1st Saturday Style Small Business Info

What Exactly is Business Casual?

Business Casual Woman
Business Casual Woman

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According to Wikipedia, business casual is a popular dress code in professional and white-collar workplaces in Western countries. But just what exactly do you wear in a business casual workplace?

Telling you what not to wear is probably easier. (And I’m not talking about the popular TLC show. Although Clinton and Stacy would undoubtedly have some great advice.) It seems to be universally agreed that business suits are most certainly not casual. There is also consensus that T-shirts and athletic wear are too casual. Flip flops you’d wear to the beach, shirts that expose your stomach, short-shorts — probably any shorts — are not office appropriate. Beyond this, there are no hard and fast rules.

In fact, while most would say that blue jeans are too informal, there are exceptions. I used to work at Gateway computers in the 90’s and even the CEO wore jeans to work every day. I loved working there, but that’s a story for another day.

As a general rule, men are probably safe wearing khakis or no-iron, wash-and-wear trousers and a solid-colored or conservatively striped shirt with a collar. Women have more flexibility with the option of wearing slacks or a skirt and a blouse or shirt with a collar. Anything that’s too tight or too revealing should be avoided.

It’s important to keep in mind that there’s the off-work you and the at-work you. Dressing appropriately at work can affect your attitude on the job and how co-workers and the boss perceive you. Consider the following questions the next time you’re trying to determine what’s appropriate:

Can you wash it at home or does it need to be professionally dry-cleaned? The stuff requiring dry-cleaning might be too dressy.

Could I wear this to hang out with my friends? Might be too casual.

Could I wear this to meet my in-laws for the first time? Might be OK, depending on what kind of in-laws you have.

Could I wear this to work in the garden? Definitely not work appropriate.

How do you determine what’s too dressy or too informal for business casual? Have you ever experienced an awkward moment by dressing inappropriately? We’d love to hear about it. Tell us on our Facebook page, tweet us @123Print or leave us a comment below.

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