What Is “Business Casual”?

It may be tempting to wear your most comfortable pair of jeans, or warm sweatshirt to a “business casual” event, like a scholarship reception or entry interview. However, contrary to how it sounds, business casual does not actually mean casual at all.

While you are maturing from a high school kid into a college student, your wardrobe must mature as well.

You most likely will be receiving many invitations with a business casual dress code requested in the near future. If you find yourself standing in front of your closet scratching your head for what to wear, here are some suggestions on how to appropriately pull off the dress code:

Not for a walk in the park: When in doubt, ask your, “do I look like I’m going to the gym?” If the answer is yes, change! Your pants should be a nice pair of slacks. Khakis are a common business casual pant, but nice fitting wool or dark colored pants are both acceptable.

Never pull out a pair of jeans or spandex pants just because they are dark, and think they are appropriate. “Inappropriate slacks or pants include jeans, sweatpants, exercise pants, Bermuda shorts, short shorts, shorts, bib overalls, leggings, and any spandex or other form-fitting pants such as people wear for biking,” says Susan Heathfield in her article, “Dress for work success: A business casual dress code.”

Show no toe: For men, closed toe leather dress loafers are the best way to go. For women, closed toe flats, or low heels are best. Avoid any sandals, open toed, or athletic shoe.

Stay long-sleeved: Long sleeved shirts are always preferable, even in warm weather. Shirts should be button ups or blouses for women, and not show cleavage or midriffs. For men, button ups and/or collared shirts. A tie is not absolutely necessary, but preferred.

Clean and Crisp: You never want to show what you had for lunch on your shirt. Make sure your clothes are free of stains, tears, and wrinkles. Take the time to press, and inspect each piece of clothing before you leave the house. Make sure that even clothes that haven’t been worn yet are free of imperfections. “Carefully inspect new clothes for tags, and all clothes for dangling threads, etc,” suggests the Virginia Tech Career Service Department, on their website.

Less is more: For women, skirts and dresses are appropriate for business casual as long as they are not too tight or too short. The Virginia Tech Career Services recommends, “your skirt should come at least to your knees while you are standing. While you are seated, your thighs should be covered.” As for colors, pattern on clothes should be subtle, although solid and neutral colors are best.

Accessorize: “The accessories you choose are a subtle and savvy way to express your personality,” says Nordstorms. A great accessory for both men and women is a nice watch. However, accessories should be kept to a minimum and should subtly compliment your outfit. Sorry guys, un-groomed facial hair should never be your accessory.

Related Posts

The following two tabs change content below.
Lisa Manente

Lisa Manente

Lisa Manente is a senior at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. She will be graduating with the BA in Media Studies and Communications in May. Editing the Entertainment section for her university’s newspaper and magazine has fueled her passion for entertainment journalism, which is the career path she plans to explore. In her free time she enjoys reading, traveling, listening to music, and catching up on celebrity gossip.