You are dressed in a suit, tie, dress shirt, and boat shoes and are at a business-casual event or workplace.
You have it completely wrong!
Instead of that, what should you be wearing?
Here are some tips for business casual attire.
What is Business Casual?
What exactly does “business casual” mean?
These two words shouldn’t really have any meaning together.
The only thing I’ve discovered about this dress code is that it’s ambiguous. The fundamental reason is that, depending on the particular workplace or event, it basically has a different meaning.
Wearing a sport coat, dress shirt, dress pants, and dress shoes can be considered appropriate attire. All the way down to anything like a polo shirt, chino pants, and sneakers.
The objective here is to find the ideal balance between business outfit and casual menswear, despite the fact that the dress code is quite unclear.
But if unsure, always choose the side of business over casual. Under-dressed never wins out over over-dressed.
If you are unsure of what to wear on your first day at a new job, you should pay particular attention to this rule.
But how precisely can you acquire more information about how to dress to look your best?
I’d like to recommend a handful of approaches.
Start by taking a look around. If you’re in a new workplace, pay attention to how people are dressed and try to use this as a guide for how formal or casual you should be dressing.
Don’t be afraid to inquire in advance with your boss or host. You’d be shocked at how often men avoid asking what business casual means out of fear of coming across as an idiot, despite the fact that it may seem clear.
Asking about the dress codes is actually a gesture of respect and demonstrates your commitment to adhering to the rules about dress.
But depending on the circumstance, there are various business casual versions to pick from.
Creative Business Casual
Let’s start with a typical modern office setting in a field like technology or marketing.
I’d recommend adopting a creative business casual or smart casual look in this situation.
This can often refer to anything from a blazer and chino ensemble to a pair of jeans and an Oxford button-down.
Sneakers are occasionally appropriate, but I’ll talk more about them in a bit.
Casual Business Casual
The second is the business casual dress code, which has a little more relaxed aesthetic.
This usually holds true for businesses like startup offices as well as more hard-working settings like manufacturing and construction.
It’s basically only one or two notches above standard casual, so you might be sporting a logoed Polo or t-shirt with chinos or jeans and a more relaxed pair of shoes like chukka boots or sneakers.
Items to Avoid
Allow me to explain on some items that do not fit under this specific dress code before we discuss what you need as part of your business casual outfit.
Undoubtedly, a number of the items are overly dressy.
The first rule is no suits. The same might be stated for dress shirts and neckties, as they are simply too formal.
Despite the fact that blazers are an essential part of business casual, make sure you’re choosing a blazer and not a suit jacket. The reason is that, when paired with jeans or chinos, suit coats can look particularly lightweight due to the lighter fabric weights.
T-shirts can look great when paired with dressier items, but I generally avoid wearing them unless it’s needed of you because they can look too relaxed.
No joggers, light wash jeans, shorts, and definitely no light wash jeans shorts, it should go without saying.
Avoid wearing more casual shoe types including boat shoes, sandals, basketball high tops, and sneakers with bright colors.
Consider your accessories as well. Your overall look will suffer from some items, such as flimsy backpacks, casual jewelry, and novelty cufflinks.
I want to talk about a few tips so you can really nail your business casual clothing before I show you some of my favorite business casual looks.
Important Tips to Keep in Mind
You should primarily stick to neutral colors, and this rule applies to pretty much all of the pieces I’m going to suggest.
This is due to the fact that neutral items are easier to pair with one another as well as the fact that brighter and bolder hues are seen as being too casual.
You’ll want to limit the number of patterns you use. When it comes to business casual dress requirements, less is more. Your outfit will look more casual and loud the more patterns it has.
What pieces are required to build a straightforward and fashionable business casual wardrobe?
Let’s examine each one separately before taking it home to put it all together into great ensembles.
You should invest by purchasing several versions of the button-down Oxford shirt, a staple of business casual attire.
It is fashionable, smart, and flexible. Oxford shirts often have a somewhat thicker fabric than dress shirts, which gives them a more relaxed appearance.
I’d recommend tucking your Oxford into your pants for a more casual appearance, but feel free to wear it out if you’re trying for a more laid-back look.
Before moving on to other colors, get one in white and one in light blue.
As was already mentioned, a blazer or sports coat is another crucial business-casual item that will make it simple for you to dress up your ensembles.
One in a solid color is what I like to suggest because it will be simpler to layer and match with various shirts and pant combinations.
When the weather begins to turn chilly in the fall and winter, you’ll undoubtedly need some items to layer over your shirts.
