A Gut Check for Your Business Casual Outfit

What you wear to work matters. You want to look professional but not stuffy, and you don’t want to spend all day fidgeting with your clothing. Your outfit should make you feel comfortable, confident, and capable so that you can focus on your work and achieve your goals. To help you determine whether or not your business casual outfit is appropriate, here are five gut checks that will help you evaluate whether or not it works for the occasion

Meet the new standard: relaxed business casual

In recent years, business casual has become more relaxed, with employees opting for comfortable clothing that still looks professional. This new standard is sometimes called relaxed business casual. To make sure your outfit meets the new standard, give it a gut check. First, ask yourself if your clothing is comfortable. Second, make sure your outfit looks put-together and professional. Third, consider whether your clothing choices are appropriate for the company culture. Fourth, ask yourself what other people at work would wear in order to dress professionally but be comfortable. Relaxed business casual includes jeans (without holes), polo shirts or T-shirts without any logos or funny sayings on them, loafers or flat shoes without designs on them, khakis, and button down shirts or blouses. If you can’t answer yes to all of these questions about your outfit then it’s not likely a good fit for relaxed business casual.

Casual doesn’t mean sloppy

When you hear the term business casual, it’s easy to think that means dressing down. But in reality, business casual dress is all about looking polished and put-together—think of it as smart casual. So before you leave the house, ask yourself: Does this outfit look like I’m ready to do business? If the answer is no, it’s time for a wardrobe refresh. Here are five signs that your outfit might not be cut out for the boardroom

  1. You’re wearing sneakers or flip-flops with your office attire
  2. You’re wearing denim jeans with an oversized shirt
  3. You’re sporting leggings under dress pants
  4. Your shirt doesn’t have sleeves or buttons (i.e., it’s more like a tank top)
  5. You’ve got holes in your socks

Suits can be casual

The term business casual is often used to describe clothing that is more relaxed than traditional business attire, but not as casual as leisure wear. While suits are typically seen as formal wear, they can actually be quite casual. To pull off a business casual look with a suit, choose a lighter-colored fabric and pair it with a dress shirt or blazer. You can also ditch the tie and leave the top button of your shirt undone. For shoes, lace-ups work best—think loafers or oxfords. Pair them with chinos (pants) in earth tones like khaki, brown, and green for a more sophisticated take on the trend. To complete the outfit, accessorize! A watch and cufflinks can add an elegant touch to this office-approved ensemble.

Better than black?

Though you might feel like you’re nailing the business casual look, there’s always room for improvement. After all, first impressions are important- especially in the business world. Here are a few quick tips to make sure your outfit is really giving off the right impression.

What if you’re not working in an office?

If you don’t work in an office, or if your office has a more relaxed dress code, you might be wondering what business casual really means. Is it just nice jeans and a button-down shirt? Or is there more to it than that?

Is it really casual Friday?

We’ve all been there. It’s Friday morning and you’re getting dressed for work. You reach for your favorite pair of jeans and a t-shirt, but then you remember: it’s a business casual day. But what does that really mean? Is it okay to wear jeans, or should you go for slacks? And what about that t-shirt? Is it too casual, or can you get away with it?

How to dress around different activities in the office

Many people ask what business casual actually means. It can be interpreted a few different ways, but generally speaking, it’s a step up from casual wear but not as formal as traditional business attire. The best way to figure out what to wear is to use your best judgment and consider the activity you’ll be participating in. If you’re meeting with a client, err on the side of being more formal. If you’re going to be working at your desk all day, you can be a little more relaxed.

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