What exactly is business casual? It is essentially a code set forth by workplace dress codes and organizations as a way of indicating the sort of professional conduct to be expected. Business casual is an ambiguous term that is usually loosely defined, but with many smart aspects of a refined formal lounge suit, typically reserved for business casual wear.
It is not really a definitive list of what should constitute business attire, though it does tend to prioritize style over substance. In other words, it can be seen as the distilled essence of business casual, distilled to its most pure form, the white-tie version of business attire.
A business suit should never be worn to work. Not only is it technically not casual, but wearing a suit to work will convey the wrong impression about your employer. Remember that business attire is a suit and blazer, not a t-shirt and jeans ensemble. If you are wearing a t-shirt and jeans to work, consider yourself extremely lucky and versatile! You are the epitome of practicality!
A good rule of thumb is to always dress code to impress. It is a mistake to believe that what is business casual is a throwback to an earlier era (i.e. jeans and a t-shirt). That would be like thinking that polo shirts are the “in” dress code for office workplaces today. Office attire has come a long way from the overly-formal blazers of the 80s, and if you dress properly, you will certainly not be viewed as a throwback.
A blazer should be the backbone of your entire business suit. The blazer is the dress code for more than just business attire; it is the dress code for formal occasions. Properly wearing a blazer is like wearing your most well-kept secret: the only person who knows about it is you! Choose a blazer in a conservative color such as black or gray. A black blazer is classic and never goes out of style.
When wearing a blazer, it is important to remember that it should not be too formal. If you are in a business meeting or an office party, wearing a simple, dark-colored blazer can be surprisingly effective in making a casual, businesslike appearance. Conversely, a brightly colored blazer can work wonders when paired with a dress shirt and a nice, but not overly overstuffed, trousers. Remember that a blazer is not meant to be all business; it is also a great option for a night out on the town.
The key to business casual pants is to pair them with a shirt that fits properly. Many people choose to wear sports jerseys or sweatshirts with their pants because they tend to look much more casual than a dress shirt. Additionally, sports jerseys are far more flexible and don’t have to be tucked into a pair of shoes; they simply drape over the pants. Sweaters, on the other hand, must be tucked into a shoe and often have to be tied, rather than merely covering the lower portion of the pants.
When it comes to dress slacks, the options are even more varied, since a dress skirt is appropriate for more formal occasions and jeans are equally acceptable in most settings. Of course, it is always preferable to wear dress slacks that are a bit more form-fitting than your normal jeans. To create the illusion of a slimmer you, choose dress slacks that are cut higher and wear a jacket or cap underneath.
This will make you appear to be slightly larger, which is the whole point of dress slacks in the first place! What is business casual pants is more of a question than it is a guideline. In general, dress pants are worn with a dress shirt and a tie, or by anyone who wishes to dress within this broad category. Be sure to choose dress pants in colors that blend nicely with the rest of the outfit, as well as a shirt that can carry the rest of the outfit.