Business casual- what it means

By Brittany Rosso

LEWISTON, N.Y.- In the world of “adulting,” it’s important to understand how to prepare yourself for your future career. Whether you are preparing for a job interview, meeting, or an important school event, you’ll most likely come in contact with the phrase “business casual attire.” The business casual attire guideline often times leads to confusion due to its blurred definition. Although there is no standardized dress code, it is important to be familiar with what to wear- and what not to wear when you hear or see those three words.

In the professional environments for business and education, your appearance is very important. It is important to establish yourself in a professional manner, and a great way to do that is by simply considering the clothes you wear. So, let’s get to the basics.

First and foremost, business casual attire should be appropriate, not too flamboyant, and most importantly, cleaned and well maintained. It’s time to consider learning how to iron or investing in wrinkle release spray, purchasing some hangers, and don’t forget your lint roller.

Women typically have a bit more choice when it comes to business casual attire, simply because of the wide range of clothing options. Women should wear a combination of a skirt, dress, dress pants, (including twill, khaki, cotton, or corduroy) and optional hosiery, with a choice of a blouse, sweater, cardigan, jacket, polo, or button down knit shirt, and a close-toed shoe on the feet. Acceptable shoes include flats, pumps, low platform or small heeled shoes, dress boots or booties. When it comes to choosing your outfit, aim for higher quality fabrics to avoid see-through areas, tops with high necklines and full coverage, and solid colored clothes over bright, distracting colors and patterns. Should you chose to wear a dress or skirt, go with the knee rule. All dresses and skirts worn in a professional or business setting should provide appropriate coverage. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that dresses and skirts are at least, only 1-2 inches above the knee.

For men, appropriate business casual attire is considered dress slacks or chinos, long sleeved  button-down shirts (pressed) with or without a tie, dress sweaters, dark socks and dress shoes (leather shoes). Ties are optional, however they are an easy way to dress up a basic shirt. Do not wear jeans or shorts. Khaki, gabardine, wool, or cotton pants (neatly pressed and wrinkle free) are appropriate fabrics to pair with your outfit.

Although what you wear is a main bulk of “business casual” attire, it is also important to consider other assets aside from what you’re wearing. This includes being properly groomed … a clean shaved face, an organized hairstyle and a neutral, ‘professional’ makeup look (if any) are some of the basics. You should avoid distracting jewelry and accessories, and it is always a good idea to make sure your hands and nails are cleaned too (You will likely be shaking lots of hands!). Lastly, consider potentially covering any tattoos (if necessary) or dressing in a particular way to better fit the company, people, employers, or setting in which you will be meeting with or at (fit the part!) It is always a good idea to research your potential employer’s dress code, especially when applying for jobs or attending an interview. 

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