What is Business Casual Attire? - Next Luxury (2022)

Among all men’s dress codes, for lack of a better term, business casual has always been one of the most elusive. To begin with, it doesn’t help that there is no clear, black-and-white definition – despite the fact that so many companies have business casual dress codes.

Even under the same business casual umbrella, some companies lean more “business” and others lean more “casual.” For example, a tech startup is likely to have a much more relaxed dress code, while a finance or legal company may require slacks or collared shirts.

Then there’s the fact that business attire as a whole changes with each generation. In your grandpa’s days, it was totally unacceptable for men to go to work (or anywhere, really) without a tie and jacket.

When your dad started his career, the only acceptable pants in a business setting were dress slacks. Today, neither of those rules apply. In fact, as more and more people have non-traditional jobs or work in hybrid part-office, part-remote situations, the definition of business casual is blurred even further.

Perhaps you’re not even sure you fully grasp the concept of business casual attire (who could blame you?). Or maybe you simply want to expand your business casual wardrobe. Either way, you’re in the right place.

In this guide, we’re explaining what exactly business casual means, giving you style tips, reviewing the must-have business casual items every man should have in his closet, and more. Let’s get into it.

See more about - Business casual attire for men – 70 relaxed office style ideas

Business casual attire 101

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Indeed defines business casual attire as “a code of dress that blends traditional business wear with a more relaxed style still professional and appropriate enough for an office environment.” Sounds about as clear as mud, right?

Breaking it down into far more relatable terms, business casual dress falls somewhere between a full-blown suit and jeans with a shirt. If you’d wear something to hang out with your buddies, it’s probably too casual for business casual. And if you’d fit right in at a formal wedding, you may be just a tad overdressed for this particular dress code.

Remember, the aim with business casual attire is to dress professionally – but that doesn’t necessarily mean fancy. Think jeans with a classic Oxford shirt and a blazer or chinos with a plaid button-down and the sleeves rolled up.

Tips for getting business casual right

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(Video) 70 Business Casual Outfits For Men

Pay to have your clothes tailored. To be frank, baggy clothing almost always looks sloppy. Even when it’s very much intentional and not at all ironic, baggy clothes simply aren’t as neat and don’t look as put-together as something more fitted. In order for you to look (and feel) your best, business casual clothing should be tailored. Many stores, including Brooks Brothers and Hugo Boss, even offer complimentary alteration services!

Put some thought into your footwear. Shoes truly make an outfit and they’re often one of the first things people notice when they see you. No matter how “nice” they are, sandals and athletic sneakers have no place in a proper business casual wardrobe. Stick with classic dress or smart casual shoes.

Be strategic about building your business casual wardrobe. Another key aspect of business casual is that it’s overwhelmingly neutral. That’s a good thing, as it allows for lots of mixing and matching. Build your closet around neutral-colored staple clothing items, then add in a few statement pieces later. Depending on your industry, that could mean a colored and textured blazer or shirts with bold patterns.

When in doubt, ask. It’s perfectly okay to ask about a company’s dress code policy. Many are written rather vaguely, so don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. For example, a company policy may specify that you have to wear a collared shirt – but does that mean that both polos and button-downs are acceptable?

See more about - How to dress like a man – fashion credos every man should know

Essential business casual clothing items

Regardless of your personal style or what you do for a living, there are a few business casual wardrobe staples every guy should own.

Blazer

A sharp, well-fitting blazer in a neutral color is arguably the most important component in any business casual wardrobe. Picture any of your everyday jeans-and-t-shirt ensembles. Now picture them with a blazer added – instantly a much sharper look, right?

The key with blazers, though, is that term “well-fitting.” A blazer that’s too big looks sloppy, while a too-tight blazer not only looks odd, it’s also uncomfortable to wear. Getting the fit right on your own can be tricky, which is why we highly recommend getting yourself fitted for a blazer before shopping and having it tailored after you buy it. As a general rule, you should be able to slide your hand in between the blazer and your chest when it’s buttoned, but not easily make a fist. In terms of length, a blazer should fall right at the same line as the bottom of your fly.

Quick note for those guys who are new to wearing blazers: suit jackets and blazers are not one and the same and shouldn’t be worn interchangeably. Blazers are slightly less structured and have an overall less formal look than suit jackets. They perfectly elevate just about any outfit. However, pairing a suit jacket with jeans or another more casual style can easily come across as trying too hard or missing the mark altogether.

