Handy Tips for Wearing Business Casual Clothing

Smart casual attire means a variety of outfits you can wear on business casual meetings, dinners, birthday parties, holiday functions, business casual nights, family get-togethers and date nights. Your dressing style really matters a lot while attending different occasions. So, it’s important to dress up with the right clothes that look suitable and are well appropriate for different events. Casual dressing generally incorporates a lot of basic clothes and accessories but it can be changed according to the person’s preference and style. If you are looking for some smart casual dressing ideas that give you a stylish and more graceful look, here you can find different ways to create various business casual ensembles.

For Business Causal

· Men should consider light colors like light blue, light brown and khaki, instead of dark colors such as black, gray or navy for business casual dress code, as light colors look more casual than dark colors.

· Consider button down shirts in polyester, cotton twill fabric that allows comfort and gives a professional casual look. You can layer a button-down shirt with a casual blazer or sweater for a stylish casual look.

· For women, avoid wearing sleeveless top as it will not be appropriate for the business environment. It’s better to go for casual shirts, blouses, dress shirts or knit shirts, pair your shirts with blazers, lightweight cardigans or jackets.

· For bottoms, men should consider dress pants and avoid wearing shorts, trousers and sweatpants.

· Women can wear knee-length skirts and pencil skirts with leggings.

For Casual Parties

· Consider bright, bold or even light colors for casual tops like t-shirts, available in different styles like V-neck, crewneck, boat neck shirts. These shirts have quality fabrics made up of polyester and cotton, allowing comfort and give a casual chic look.

· When it comes to bottoms, men can go for khakis, jeans, sweatpants, while women can wear skinny jeans, capris, leggings, miniskirts, shorts and trousers.

· Sneakers and joggers go well for casual Fridays. Women can wear flat heel sand strappy sandals.

· For dinner parties, ladies can wear high heels while dark colored boots work well for men.

· Ladies can accessorize their casual outfits with jewelry items like earrings, necklace and chunky bracelets. Moreover, they can wrap a colored scarf around their neck to get a classy and versatile look.

Business Casual

Did you know that the whole business casual fashion was started by an oil crisis? It’s true. Back in the 70’s we went through one of the first real shortages of oil and OPEC became a household name. The government in part of its response to the shortage asked all businesses to up the thermostat setting in their air conditioned work spaces to cut down on electrical power and thereby save on oil that fired those electrical power plants.

You probably already know that a suit and tie are not really designed to be worn in an 80 degree environment. So the memo comes down from management basically saying that formal business attire is not required during the national air conditioning crisis and business casual was born as a fashion.

That memo back in the 70’s typically defined business casual by defining what was not acceptable rather than what was. Pantyhose still had to be worn by women. Jeans, T shirts, sandals, shorts and basically anything that management deemed inappropriate was specifically banned. As a result, business casual meant no jacket and no tie for many men and it didn’t mean much more for women.

When the crisis passed so did the business casual dress for everyday. Replacing it was “Casual Friday” a human resources gimmick to make everyone feel good about the company just before the weekend. And then something happened. The fashion industry smelled a new market and started promoting the idea that companies that were cutting edge and hip, like two new hot stocks Microsoft and Apple, understood the value of letting their employees have some freedom in dress rather than conforming to the company uniform.

Today 43% of all businesses have a casual dress code.

While each organization sets its own idea of what casual is, typically their policies include some common ground. The employment counseling office at American University defines business casual as half way between business formal and street wear. They give their graduates looking for a job this guidance on what is and isn’t casual business.

For women it’s a skirt or an informal dress so long as the length is appropriates (no minis). The skirt can be topped with a dress shirt, polo, sweater or sweater set. Pants are OK so long as they are full length and not made of denim. For men it’s a collared shirt, casual slacks, a belt and shoes with socks. The shirt has to be tucked in and the pants can’t be jeans.

Now understand that American University is located near Embassy Row in Washington DC so their idea of casual is just a tad more formal than say businesses in Los Angeles. The bottom line is the company sets the standard but in almost every case, regardless of the restrictions; working in casual dress is just so much more comfortable than a suit. Thank you OPEC.

Handy Tips for Wearing Business Casual Clothing

Smart casual attire means a variety of outfits you can wear on business casual meetings, dinners, birthday parties, holiday functions, business casual nights, family get-togethers and date nights. Your dressing style really matters a lot while attending different occasions. So, it’s important to dress up with the right clothes that look suitable and are well appropriate for different events. Casual dressing generally incorporates a lot of basic clothes and accessories but it can be changed according to the person’s preference and style. If you are looking for some smart casual dressing ideas that give you a stylish and more graceful look, here you can find different ways to create various business casual ensembles.

For Business Causal

· Men should consider light colors like light blue, light brown and khaki, instead of dark colors such as black, gray or navy for business casual dress code, as light colors look more casual than dark colors.

