Business Casual Examples

In today’s modern world, there are no longer many work settings where one must wear a suit and tie to work every single day. Some work places have, in the last 25 years or so, been deemed “business casual” or many have a business casual day each Friday. But what exactly does this somewhat subjective term mean? What should you wear to a business casual office?

When determining what to wear to work, you will want to put a little more focus on the word “business” and a little less on the word “casual.” This term was created in order to prompt people to be more comfortable in the workplace. But you still need to look professional every day. So if the term were slightly more accurate, it would perhaps be called “business comfort” instead. Key pieces for this type of wardrobe are:

  • Flat front pants in cotton or wool, in black, gray and khaki.
  • Button down shirts in pastels, pinstripes, and dark/brights such as aubergine and teal.
  • Lightweight knits such as cotton, wool and cashmere.
  • Patterned ties.
  • Sport jackets.
  • “Non-sneaker” shoes such as boat shoes, penny loafers, or derby shoes.

One of the keys to creating a stylish and appropriate business casual wardrobe is look for staple pieces that you can mix and match. For example, a pair of charcoal gray wool pants can be worn with a lightweight knit, a button down shirt and tie, or a button down shirt with a sport jacket. A solid colored cashmere v-neck sweater can be worn over a button down shirt and tie, layered over a ribbed cotton crewneck, or worn underneath a sport jacket. A button down shirt with a light pin stripe can be worn by itself with the sleeves rolled up (on a hot day), worn with a tie, layered underneath a sweater vest, or worn with a suit.

Wait… a suit, you ask? In a business casual setting? Yes, there are times when a suit is definitely still appropriate and even warranted. If you are going to be meeting with clients or if you have a business meeting, it’s time to suit up. Earth toned suits such as those in brown, khaki and olive green are generally regarded as more casual than those in black or navy. You can also look for a suit with an interesting pattern, such as light plaid or pinstripe. A key to appearing a little more relaxed and casual in a suit is also definitely in what you wear under it. You should avoid character or novelty ties. But this is a good time and place to experiment with different tie styles. Try wearing a tie in a lively color such as purple, mauve, orange or yellow. This is a great way to add a touch of personality to your outfit, and it appears much less conservative than, say, a traditional navy and red diagonally striped tie.

The bottom line to building an appropriate business casual wardrobe is that while it is supposed to be “business comfort,” you are still in a work place. It is a great idea to wear ties with a bit of color in them, to casually roll up the sleeves of your button down shirt to your elbows, or to wear a sport jacket with a pair of khakis or wool pants instead of a suit. However, it is not a good idea to wear tee shirts with written slogans or sports teams on them, faded denim, plastic sandals, or anything with holes in it. Remain conservative and professional with your wardrobe, but inject some comfort and creativity into it.

11 Steps to Business Casual Revealed

Red High Heels? Flip flops? What do you wear to work or an event that is “Business Casual”? Great question. Sometimes a daily question. For a lot of women a professional image is a must but a provocative one is a no-no. Moms can use business casual as a creative outlet for getting dressed. Relate to your wardrobe by mixing and matching budget items with more expensive pieces to create a functional and personal look.

Business Casual is a topic that is especially important for Mom Entrepreneurs. A large part of their day is spent toting the kids to events, parks and school. Frequently, a business meeting, sales pitches, and meet and greets are right in the middle of the kids schedule. As a Mom, either working in a business casual environment or creating your own business environment at home, you need functional, stylish and appropriate clothing. Many stay-at-home moms would benefit from dressing a bit more “business casual” in their everyday life as well.

Even PTA, school functions and girls night out can be benefited by business casual. If your spouse or significant other has company functions, business casual is probably the way to go.

What does “business casual” look like? This immediately brings to my mind Banana Republic. The clothes they have available are both classy and casual. If the prices are out of your budget, use their outfits as an inspiration. Look at how they put the outfit together, what type of shoes are worn and which accessories is the model wearing? Target has some equally stylish options at a fraction of the cost, just remember they may not last as long.

Here are they items you should have in your wardrobe when dressing business casual:

1. Pants- Look for linen, cotton or cotton-blend. Make sure they are long enough for heels. The hemline of the pants should fall between the top of the heel and mid-heel of the shoe, breaking at about the back to mid-arch of your instep. Dark denim is fine if the pants are trouser style. Don’t overdo the denim- save it for Friday.

2. Skirts – Appropriate length is important. Make sure the hem hits the knee. This will allow you the freedom to move easily and feel confident you are not exposing too much.. It will also be more comfortable for you when you are with the kids, like after karate class.

3. Tops – Unless you are wearing a tee under a vest or sweater, don’t wear it. Tees are far too casual. Instead, opt for button up tops that fit well, knit tops, woven tops and fitted sleeveless tops.

4. Jackets and Sweaters – Great for layering over your tops for chilly days or cold offices. The key factor for these pieces is fit. If you are throwing on a big sloppy sweatshirt or stretched out cardigan, you will not look professional. Match your warm pieces to your outfit. They should not be an after thought. Buy the best you can afford in classic cuts for many years of use. Cashmere is always a winner!

5. Dresses – These should be at or below the knee for the same reason a skirt should be. Sundresses and strapless dresses should be reserved for after work and weekends.

