The popularity of “business casual” in the 21st century has taken hold of organizations of all sizes and industries. This clothing style allows employees to stay comfortable and project their individualism in the workplace. There are some important points to consider in order to maintain your professional image:
The most important thing to remember is that you are dressing up for work. Your business casual outfits are essentially your work “uniforms”. Whether you like it or not you will be judged by your superiors, other employees, and your company’s clients based on the choice, fit and condition of your clothing. You want to project the image of a professional who will get the job done the right way, on time, every time.
Business casual for men is pretty simple. Wear pressed slacks, shined dress shoes and a tucked in shirt with a collar. Look like you care. If your company has casual Friday make sure that your jeans are dark and fit well. Loafers or clean athletic shoes are usually acceptable for casual Friday. The same rules with your shirt apply here as well; Leave your t-shirts for the weekend.
Women’s business casual can be a bit more challenging. Fashion Image Institute has a great list of photo examples. When in doubt, err on the conservative side. Avoid revealing or tight-fitting cuts, and pay attention to the shoe policy at your company. Some companies do not allow open-toe shoes, and sandals should always be left for when you get home. As with the men, if you have casual Friday make sure that your jeans are dark and your tops mirror what you wear the rest of the week.
You can always dress better than your company policy requires. Our company is business casual but I like to wear a tie at least once a week, and will always wear a suit to client meetings. Pay attention to how your boss dresses and dress as nice as him/her. Don’t slip in the summer months: your reputation and image are important to maintain year-round.
Business casual can open the door for you to express your individualism and style at work. Have fun with this, but always make sure that you are enhancing your image and never deteriorating it. There are countless resources online, and associates at most stores can help you if you are ever in doubt as to what is appropriate. Good luck- you can do this!