· Consider button down shirts in polyester, cotton twill fabric that allows comfort and gives a professional casual look. You can layer a button-down shirt with a casual blazer or sweater for a stylish casual look.

· For women, avoid wearing sleeveless top as it will not be appropriate for the business environment. It’s better to go for casual shirts, blouses, dress shirts or knit shirts, pair your shirts with blazers, lightweight cardigans or jackets.

· For bottoms, men should consider dress pants and avoid wearing shorts, trousers and sweatpants.

· Women can wear knee-length skirts and pencil skirts with leggings.

For Casual Parties

· Consider bright, bold or even light colors for casual tops like t-shirts, available in different styles like V-neck, crewneck, boat neck shirts. These shirts have quality fabrics made up of polyester and cotton, allowing comfort and give a casual chic look.

· When it comes to bottoms, men can go for khakis, jeans, sweatpants, while women can wear skinny jeans, capris, leggings, miniskirts, shorts and trousers.

· Sneakers and joggers go well for casual Fridays. Women can wear flat heel sand strappy sandals.

· For dinner parties, ladies can wear high heels while dark colored boots work well for men.

· Ladies can accessorize their casual outfits with jewelry items like earrings, necklace and chunky bracelets. Moreover, they can wrap a colored scarf around their neck to get a classy and versatile look.

So, jazz up your personality with the above stylish casual dressing ideas that will surely help you dress up according to the specific occasion.

Business Casual Dress Code Essentials and Why You Should Be Concerned

Business casuals are outfits than are not completely formal wear, but can still be worn appropriately in an office atmosphere. Hence comfort is one of most important factors in business casual dress code. This is one aspect of personal presentation to get right as it can affect your chances of getting a promotion, being taken more seriously at work and even the amount of bonus heading your way. After all first impressions can make lasting impressions!

Every office has its own business casual dress code, which one must enquire with the concerned department before joining.

Business casuals for women would include formal Capri pants with semi formal full sleeves or ¾ sleeve shirts. Make sure that these Capri pants are not denim but a lighter shaded cotton pants. The pants must also not be too tight or extremely loose, choose a size that looks good on you, and doesn’t appear a casual wear.

Women can also wear a formal corduroy pants with semi formal collared shirts. Footwear that goes best with any business casual would be semi formal boots that have a closed mouth towards the front and with or without straps towards the back.

Business casuals for men include the very famous cotton trousers or khakis. Try to include much of the light colored cotton pants, instead of the usual dark ones. Shirts to be worn with these trousers would be collared semi formal shirts in plain dark colors that match with the color of the trousers. To give a more relaxed look to your entire attire, try to wear a dark colored shirt with a light colored trouser or vice versa.

Another option for a business casual wear for men would be a pair of jeans that goes very well with an inner plain colored t-shirt and a formal or semi formal jacket. This office wear looks extremely well, but during a hot weather the jacket could be a little uncomfortable. Foot wear for men would include a suede and leather shoes in dark colors. Refrain from wearing sneakers, or any other kind of casual footwear.

Great Tips on Business Dress and Business Casual For Men

Adhering to a business casual dress code often poses a challenge for many men. You want to be comfortable and relaxed, yet still maintain a professional look. On the contrary, when maintaining a business dress etiquette, where do you draw the line on incorporating sportswear? Whether you’re a young professional just starting to build your wardrobe, or are well seasoned in the business world and want to add new inspiration to your men’s apparel, you’re in luck. Discover the differences between business dress and business casual for men and how to incorporate the appropriate style for your situation.

What to wear: Every work environment is different. What may be considered appropriate for business casual in some work spaces, may be too casual for others. Your best bet? Check out what your co-workers and leaders are wearing. You don’t have to copy their style, but it will give you an idea of how to dress business casual.

Suits and suit separates: A fine suit is the prime differentiating factor between business dress and business casual. The standard business dress code always requires a tie. A suit made from fine materials, well-fitting dress shirt, and silk tie are go-to items for business dress. However, make sure your suit, shirts and ties are clean and pressed each time you wear them. Wearing fine clothes that sport stains, rips or tears can be worse than not adhering to a business dress code at all. And in most cases, you can remove your jacket once you’re in the office or a meeting.
Dress trousers and khakis: Dress trousers are always suitable for any business casual dress code. Depending on your work environment, khakis will most likely be considered appropriate business casual apparel. Pair either with a sportshirt or turtleneck, sportcoat and leather shoes for a professional yet comfortable look.
Dress shirts: Dress shirts balance the look of your outfit and visually complement your accessories. For a business casual dress code, try pairing a pinpoint dress shirt with tweed trousers, penny loafers, a leather belt and cashmere scarf, and you’ll look instantly dashing. When adhering to a business dress code, a point collar is the most versatile for business or dress. Button-down collars look best with a sportcoat and khaki pants; they are not typically worn with a suit. Also, look for dress shirts that come in wrinkle-free and stain resistant materials. They’ll keep you looking fresh even during your busy travel schedule.
Shoes: Shoes are a versatile category. Many dress shoes that can be worn with a suit, can also be paired with your business casual attire. Tuxedo shoes, or black patent leather dress shoes, are too dressy for the office and should be reserved for black tie affairs. Historically, sneakers have been too casual, although designers are coming out with more sophisticated styles that may be appropriate for your work setting. Choose a pair of shoes that offer clean, crisp lines and are made from genuine leather. Be sure to treat them with a leather protector and clean them regularly, as a shoddy pair of shoes can instantly spoil an entire outfit.
Briefcase/laptop bag: A distressed leather mail carrier style bag, messenger bag and laptop case in subdued shades is acceptable for a business casual work environment. For business dress, however, a briefcase is best. Look for a classic case in a versatile shade such as cognac, burgundy or black.

