Business Casual Attire: Answering What This Confusing Style Means

We’ve all been there. You just scored the job interview you’ve been pining for or maybe you earned an invite to a special work conference or celebration. But then you get hit with the confusing dress code: business casual attire.

If you’re asking what that means, you’re not alone. On the surface, it seems like business casual attire would be the ideal balance between classy and comfortable. However, without a clear cut definition of what that actually means, finding that balance can become a daunting task.

Here at FootFitter, we’re rooting for you to get that new job or impress your co-workers at your work event. Following the tips below will help you understand how to avoid looking too casual or too formal.

Keep reading to find out what business casual attire really means.

Finding the business casual balance

First things first, it’s important to understand what constitutes business wear and what’s deemed casual attire so you can find something in between.

Too casual

FootFitter shares what business casual attire means
Photo via Instagram / @sarahbeth.lawhorn

Just because your outfit is casual doesn’t mean that it’s bad. However, there is a time and place for the more revealing, laid-back or loud pieces in your closet and your business event isn’t it.

There’s a few items in your closet that should typically never make their debut in your office environment. For men, this means leaving the t-shirts, board shorts and basketball sneakers at home.

When it comes to women, this also includes ditching your flip flops and revealing clothing like low cut tops and short shorts, skirts or dresses.

While those looks may score big points on the beach, date night or at the club, sticking to more conservative styles is the safest option while you learn your new company’s dress code policy or mingle with co-workers at a work event.

Too formal

FootFitter shares what business casual attire means
Photo via Instagram / @vickems

While in general, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed, going too formal also misses your intended mark. After all, you still want to be comfortable and blend with the crowd.

For men, this means leaving that tuxedo at the rental shop. And for women, it means opting away from sequined dresses and dramatic styles.

Business casual attire

To make things easier, we found some business casual outfits that are the perfect blend of laid-back and hard-working.

Business casual attire for men

FootFitter explains business casual attire
Photos via Instagram / @themarvinryan, @prestonkonrad, @professionalmensfashion

When it comes to business casual attire for men, tan is a great color to try out because it doesn’t come across as formal as black.

Playing with styles like cuffed pants or tapered legs also adds variance from typical office-wear without looking too casual. Mixing in a light blue button down or knit sweater pulls the business casual attire look together.

Business casual attire for women

FootFitter explains business casual attire
Photo via Instagram / @jeanwang, @therubinrose, @corporate.affair

When it comes to business casual attire for women, high-waisted A-line skirts, dark tights, delicate blouses or sweaters and strapped heels offer the perfect balance of class and comfort.

Some of the heels in your closet may look perfect with your outfit but can also be too loud for the office. To get rid of that annoying click-clack sound, use heel caps, which dampen the sound and strengthen your stiletto’s step.

Are jeans business casual?

In general, it’s best not to consider jeans business casual attire for the purpose of an interview or office meeting.

However, if your job’s dress code policy allows you to slip on a pair on Friday or for a specific event, remember there is a right way and a wrong way to wear jeans in the workplace.

FootFitter shares business casual attire definition

FootFitter shares business casual attire definition
Photo via Instagram / @musclelooks, @3×1

That ripped or faded pair may be perfectly on trend but it will also look perfectly out of place in the office.

FootFitter shares business casual attire definition

FootFitter shares business casual attire definition
Photo via Instagram / @brittanypuerto, @theclosetmoth

If you do choose to wear jeans, go with a classic dark blue or black pair with no extra detailing to preserve your professional vibe.

More business casual attire basics

Accessories are just as important as the clothes you choose to wear. Before you head to that interview or event, don’t forget to throw these additions on.

Dress your outfit up with your shoes.

FootFitter explains business casual attire
Photo via Instagram / @aristocrats_shop

The hard part when it comes to achieving a business casual look is making sure you still look work appropriate. If your outfit feels a bit too basic for the office, a good pair of leather shoes is a great way to dress things up.

However, forgetting to shine your shoes can make your look go downhill fast. Remember to make time for a quick polishing before you run out the door.

Dress your outfit down by ditching the suit jacket.

FootFitter explains business casual attire
Photo via Instagram / @straighttohellapparel

In other cases, your look may feel too dressy. For business casual, you don’t need to go all out with a vest and matching set.

Instead, opt for a peacoat or leather jacket instead of a stuffy suit. This option still looks professional without going full formal.

Slacks or a classic dark jean also work well with the casual coat styles.

Complete the look with a watch or purse.

FootFitter explains business casual attire
Photo via Instagram / @d.yanina

Lastly, a watch and trusty bag are two great additions to any outfit.

In addition to dressing up your look, the two items will come in handy in a work setting, making you extra prepared to stay on schedule and carry important paperwork.

FootFitter explains business casual attire

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