Business casual is a ambiguous term, often being regarded as either a complete dismissal of business attire or a more refined form of regular wear, suitable for more casual corporate environments. However, business casual dress codes can be clarified much more clearly. In particular, the current emphasis on “service” and “team” as terms of workplace dress is a key element in defining business casual dress. Moreover, a more exact definition would be business casual clothing that is suitable for certain business scenarios (i.e. office work), but not necessarily for all other situations.
Many observers confuse business casual dress codes with “uniforms,” which are technically accurate, though not in most cases acceptable in most workplaces. Business casual apparel may include any of the following clothing options: jeans, khakis, dress shirts with or without a neckline, office shoes, golf shoes, and casual T-shirts (sometimes referred to as sweat shirts, although they are not always made from sweat cloth). In business meetings, business casual dress codes require employees to arrive in at least a pressed uniform look, with neckties and/or tie clips, and slacks or khakis instead of dress shirts with necklines. The main difference between uniforms and business casual clothing is that in the latter, the clothing must be specifically designed and manufactured for business use, whereas the latter can be worn with some degree of casual wear as long as it is not worn in an official capacity. Uniforms are also often associated with political, cultural, or sports events.
Additionally, business casual dress can be loosely adapted for casual office use, with the dress code being adapted to the situation rather than the wearer. For example, for executives who have their business casual dress code applied to company events rather than their professional one, a slightly more relaxed version of the uniform might be appropriate. Additionally, some business casual dress is designed to be worn as a sports look, or as a casual clothing outfit used with casual activities. These items may be quite different from traditional business wear, but they are still very much part of the business world, even if they are seldom used on a day to day basis.
Business casual clothing can have some very specific business applications, though. The types of business casual dress codes that have been adapted for use in many companies, or are being used by many companies today, include: receptionists in a doctor’s office or dentist’s office, waitstaff in a restaurant or other eating establishment, sales people, bus pass staff, security personnel, and teachers and schoolchildren. There is no standardized dress code for all these positions, but there are certain principles that are standard.
When it comes to suits, a business casual look will typically include a t-shirt with a pair of dress pants, dress shoes, and a belt, and a shirt that is not professional business attire (i.e. a polo or sport shirt). A moreformal workplace attire might include dress socks and dress loafers, and a blazer (a light jacket) with conservative trousers. For a more casual workplace setting, you can allow employees to choose their own shoes, cuff links (if they are allowed), and accessories such as socks, jewelry, and hats. You can also have female employees wear skirts instead of dresses.
One thing that many employers realize is that casual dress codes tend to get more attention than more formal ones. That is because employees may be viewed in a more relaxed, fun manner than they would be in a more professional environment. If you choose to enforce business casual attire, make sure that employees know the rules, so that they can be dressed appropriately according to the current professional appearance of the office. It is also a good idea to have employees that dress in an appropriate manner in the same space as more formal employees, in order to create a more balanced office. This will create a more professional image, which is always a good thing.