First impressions often make a lasting impact on others. That is why people take such care when dressing for the day. Your clothes can make or break your confidence, so you should dress appropriately every day. The new generation is liberal, casual, and decidedly less stiff. That is why there are many different terms for dress codes than 50 years ago. Office dress codes always change whenever a new generation enters the workforce.
Gone are the days of the three-piece suit, bowler hat, and tie. Nowadays, people dress in a way that appears casual and professional. This dress code is called the business casual dress code, and it’s taking over the world.
Interestingly, business and casual are opposites of each other. Hence employers require professionals to do a balancing act between the two. However, striking the right balance between these two can become overwhelming. You can’t be too casual or too formal.
Your industry and company attitudes can affect this balance. Jeans, T-shirts, and cardigan combo might be appropriate for a tech startup, but it can stand out like a sore thumb at Wall-Street. Your age and career level further complicate matters. CEOs can’t dress in jeans and a hoodie since they represent the company on an official level. That is unless they’re media magnate Mark Zuckerberg.
If you’re not Zuckerberg, then chances are you’re as confused as the rest of us.
Don’t worry; we have a detailed fashion guide to crack the casual vs. business casual debate.
This dress code rose to prominence in the 1980s when Silicon Valley overtook the world of technology. People began to focus more on comfort and practicality rather than formality. Khaki pants and button-down dress shirts became the norm for men. It was more confusing for women. How much skin can you show in business casual? Can you wear heels to work? What kind of jewelry is just right? These questions are still relevant today.
To make matters simple, we explain business casual as the outfit you would wear to meet your most valued client over lunch. Business outfits such as blazers, button-down shirts and dress pants for women, and chinos paired with a dress shirt and sports coat for men always work.
Business casual outfits are different for summers and winters.
Winter Business Casual
Winter is all about warmth and thick fabrics. So, knitted sweaters and long-sleeved cardigans work best for winter business casual outfits. Layer your clothes to make them more appealing.
Turtlenecks in blacks and whites are must-have pieces for winters since they work with anything. The classic long coat is another essential winter item. It can lend any outfit a sartorial air. Pair it with dresses or skirts for an elegant look. You can also rotate your favorite summer dresses into the winter wardrobe by pairing them with tights. Do not buy tights in loud colors and patterns. Just keep it simple and understated. Pull together the look with boots paired with ankle socks.
Summer Business Casual
The challenge in summers is to beat the heat with an office-appropriate look.
Dresses are the best option for summers. You can never go wrong with a flowy summer dress, a cardigan, and block heels. A-line, wrap, and pencil dresses with modest necklines can all work for office settings. You can also opt for well-tailored pencil skirts and keyhole blouses. Or you can choose a pair of straight and slim fit pants in neutral tones with tops in jewel tones. Pastels and jewel tones with small prints are appropriate for summers.
There are many types of footwear from which you can choose. Just avoid too high heels and open-toed shoes; always have a pair of pointy-toed leather shoes in your closet. These work well with anything and everything.
- Wear subtle jewelry
- Wear close-toed shoes
- Wear well-tailored clothes
- Wear well-ironed clothes
- Wear clean clothes
This dress code is slightly less formal than business casual. Casual works for anything from dinners to weddings and work events. It is smart to keep the event’s setting in mind since this dress code is occasion-specific. You might also ask other attendees for tips on how to dress.
As a general rule of thumb, opt for well-fitting clothes. Anything better than a tracksuit will do. You can mix up your look with exciting looks such as off the shoulder tops and low cut blouses. Slight sequence detailing is also appropriate. Jumpsuits, paired with smart blazers, are a great dress option for casual events.
Jeans work great for casual looks. Just pair them with the right pieces to avoid looking tatty. Start with a well-tailored skinny or slim-fit pair of jeans and add a blazer and blouse. Top it all off with brogues or pumps.
If you love shorts, then we have got great news for you. They are also viable options for a casual dress code. Just ensure you wear tailor shorts then are not too short. Pair them with a jacket and statement belt, and you are good to go. Chic and practical shoes are suitably appropriate for casual outfits. So, do not wear your Go-Go boots. Those should remain in the back of your closet forever.
- Wear business suits
- Wear blended fabrics
- Wear collar shirts
- Wear sequins
- Wear loud prints
Dress codes are necessary because they send a message to the world about your company image. According to research, appearance is the second most important quality associated with professionalism. Today’s workplaces might be more laid back than those of yore, but employees need to follow the office dress codes. Just keep in mind the three Bs, and you’ll find. Be modest, be comfortable, be well turned out.