What is Business Casual?
Applying for a job also entails wearing the proper outfit during a job interview. In most cases, you are expected to wear business casual attire, something that is less formal compared to the typical business clothes but is professional enough that it’s appropriate for an office setting.
Wearing business casual clothes doesn’t only apply for when you’re preparing for an interview. Most, if not all, companies impose business casual dress codes that employees need to adhere to.
The business casual guideline is designed to make employees look professional. Even if companies follow more relaxed dress codes, you can’t go wrong with being a bit overdressed when you need to give presentations or go to a business lunch with clients.
It may sound simple, but existing dress code guidelines are becoming quite confusing for many job applicants and employees. The problem is that there is no precise and standardized definition of “business casual.” Also, it depends on the company, the industry that they’re in, and even the city or area where they are based.
Even though its meaning varies greatly, you should know by now that wearing shorts, a T-shirt and a pair of sandals or flip flops is too casual for office work. On the other hand, donning a full suit may be too formal. To help you decide which clothes are suitable for a business casual look, here are some pointers to consider:
#1 Keep your outfits consistent
It doesn’t matter what kind of company you work for, consistency in your image is beneficial in establishing trust and credibility with you as a professional. For instance, if you wear conservative clothes on most days of the week, avoid coming in one day in clothes that are too casual. Most companies allow “casual Fridays” when you can dress it down a bit, but not to the point that you look unrecognizable.
#2. Check your calendar
Make sure to wear conservative, business casual outfits on days when you are scheduled to meet with clients. You can wear something a bit more relaxed when you know that you’ll be at the office the whole day.
#3 Outfits should be clean and fit properly
It doesn’t matter how much your clothes are, these will not do you any good if they’re not clean and pressed. Your work clothes should also fit properly to give you a polished look.
#4 Don’t be afraid to ask
If you’re unsure about the company’s dress code, don’t be afraid to ask. Find out if they follow an official dress code. You can also look at what other employees wear. Always bring a blazer or a nice jacket with you in case it gets too cold at the office. Plus, it’s a great addition for when you need to be more dressed up. Also, if your manager or boss sometimes wonders why you’re so dressed up, or your outfit is too casual, you may need to re-think about your clothing choices.
Business Casual Attire for Men
An appropriate business casual outfit for men includes chinos or dress slacks, a shirt that may or may not come with a necktie, dark socks, and dress shoes. Here are other clothing items that men can consider for a business casual look:
- Cotton pants – khaki, gabardine, wool
- Cotton shirts – long sleeves, button down
- Loafers, leather shoes – black, brown
Business Casual Attire for Women
An appropriate business casual attire for women includes dress slacks, knee-length skirts, cotton blouses, sweater, blazer, and closed or peep-toe shoes. Here are other clothing items that women can consider adding to their wardrobe for a business casual look:
- Cotton pants
- Skirts – pencil cut, knee-length
- Polo, collared shirts
- Sheath dresses – neutral or solid colors
- Pumps, stilettos, flats
Thank you for reading CFI’s guide to business casual attire. CFI offers the Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)™ certification program for those looking to take their careers to the next level. To keep learning and advancing your career, the following resources will be helpful: