Center for Student Professional Development Blog

The "Business Casual Dress" Dilemma

April 22, 2008 //

According to THIS article on the Wall Street Journal, business casual dress is the “black hole of style.”

What was supposed to be a simple break from stuffy business suits has turned out to be difficult. Business casual is one of the least understood descriptions of business attire in the workplace and is open to interpretation at every different office or organization. It is extremely important to understand what business casual means in your office because you you and your dress will get noticed. Many think that when they see someone in their business casual wear they are actually seeing their real personality as it lends to more creativity than the normal work attire.

Here are some simple pointers:

MEN- Dressing When You Get the Job

  • Wool or blended fiber Khaki pants, neatly pressed, and a pressed long sleeved, buttons solid shirt are good.
  • Polo/golf shirts, unwrinkled are appropriate for a really casual environment.
  • Wear a leather belt and black or brown leather shoes. Athletic shoes are inappropriate. Always wear dark socks.
  • Ties are not always necessary but be sure to check what other coworkers are wearing.
  • Just as with interviews, all facial hair should be well groomed.
  • WOMEN- Dressing When You Get the Job

  • Women can wear casual pants or skirts.
  • For the most businesslike appearance, pants should be tailored.
  • A knee-length skirt is preferable although a long skirt may be fine
  • Business casual does not mean wear whatever you want. Err towards formality.
  • Sweaters and sweater sets are appropriate and a tailored jacket may also be worn
  • Creativity and style are encouraged but avoid overly flashy patterns, short skirts, and clingy or revealing outfits.
  • The article also points out 5 simple tips: