Business casual is a ambiguous term that is usually referred to as workplace casual dress, but with certain clever stylistic elements borrowed from more conventional, more conservative, wear. In business casual dress, the emphasis tends to be on the friendlier, more relaxed nature of the dress code, as opposed to the stiffer, dress-for-business standards of more formal attire. There are many acceptable styles and fashions of business casual clothing, all which can convey a professional or business approach, and are suitable for almost any situation. It’s important, however, to be aware of the difference between business casual dress, and business attire.
Essentially, business casual dress codes are those informal, business-style clothing habits that men and women tend to adopt without thinking. Most often, business casual dress codes involve the dress being either very fitted or very loose. Suits may be worn with or without shirts, and with or without socks. While the majority of business casual attire is professional in appearance, there are some individual situations where dress codes lend themselves better to wearing more casual clothing. For example, when attending seminars or training sessions where professional attire is not required, or perhaps when attending parties or similar social events where business attire is the norm, wearing clothing that has been tailored to be less stiff gives a much better appearance.
Generally speaking, business casual dress codes suggest working trousers and jacket, with dress shoes or boots. In some situations, however, business casual dress codes require dress shirts or blouses, without the tie. Wearing a belt with a business casual shirt is an acceptable variation, but it is not essential. Business casual dress codes can even be adapted to allow the occasional use of a necktie, although this is not recommended for those situations where a suit is required.
One way in which business casual dress codes differentiate themselves from more traditional business wear is by being less formal, or at least presenting a less rigid image. Business casual clothing tends to be less formal in its design than traditional business wear. Shirts and blouses with a more casual design, such as distressed and oversized, are far more popular than oxfords, or other forms of stiff business casual clothing. Dress shoes, even when worn with jeans, are much less rigid than the shoes worn in more traditional business wear. This allows for a greater range of possibilities in what can be worn, and allows for more freedom of expression in what can be worn.
Another key distinguishing feature of business casual looks is the use of white or neutral colors. Dark colored shirts, t-shirts, and jeans all tend to be much less formal than light colored clothing. While a dark colored shirt, t-shirt, or jean is always going to be more casual than a white or beige shirt, it does not necessary have to be in the same shade as your skin tone.
In conclusion, business casual attire tends to be much more flexible in its design than traditional office attire. It is allowed to be more casual, while still maintaining the core business characteristics of reliability, formality, and of having your things together. Clothing like a pair of jeans, a button down shirt, and a dark blazer are all classic business casual looks, which can easily be adapted to an entire wardrobe of casual attire.