Hero Business Casual
Stylish to the socks
Business casual dress code
In business life, first (and all subsequent) impressions play a vital role. In the morning, therefore, it is important that you choose an outfit which matches your company’s dress code. This section offers information and tips on the business casual dress code.
Where do you wear business casual?
Business casual is normally everyday office clothing, and is also fine for going out and meeting customers. Some industries will still use formal dress codes such as business attire. In back-office areas or in manufacturing or trading companies, comfort has become more important and business casual has become the standard code.
Famous high-tech entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs or Bill Gates have consciously opted not to wear formal business outfits, and represent the majority of the working population. As well as being more comfortable, this more informal clothing also automatically creates a more relaxed, cooperative atmosphere.
The week ends with ‘casual Friday’, which as the name suggests allows for a little relaxation and more laid-back outfits on the final working day. In companies with formal dress codes, this means that staff can come to work wearing a business casual look.
If an invitation gives the dress code as being ‘come as you are’, this should be taken literally if your outfit is business casual, smart casual or business attire. A less presentable, casual look on the other hand will stand out from the crowd of business wear in a negative way. In this event, you are better off getting something smarter out of the wardrobe.
Simple and stylish
A professional appearance is always a must in the world of business. In this dress code, the word ‘casual’ means that the clothing is more comfortable and less formal than traditional business attire.
Just like the design as a whole, staff should also represent a company’s culture and brand. This is expressed in areas such as clothing, with business wear mischievously now described by some as a uniform. This style is characterised by clear, classic cuts which have been cleanly and carefully put together. The aim is to show that an outfit has been thought through – quietly elegant by conviction, professional yet relaxed.
Business casual for men
A suit without a tie is always a good option. This is the easiest but not necessarily the first choice if you do not want to spend your life in a suit. You have more scope than with business attire and can counter monotony by trying some different combinations. Given the lack of alternatives (other than an elegant pullover in the winter), shirts are a virtual must for men. Jackets, sports coats and outerwear can (but do not have to) be left at home.
The smart casual dress code allows you to wear various different kinds of trousers. Suit or fabric trousers such as dockers, slacks, chinos or cargo pants are fine for anyone who knows what these terms mean. Dark jeans are increasingly making an appearance, but are not part of a business casual dress code.
On your feet you should be wearing dark socks which match the rest of your wardrobe. The best colour is one which falls between your trousers and your shoes. Said shoes could be classic Oxfords, elegant loafers or discreet, brand-new sports shoes (although this description does not include tennis shoes).
Keep an eye for detail
Like education, high-quality clothing is an investment in the future. A stylish appearance using selected materials will be a successful one and will last longer than cheap alternatives. When you look in the mirror, make sure you keep an eye for detail: the material should be ironed and smooth without any open seams, and garments with prints are best left for a casual look.
Company, sports, university or fashion brand logos are usually acceptable provided that they are not oversized. Colours tend to be kept discreet and conservative. If you have a beard, make sure that you keep it trimmed. Piercings and tattoos should be hidden.
Difference from smart casual
One means wearing a business outfit and replacing a few items with something less formal, the other a casual outfit plus a few more formal pieces. Isn’t that the same thing?
Dress codes are less strict than they used to be and may therefore be viewed differently by different people. As well as leaving room for interpretation, these standards vary both in society and from one company to another, with individual ideas about what clothing is appropriate.
The boundaries between smart casual and business casual are blurred and not clearly defined. Normally, it is shoes and a blazer which set the smart casual look apart. It also allows for more playful use of colour and emphasis. Individuality and personal style do not outbalance representing the company. In creative industries, a smart dress code is often preferred so that women can wear frills, lace or tassels and men can opt for other small, colourful features.
Watch and learn
With a healthy dose of common sense and a bit of attention, you can take direction from your colleagues’ clothing whilst also thinking about your own impact and the impression you want to make.
Still unsure if your choice is suitable? If in doubt, go for a more conservative outfit until you have a better handle on the established norms for this dress code. Being underdressed leaves a worse impression than wearing something more elegant. You also always have the option of removing an item of clothing, even if it is just your tie, to immediately give the whole outfit a less formal look. You could also ask your HR department or the event organiser for advice.
Business casual for women
Selected individual parts of business wear can be combined with more informal elements: trousers with a blouse or light top, a dress with dark stockings, or a skirt with a cardigan or pullover. Women have lots of categories and clothing styles to choose from, which leaves greater scope to play with. Shoes should be closed and have a maximum heel of six centimetres, such as pumps, loafers or ballerinas.