Dress for Success – The Ultimate Business Casual Guide

The office dress code has changed over recent years and decades. Given that in our parent’s and grandparent’s eras, a shirt and tie or business suit would be the accepted outfit without exception, the expectations have shifted and what’s acceptable is not the same as it always was. The emergence of the term ‘business casual’ has become part of our language and can be a source of uncertainty and confusion, so let’s look at what that might entail.


What Is & Isn’t Business Casual

When addressing this question, it’s important to consider why we ask this question? Your appearance in the office gives your colleague or client an impression of who you are and how professional your attitude is. So with this in mind, you should err towards the business rather than the casual, so business clothes but just not as formal as in the past, but no trainers, jeans or other casual wear, shirt, shoes, properly tailored pants and a jacket are good. As seen here, there are different interpretations of the scale between business and casual, and I’d go as formal as possible without sticking out in your office.


Make It Work – Match Colors

If you’ve decided what level of business casual you are going to adopt, then you need to be able to make it work now and ensuring that you are smart and the various pieces of the outfit work together are key. Colour matching is essential if you have selected a great pair of shoes, then be sure that you have a shirt, pants and jacket that go with it both in style and colour.


Accessories Are Important Too

Along with the clothes, making your accessories work is a subtle but essential part of putting together a professional business casual outfit. A watch needs to be stylish but subtle and should match the overall style. For example, if you are wearing browns, greys or more natural tones, maybe a leather strap or if sporting a more bold coloured outfit you could go for a metal watch, don’t forget about wallets as well although not seen all day if you take out a tattered or childish wallet at the coffee bar this could make you look a touch unprofessional.


Take Inspiration But Play It Safe

If you are still unsure, take inspiration from different sources. There are plenty of online sites with examples and ideas to take inspiration from, but be mindful these ideas conform to what would be acceptable in your office. Also, look around the office to see what others, especially the successful ones, are wearing to get some inspiration, but don’t copy them outright.


Make Sure You Have Variety In Your Outfits

It’s vitally important to have variety in your office wear as if you turn up in the same outfit every day then it will be noticed, you will give a poor impression of yourself, it would seem like you feel the dress code is just another box ticked, but if you have variety, it will show some consideration to how you look. Clothes will last longer if they are given a rest. This is particularly true of shoes but is good advice for the whole outfit. 



Mark Munroe is the Creator and EIC of ADDICTED. He's ADDICTED to great travel, amazing food, better grooming & probably a whole lot more!

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