5 Tips For Choosing the Best Business Casual Clothing


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In the last ten years or so, the way people dress for work has changed dramatically from a generation ago. If you take a look around a typical downtown city center in America these days, more than half the people are wearing business casual clothing, such as jeans, tee shirts, and sports shoes. While there are still those professionals who wear classic corporate clothes such as suits, more and more people are enjoying the buttoned-down look of casual business attire.

Like any other cross section of humanity, people wearing casual business attire vary in style. Whether you are going to meet up with a potential client at the local coffee shop or enjoy a nice celebration dinner with a favorite colleague, there are some good rules of thumb to consider when considering your casual business attire.

They are:

1. If you like jeans, Choose ones that are free from tears, rips, studs, chains, or other decorations. Save these for a night out with your friends at the dance club. Also, make sure they are not too low cut. Showing off the thong while dining with important clients is not the message you want to send! While jeans are becoming more and more accepted in business situations, common sense still should be your guide when looking for a pair to slip into for your day at work. There are a variety of sophisticated washes and styles now in jeans to meet just about anyone’s business taste.

2. Business casual clothing should be presentable, but that does not mean it has to be boring! Remember that many creative and freelance professionals enjoy expressing their personalities through their clothes. What to wear to work should be a reflection of what you do, so it is okay to jazz up an outfit with a pretty scarf or a fun jacket if you are more artsy, or put together a more tailored look with a blazer, turtleneck sweater, and slacks if you are more conservative.

3. Think about who you will most often interact with throughout the day when selecting your business casual clothing. Choose key foundation pieces that can be dressed up or down depending on your schedule and events. I always like to have a good supply of dressy tee-shirts in my closet that I can pair with a beautiful coat or leather jacket or even a cashmere cardigan. For guys, tee shirts are fine as long as they ares void of offensive images or language, unless you happen to be in the kind of business that encourages that sort of thing. Also, it is best to leave the sleeveless muscle tees at home unless you are meeting clients for a game of beach volleyball.

4. Business casual clothing also includes footwear, and once again, common sense prevails here. There are so many great choices these days for both men and women that extend beyond the proverbial wing-tip and pump. Boots, flats, even athletic shoes pass as acceptable footwear in today’s casual business attire climate. They key is to choose shoes that fit well and allow you to walk comfortably, especially if you work in an urban environment.

5. Finally, business casual does not equal sloppy or anything goes. Humans are quick to judge each other on how we look, so it is worth taking the time to choose a basic workable wardrobe and invest accordingly. A very good friend of mine who is a professional fashion consultant suggests that no matter what, every business casual professional should own a really good coat or jacket. This goes for both men and women. Again, the style is not as important as is the quality and the fact that you feel good when you wear it.

When trying to make money in a competitive business world, knowing what casual business attire is and is not can do wonders for your bottom line. In general, use the wisdom of the 3 P’s my Mom passed on to me when I was getting ready to enter the professional world: Would my Parents, Principal,and Priest give me the thumbs up about what I have on? Perhaps a bit old-fashioned to some readers out there, but in all fairness, those age-old ideas last for a very good reason. And with so many choices today in business casual, it’s better to be safe than wish you had checked to make sure your underwear wasn’t showing through a hole in your jeans when trying to land that lucrative client!

A Man’s Guide to Dressing in a Business Casual Environment

Many companies began instituting a business casual dress code many years ago with the creation of “Casual Friday.” Over the last ten to fifteen years, casual Friday has turned into everyday for many businesses. If you find yourself in a business casual environment, care should be taken in the choices of work attire. An employee in this environment must remember that casual or not, their appearance makes the first impression, and each employee will, at some point, be the “face” of the company to someone. Gentlemen, business casual means much more than khaki pants and a polo golf shirt. Don’t be afraid to show some personality through your appearance, just be sure to show some restraint. For example, T-shirts, either printed or plain, have no place in a professional workplace. Also, do everyone you work with a favor and do not wear any shoe that exposes your feet. Leave the sandals for the beach and always wear socks to work.

Now that we have looked at two rules that should be considered unbreakable, let’s tackle some options that the business casual man does have.

The Suit

Believe it or not, this is an option in the business casual environment. Today’s suits are designed to be more versatile. Many styles can be worn without a tie or with a crew or mock neck shirt. A sweater can even be added during the colder months.

The main thing to remember is that it is still a suit. It should be worn only after being pressed and cleaned. Also, be sure the pants have a clean and crisp crease. You can dress the suit down, but it still has its place and appeal. The point of the dressed down suit is to look more casual and relaxed, but still look sharp and well put together. In terms of keeping the suit in good shape, try not to have it cleaned any more than four times a year. Dry cleaning too much can compromise the fabric.

The Sportcoat

Today, there are too many options available to touch on each. The important thing to remember about the sportcoat is, much like the suit, look for versatility. Many jackets can be worn in a business casual environment by day and dressed down with a nice pair of jeans by night. Also, be sure to keep it in good condition, just like the suit.

