What Is Business Casual?
When it comes to dressing up casually at work, many people are still confused. After all, they don't want to embarrass themselves at work! So, what exactly does dress business casual mean? The term business casual usually refers to dress codes that are "just professional enough" and is less strict than traditional business formal wear.
It is a relaxed style of dressing that still gives an intended professional and businesslike impression. It is essential to precisely land on the optimum balance, as too formal may feel overdressed while too casual may turn out to be unprofessional and unimpressive.
It has been observed that many qualified and intelligent professionals don't make a mark in the office space effectively as they can't sell for what they are worth. This is especially critical and challenging when it comes to dressing business casual.
Why Do Companies Have a Business Casual Dress Code?
Despite the transition of the corporate culture from formal business attire to casual dressing, companies still insist on enforcing their own rules around dressing for work.
- It may be true that clothing alone doesn't determine one's competence and professional credibility. However, corporates thrive on the fact that clothing does influence others' perception of those qualities. This, in turn, determines the company's worth in the eyes of competitors and stakeholders.
- Companies set business casual dress code with a view to project equality among the employees.
- Casual dressing enhances confidence among workers and helps to create an ambience of a relaxed workspace. This, in turn, increases the worker's productivity which is favourable for the company.
Business Casual Dress Code Suggestions for Women
The underlying aim of dressing casual for work is for the employee to fell the most relaxed and comfortable while working. Hence, keep away those tight-fitting suits and blazers, and bring in a whiff of informality into your attire. Here are some suggestions for you to keep on track while selecting the right business casual wear.
You can make way to include Short sleeved tops, vests, blouse, sweater and a polo shirt. Sleeveless tops can be paired with a blazer, jacket or cardigan considering the policies of the workplace.
Informal business wear includes slacks and dresses pants like khaki, corduroy, twill, or cotton. Pencil cut skirts and knee lengthened skirts are also good options for casual business wear.
You can also choose to wear a mid-length, professional-looking dress.
Flat or heeled closed or open heeled shoes are considered as business casual. Pumps and heeled boots are also acceptable to be worn casually to work.
Business Casual Dress Code Suggestions for Men
Give a break to your snugly fit suits and choking ties! But if you thought there is nothing less professional looking than these, then you are wrong. Here are some suggestions for you to work out on the options to dress up casually for work.
Neutral-coloured short-sleeved button-down shirts, button-up or collared shirt, sport coat and sweaters are some of the suggestions for tops for men.
Business casual includes Semi-formal pants, dress slacks and dark jeans.
Loafers, leather shoes and tie up closed-toe shoes.
What to Avoid As Part of Casual Business Dress Code?
If you are all excited about the business casual dress code policy introduced by your company and want to bring in all the elements of fun without a doubt, then you better hold on. While a majority of casual dresses make up for casual office attire, there may be some pointers that you need to watch out for a while, lest you end up in trouble!
- Transparent or see-through clothes
Garments made from lace, sheer or mesh fabric, maybe a winner at a party, but not definitely at the office!
- Tank tops, strapless shirts, backless tops, low cut neckline
Speaking, exposing off too much skin is still considered a taboo at the workspace and is not a good idea while dressing casually for work.
- Bright colours like neon and flashy patterns
You don't want to blind your colleague, do you? Unless you want to distract your colleagues from their work and be the talk of the town (for violating the office policies, of course), you wouldn't want to wear that strikingly bright shirt to work!
- Sneakers and flip flops
Well, the company said to dress up casually, doesn't mean you have to take it afar by showing up in those relaxed sneakers or flip flops. After all, they don't speak professionalism at all!
- Spandex or lycra
The office is not the place to show off your well-chiselled body wearing garments made from spandex and lycra. Save them for your concert day guys!
- Loose oversized t-shirts and bottoms
Even if wearing oversized clothing is your style of dressing, always remember that this doesn't imply for casual business wear.
- Miniskirts and short bottoms
Under no circumstances should you wear clothing that typically shows your thighs, as this is considered a misfit in casual business wear.
Following are some of the no no's when it comes to casual business dressing:
Some Business Casual Dress Code Examples
Peplum Midi Skirt
This straight skirt from Myntra is excellent to be worn as casual business attire. Not only does it give the right essence of formality in dressing, but also incorporates the element of casualness. The peplum skirt has a waistband with concealed zip closure for comfort. Made from 95% cotton, the dress is very durable and easy to clean. The flared tulle hem brings in the element of fun while the geometric patterns are also visibly interesting. Pair it with a matching top and shoes to get the perfect business casual wear outfit for you!
Available on Myntra for Rs. 2,900.
Wine Neck Tie Blouse
This beautiful top is quintessentially the style statement that is needed in your business casual wardrobe. The high neck with the tie-up and three fourth sleeves makes the top modest and decent, thereby giving it the right intensity of professionalism. The tie-up near the neck brings in casualness to the whole look. This wine-coloured top from classics can go great with black bottoms and matching accessories.
Available on faballey.com for Rs. 1,400.
