By establishing a business casual dress code, your employer is telling you that it’s okay to be dressed less formally in the office which means you will be more comfortable working. As long as what you wear is tasteful and doesn’t go beyond being professional which is a business casual attire that is attractive, professional, and versatile. As you put together your work outfit you should always remember that the clothes you wear to run errands or to the beach aren’t appropriate in a business casual workplace. Instead, you should choose outfits that you can either mix, match, or dress down and clothes that are clean, not too tight, baggy, or revealing, and unwrinkled.
A business casual dress code can mean different things to different companies, industries, or cities. It can also be very confusing if you don’t know the difference between business and business casual, but at least you know you’re not supposed to dress in a t-shirt, shorts, sandals, or a sundress which is too casual or an overly formal suit. If you’re confused about what to wear, you should dress too formally instead of too casually. The problem is most people don’t clearly understand the different dress codes today.
So, what is business casual?
While you won’t get one true definition, generally a business casual attire is a less formal way of dressing than the traditional office wear but it’s still professional enough for the workplace. A simpler way of looking at it is a business casual attire is more of a cross between business casual and business formal, so instead of wearing a full suit, you can wear pants, a collared shirt or blouse minus the tie or jacket.
Another definition would be to dress in khakis, slacks, and skirts, long-sleeved shirts, polo shirts, or open collar, and blouse, a knee-high or below skirt or dress, a tailored blazer, sweater, or knitted shirt, no tie or coat, and dress shoes or loafers.
Another definition would be to wear neutral colors that have more dark shades of black, navy, gray with some white and off white. The clothes should be clean-cut, classic, and well put together.
What is business casual for men?
The appropriate business casual attire for men is different in every office and varies widely on what can be termed as business casual or not. Pants and shirt combo is a perfect business casual look for both men and women that portrays a professional image but still gives out a relaxed vibe without resembling your everyday streetwear. Even the shoes you wear should complement your business casual, professional look. So, here are some guidelines to help you.
Loafers, dark leather shoes, dress shoes, or tie-up shoes are always appropriate for the office. There is not so much emphasis put on colors, but the best thing you can do is keep it polished and professional. However, you should avoid wearing sandals, boots, and sportswear like tennis shoes. Sandals are too casual and wearing open shoes in the office isn’t appropriate. Boots, on the other hand, are better suited in the great outdoors or in workshops where you deal with heavy machinery.
Tennis shoes are designed for a specific purpose and walking around in the office isn’t one of them. They don’t have enough cushioning to keep your feet comfortable all day and the upper part is a bit stiff which will affect your natural way of walking. Tennis shoes are designed for lateral movements and not a forward movement which means there is less heel support than in walking shoes and the midsole doesn’t provide good arch support. If you wear tennis shoes to work they are not only inappropriate, they will be very uncomfortable to wear and you will end up with a foot and even back pains at the end of the day. Tennis shoes are specifically made to cater to the needs of a tennis player so that you perform better on the court.
Some offices will allow you to wear jeans, but it’s better if you stick to wearing nice pants, slacks, or khaki pants so that you don’t stray too far from the dress code standards. Khaki pants are versatile pants that can go well with more casual and formal shirts to make a great business casual outfit. Depending on how flexible your office dress code is, try and avoid dressing in brightly colored pants and go for more plain or neutral-colored pants with either black, grey, tan, or dark-toned colors and remember to get a belt with similar neutral colors.
Most of the offices have no problem with you wearing sweaters or sweater vests. You’ll be safer if you stick to fine-knit sweaters that will go well with any shirt you put on and still leave a visible collar to give you a very classy men’s business casual look. Avoid wearing thick and colorful sweaters and if you’re new to a job, dress on the conservative side which is better than showing up to work underdressed.
Jackets and blazers
You can opt not to wear any or get a well-cut jacket or blazer to give your outfit that professional touch. It will come in handy if you’re worried that your button-down shirt gives you a too casual look for the office. Plain-colored coats with black, blue, and grey are safer colors that will go well with most of the shirts you put on. A blazer will come in handy in case you have to attend a formal occasion.
Polo shirts and button-downs are more appropriate for the office, but long-sleeved and collared shirts are even better. Most men go to the office in a suit and tie which is a very professional look for the office, but for a business casual look, you don’t need to wear a tie. And although it might feel like it’s not the most casual look, not wearing a tie gives a more relaxed look than a formal office look. If you’re not comfortable with the long sleeves especially during the warmer months, you can go for the short-sleeved polo shirts or button-downs that will still be appropriate for the business casual office look.
What is business casual for women?
When it comes to women’s business casual look, loafers, closed-toe heels, and flats are the shoes to wear. However, sandals and sneakers and even open-toed stilettos can be too casual for the office.
Suit pants, tailored or wide-leg dress pants are always appropriate, but in some offices, you can wear jeans but check with your office dress code before you wear them. You can also put on bright colored and print pants, but if you’re new at your workplace gauge the atmosphere first to know what is appropriate.
Blazers give you a classic professional look and are a universal element for a good dress code for both men and women. You can have a few colored and plain colored blazers in your closet that you can rotate with different outfits.
Blouses and button-downs
This largely depends on your in personal preference and the office dress code, but a flowy, nice fitting, ironed blouse or button-down would be best to wear to the office.
Dresses and shirts
The tightness and length of your dress or skirt may vary depending on your particular office, but it’s always safe to wear knee-length or below dresses and skirts for the office. Avoid wearing dresses and skirts that are too tight, low, or too dressy. You can play around with colors as the business casual dress code doesn’t have too many restrictions on that.
So, are tennis shoes business causal?
A business casual attire should be versatile with different pants, skirts, dresses, shirts, and shoes. However, you should remember not to be too casual or too formal in your attire. Most sports shoes like tennis shoes are not appropriate for the business casual dress code. Sneakers, on the other hand, are great but should be worn occasionally.
What should wear on the first day of business casual?
Go for a polished outfit that is sleek and tailored. Wear clothes that fit you well and have a fresh look, but don’t put on clothes that are buggy or too small for you.
Can you wear open-toed shoes for the business professional?
In most organizations, companies, or business settings, open-toed heel shoes or sandals aren’t considered professional.
Can you wear sneakers for smart causal?
If you’re dressing for a smart casual event, it’s always better to overdress instead of underdressing. So, you should balance what you wear and sneakers, jeans, and a t-shirt is a great mix the key is put on something you would consider smart.
What shoes should wear for business casual?
When it comes to shoes for men, the appropriate business casual attire would be loafers and dress shoes, but avoid wearing sneakers and sandals. However, you can play around with color but keep it polished and professional.
What is smart casual attire for ladies?
A woman can wear a smart casual dress with a classic style and neutral colors, or pants, skirt, or tailored shorts or smart jeans with a neat blouse and a stylish sweater.