Have you ever attended a work event where the dress code was ‘business casual’? If so, what did you wear? Were you unsure of what business casual means?
If you’re familiar with this term, whether you didn’t quite understand what it means or whether you knew exactly what to wear for the event, it can be a little tricky to work out how you can apply business casual to the event you’re attending.
Deciding on what to wear for a business casual event all comes down to what type of event it is, who is holding the event and where it is being held. Is it an interview, a networking event or business meeting? Whatever the occasion, there is a line when it comes to business casual attire and it is important to know where you draw that line, whether you are male or female.
To help you understand business casual in more detail, Hemingway have put together a useful dressing guide that will answer all of your questions on the subject…
Business casual basics: Men
Wool, gabardine or cotton trousers - A pair of wool or cotton trousers instantly speaks business casual, as long as they’re neatly pressed and show no creases. Colour wise, any neutral colours such as beige, grey or brown will work well or even khaki or navy. These types of trousers are not extremely formal like what you would wear with a suit and they’re also not jeans, meaning they are the perfect choice.
Pressed, button-down shirts - With shirts, you don’t have to break the bank and invest in a new wardrobe of shirts that you think are ‘business casual’. Almost any shirt will go well with the rest of your outfit, even a plain white shirt - as long as it’s pressed and looks sharp when you’re wearing it, almost any shirt will go.
Black or brown shoes - When it comes to shoes, it’s simple - as long as they’re either black or brown and made of leather (or pleather) then you’re good to go. Black is typically seen as more formal so if you often wear black shoes and want a change from what you’re used to, opt for a good pair of smart brown shoes.
Sports jacket or a blazer - If you still want to wear something similar to a suit jacket as your outerwear that isn’t as formal as a suit jacket, go for a nice sports jacket or blazer. A sports jacket is less formal than a suit jacket due to its loose fitting and sturdier fabric, whereas a blazer is different due to its relaxed fit and the colour, which you will often find is navy blue. Whichever you prefer, both are acceptable for business casual.
Business casual basics: Women
Corduroy, twill or cotton trousers or mid-length skirts - For ladies, cotton trousers or skirts are a popular business casual option but there is also the option of twill or corduroy trousers which are also a good choice. Similar to the men’s option, stick with neutral colours or a neutral shirt and coloured trousers, and never go for jeans.
Pressed, button-down shirts - Again similar to the men’s option, almost any shirt which is pressed and has buttons down the front will be acceptable for a business casual event. With the ladies’ option, you could even go for a patterned shirt such as a floral shirt or one with subtle checks. Just make sure that the shirt isn’t brightly coloured or has gaudy patterns on it.
Smart, professional dress - When it comes to business casual dresses, anything which is knee-length or just below the knee is acceptable. For the colour or pattern, either navy, grey, khaki or a deep burgundy are suitable colours. However, if you want to go for something with a pattern, go for checks or stripes and try and avoid florals or any other bright pattern as this may look too much on a dress.
Mid-heel or flat smart shoes - It is very easy to get it wrong with ladies shoes and although it might not be the first thing people notice about you, that doesn’t mean to say they won’t ignore your choice of shoes. If you’re after something with a bit of height, save the party shoes for the weekend and go for a mid-heel shoe which is either black, brown or a neutral colour. If you’d rather go for flats, opt for loafers or a pair of good quality slip-on pumps.