(Video) 90 Casual Fashion Styles For Men

Best overall blazer: Bonobos Jetsetter Stretch Italian Wool Blazer

Best premium blazer: Thom Sweeny Single-breasted Cashmere Blazer

Best budget blazer: UNIQLO Men U Relazed-fit Tailored Jacket

Dress shirts

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On the scale of importance for business casual attire, dress shirts – which we’re using to broadly define both button-ups and button-downs – are just behind a sharp blazer. They’re absolutely essential.

In some professional settings, polo shirts and even henleys may be considered business casual. But not all professional settings, which is why we specifically recommend stocking up on several dress shirts in a variety of colors and fabrics for all seasons.

Find a few brands and styles that you not only love, but that fit you well and are comfortable enough to wear regularly. When you find them, buy several in different colorways and patterns. Your entire outfit can be transformed by simply changing from a more casual shirt into a dress shirt.

To prove it, picture yourself wearing your best pair of jeans and a sharp pair of Chelsea boots. Now focus on your shirt. First, imagine yourself in your favorite old band tee.Next, picture yourself wearing a pinstripe button-up shirt.

In the band tee, you look like you’re hanging around the house or perhaps going to a concert. In the dress shirt, you could be headed to work or on a date!

Best overall dress shirt: Drake’s Essential Oxford Button Down Shirt

Best premium dress shirt: Thom Browne Classic Oxford Shirt

Best budget dress shirt: Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Oxford Sport Shirt

Slacks

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(Video) How to Wear Business Casual || 4 Looks || Gent's Lounge 2019

Going back to the rule about always erring on the side of dressing up rather than down, slacks are essential in any business casual wardrobe. The term “slacks,” like “trousers,” is more or less just another way of saying “dress pants.” It indicates a step up from jeans and khakis but is not quite as formal as a suit pant.

Thankfully, there are several fantastic options for modern slacks. Unlike your grandpa’s dress pants, and maybe your dad’s, today’s slacks come in a wide range of fabrics (no itchy, hot wool here) and generally have a more fitted silhouette.

A pair of dark, slim-fit slacks immediately elevates an otherwise-casual polo or button-down shirt, but remember – fit is key. Don’t forget the tailoring!

Best overall slacks: Bonobos Stretch Weekday Warrior Dress Pants

Best premium slacks: Thom Browne Grosgrain-trimmed Cotton-twill Trousers

Best budget slacks: J. Crew Ludlow Slim-fit Dress Pant

Dark slim-fit jeans

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We know, we know – we just finished saying how important it is to dress up rather than too casually, and here we are telling you to get a pair of jeans. However, the catch is that you can’t simply wear any jeans. In order to pull off jeans as part of a sleek business casual look, you have to wear the right pair.

The “right” pair of jeans in a business casual setting means no light washer and absolutely no fading or distressing. Look for a dark, clean rinse that’s fitted without being skin-tight. And we can’t emphasize this enough: make sure you get confirmation ahead of time that jeans are acceptable in your office!

Best overall men’s jeans: Nudie Jeans “Lean Dean” Skinny-fit Jean(say that five times fast!)

Best premium men’s jeans: Rag & Bone Fit 1 Skinny Fit Jeans in Black

(Video) The ULTIMATE Business Casual Capsule Wardrobe | 15 Menswear Wardrobe Essentials

Best budget men’s jeans: Levi’s 512 Slim Taper Fit Men’s Jeans in Dark Hollow

Smart casual shoes

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We mentioned earlier that shoes are one of the most crucial parts of any outfit. Going back to the example where we looked at the same jeans and Chelsea boots with a band tee and a button-up shirt, shoes have a similar effect. The exact same outfit looks dramatically different with a pair of Vans than with a dressier footwear choice.

That’s not to say you have to wear formal dress shoes with business casual outfits. On the contrary, men have several fantastic less-formal options, including Chelsea boots, driving shoes, and derbies. These all fall under the “smart casual” category, shoes that share many characteristics of their more formal cousins, but are decidedly more casual – and usually more comfortable, to boot.

