Business casual is an ambiguous term often regarded as merely casual wear but with cleverly added elements of a proper business suit, usually reserved for professional white collar workplaces. Unlike office attire, business attire is much more dressy and refined, having been tailored to look more like a business suit worn by an executive. But whereas the latter is a professional wear that is reserved for business meetings or formal office events, business casual is a much more relaxed version worn on a casual basis at the workplace.
The shift in dressing code for business casual is one that has affected all industries, from restaurants and bars to board rooms and political campaigns. In some instances, business casual dress codes have been consciously introduced to separate company employees into separate groups according to their role, for example board members into group leaders, management into ranks and so on. But very often this is not enough. For example, in some workplaces, male managers are sometimes given the task of handling and training female employees under the guise of grooming them for the interview process, as if there were any difference in the grooming requirements between a man and a woman. Such a system may work in certain industries like sales and marketing but it can hardly be adapted for many other professions.
Most business casual attire is therefore essentially tailored to give the wearer a professional look, complete with white shirts, buttoned up to the top, dark jeans, casual shoes and a black or navy coloured jacket. A full suit of some kind is probably the most widely accepted form of business casual attire, in which every employee is expected to wear a uniform business suit with a conservative tie. This is certainly an expensive option and is only really suitable for highly formal occasions such as weddings, executive office events and so on. It is also highly unlikely that you would want every junior employee to be wearing the same shirt or trousers. For most jobs, the business casual attire of jeans, a simple shirt and a dark coloured jacket is usually the most acceptable choice.
It is very important to bear in mind the dress code of the business you are visiting. If you are in the United States for instance, you will find it hard to enter a law firm or any other professional business building without a lawyer or a secretary taking you to their offices to receive formal attire. Some businesses do not have a formal dress code, and this means that you are welcome to arrive in business casual clothing anytime you like. In countries like Japan however, where business casual attire is highly regarded, waiting staff will almost never wear anything other than a business suit. It is always considered unacceptable for waiters or waitresses to wear anything other than a neat pair of trousers and a white shirt.
However, business casual dress codes are not just applied to the employees, but also to the managers and supervisors of a business. Many employers are starting to impose business casual dress codes for their employees as well. This is because it is becoming more apparent that a professional look is more desirable than an untidy one. Business casual clothing can give an employer the professional appearance they want while still maintaining a friendly and laid back attitude.
Another example of business casual clothing is jeans. Jeans can be worn for both formal and casual occasions, but they should always be worn with a conservative look. There is no reason to wear a brightly colored jean with a conservative suit, for example. One of the most important things to remember about jeans is that they should be free of stains. Stains on jeans make them less professional looking than stains on a dress. Therefore, if you are going to wear a pair of jeans, try to get them professionally stained before wearing them.