Business casual is an ambiguous term that is usually described as professional loose-fitting, often very casual wear, but with certain key elements of a proper lounge suit adapted for more casual workplace environments. Today, business attire is much more relaxed than it was in the not-so-distant past, when it was thought of as “business formal” attire. However business casual clothing still has certain aspects of the business suit tailored for a more casual office environment. The classic business suit jacket is often adaptable for a more casual look, especially if one is wearing a dark colored business suit. For a very casual look, one could opt for a pinstriped pinstripe suit jacket in a lighter shade of blue, or a white checker skirt paired with a pair of straight leg pants.
As far as dressing for the business casual environment goes, the rule of thumb is to avoid too much ornamentation. Ornamental accessories such as cuff links, ties, and bracelets should be kept to a minimum and only add a little bit of flare where it is needed. An all-white shirt with a blazer is the classic business suit look and can easily be dressed up with a pair of pleated plaid trousers in a contrasting color. Black trousers in a neutral color and a dark tie are other essential dressing points for this type of outfit. These are three very simple, inexpensive items that one can add to an outfit to jazz it up for a more dressy or less formal working environment.
As important as the clothing is, shoes also play a vital role in creating a business casual attire. loafers are a great choice for work shoes because they give the feet a better grip on the floor. Flat shoes are better for dress shoes because they offer the best support and balance for heavy items such as briefcases and computer keyboards. When it comes to loafers, men’s style loafers are usually the most formal of all, but women can choose wedges, heels, and even sandals if they wish. Work boots are another option for men who need additional ankle support.
One final item in the basics of business casual attire is the suit. The suit does not need to be black, gray, or other dark color, as long as it is pressed and worn down to the lowest points of the suit. This is the most conservative choice for a work outfit, but can be worn with other colors if desired. For a night out on the town, a good pair of jeans is a good choice for the business suit, as long as it is the right shade of color.
When it comes to the most important piece of business casual attire, comfort is king! Avoid tight-fitting shirts and pants, and opt for looser fits in these areas. Cotton clothing offers a good alternative to wool and is far more comfortable for most people. Also avoid wearing very loud neckties and tuxedos, and stick with sober, muted, and simple suits. Remember that dress codes often change depending on the region, so it may be necessary to switch your clothing a bit from time to time.
These are some basic rules of business casual clothing that should allow you to mix and match with the rest of your wardrobe easily. Be sure to always look the part, but also wear clothing that fits properly. Good luck, and happy dressing!