Business Casual: Guys vs Gals

Defining exactly what business casual is has been a perpetual sartorial conundrum for men and women for decades. Depending on the industry, the amount of employees in the company, the (counter)culture, weather, and the average age of the office worker, business casual can run the gamut and that is all the more reason why dressing for the office should be researched thoroughly before taking the plunge on these office days. By utilizing the following guidelines, men and women can ensure that they stay within the boundaries of proper work etiquette while simultaneously looking their absolute best.

Menswear

For the Guys
In previous eras, it was far simpler for men to know how to properly dress in the office for casual days. With new rules currently being instituted in menswear however, the times have changed enough that many men find it a difficult process to decide what to wear and not alienate his co-workers. When it comes to shirts, men should select those that have collars, which should be work with the shirt tucked in and includes a matching belt. As it is a casual day, men have a much wider spectrum to choose from when it comes to color and should take this opportunity to try out more lively colors that are atypical of the rest of your work week. The materials that work best are of course cotton, cotton-blend, and wool. Leave the rayon, linen, and silk for another occasion. Men’s work pants in a casual setting can include khakis, corduroy pants, and dress pants, of course. To pleat or not to pleat is a personal decision, although both are acceptable for a casual work day. Pants that are brightly hued (red, yellow, orange) should be avoided, as should overly baggy pants, and never any jeans.

Woman wearing a casual office dress

For The Gals
Women that are attempting to navigate through a business casual day have more options to consider and therefore, potentially more problems. That is no reason for women not to arrive at work and be dressed well within the boundaries of good taste. When it comes to pants, women also can opt between linen pants, dress pants, or khakis, but as with men, jeans should be avoided at the workplace and neutral colored pants are more acceptable.

Women can opt for far more options when it comes to their shirts, including blouses, sweaters, turtlenecks, and sleeveless shirts, all of which can be worn with a fitted blazer if preferred. A collar may not be necessary depending on the overall look, but a collared shirt always works and is a safe alternative for women. Dresses should be of a certain length (right above the knee) and should not feature a high slit and certainly not too tight.

Final Tips
Proper footwear is an absolute must for both men and women, with leather shoes, flats, and (inconspicuous) high heels all acceptable options. Sandals and sneakers, on the other hand, are not considered proper office attire and should be left at home. If you have any questions about what is acceptable to wear at the workplace, it is advisable to look around the office to see what everyone else is wearing and dress within those parameters.

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