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Business Casual Dressing Decoded: These Are The Rules

Photo by Jennifer Ryan Jones

Everyone loves a lax dress code, especially at the office. But let’s face it, the rules for business casual aren’t always clear. There's a lot of room for wardrobe malfunctions between being fully suited and booted and just rolling out of bed. Limiting your daily uniform choices with a few suits, shirts and ties helps keep things simple. Putting together business casual looks can be much trickier, especially when you’re trying to figure out what’s appropriate for the office. If you’re just starting to build your business casual wardrobe, look to brands like J.Crew, Zara Men and Bonobos for classic sport jackets, smart button front shirts and great fitting trousers. And if you’re at the executive level, you can still out style the intern with more casual kits from Brooks Brothers and Saks Fifth Avenue.

         How To Navigate The Pitfalls Of Dressing Business Casual.

  1. How you present yourself matters. It really does! If you like or need your job, you’ll want to be sure to respectfully fit into the corporate culture. How you dress is important. Don't get noticed for breaking the dress code. Check the employee handbook. Jeans may be a yes but ripped jeans are probably a big no. If you’re hoping to get promoted or considered for the big raise, now is not the time to test the limits.
  1. Neatness counts. You may get the style right with a button down shirt and a pair of khakis but if they don’t fit correctly you’ll still look sloppy. Right now in fashion, all your trousers and khakis should be flat front (no pleats). Your shirts should be tucked in with just one button left open at the top. Even casual shoes can use a shine or a brush. Are you lucky enough to wear sneakers to work? Is so, make sure those kicks are in very good condition.
  1. Don’t be a fashion victim. The office hallway is not your runway. Unless you’re a paid trendsetter, the workplace isn’t the best place to experiment with new looks. It’s important to represent your company’s brand image, especially if you’re client facing. Save your new joggers and the rest of your athleisurewear for the weekend.
  1. Don’t let your Dad jeans date you. When it comes to looking current, your casual put-together can be less forgiving than a corporate suit and tie. Like your professional skill set, if you’re still rocking the same look from twenty years ago it’s time to give your wardrobe a reboot. We know you love them, but if you own square toe shoes, a bolo tie or a Bill Cosby sweater they need to go.
  1. Good grooming is next to Godliness. Under no circumstances should a relaxed workplace be an invitation to give up on taking good care of your personal hygiene. Fresh smelling pits and a winning smile are the very least of it. If you don’t have to shave every day it’s still important to keep your scruff or beard well manicured. Don’t just roll out of bed and go. Trust us, a little hair pomade will add some professional polish that will set you apart from the rest of the casual cats.
  1. Make a great first impression. What should you wear if you’re interviewing at a casual company? Now that business casual is pretty much the standard, this seems to be today’s biggest professional style conundrum. Your clothes need to convey that you understand the corporate vibe. Ask around, do your research and dress better than the position you’re interviewing for. When trying to land a job with a more corporate company or in a conservative industry, by all means, break out the dark suit. But, when you're sure you need dress more casual to land the gig, a well-fitted sports jacket and a great pair of shoes can set you apart.


This article was written and appeared on Grooming Lounge and our Founder, Mike Gilman, were quoted a lot, so we borrowed the article. Giving them credit -- hope it's OK.

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