Belted Midi Dress
This midi dress is an excellent example of business casual wear for women. The pink colour explicitly highlights a feminine statement in a bold and contemporary way. The dress features a button panel from the neckline to the hem, that opens up into a slot on the bottom. Also, there are slits on the slides for smooth movement. This midi dress comes with a removable belt that can be added as per your choice. The boat neck pattern is trending and goes pretty well with the design of this dress.
This dress is made from 100% polyester material and is stretchable. It is breathable and hence, is very comfortable to wear. The finishing details on the dress is impressive, thus making it a clear choice of an excellent business casual workwear.
You can find this beautiful casual workwear dress on fablestreet.com for Rs.2,295.
Printed Casual Shirt
Amp up your personality with this casual shirt that could quite easily make way to your casual business workwear. The blue shirt from Allen Solly has printed all over and gives the essence of casualness to the wearer. Nevertheless, a button-down shirt is a must in casual business workwear, and this shirt has all the attributes to be called a business casual wear.
You can find this shirt on lifestylestores.com for a discounted price of Rs. 1,609.
Fitted Khaki Pants
You can't wrong with a pair of khakis as business-casual wear! This style of trousers gives you the options to dress up and down as the range of colours and textures are varied. This fitted khaki pants from blackberry are made from 100% cotton and are hence, very durable. The shade of this khaki pant is perfect to go well with dark-coloured shirts or t-shirts.
Want to get this pair of khaki trousers for yourself? Head over to blackberrys.com to buy them for Rs. 2,395.
Top Tips to Consider While Choosing Attire for Business Casual Dress Code
Here we are iterating it again, and you are dressing casual for "work". So, please don't think of wearing just about anything to work, only because it is relaxed and comfortable to wear! By the way, that includes your ripped jeans, big logo t-shirt and ratty sneakers!
- Always remember to consult your company's official dress code
The definitions of business casual may vary from one company to another. What may be acceptable in your friend's workplace may not be appropriate at your place of work. All employees are obliged to comply with the company standards and required to understand them well, before following. While you think Polo t-shirts are acceptable as informal business wear, your company may object as the official dress code only considers full sleeve clothing as appropriate.
- Consider what other employees are wearing
If it is your first day at work, we insist that you don't dare to take the risk of turning up in something informal. A better idea would be to wear formals on a typical workday and watch what your colleagues are wearing. Later, you can model on their attires as it would be the best business casual dress code examples that fit for your office.
- Inform about Medical and religious requirements
Sometimes, there could be a specific reason, say a religious or medical condition that doesn't allow you to adhere to the company's dress code guidelines. For instance, you may be required to wear doctor prescribed footwear like flip flops or a religious garment which is of a particular colour and pattern. In that case, always make sure to inform the HR team know about your limitations and consult with them to consider your specific situation.
- Dress according to your designation
This especially applies if you are leading a prominent position at work. Being superior to others, you are often looked up to as the correct example to be followed in terms of dressing. Your dress code must be crystal clear in terms of projecting a professional, businesslike image while enjoying the advantage of being relaxed.
- Colors and patterns are important
Mixing and matching of outfits are essential in dressing business casual! As a rule of thumb, always remember to wear a pant that is a different colour than your blazer. However, better watch out before being too experimental. The colours must not clash each other and must perfectly complement each other. Also, make sure to stay away from flashy and loud patterns, unless of course, your office dress code allows so.
- Watch your denim
Types of Denim or jeans permitted as business-casual wear in most offices. However, never make the mistake of choosing to wear light-coloured or faded jeans. They are considered way more casual than intended and probably could violate the business informal dress code policy. It is best to stick with dark-coloured jeans as they quite easily resemble traditional slacks.
- Be careful of accessories and makeup
When it comes to casual dressing for work, always make sure to include the right accessories. No matter how well the bling-y neckpiece or watch goes with the dress, never pair it up with your business casual wear. Keep your style of accessories to minimal and subtle in design, make and tone. Also, make sure to avoid dark makeup and awkward hairstyles while dressing up casually for office.
- And last, but not the least
Always make sure to wear wrinkle-free, stain-free and clean clothes to work- casual business wear or not! Please take time to accurately assess your style and identify if it clashes with the guidelines mentioned in the office dress code policy.
So, to get this straight and clear, we are going to give you some more pointers when thinking of choosing your business casual attire.
Show your personality!
One of the significant advantages of the business casual dress code is that rather than conforming to the everyday corporate style, you can choose to dress in a way that better reflects your personality. It’s appropriate to wear a solid coloured dress shirt or one with a slight print, or why not wear a real stand out jacket? Perhaps one in a patterned fabric or with coloured buttonholes or elbow patches?
Furthermore, if you choose to keep your actual clothes more muted, then business casual is also the ideal place for you to show off your accessories a little more. Do attractive cufflinks or coloured dress shoes to your look, stylish scarves made of cashmere, or perhaps a colourful pocket square to add a bit of colour to the outfit? Whatever you do, just make sure not to go overboard – make sure you stick to including one exciting feature in your gear to impress your colleagues with – not more!