Business Casual

A more relaxed but still professional dress code

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, which is less formal than the typical business clothes but is professional enough and appropriate for an office setting.

Wearing business casual clothes doesn’t only apply to when you’re preparing for an interview. Most, if not all, companies impose business casual dress codes that employees need to adhere to.

Business Casual

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 many dress code guidelines are 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 helps establish trust and credibility with you as a professional. For example, 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; they 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 if 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 rethink your clothing choices.

Business Casual Attire for Men

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
  • Sweaters
  • Loafers, leather shoes – black, brown
  • Belt

Business Casual Attire for Women

Business Casual Attire for Women

An appropriate business casual attire for women includes dress slacks, knee-length skirts, cotton blouses, sweaters, blazers, 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
  • Cardigans
  • Polo, collared shirts
  • Sheath dresses – neutral or solid colors
  • Pumps, stilettos, flats

Related Readings

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:

FMVA certification program

Advance your career in investment banking, private equity, FP&A, treasury, corporate development and other areas of corporate finance.

Get certified as a financial analyst with CFI’s FMVA® Program.

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