6. Shoes – They add a lot of character to your outfit. Use them to add interest to an otherwise conservative look. If open-toe is acceptable then don’t wear pantyhose with them… please! A kitten heel or low heel is perfect for business casual and still functional for chasing after the kiddos when you reunite. You can also wear ballet flats, loafers and boots, but keep the sneakers at home.

7. Handbag – Your bag says SO much about you. It should coordinate with your outfit, be clean and able to hold all the goods you need to tote during the day. Look for a bag with good construction and pockets to organize our items so you can get to them quickly.

8. Accessories – Wear them. Yes, your wedding ring is gorgeous but it doesn’t really count as a fashion accessory. Buy several necklaces that can be mixed and matched with your outfits. If you wear a watch, buy one that is classy so it goes with many looks. Earrings… every day. You determine if they are dangling or not but a beautiful and interesting earring draws attention to your face.

9. Your nails – Yes, a very important part of your overall appearance. Make sure your finger nails and toe nails are kept neat and clean.. Light colored polish is best as it hides the chips better in case you don’t have time to touch up.

10. Your undergarments – Your rear view is important. Make sure you don’t have VPL (visible panty lines) and all bra straps are tucked away. Proper undergarments, such as a slip, provide you the confidence you won’t be showing silhouettes to you co-workers.

11. Your smile – The most important thing you’ll wear.

Change your style to express different versions of yourself depending on the circumstances. If the environment you are working is more artistic in nature, you have more options like Bohemian styles, ombre and tribal trends.

The key to business casual is to remember you are representing yourself in how you look. Make sure your clothes are ironed, the hem is the right length, your accessories are appropriate, and of course, smile.

Whether you’re meeting a new client or going to the PTA you will be judged by your looks before you even speak a word. Trying to land financial support for your home-based business? Present yourself as someone who can be taken seriously. Let your creativity show the true confident ‘you’ to the world.

Great Tips on Business Dress and Business Casual For Men

Adhering to a business casual dress code often poses a challenge for many men. You want to be comfortable and relaxed, yet still maintain a professional look. On the contrary, when maintaining a business dress etiquette, where do you draw the line on incorporating sportswear? Whether you’re a young professional just starting to build your wardrobe, or are well seasoned in the business world and want to add new inspiration to your men’s apparel, you’re in luck. Discover the differences between business dress and business casual for men and how to incorporate the appropriate style for your situation.

What to wear: Every work environment is different. What may be considered appropriate for business casual in some work spaces, may be too casual for others. Your best bet? Check out what your co-workers and leaders are wearing. You don’t have to copy their style, but it will give you an idea of how to dress business casual.

  • Suits and suit separates: A fine suit is the prime differentiating factor between business dress and business casual. The standard business dress code always requires a tie. A suit made from fine materials, well-fitting dress shirt, and silk tie are go-to items for business dress. However, make sure your suit, shirts and ties are clean and pressed each time you wear them. Wearing fine clothes that sport stains, rips or tears can be worse than not adhering to a business dress code at all. And in most cases, you can remove your jacket once you’re in the office or a meeting.
  • Dress trousers and khakis: Dress trousers are always suitable for any business casual dress code. Depending on your work environment, khakis will most likely be considered appropriate business casual apparel. Pair either with a sportshirt or turtleneck, sportcoat and leather shoes for a professional yet comfortable look.
  • Dress shirts: Dress shirts balance the look of your outfit and visually complement your accessories. For a business casual dress code, try pairing a pinpoint dress shirt with tweed trousers, penny loafers, a leather belt and cashmere scarf, and you’ll look instantly dashing. When adhering to a business dress code, a point collar is the most versatile for business or dress. Button-down collars look best with a sportcoat and khaki pants; they are not typically worn with a suit. Also, look for dress shirts that come in wrinkle-free and stain resistant materials. They’ll keep you looking fresh even during your busy travel schedule.
  • Shoes: Shoes are a versatile category. Many dress shoes that can be worn with a suit, can also be paired with your business casual attire. Tuxedo shoes, or black patent leather dress shoes, are too dressy for the office and should be reserved for black tie affairs. Historically, sneakers have been too casual, although designers are coming out with more sophisticated styles that may be appropriate for your work setting. Choose a pair of shoes that offer clean, crisp lines and are made from genuine leather. Be sure to treat them with a leather protector and clean them regularly, as a shoddy pair of shoes can instantly spoil an entire outfit.
  • Briefcase/laptop bag: A distressed leather mail carrier style bag, messenger bag and laptop case in subdued shades is acceptable for a business casual work environment. For business dress, however, a briefcase is best. Look for a classic case in a versatile shade such as cognac, burgundy or black.

What not to wear: Be forewarned in case you were debating wearing any of the following to work:

  • Obnoxious t-shirts: Wearing a soft tee shirt made from finely woven cotton underneath a V neck sweater is perfectly fine for business casual apparel. However, wearing your Spring Break tee from 1999 is not. Prominently displayed logos can look tacky as well. Save the raucous bachelor shirts for weekend use only.
  • Jerseys of any kind: Absolutely not. No. Not ever. A basketball, football, baseball, or any other kind of sports jersey is never appropriate for the office. The same goes with baseball caps, giant finger gloves, track jackets, or any other sports apparel you’re tempted to wear on a day when you’re not feeling so fresh. Others will notice your lack of effort and inappropriate attire immediately.
  • Sandals: While flip-flops have a charming, beach-hippie sort of appeal, you should avoid wearing them in a business casual work environment. No matter the designer or materials, they are simply too casual for the office.