It always bugs me whenever I read the words ‘Business Casual’ next to ‘Attire’ for an event or am told to wear ‘Business Casual’ on Fridays to work. The main reason being I’ve never been sure what those words actually mean. I know what ‘Formal/Business’ attire refers to (watch out for a future post if you don’t where we explain the nuances of suiting up) and I’m very comfortable with ‘Casual wear’ (read our Summer Color Combinations post for ideas). If you’re like me, it is time for you to stop fretting – because we’re going to decipher the meaning of those two words in this post.
Business Casual – The Grey Area
What gets most men sweating is that the words ‘business’ – inferred as being very formal – and ‘casual’ – associated with relaxed nights out with friends/girlfriends – are used in the same breath. This gets our heart rates up as we start assessing the level of casualness that will not be frowned upon while at the same time needing to refrain from hitting the heights of formality found at an English tea party.
So then, what is the sweet spot we seek when it comes to ‘business casual’? Let’s take a look at it from bottom up.
We know it says business casual on the invitation card, but when it comes to shoes, stick to a formal pair, maybe with a bit more personality. If you’re looking to get a new pair – be sure to read this article on dress shoe styles before you shop!
We recommend a solid and subtle pair of socks that match your shoes and do not raise eyebrows if spotted when going business casual.
This is where opinions really start swinging like a pendulum – for some, wearing dark denim jeans is still considered within the realms of business casual – while for others, it drops into the casual wear category. We do not recommend wearing jeans as we fall into the latter camp and we tend to err on the side of caution. However, we do encourage you to make a judgment call based on the type of event and the people who will be attending.
What we do recommend is wearing khakis, chinos or corduroy pants and of course, your standard dress pants. Always ensure that the length of your pants is appropriate – don’t wear them too high and show off your ankle while also not letting them bunch up around your ankles. Both these looks are considered casual.
The buckle should not be too loud for business casual attire but you can definitely get something more casual than a plain belt – be sure to match it with your shoes when you’re selecting your belt.
Always stick to a collared shirt for business casual. A polo shirt or a golf shirt could also pass for business casual although you would look dapper in a dress shirt with a bit more personality to it like a gingham or stripes.
Jacket or Sweater (Optional)
You can choose to finish off your look with a jacket or a sweater/ sweater vest over your shirt. We recommend staying away from a tie when it comes to dressing business casual.
And that is a simple guide to dressing business casual. Next time you see or hear those words, there’s no longer any reason to worry about it! Just look your best and impress!