What is Business Casual?

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The description of casual business style is often misleading. And although business casual does not require the daily wearing of a strict classic suit, this style still does not accept the position of “I will wear whatever I want.”

According to the Oxford Dictionary, casual is a less formal dress style but retains a working, business-like feel. Of course, casual is not sporty and should not look like weekend wear.

Darlene Price writes well about the importance of the right look and dress and the suitability for their workplace. The author of the book “Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results” says that this is one of the most common obstacles to a successful career. While clothing by itself does not demonstrate the actual level of an employee as a professional, it has the potential to stunt or even disrupt career progression.

The casual business style may vary depending on the company’s type of business. As a rule, the casual style is practically not subject to new trends and fashion trends. Some models of specific garments can only be modified.

What should a basic wardrobe look like in a casual business style? What shouldn’t be in business casual? This article will tell you about traditional garments that are appropriate for casual business styles for both men and women.

Business Casual for Men

To begin with, let’s briefly define the boundaries – what needs to be excluded from the wardrobe of a business everyday style. The following item of clothing will not work:

  • T-shirts – with prints and slogans or “ripped.”
  • Jeans – although individual companies may list them as approved, by no means should you choose “ripped” designs.
  • Sport shoes. Sneakers, trainers – improper footwear for work.
  • Work boots. Even if this is an urban model, you should not wear them to work in the office.
  • Hoodies. Sweatshirts with a hood are knocked out of the casual style, making the outfit casual and too informal.
  • Shorts. Regardless of the length, they are not suitable for business attire.

The combination suitable for business casual style wardrobe items is well illustrated in the picture. Let’s take a closer look at what a wardrobe in a casual business style consists of.


These include classic ones with buttons, a collar, polo shirts. But keep in mind that short sleeves are rarely welcome. An alternative is buttoned sleeves. The casual business style is also known for lacking a tie, making the shirtless formal and creating a more relaxed look. Although, of course, a selection of ties will not be superfluous in the wardrobe and is not excluded for the business-casual style.

Blazers and jackets

A well-tailored jacket or blazer can help when meeting management, clients, or sponsors. These wardrobe items are optional but can be a stylish addition to your outfit. What is the difference between a jacket and a blazer? The first is more strict and classic, and the second is universal. The blazer goes well with any garment and is usually completed with lapels and large and bright buttons. Its length does not have a well-defined standard, like a suit jacket.


The now-classic sweater and shirt combination is one of the most popular options for a casual business dress code. You can also replace the sweater with a vest. Look for fine-knit sweaters that show the collar of your shirt and leave the bulky, warm, and cozy chunky knit sweaters for vacation or leisure.

Nice pants or slacks

In this case, it is not necessary to wear suit pants. A pair of good chinos is a stylish version of dress pants that suits the business charter and the casual style. Slacks are also a practical option. Choose neutral, non-flashy shades such as blue, brown, and gray. Be sure to match it with a belt.


Shoes should be discreet and more classic. For example, loafers, oxfords, derbies, brogues, or dress shoes. Sports shoes and sandals are not acceptable. As an exception, in some niches (such as IT), it may be acceptable to wear low-key sneakers. However, even in this case, it should not be sporty a sneaker but a stylized urban model.

Business Casual for Women

The range of business-casual clothing for women is more flexible and extensive. The country, field of activity, and season have an influential role in your choices. What should absolutely not be in a woman’s wardrobe for a casual business style? Avoid the following clothing:

  • Short skirts: Leave tight, revealing dresses for parties.
  • Evening dresses: Flowing skirts and open shoulders are for cocktail parties only.
  • Short shorts: They are worth leaving for the weekend.
  • Open shoes: This includes sandals.
  • Sports shoes: Styling in an urban format is allowed.
  • T-shirts: Especially “torn” or shapeless ones.
  • Sweatshirts: You need to warm yourself in a more acceptable way.

Makeup should also be taken into account as a part of the business image for the female half of the population – choose a style with a more natural look. What should be included in a woman’s casual wardrobe and what should guide the decision? An example is demonstrated in the image. Let’s discuss the image in more detail.

To-the-knee skirts and dresses

The classic length is up to the knee or slightly higher. As for shades, there are no restrictions but intricate patterns and designs are best avoided. When choosing dresses, opt for more restrained styles.


Whether it’s classic, wide, chinos, or suit trousers, the decision is yours. Fortunately, there is a wider collection of styles for women than men. In addition, companies are increasingly allowing jeans to be worn. In this case, carefully approach your choice – take into account the requirements of your office. Sometimes jeans with patterns are allowed, but holes and “rips” are always taboo everywhere.


A versatile piece of clothing that can complement trousers, a skirt, or a dress. Bright hues are possible but make sure they blend well with your other casual wardrobe items.

Blouses and button-downs

A looser or more fitted blouse is the perfect piece of clothing for a business casual look. Details and patterns are subject to company rules. The sizes of elements such as ruffles and shuttlecocks often need to be clarified. Although in itself, their presence is an example of a classic style. Traditional shirts are also welcome.


Pumps, loafers, ballerinas, and open-toed shoes are well-established models of everyday business style. As stated, athletic shoes or sandals are not acceptable.


The casual business style allows for various stylish clothing options, offering variety and the introduction of fashionable elements. But always remember that your appearance must be professional – at any time, you may need to meet with clients. Both men and women can complement their look with discreet watches, bracelets, chains, earrings, or rings. The main rule is moderation in everything.

If you go to an interview where employees wear casual business attire, opt for the more discreet, business-casual look. Keep in mind that their opinion of you is formed regardless of the conditions of the company.

Article by:
CEO Andrew Chornyy

CEO Plerdy — expert in SEO&CRO with over 11 years of experience.

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