Business Casual Dress – What is Business Casual?

Business casual dress causes a great deal of confusion in the workplace. What exactly should you wear? Are jeans acceptable?

Here’s an explanation of what business casual means, and how you can put together a wardrobe that still looks professional.

Business casual dress is a combination of the formal, dark colors of business wear, with the relaxed, comfortable look of casual wear. But be careful. It’s not weekend wear, or sportswear. It’s somewhere in the middle ground. It combines the professionalism of business dress with the comfort of casual dress, to create a smart, polished office look that’s a step below business formal.

Here are 5 tips to guide you in planning your wardrobe.

1. If you wear business formal dress (a suit) to work everyday, and are now allowed to wear business casual on Fridays, dress one notch down. So you can wear a jacket and pants, but men can remove their tie. Or women can wear a pants suit instead of a suit with a jacket.

2. If your company allows you to wear business casual dress every day, when you are working in the office or for sales meetings, you still need to look professional. You don’t have to wear a suit, but you should wear neat separates. This would include a crisp blouse or shirt, or a nice sweater with pressed business pants (or skirt for women).

3. Keep a jacket handy for unexpected meetings or client visits. Most companies that allow business casual in the office still want their employees to dress up when meeting clients.

4. Dress to make your clients feel comfortable. Even if your office is informal, if you visit clients who are more formal or conservative, it’s a good idea to dress to match their environment. You’ll make a better impression, because you are showing them respect when you dress up.

5. Ditch the jeans. Few companies allow jeans with business casual. If you work in an extremely casual environment, such as in software development, and your clients dress the same way, or you don’t meet with clients, jeans may be alright. Again, take your clues from your boss or manager, and from the people you meet with.

Putting together a polished, professional business wardrobe takes time and thought.

Guidelines for Dressing Business Casual for Women

Now that summer is in full-swing, we have a tendency to want to dress more casually. This is true in all facets of life whether they be play, travel, or work. While no one really cares how you dress when you are playing or traveling, aside from dressing appropriately, people do care how you dress at work. There is a difference between business casual and just plain casual. In fact, dressing too casually can even cause some bosses to think that you are not serious about your job and therefore not promote you. On top of that, the more casually you dress, the more casually people will treat you in the office. This is bound to cause some, completely avoidable, tension in the workspace.

Unfortunately, there is a bit of a double standard about business casual for men and women. Business casual for women needs to be a little more business and a little less casual. Here are some tips to maneuver the murky waters of what business casual for women means.

First of all, do not even consider those really comfortable but ripped jeans (you should actually avoid jeans altogether unless they are a dark wash and high-waisted). All seams should be finished, all holes patched, and all frays cut. Also, avoid clothing with writing on it, unless the writing is the company logo. Keeping this in mind, let’s consider what is considered appropriate such as slacks, skirts, dresses, blouses, and shoes/accessories.

Clothing: The fabric of your clothes can be anywhere from luxurious to linen or cotton. Make sure that your clothing fits appropriately, meaning not too tight, too short, or too low-cut. Under no circumstances should you wear something see-through unless you intend upon wearing a camisole underneath it. The best way to dress business casual is to wear only half of a suit. This does not suggest that you should walk around half-naked, but rather only wear the slacks or skirt of a suit and not the blazer. Another alternative is to wear the blazer over a simple cotton dress.

Shoes and Accessories: First of all, stockings are not necessary in the summer and it is way too hot for them anyhow. Your shoes should, however, still be nice. Sandals, especially flip-flops, should only make appearances at the company picnic or outing. If you don’t want to be stuck in your work stilettos every day of the summer, try wearing some wedges or strappy heels. They are more comfortable anyway and infinitely much more summery. Your other accessories should be tasteful. The general rule is to wear one statement piece and keep everything else small.

This means that if you choose to wear huge, dangling earrings, don’t wear a chunky necklace as well. This is true of your make-up too; if you want to focus on your eyes then wear a nude lipstick and vice versa. A great way to make an outfit more casual is to switch up your laptop bag. Try bringing one in a fun color instead of just a black protective case. Remember, your laptop bag and other accessories, do not have to match what you’re wearing. 100%

To conclude, if your mother wouldn’t have let you go to school ‘dressed like that’ in high school, you shouldn’t wear that outfit to work either. Of course, these are just guidelines. Every office is different and some offices may even have a section in the Employee Handbook about appropriate clothing. Make sure you double-check with human resources that there isn’t a list of specific do’s and don’ts somewhere. However, these tips should get you to work in fine fashion while still staying completely appropriate. And remember, always dress the way that you want to be treated: if you dress casually you will be treated casually!

Casual Dress Code – Do’s and Don’ts for Business Casual Dress in the Workplace

If your company has a casual dress code, getting dressed for work can be confusing.

How do you want to be perceived in the workplace? Chances are, whatever your job situation, you want to be perceived as a competent professional. Here are some do’s and don’ts for projecting a professional image on the job.

Do:

1. Recognizer that every organization has a dress code, even if it’s not written down. If you aren’t sure about your company’s dress code, look at the people above you. How does your manager dress? How do the VPs, or owners of the company dress? If you want to be promoted, dress the way they do.

2. Choose clothes that are flattering to your figure, and complement your coloring. Have clothes tailored to fit you -business casual clothes as well. You’ll be surprised at how polished you look.

3. Put some thought into your business casual wardrobe. Many people spend time coordinating their business suits, but consider their business casual wardrobe to be an afterthought. Wrong. You should spend as much time, or more, on your business casual wardrobe, so you look put-together and professional.

4. Build a basic business casual wardrobe, starting with a few pairs of pants/skirts in dark colors that go with everything. Then it’s easy to add color and pattern to personalize your look

Don’t:

1. Don’t believe that permanent press clothes do not need to be ironed. They still need to be pressed lightly.

2. Don’t wear rubber-soled shoes or athletic shoes to the office. This is sports wear, not business casual wear. Wear leather shoes, and make sure they are in good condition.

3. Don’t (women) consider a scrunchie to be an appropriate hair accessory for work.

4. Don’t (men) wear white or athletic socks with dress pants. Wear dress socks that match your pants.

5. Don’t forget to maintain hair coloring. Letting your hair grow to reveal dark or grey roots of one inch or more makes you look like you don’t care about your looks. Head to the hairdresser when your roots start to show.

6. Don’t arrive at work on business casual days without a way to upgrade your look. The simplest way is to have a jacket handy to put over a casual outfit. For men, keep an extra tie available. For women, a necklace or slightly higher heeled shoe can add polish and panache.

7. Don’t dress to match your colleagues. Put your outfit together based on what your managers wear.