There is a difference between a sportcoat and a Blazer. Really, no man should be without a Navy Blazer in his closet. This is simply one of those items that every man can use at some point, and in this man’s opinion, it is just as necessary as a pair of jeans or khakis. Stick with wool for your Blazer because it just looks and feels better than blended fabrics. The blazer is not as casual as many sportcoats, but, like the suit, it can be dressed down and keep that well put together look.

Shirts

I cannot say this enough, but do not wear t-shirts, printed or solid to work. They simply are not appropriate in a professional environment. The three options here are polo or golf shirts, mock neck shirts, or button-up shirts. Mock neck shirts come in a variety of fabrics and look great under suits and sportcoats. Polo shirts also come in variety of colors and fabrics and are a fairly traditional option for business casual.

More and more men are wearing button-up shirts, normally worn with a tie, with an open collar. The important thing here is to be sure to keep them clean and pressed. Just because the look is less formal doesn’t mean it should be sloppy. There are several different collar choices, from button down, to spread, to pinpoint. There is really no rule here, but my suggestion is to try all styles and choose what you are most comfortable wearing.

Another note about button-up shirts is the French-cuff shirt. It has become far more acceptable to wear a tasteful French-cuff shirt with a nice set of cufflinks, without the tie. It adds a little touch of a classic look without dressing you up too much. Again, this is another one of those personal preference things. My suggestion is to give it a try. If you don’t like it, don’t wear it.

Pants

Don’t wear jeans to work. Now that we have dealt with that, what should you wear? Khaki pants are a very traditional option. Be sure the ones you wear to work are clean with a crisp crease, and that they fit properly. Wearing these everyday can make you seem, well…boring.

Change things up with charcoal, black, or olive. Even a pair of gray pants can work with the right shirt and jacket. We come to another personal preference with pleats versus flat front. Again try both and go with comfort.

Something to be mindful of is how you wear your pants. Many men (most men) in America unfortunately have a bit of a gut (including yours truly). Stop fooling yourself and stop hiking up your pants twenty times a day. If you have a gut, accept it and don’t wear the pants below your true waist line. You may think it looks better, but it doesn’t. Actually, it makes your stomach look bigger because it hangs over the waist of the pants. One option here is to add a pair of bracers. Bracers are becoming much more acceptable for men under 70 years old. In fact, I know many men that can’t stand wearing a belt now that they were willing to take the leap of faith and try a pair of bracers.

Shoes

Do not wear tennis shoes, sandals, or flip flops. This is simply poor taste. Look for a nice dress shoe, either lace up or slip on, and keep them polished. By the way, stick with the basic colors such as black, brown, or burgundy. While your taste may lean towards the indigo dress shoes, they simply are not professional.

There you have it. Business casual done right is really not that difficult, but many men would rather have a root canal than spend much time on how they dress. If you are that guy, and you just can’t get it right, your best bet is to visit your local men’s store. Make sure it s a men’s store, not one of the big anchor retailers in a mall. Any rep at a men’s store worth his salt will be able to give you great advice.

Guidelines for Dressing Business Casual for Women

Now that summer is in full-swing, we have a tendency to want to dress more casually. This is true in all facets of life whether they be play, travel, or work. While no one really cares how you dress when you are playing or traveling, aside from dressing appropriately, people do care how you dress at work. There is a difference between business casual and just plain casual. In fact, dressing too casually can even cause some bosses to think that you are not serious about your job and therefore not promote you. On top of that, the more casually you dress, the more casually people will treat you in the office. This is bound to cause some, completely avoidable, tension in the workspace.

Unfortunately, there is a bit of a double standard about business casual for men and women. Business casual for women needs to be a little more business and a little less casual. Here are some tips to maneuver the murky waters of what business casual for women means.

First of all, do not even consider those really comfortable but ripped jeans (you should actually avoid jeans altogether unless they are a dark wash and high-waisted). All seams should be finished, all holes patched, and all frays cut. Also, avoid clothing with writing on it, unless the writing is the company logo. Keeping this in mind, let’s consider what is considered appropriate such as slacks, skirts, dresses, blouses, and shoes/accessories.

Clothing: The fabric of your clothes can be anywhere from luxurious to linen or cotton. Make sure that your clothing fits appropriately, meaning not too tight, too short, or too low-cut. Under no circumstances should you wear something see-through unless you intend upon wearing a camisole underneath it. The best way to dress business casual is to wear only half of a suit. This does not suggest that you should walk around half-naked, but rather only wear the slacks or skirt of a suit and not the blazer. Another alternative is to wear the blazer over a simple cotton dress.

Shoes and Accessories: First of all, stockings are not necessary in the summer and it is way too hot for them anyhow. Your shoes should, however, still be nice. Sandals, especially flip-flops, should only make appearances at the company picnic or outing. If you don’t want to be stuck in your work stilettos every day of the summer, try wearing some wedges or strappy heels. They are more comfortable anyway and infinitely much more summery. Your other accessories should be tasteful. The general rule is to wear one statement piece and keep everything else small.

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.

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.