Business casual typically describes a style of dress that is more relaxed than formal business wear.
It denotes dressing in a manner that is casual, but not too relaxed and still appropriate for a business setting.
There is some confusion, however, as to where the boundaries lie between casual and business professional.
When are you dressing too lax for the event and where are you stiflingly overdressed?
Let’s settle this ambiguity right now.
Business Casual Do’s and Don’ts
Don’t wear jeans, don’t wear shorts, and don’t wear open-toed shoes, regardless of how expensive and high-end those items may be. For men, a universally accepted look for this blurred term can consist of a collared shirt, trousers (or khakis), a nice belt that potentially matches your leather shoes (or sometimes loafers), and socks. If you want to be on the more formal side, throw on a blazer or sport coat to complete your ensemble.
Some companies institute weekly or bi-weekly “Casual Fridays,” during which employees may dress more casually than usual. Here’s a chance to avoid the choking neck-tie and jacket while still showing off your fitted collared shirt and cool shoes.
In this technological age, however, casual dress makes more sense to employers and employees. Because businesses and workers communicate more often through email, faxes, and conference calls, strict business dress is becoming obsolete.
Even Barack Obama has brought a more casual aura to the White House. Whereas previous presidents, notably George W. Bush, were very strict about requiring full business dress during all presidential meetings, Obama implemented a “jacket optional” policy shortly after his inauguration.
As Obama has graced magazine covers from News Week to GQ, his casual approach to business seems contagious, especially for tech. companies as they thrive most on impersonal, behind-the-scenes coding and connections.
Even very prominent businessmen like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates often appear on television in casual dress. Prepare your wardrobe for everything, but if you’re called into that interview and the recruiter tells you business casual, don’t show up in jeans and don’t out-dress the interviewee. The current job hunt has placed enough stress on those seeking employment, so make sure you at least have your attire in perfect order.