Business casual is a vague ambiguous definition, sometimes regarded as semi-formal attire but with certain key elements of a traditional formal lounge suit, adapted for business casual wear. The first important defining principle is that business casual does not require the same dress code as business or office attire. Formal business attire is formally worn and maintained at work, whereas business casual is worn in the leisure or social environment – in other words, by the average person in the streets. The second essential key principle of business casual is the notion of flexibility, wear different clothes can be worn depending on the situation. The business suit and other business uniforms (business casual shirts, slacks, trousers) are examples of rigid business casual dress codes, where ‘business casual’ is more like a uniform or dress code, rather than a specific dress code.
In a workplace environment, business casual dress codes may well be dictated by the business image that a firm wishes to portray, either through an image statement or through the dress codes that are put in place. There is a lot of difference between business casual and office dress codes; whereas office dress codes tend to be more rigid, business casual dress codes are more flexible, allowing some creativity within the range of colours, styles, and patterns worn in business clothing. However, this flexibility is also dependent on the level of corporate hierarchy and the institutional culture of the workplace. For example, if a firm has a casual culture, it will prefer that its workers have a ‘clean, pressed look’; whereas, in a high power, elite setting, the exact opposite is true.
The business casual clothing includes shirts, blouses, t-shirts, pants, jackets, skirts, and even blazers or preppy style skirts and tops. The colour range is huge, ranging from black and navy, to greys, reds, browns, and other colours that can be coordinated to any outfit. The choice of tops and shirts is almost limitless, which allows for a great deal of variety in combinations and styling. There are even colours associated with certain industries or professions, such as white-collar professionals and those in military organisations. This versatility makes business casual outfits extremely adaptable, which means that they can be worn in a variety of different settings.
Business attire can also take a number of different forms. For example, while business casual attire is often paired with a white shirt, it can also consist of a blazer, a vest, or even a coat. Trousers or pants or slacks can also be worn in this type of attire, which again, results in a wide range of combinations. Business attire has the ability to really make a difference in a person’s professional appearance, so they are essential for all employees.
The main downside to business casual attire is the fact that it tends to be less formal than other forms of dress. It is not appropriate for workplaces where the level of formality is normally very high, as it can easily be mistaken for an informal outfit. However, it is perfectly fine for a workplace such as a boardroom, and can be a great choice if worn with the right clothing.
One of the most popular types of business casual attire is a pair of jeans, and these are a great option for both work and play. If you work in an environment where jeans are usually seen as business casual, then you will no doubt still want to choose a pair of stylish jeans that are less likely to draw attention to you. You can choose from dark denim to faded acid washed jeans, and t-shirts are also an option. Wearing a button down shirt underneath your jeans is also an option that works well, as it draws the attention away from your legs and upper body.