Business casual appears to be a breeze. After all, you won’t have to worry about what to wear to work with this dress code, right? Not exactly. In fact, this dress code policy is frequently misunderstood by employees. It’s not their fault; there isn’t a single, standardized definition. Different companies, cities, and industries may define business casual differently. Furthermore, understanding the subtle differences between “business” and “business casual” is difficult. When working remotely, different variations of appropriate attire may exist, and what you wear to work remotely may differ from what you wear on site.

In many industries, business casual attire has become the norm; it is intended to give employees the freedom to wear comfortable – albeit work-appropriate – clothing so they can focus on work performance rather than office attire.

A sport coat or casual blazer, a collared shirt, a casual button-down shirt, casual slacks (like khakis or chinos), a belt, dress shoes, loafers, or nice boots with socks are examples of common business casual clothing for men.

A collar or uncollared blouse, dress or skirt (at or below the knee), slacks, high heels, dress boots, flats, and modest jewellery and accessories are examples of common business casual clothing for women.

Employers are allowing their employees to wear whatever they want because their performance is linked to how they feel about their appearance. According to the 2018 Employee Benefits Report, 88 per cent of businesses surveyed allowed employees to wear casual attire at least one day per week, with 50 per cent allowing casual attire every day.

A business casual dress code is less expensive for employees and allows them more freedom to express themselves, according to Yvonne Cowser Yancy, CEO of YSquare Advisors and certified Senior Professional in Human Resources.

Basics of Business Casual Attire

What Women Should Wear

A skirt or dress slacks, blouse, sweater, twinset, jacket (optional), and hosiery (optional) with closed-toe shoes are appropriate business casual outfits for women. Some offices may allow sandals or peep-toe shoes, but save the flip-flops for the weekend.

What Men Should Wear

Dress slacks or chinos, a button-down shirt, dark socks, and dress shoes are appropriate business casual attire for men. Even if polo shirts are appropriate for the job, avoid wearing them to an interview. Wear no jeans or shorts. Athletic socks are also not permitted.

What to Avoid Wearing

It is not appropriate to wear your favourite old T-shirt, ripped jeans, ratty sneakers, or flip-flops when the dress code is business casual. Keep the “business” part of business casual in mind, and leave your old, comfortable clothes at home: outfits should still be clean, pressed, and properly fit.

Men do not have the option of not shaving or wearing a belt. Women should avoid wearing clothes that are too tight, flowing, short, or low cut. Make sure your bra straps are hidden. It’s also a good idea to keep your makeup natural and understated.

More Dress Code Guidelines

Consider This Before You Leap: If you’re new to a job, don’t dress like you’re going to a picnic until you’ve figured out the company dress code. It’s better to dress conservatively than to show up underdressed. Check with HR or a colleague to determine what business casual means in your organization.

Even if you arrive and your interviewer is dressed in shorts or a short skirt, that doesn’t mean you should dress similarly. You want to make a good impression during a job interview, and one way to do so is to dress professionally. Regardless of the dress code, here are some outfits you should avoid wearing to a job interview. Here are some suggestions for what to wear to remote job interviews.

Maintain Consistency: If you dress professionally and conservatively Monday through Thursday, don’t show up Friday in ragged shorts and a concert T-shirt. This is true even if your workplace has “casual Fridays,” when dressing down a little is acceptable. While wearing jeans to work is acceptable at many companies, you should wear your best jeans, not a pair with stains or ripped cuffs.

Even on casual Fridays, your outfit should be formal enough to allow you to attend an unexpected meeting with your boss or client. Maintaining a consistent image, regardless of the company you work for, helps to establish trust and credibility with you as an employee.

Consider Your Calendar: If you’re meeting with clients or going to a business lunch, dress conservatively out of respect for the people you’ll be meeting with. Save the casual comfort for when you’ll be working all day.

Keep Cameras in Mind: In general, what you would wear to an in-person job should be the same as what you wear if you’re working remotely and will be in meetings or conversations with the video on. Your industry, role, and company standards, as well as your personal preferences, can all influence your outfit choices. If you have a lot of unexpected meetings with video turned on, keep a blazer nearby so you can slip it on and look more professional in seconds.