So you landed an interview for your dream job or have been invited to an important client meeting, but the dress code is ‘business casual. What does that even mean? Business casual is one of the most confusing and subjective dress codes out there. Is it a button-down shirt or polo? Slacks or khakis? Heels or flats? The possibilities can seem endless. But don’t stress — we’ve decoded the business casual dress code so you can rock your work attire with confidence. Whether you’re a job seeker or already in a role with this standard, use this guide to build stylish and professional business casual outfits that make the right impression. You’ve got this! Now go out and conquer in an outfit that makes you feel comfortable and self-assured.
Defining Business Casual: What Does It Mean?
Defining Business Casual: What Does It Mean?
Business casual means dressing professionally yet comfortably for work. It’s a step down from formal business attire but still conveys a serious and competent image.
For men, business casual typically means slacks or khakis, a button-down shirt, and possibly a blazer. Ties are optional. Jeans, shorts, t-shirts, sneakers, and ball caps are still too casual.
For women, business casual usually means slacks or a knee-length skirt, a blouse, and possibly a blazer. Dresses and skirts should be an appropriate length, and tank tops or t-shirts are too casual. Stilettos might be over the top, but stylish flats or modest heels are fine.
In the end, it’s best to check with your company’s dress code policy to determine what they consider appropriate business casual attire. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed until you get a feel for the culture.
When in doubt, think polished and professional. Business casual should make you look like you’re ready for a client meeting, even if you’re just headed to your cubicle. Your clothing and accessories should be clean and wrinkle-free and fit properly.
And of course, good hygiene like showering, styling your hair, and light makeup or cologne complete the look. Business casual is all about appearing well groomed, competent, and professional. With the right pieces and a tidy appearance, you’ll nail the business casual dress code in no time.
Business Casual Attire for Men
For men, business casual typically means dress pants or khakis, a button-down shirt, and possibly a blazer. But there’s some flexibility in how you put together an outfit.
Stick with slacks, khakis, or corduroys in solid colors like black, gray, or navy. Avoid anything too casual like jeans, shorts, or sweats.
A button-down or polo shirt is a good option. Tuck your shirt in and make sure it’s ironed. Polos can work, but button-downs are a bit more formal. Stick to simple patterns and solid colors.l.
Loafers, Oxfords, or lace-up shoes are suitable. Avoid anything too casual like sneakers, sandals, or flip flops.
A simple watch and possibly cufflinks can complete the look. But avoid anything too flashy. A briefcase or messenger bag is perfect for carrying essential items.
Business casual for men is stylish yet professional. Following these guidelines will ensure you’re appropriately dressed for a day at the office or meeting with clients. And when in doubt, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed!
Business Casual Attire for Women
For women, business casual typically means:
- Slacks or khakis: Stick to solid colors or small prints in materials like cotton or polyester. Avoid anything too casual like jeans, shorts or skorts.
- Skirts: Knee-length or longer skirts made of polished, structured fabrics are a great option. Pencil skirts, A-line skirts and wrap skirts are all stylish yet office-appropriate choices.
- Dresses: Simple sheath dresses, shirt dresses or tailored wrap dresses that end at the knee are perfect for business casual. Look for structured knit dresses or those made of woven materials like cotton or polyester. Avoid anything too frilly, sequined or cocktail-inspired.
- Blouses: Button-down blouses, shells and knit tops with a collar are excellent choices. materials like silk, rayon or polyester blends. Avoid anything too sheer, lacy or cropped.
- Cardigans: For chillier days, a solid or subtly patterned cardigan, blazer or jacket can complete your look. Longer options that hit at the hip or longer are most polished.
- Accessories: Scarves, statement necklaces, bangles and hair accessories can elevate your look. Stick to neutral, muted tones and limit accessories to 1-2 statement pieces at a time. Belts should coordinate nicely with your skirt or slacks.
Business casual is meant to strike a balance between formal and casual. Following these tips will ensure you achieve a polished yet comfortable look for a day at the office. When in doubt, it’s always better to overdress than underdress, so check with your company’s specific guidelines. With comfortable, tailored separates and tasteful accessories, you’ll master the business casual dress code in no time.
So now you’ve got the inside scoop on business casual attire for work. Ditch the suits and ties, but don’t go too casual with jeans and t-shirts. Aim for a polished yet relaxed look with slacks or khakis, button-down shirts. Ladies, a nice blouse and skirt or dress pants will do the trick. And of course, make sure your clothes are clean and ironed and you’re well groomed. When in doubt, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. Follow these tips and you’ll master the business casual dress code in no time. Now go out and rock that new job or client meeting with stylish confidence! You’ve got this.