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What is Business Casual and How to Pull it Off

By ShirtSpace | Aug 23, 2019 |  Updated May 25, 2023

For many of us, our day begins when the alarm clock goes off. After hitting snooze one too many times, we roll out of bed, shower, get ready, and head to work. Way back when, there were those who wore a suit and tie to work and those who walked uphill both ways in the snow for a day filled with manual labor. Today, there are still those camps, but there are also many of those in between people who have much more wiggle room in terms of what to wear. They do not wear a suit and tie, nor do they wear a uniform or “blue collar” get up. Instead, they venture into the world of business casual, where they need some business and casual to pull together their look.

What is business casual, anyway? There isn’t one right answer to this puzzling question, but the most important thing to remember when trying to sort it out, is the “business” part of business casual.

As a good rule of thumb- when in doubt, it’s better to opt for something more formal than not. For example, if you will be headed into a job interview, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and wear a button up long sleeve shirt. This tells the interviewer that you take the interview and your appearance seriously!

Image Credit: Unsplash - Jason Goodman

Assuming the interview went well and you landed the job or the dress code recently changed at your long time place of employment, you can scope out the scene and get a feel for what is considered acceptable.

When it comes to color, muted greens, greys, and blues are fail-safe options to choose. These hues are never too vibrant or loud and typically appear more formal than their bright, less serious counterparts. The same goes for patterns- subtle stripes and patterns are ok, but you definitely need to be mindful. The thicker and bolder the stripe or pattern, the less formal the look. If your workplace will accommodate this type of look, more power to you!
Image Credit: Unsplash - Priscilla Du Preez

Always sticking with button-down office apparel and rolling up the sleeves when it gets toasty VS opting for a short sleeve option is always a smart move. This is personal preference, and very much determined by your workplace and occupation, but always remember that long sleeve is more business casual than short sleeve. What’s more, even in a relaxed office setting, looking professional is never a bad thing, nor is being dapper and stylish in a casual setting. Just a little food for thought.

As you come to the realization that business casual has many different meanings, I’m hopeful that you feel confident in tailoring your look to your own unique day to day. It’s always ok to be true to yourself and keep your personal style, but the art of business casual means never sacrificing the “business” for the “casual.”

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