The online Oxford dictionary defines business casual dress as
relating to or denoting a style of clothing that is less formal than traditional business wear, but is still intended to give a professional and businesslike impression.
Most companies today offer 1 or more days where you can wear business casual; often called dress down.
The rules of what you can wear often differ from company to company. In this article we aim to identify the most common business casual dress codes and break them down for you.
What can differ in business casual dress codes
Many companies have their own rules on what they clasify as business casual.
In my own experience, as an example, some companies have said I could wear jeans, some only black jeans. Some said Chinos. Others said I had to wear a shirt with jeans. Another said I could wear a polo top.
Others went even more casual saying I could wear jeans and a t-shirt.
In regards to foot wear, some insisted on shoes while others were more leanient and allowed trainers. Others decided on a middle ground of comfortable shoewear.
It’s not so difficult to conclude how many of us can get confused on what to wear at a company until some time after working there. Sometimes, even after months we can get confused.
What not to wear as business casual dress
So, it maybe easier to start with what not to wear as business casual.
Some of these may seem like common sense – but I’m including them just in case you wander on the possibility of any of these.
Coming into the office dressed in shorts, t-shirt, sunglasses and sandles would be a no.
Generally speaking, shorts are a no in the business dress department. I would also say that t-shirts in most companies (apart from polo shirts) are generally a no; though not in every company.
Sunglasses are really for outside, and in summer you will be wearing. Not flip flops or sandles though.
Generally, you would know what items are too casual for you company – so avoid those.
When in doubt – air on the side of more formal and business attire. Avoid dressing too casual.
What we would cosider to wear
Listing what to wear is a little more difficult. Every company has their own rules. Everyone has their own taste.
With that said, I wanted to provide a small list of items I would consider would be appropriate causal business dress in most companies.
- Chinos or some other cotton trousers (pants)
- Jumper / Sweater
- Cotton shirt – long sleave in winter and sort sleve in summer
- Polo shirts (differs from company to company)
- Leather shoes (brown or black)
Use this list as a starting point – then take your example from your peers. Those that have been working at the compan for some time will have a much better idea of what is acceptable and what isn’t.
Every company I have met also has a dress code you can read and follow along with.
Consider your calendar
One final thing I wanted to talk about – consider your calendar when thinking about business casual.
You would not want to turn up to a meeting with a customer dressed in business casual wear. You want to make a good impression so you would dress in your every day business wear.
Always plan you dress codes to your calendar meetings. That may mean you never have a customer meeting booked for days that its business casual dress – or you simply wear business attire for the day.
It’s important to dress appropriate for the work day you have.
Dressing for an interview
Everythung we’ve talked about so far has been when you are working for a company.
Never go to an interview dressed in business casual.
It doesn’t matter if you know that company has a business casual dress code for that day. Those interviewing you maybe dressed in business casual.
You, however, must continue to be dressed profesionally – to give that profesional first impression.
Always dress professional for an interview
One final thing I wanted to talk about was to avoid logos on your business casual clothing.
Having a brand or logo on you clothing givre off an impression of being too casual. Especially avoid clothing that may have offensive working – or wording that may offend some of you team.
We all have clothing from teams of our favorite sport – but those are just too casual for business casual dress.
Just be sensible
When considering what to wear – just be sensible. Look at the clothes you have chosen and ask the question: “Are these too casual for my company?”
If the answer is yes, put them away and choose something a little less casual.