Casual dress code
Casual dress code
You don’t necessarily need a tie or tight suit trousers to do professional work: in the era of internet services you can also earn money from the comfort of your own home, before or after throwing on your everyday clothes. Think of Zuckerberg with his familiar hoodie, Jobs with his signature turtleneck sweater, or Musk’s competent appearance. Doing work and doing it well is not about the clothes you wear. So why all this fuss about dress codes?
Why do you need ‘casual’?
Dress codes may have originally been created for entirely different reasons, but now they mainly exist to provide us with guidelines for what to wear when going to an important client’s offices or if you are invited to an upscale event. Being smartly dressed in a dinner jacket or tails shows the event organiser that you respect them and appreciate being invited. That might be true for black tie, but what is casual wear for?
Events or places where a smart appearance is crucial are very different to private settings, the business of ‘everything else’: clinking glasses with the boss at a barbecue, watching your mother-in-law blow out the birthday candles, or an informal invitation to have a drink with some colleagues. Casual wear places the emphasis on comfort and personal style, as these are more important for the situation than formalities.
Street wear vs. casual wear
This dress code should not be confused with everyday street wear or what you would slob around in at home. On your couch there are no rules, and when meeting friends in a café or walking your dog there is no reason to tailor your appearance to your conversation partners or your environment.
A casual dress code helps to set a framework for interpretation. The word ‘casual’ means relaxed and informal, so clothing is correspondingly functional and comfortable. Nonetheless, grooming and a suitable amount of elegance are just as important with this dress code.
Casual at work
Informal dress codes are on the increase in business environments, replacing traditional business dress codes such as business casual or business attire, especially in small, family-run operations, young start-ups, creative professions and the fashion industry. In the fashion sector it is even desirable for staff to use the freedom offered by this dress code to highlight their own personalities. Depending on a company’s philosophy and values, having uniformed employees in such companies would give outsiders the wrong impression.
T-shirts, jeans and trainers: all are allowed under a casual dress code. The key principle is that you should only wear clean clothing without any ragged or visibly damaged areas. Flip-flops, shorts or baggy clothing such as sweatpants or hoodies are not entirely welcome. Overly tight cuts are a recipe for discomfort, which is why ‘casual wear’ covers looser, airier fits (known as ‘casual fit’).
Fabrics such as denim, cotton, flannel, linen and polyester are regular features and can be combined with more elegant materials such as silk and cashmere. Chiffon, brocade and velvet, on the other hand, will soon make things too elegant. When choosing your outfit, it is useful to think about who invited you, who will be coming and what the atmosphere is likely to be.
Casual for men
One option is jeans or chinos combined with slip-on shoes and a light shirt or knitted sweater. If you go for a T-shirt, then your outfit might work better with a simple jacket or a blazer. Ties can be left safely hanging in the wardrobe. Tennis shoes belong on the tennis court, but other elegant trainers or sneakers are an option. Some people might feel the need to follow a fashion trend, but classic pieces remain the safer option.
Trends can be misunderstood and quickly go awry, meaning that what is intended as a fashionable ensemble of trendy elements soon becomes the exact opposite. Subtlety, simplicity and restraint will mean that your outfit leaves a lasting positive impression. The best outfits are the ones where you cannot see how much thought has gone into them, as this displays nonchalance and proof of a relaxed individual style.
Casual for women
When the weather is warm, women could go for a summer dress, a skirt and shirt, or long trousers with a top. Make sure that the skirt’s hem doesn’t stretch too far over the knees. Cardigans, button-down sweaters or blazers are all good options. Women should be aware that a blazer will smarten up an outfit, meaning that fewer accessories are required. Otherwise, jewellery can easily spice up a simple outfit.