Best overall smart casual shoes: Clarks Desert Boot

Best premium smart casual shoes: Brunello Cucinelli Lace-up Derby Shoes

Best budget smart casual shoes: Cole Haan Somerset Venetian Driver

See more about - Smart casual dress code for men – the ultimate guide

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Taryn Shorr

(Video) 7 BUSINESS CASUAL ESSENTIALS EVERY MAN NEEDS | Mens Style Guide

Writer

Taryn Shorr is a freelance writer who specializes in travel, sports, food, and fashion content. She lives in perpetually sunny southern Arizona, drinks copious amounts of iced coffee, lives to try new restaurants and craft breweries, and travels as frequently as she can.

Taryn Shorr is a freelance writer who specializes in travel, sports, food, and fashion content. She lives in perpetually sunny southern Arizona, drinks copious amounts of iced coffee, lives to try new restaurants and craft breweries, and travels as frequently as she can.

Discover the fashionable art of mastering business casual attire for men. Explore the top 70 best relaxed office and professional attire style ideas.

For instance, it was once fairly standard that a tie would not be included in a business casual outfit, but certain trends in materials and styles have made it such that a combo including both a suit and tie could be considered business casual.. This can include a much broader range of options than professional attire, and depending on the company, that can create an issue for someone new who isn’t familiar with the standard of business casual accepted at that particular business.. For winter, tailored sweaters should be fine for men in a business casual setting, especially when paired with a collared shirt, which is standard for basically every business outfit of any sort.. One of the most obvious questions when it comes to business casual attire is whether or not you should wear a blazer?. If you’re less business and more casual dress, then you can think about something different.. While that is a fairly strict rule of a business casual outfit, you do get plenty of freedom with color and style.. They are more of a casual wear option but when paired with a dress shirt and a blazer, they can make a perfect business casual look.. You can still look casual with dress pants if you style it out in another way such as wearing loafers, not wearing a blazer, or going without a tie.. The business casual dress code is very flexible when it comes to what you wear on your feet.. A great way to style out your business casual attire is by wearing loafers without socks.

The easiest way to think of business casual for women is a hybrid of business professional & casual wear. Learn how to look your best!

Shop Business Casual Attire Trying to decipher what is business casual for women can be a little difficult in today’s work environment.. I’ll provide you with some essential points and tips to keep in mind, for everyday business casual wear, special events, casual work outfits, and business travel.. For further style advice on business casual, I’ve listed at the end of this guide what not to wear when it comes to business casual for women.. If you’re looking for a variety of ideas and inspiration make sure to check out 20 Business Casual Outfits for Women , this guide explains the business casual essentials you need and how to put them together to create stylish outfits.. The easiest way to think of business casual is a hybrid of business professional and casual wear.. It’s more about mixing elements of more formal business attire, like a blazer, suit skirt, or pants in neutral colors with more casual pieces like a patterned shell top or leopard print flats.. In the following sections, I’ll share a few shopping tips when you’re looking to add business casual pants, tops, sweaters, blazers, jackets, dresses, and shoes to your wardrobe.. Basic neutrals work best, as you can pair them with a lot of colored tops, but you can opt for colored pants in a dark muted color like burgundy or forest green.. Your basic business casual cardigan is a staple in business casual attire, and it can be a simple waist-length cardigan or a longer boyfriend one.. While pants might be your go-to business casual attire, don’t forget about skirts and dresses for casual work outfits.. Shop Business Casual Skirts & Dresses 1. Business Dress Length The length of a dress or skirt should not be so short that you feel uncomfortable.. If I’m shopping for super essentials like; trousers, blazers, pencils skirts, etc, I almost always buy neutral colors – especially if the business casual attire is on the pricier end of the spectrum like $100+ I purchase them in colors like gray, navy, black, and white.. jeans or denim low-rise pants capri pants shorts or skorts sweatpants or yoga pants overalls leather pants or skirts short/mini skirts or dresses body-con dresses ankle- or full-length dresses tops or dresses with a plunging neckline tops or dresses with skinny straps crop tops/halters/razorback/strapless flat summer sandals or flip flops baggy clothes super tight clothes sundresses sequins neon bra showing clogs/stilettos/high-platform shoes Nothing that looks like you’re hanging out with friends, going to a picnic, going to a party/club, or going on a date.

Here are five cool office alternatives to boring business suits - whether you're the number crunching financial guy or the creative agency chap.

