Business Casual Dress Code

When faced with a dress code of Business Casual, it can be a bit daunting, not least because everyone’s idea of business and casual dressing are very different. The new Managing Director of John Lewis wears jeans and a smart jacket to her board meetings, which will shock some people as it doesn’t feel right to be in a business environment in jeans. In fact I was brought up with the rule that women should not wear trousers in any business environment. Luckily those sort of rules have disappeared in most industries, but certainly not in all. So where does this leave us with the dress code for Business Casual?

The first thing to remember is that the word ‘business’ is still in there, so that would normally mean instantly no jeans or sportswear (including trainers, however expensive they my be). Having the word ‘casual’ in there means that you can be a bit more flexible, generally speaking it would normally imply more comfortable clothes. A soft tailored trouser suit would be acceptable instead of a harsh tailored skirt suit. Here are some pointers if you are faced with this dress code.


You can generally play around a bit more with colour within this code. There’s no need to stick to black or navy suits, you can go for softer less formal colours like camels and chocolates or brighter colours like reds and pinks, depending on your colour pallet and style personality.


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Instead of wearing your normal formal business suit you can mix and match. If you have a suit jacket that you like wearing and is a good fit on you then you can match it with a different skirt or pair of trousers, for example a navy jacket with a pair of camel or even red trousers. Wear a softer top underneath instead of your crisp white shirt. 

With business casual it gives you the opportunity to wear a softer tailoring and softer (more comfortable) fabrics. As a footnote to that I would be wary about wearing pure linens as they can crease badly and look unkempt quite quickly.

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This is where you can really change an outfit. Even if you choose to wear your normal business wear you can make it more casual by adding a scarf, bigger necklace, brighter coloured bag or shoes or maybe some larger earrings than those you normally would. All of these will take your normal business attire into casual business.


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Shoes and Bags

Again these are great items to use to make your business wear more casual. Instead of a stiletto or formal business shoe it is perfectly acceptable to change to a more block heel, and no need to stick to the classic black or navy either. A more casual bag in maybe a softer leather will also give you a more casual look, a brighter colour will give a touch of personality if your business look is normally very structured.


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In Summary

Business Casual is an individual dress code. It gives you the opportunity to show a bit more of your own personality and to wear more comfortable clothes in different colours to your normal business attire. Make your business outfit more casual by changing the accessories and adding more colour to it and dress up a casual outfit by adding some soft tailoring like a suit jacket with a pair of more casual trousers or dress.

If you've been asked to go somewhere that has this dress code and would like more information then contact me for a consultation or skype call to discuss it further.