I recommend purchasing some cashmere and merino wool v-neck and crew-neck sweaters in neutral tones. If you want to add your overall look a bit of preppy flair, you might even wear a chic cardigan.
You really can’t go wrong with a nice polo shirt if you’re looking for something classier than a crewneck tee but lighter than an Oxford long sleeve.
Polos scream smart casual with their unmistakable preppy flair. They may be paired with anything from dress pants to all the way dark wash jeans when picked in neutral hues.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to tuck your shirt in if you’re wearing a belt that obviously matches your shoes to add some extra style points.
In terms of clothing, you should definitely pick up a few pairs of chinos, which are the most adaptable pair of pants a man can own.
It’s not overly dressy, n ot relaxed. The perfect smart-casual pant are chinos. They go with so many different items and colors and provide for a neat and polished appearance.
But I’d recommend against using too many vibrant colors; instead, stick to muted tones like sand, navy, olive, and gray.
You are allowed to replace the chinos with some well-fitting jeans, provided they are of a darker hue, such as a dark indigo wash, if you work in a more laid-back office setting and really want to wear business casual.
Drawstring wool trousers are another item that has gained a lot of popularity recently and look great when paired with smart-casual clothing.
You may be wondering at this point, “But what about my shoes?” The quickest response is that most types of dress shoes are acceptable for a smart casual dress code.
Let’s go a little more precise, though, before you run out and buy a pair of square-toed leather shoes that look even more boxy than the package they arrived in.
The traditional Oxford dress shoe is up first. Despite the fact that these shoes are perceived as being more formal, a great pair in black or brown can go really well with other business casual pieces.
You can always choose a pair of suede shoes instead if the leather’s aesthetic is simply too dressy for you.
If wearing dress shoes isn’t your thing, have you ever thought of wearing a pair of loafers instead? The majority of business casual clothes look great with these classic slip-on shoes, provided you wear no-show socks with them.
I like to suggest a beautiful chocolatey penny loafer, but if a more laid-back suede driving mock is more your style, you may always choose that.
I strongly advise taking into consideration a pair of suede Chukka boots if you’re looking for footwear that’s a little more tough and manly but yet suited for the office.
This smart, fashionable boot is well worth the investment because it pairs well with both chinos and jeans, as well as all business-casual pants.
The low top sneaker may be the most divisive option for business casual footwear.
Sneakers are acceptable as long as you take into account a few different things.
First, you should opt for something minimal like white, black, or brown, especially in leather.
Second, they must be spotlessly clean.
Finally, while sneakers are undeniably a more casual item, they must be paired with more sophisticated items for the outfit to work put together.
The key is balance, guys.
I want to talk about accessories as my final point in this guide to business casual attire.
Less is always more when it comes to accessories, and business casual shouldn’t be any different from other dress codes in this regard.
You should focus on mastering the essentials and making small, versatile purchases that will enhance rather than detract from your overall appearance.
The wristwatch, for instance, is the ideal men’s accessory. You really have a lot of options when deciding what kind of watch to get.
I would recommend picking one that is representative of your unique style, but try to avoid going overboard with color.
You might also choose a great metal cuff as an alternative, provided it has a chic, minimal style.
Your sunglasses should have a timeless design in a tortoiseshell, brown, or black color that matches your face.
You’ll want a high-quality casual leather belt, not a dress belt in a color that matches your footwear.
When it comes to enhancing your overall business casual appearance, everything else—pocket squares, neckties, cufflinks, and boutonnieres—is actually simply overdone and unnecessary.
Here are a few outfits that best represent the business casual look.
The first look truly fits the bill for creative business casual or smart casual.
It comprises of a blue unstructured blazer over a patterned button-down shirt, some chinos, and suede shoes on the bottom half.
This is the perfect illustration of how investing in high-quality neutral items enables you to work together simple yet fashionable looks that are appropriate for both a Monday morning meeting and a Friday night date.
A simple yet polished polo shirt could be substituted for the blazer if it is a little too dressy for your tastes.
I really enjoy how the light stone chinos and tan chukkas worn down below perfectly counterbalance the dark polo worn up above.
Additionally, the half tuck into the pants is fantastic.
If I could change one thing, I would probably add a simple wristwatch because even a small bit of accessorizing with an outfit like this can make a big difference.
The following look falls on the more casual end of the business casual scale.
Here, a chore jacket is layered over a check shirt and paired with a beloved pair of dark wash jeans, making it perfect for less dressy work settings.
The long sleeve button-down shirt definitely raises the ensemble a few notches above your standard casual attire, and the colors in this outfit go together pretty beautifully.
I would swap the athletic sneakers with a pair of white leather low tops if I could change anything about this look.