Some gents spend forty-plus hours a week wearing a suit that suppresses who they really are: a boxy business suit, cheap shoes and a novelty polyester tie-and-shirt combo that they got on sale three-years ago.. Swap a plastic-y poly suit for a two-piece wool or cotton/silk blend suit, offering a contemporary look for the office.. Play around with office-ready navy, grey or brown – instead of standard black – ensuring the fit of the neutral suit fits like a glove, with an inclination for tapered trousers and a pressed leg crease at the front of the pant.. Channelling the office class of Steve McQueen in the ‘Thomas Crown Affair’, a three-piece suit (minus the pocket watch and chain) is a dapper way to dress this season.. Socks add a smartness to the suit – especially with a tie, pocket square and waistcoat – or if you’re wanting more active accents, supplement the button down shirt for a tee – and loose the socks for urban freshness inspired by the weekend.. Wear colour blocking separates during casual Fridays at work or if the dress code in your office allows it.. Choose a pair of minimal sneakers with a slim silhouette and wear them with a lightweight suit, preferably cotton or linen.

What's the difference between black-tie and formal? Semi-formal and casual? We're breaking down every wedding guest dress code to help you decide what to wear to a wedding.

"While many couples would like their guests to arrive in black-tie attire, the most common wedding dress code is formal attire," says Alicia Mae , CEO of the New Jersey-based wedding planning company ILÈ Events.. Formal attire may be the most common, but there are plenty of other dress codes that may appear on a wedding invitation.. This is the next most formal wedding dress code and usually means the wedding is an evening event.. The choices are the same as with black-tie: a floor-length gown, a fancy cocktail dress, or a dressy pantsuit.. Women should wear a cocktail dress or party dress in a fun color paired with playful accessories and heels or dressy flats.. For example, some couples ask for their guests to all wear one color, Mae says.. If an invitation is worded 'happily invite you to the best day ever,' it is usually an indication that the event is not formal."

If you’re looking to build a wardrobe that pairs casual style with elements of classy business casual attire, it’s important that you explore smart casual. A smart casual dress code…

If you’re looking to build a wardrobe that pairs casual style with elements of classy business casual attire, it’s important that you explore smart casual.. A smart casual dress code can mean different things, but most fashion experts define it as upscale casual wear that is stylish, sharp and universally flattering.. Smart casual attire can be denim jeans with a button-down shirt, blazer, and white sneakers.. Smart casual dress can also be dark chinos with a t-shirt, bomber jacket, and boots.. Simply put, smart casual outfits mix and match formal and casual clothes to create a unique blended aesthetic that will leave you looking fashionably well-dressed.. Smart casual is taking your casual aesthetic and adding some refined details to show that you put some thought and effort into your outfit.. When dressed properly, a smart casual dress code for men can work well as casual, business casual, and dressy attire.. Smart casual in New York for the summer can look very similar to smart casual in California during the winter if you have the right clothes.. While business casual implies some rules about not dressing too loud and maintaining an air of professionalism, smart casual is meant to be expressive and unique.. Smart casual outfits can be more relaxed than business casual, but they can also be more formal.. Dress your more formal pieces down but be careful not to make them appear out of place Find the fit that looks best on you Button-down shirts are versatile and fit in well with smart-casual Use the versatility of chinos to your advantage Mix up your layering pieces with blazers, jackets, and sweaters Finish your look with pieces that impart your personal style

Every man should dress his age. Whether you're 20, 30, 40 or 50+, click here to discover exactly what clothes suit you best!

That means no half-measures — funky, bright-colored trousers mean a mix-and-match look in the rest of the outfit; don't pair them with plain black dress shoes and a pressed white dress shirt.. A young man who wears a suit and tie when everyone else is wearing sports jackets, and open collars look like he's striving to impress.. A young man who wears a blazer and khakis when everyone else is in suits looks like a kid who can't be taken seriously.. Casual clothing doesn't need to stick to the blues and grays of business wear.. Wearing a tie every time you wear a colored shirt is stodgy, but wearing a tie for fun once in a while shows you're in control of your look.. If everyone's already in suits and ties, invest in good dress shirts and neckties, and make sure you're always sporting a pocket square.. Wearing a good suit, or a good pair of slacks with a nice blazer, is only half the battle.. Add more blazers and sports jackets if you're at an office that doesn't require suits but does expect “business casual” dress.. One of the joys of old age is that you no longer look like you're trying too hard if you wear a suit for fun, or are the only man in a crowd wearing a blazer.. An older man has the dignity and the weight of experience to carry a double-breasted suit, or a three-piece suit, and he doesn't need to shy away from elegant pinstripes either.

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