Business Casual for Men?
The line between business casual and professional for men typically hinges on tie-or-no-tie. But every office is different, and there can still be a wide general range of what can or cannot count as business casual. As such, there are still some general guidelines that are worth mentioning – from head to toe.
For men, stick to a range of button-downs and polo shirts. Typically, collared shirts that are long-sleeved are the most appropriate. Though it may not feel like the most casual option, the lack of tie gives it a more relaxed look than a more formal office.
As a second choice, short-sleeved polo’s or button-downs may also work for your office in the warmer weather.
Blazers and jackets
While not always necessary, throwing on a well-cut blazer or jacket adds an extra professional touch to your run-of-the-mill office ensemble. It can be of use if you are worried that your button-down shirt, by itself, makes you look too casual for your office.
It’s generally safe to stick to plain-colored coats such as grey, black and blue. It’s a good idea to have a blazer on hand for formal occasions and may be the best look for a job interview.
The majority of offices allow for sweaters or sweater-vests. Chunky-knit sweaters may be appropriate during the winter, but in general, stick to fine-knit sweaters that can go over button-downs or shirts, leaving the collar visible for one of the more classic men’s business casual looks.
Nice pants or slacks
Some progressive offices allow for jeans, but sticking to dress slacks and chino pants (commonly known as khakis) will ensure you’re well within your dress code standards. A pair of khakis can be a particularly versatile tool in a business casual outfit, as they can go well with more formal and more casual shirts alike.
While it depends on how adventurous your office is, try to stick to plain or neutral-colored pants like black, grey, tan, or dark-toned colors. Avoid bright colored bottoms (neon yellow isn’t always the most professional, unfortunately). Always include a belt in similarly neutral tones.
Loafers or dress shoes are always appropriate. Avoid sandals and sneakers. There aren’t too many rules about color, but keep it as professional and polished as possible.
Nearly every department store carries work wear for men. Macy’s (M – Get Report) , Hugo Boss (BOSS – Get Report) and Ralph Lauren (RL – Get Report) are popular for a one-stop-shop experience for business casual.
What is business casual can mean different things to different people. But I hope the above tip can give you a guideline to work by.
They say the first impression remains, but sometimes the first impression can change for the worse, and reputation becomes ruined by how you decide to dress.
Clothes don’t make the person, but it can be a window into that person’s personality and character.
Don’t let the wrong business casual decisions affect your reputation.