Business Casual – a general guideline

Business Casual has varying degrees of an acceptable dress code depending on where you work. Below is a general guideline to help you get by with ‘business casual’ requirements.


  1. Do not wear jeans, or other pants that are equal to or more casual than jeans. Example: convertible pants, cutoffs or distressed looking anything. Wear slacks or a skirt instead; a jacket is optional – if you choose to wear a jacket, it isn’t necessary that it match the slacks/skirt color; you can mix and match. The skirt should be just above the knees at its shortest or it may be longer. Conservative-style dresses are ok to wear too.
  2. Do not wear t-shirts. Opt to wear a button-up blouse/shirt, knit top, or sweater; no teddybears, skulls, rock bands, etc.
  3. Shoes should be well kept. Nothing crazy here. Acceptable shoes are flats or basic heals that are comfortable for you and you look good and stable walking in them. The ‘baby deer’ look is unacceptable.
  4. The colors worn should be conservative by wearing varying degrees of black, gray, brown, white, blue, burgundy. No wild and crazy colors or patterns. Subtle patterns are ok if they are tastefully pared with the rest of the outfit. Patterns should be worn either on top or on the bottom; not both.
  5. Creative expression in very subtle form is ok here – in a scarf say or a statement jewelry item – one only. Otherwise, leave creative expression for off-work hours.
  6. Hair – Your hair should look as if you walked out of a classy salon. If it doesn’t, find a good hairstylist to get the right cut for you so that your hair is beautiful every day.
  7. Hair color should be conservative colors; not pink, blue, green, etc.
  8. Fingernails, piercings and tattoos: Fingernails should be kept at a conservative length, color and without embellishments. No face piercings but traditional ear piercings are acceptable. Tattoos should be covered.
  9. Makeup – Think French chic. Simple, flawless and natural looking as if it is barely there.


Other notes:


The fit of your garments should not be tight – notice I didn’t say “too tight”. The fit of everything that you have on should not be tight- period. Likewise, the fit should not be big or loose. Garments should skim your silhouette. The cut of the skirt and pants can help balance the silhouette. For example, you may choose to wear a flare-leg pant to balance the hip area.


The intent of business casual is to create a somewhat standardized styling environment that won’t take away from the work that needs to be performed. This helps the intended focus to be where it needs to be without distractions. Remember that you are representing a business that you work for.


Again, this is a general guideline for a corporate-style environment say, and ‘safe’ from my point of view. What is your working day style environment like where you work?


Photo © anton petukhov

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