What not to wear: Be forewarned in case you were debating wearing any of the following to work:

Obnoxious t-shirts: Wearing a soft tee shirt made from finely woven cotton underneath a V neck sweater is perfectly fine for business casual apparel. However, wearing your Spring Break tee from 1999 is not. Prominently displayed logos can look tacky as well. Save the raucous bachelor shirts for weekend use only.
Jerseys of any kind: Absolutely not. No. Not ever. A basketball, football, baseball, or any other kind of sports jersey is never appropriate for the office. The same goes with baseball caps, giant finger gloves, track jackets, or any other sports apparel you’re tempted to wear on a day when you’re not feeling so fresh. Others will notice your lack of effort and inappropriate attire immediately.
Sandals: While flip-flops have a charming, beach-hippie sort of appeal, you should avoid wearing them in a business casual work environment. No matter the designer or materials, they are simply too casual for the office.

Can I Still Look Polished and Professional in a Business Casual Workplace?

So your office just went to “business casual”. What does that mean? Let me tell you what it’s not! Business Casual is NOT wearing the nearest wrinkled shirt and twice worn pair of khaki’s as you roll out of bed in the morning. It’s not throwing on a pair of beach sandals and schlepping off to the office half put together. And it is certainly not sitting at your desk with your feet up because you feel like you are dressed for a casual outing with your friends.

Many companies have gone to business casual to give their employees more comfortable options with their wardrobes. It was intended to be a morale booster, and an indication that the company is more “employee focused”. What has happened however; is that the concept has gone a bit too far, and the “business casual” concept is now negatively affecting behavior, morale, performance and ultimately the bottom line.

So what DO you wear to work? How can you make business casual provide that professional image that your company desires? How can you stand out, in good, promotable way, without looking like the ultimate brown-noser, by outshining everyone else with your attire?

First, foremost and never forget it – grooming. This is a topic that I often don’t think is necessary to mention, until I actually find myself at a business meeting where someone has clearly arrived sans showering that morning. It’s not good for anyone in attendance, trust me! And like your mother told you, don’t forget to brush your teeth! For women, if you decide to wear nail polish, it is either on or off. There is no in-between.

Your clothing should be neatly pressed and in good condition and make sure it fits you well. Clothing that is too tight or too loose will not give you a professional, confident look. Keep your trendy outfits for your social life. Solid colors and monochromatic outfits add more authority and are a bit more polished than those with patterns. Skirts should be at an appropriate length and necklines should be worn very conservatively. Cleavage is a distraction in the office. If you want to be taken seriously, make sure your clothing is consistent with that message. Your shoes should be appropriate and in excellent condition! Flip flops are NOT an option in an office environment.

So how do you make your casual outfit more professional looking? For men, dress shirts (tie optional), or a nice polo shirt is appropriate. An optional sport coat is a good item to keep on hand. You never know when the boss will ask you accompany him on a client call. For women, layering is a good option. A casual jacket or a sweater will pump up your professional presence. Keep your shoes conservative and your jewelry understated. If jeans are an option in your office, then the darker, the better!

You can still look polished and professional with business casual in your office!

Dianne Boras, founder and President of Vada Image Consulting attended the world renowned Image Resource Center of New York. She holds an MBA in Business from Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT and a BS in Marketing from Ramapo College of NJ. A past employee of General Electric, Dianne has extensive experience in sales, management and interpersonal communications training and development.

Dianne has presented for The Women’s Summit at Bryant University, Ladies Who Launch, Network of Executive Women and Network Plus of Westport. She has worked with corporations including Verizon, Right Management, Matrix Corporation and Challenger Gray & Christmas. She is on the faculty of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University.

She is a past President and held various board member positions on the Chapel Street School PTA. She is a member of the Association of Image Consultants International, Ladies Who Launch of Southwest CT; Entrepreneurial Women’s Network and is an ambassador for the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce. She has volunteered at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, CT and Bunnell High School in Stratford, CT in offering Interviewing Skills Workshops for juniors and seniors.