Ah, the great perhaps. Dubbed as the “black hole of style,” Monster.com defines business casual as “dressing professionally, looking relaxed, yet neat and pulled together.” However, the embodiment of this ideal is often misunderstood, and particularly varying from industry to industry. In a tech space, jeans are often welcomed, while in legal professions a suit and tie is recognized as the norm even in “business casual”. We’ve compiled a few general tips for dressing business casual, but it’s always best to consult HR for what they expect in dress code. But, as always, it’s best to be overdressed.
In general, 4 tips remain constant:
- No jeans
- No sneakers
- No shorts
- No sandals
- Always start with a collared shirt. The internet seems to be in an extreme disagreement about polo shirts, so observe how they are treated in your office.
- Nice pants with a belt will keep the look nice and polished. Khakis also appear to be a gray area, so keep an eye out for what your coworkers are wearing.
- While a jacket is preferred, it does not have to directly match your pants. A nice sweater (not sweatshirt) or cardigan in neutral colors can also do the trick.
- Complete the look with dress shoes, brown or black is just fine!
- Blouses, collared shirts, and clean cut sweaters start the look off on the right foot.
- Skirts and dresses that reach the fingertip are a more of a classic take, while slacks are a versatile tool
- Blazers and cardigans can really execute the outfit
- Go for a conservative heel or your favorite flats to compliment your ensemble
This is a basic take on business casual, the look will definitely shift according to position and industry, so be sure to double check with HR or your supervisor. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
HINT: Dressing slightly more professional than expected is a great way to make a good impression. It communicates that you are serious about moving onward and upward.
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