Our Guide To Business-Casual Dressing
The latest dress code, hot on the heels of
smart-casual, business-casual is a concept born in the American workplace.
It was the product of small, predominantly male
companies that spent more time in front of computer screens than sat in meetings,
speaking to people.
Business-Casual gained in popularity with the
introduction of ‘Dress-Down Friday’ in most American offices. A day that promoted
inclusivity, where for one day of the week everybody got to dress as badly as
Yet, despite all the American hype, the roots of
casual Friday can actually be found in British culture, with many 19th
century Brits changing their normal daily suit for a more relaxed, tweed suit
before catching a train to their country estates for the weekend.
Then, in 1966, a marketing genius at the Hawaiian
Fashion Guild came up with ‘Aloha Fridays’, which helped both with the sale of
Hawaiian shirts and the idea of more informal office wear.
From the wacky and outrageous, to various dress
code guides through the years that tried to define what business-casual should
be, we have essentially toned it down to a look that shows we still mean
business but will also lean back in our chair and crack a joke to break up the monotonous
So what does Business-Casual dressing entail?
It can be a mixed bag in truth but essentially the dress code simply replaced one uniform, a smart suit, with a more relaxed uniform involving more casual shirts, polo shirts and chinos.
The dress code, in some form or other, is taking
over the working world. Even Members of Parliament no longer have to wear a tie
and the dress code for leaders at the last G8 Summit was ‘smart-casual’.
That traditional stiff collared profession of Banking has also changed, with Goldman Sachs recently adopting a more casual dress code whilst stipulating to its employees:
“Please exercise judgement in determining when to adapt to business attire as circumstances dictate, particularly if you have a client meeting.”
And that’s probably the most sensible way to approach business-casual.
In short, the onus is really on the individual to
judge what is deemed appropriate.
Staying glued to your desk all day?
You’ll be fine in chinos or even a smart pair of
jeans with a polo shirt or casual shirt.
Meeting external clients today?
You’re going to want to dress to make that
ultra-smooth business impression.
Still a little unsure? Here are a few tips:
- If you slob around in it at home. It’s not for wearing at work. Or even for leaving the house in for that matter!
- Similarly, if you wear it in the gym, it’s not for the office!
- Mix things up a bit. Plain poplin shirts say formal, a patterned shirt offers a more casual appearance. As does a different texture. Try a brushed cotton shirt. The appearance of the material gives a casual look and will also keep you a bit warmer in the coming months when the temperature drops!
Lastly, here are some Key Business-Casual Pieces to get you on the right track:
Never be without a smart pair of chinos, particularly during the summer months. They offer a stylish dressed down look that can be lifted to one level below ultra-smart when paired with a formal shirt or traded down to more casual when paired with a casual shirt or polo shirt. Now that's versatile!
- The Oxford Shirt
The Oxford Shirt has long being the go to business-casual piece for the most stylish office workers. So much so, that the debate rages over whether this classic casual shirt may even deserve a place at the formal shirt table. We'll leave that debate for another day and just appreciate the relaxed look the button-down collar offers, departing from it's stiff-collared formal shirt cousins.
- The Polo Shirt
For when you feel too casual for a shirt, the polo shirt has had a revival in recent years as the shirt to be seen in. Offering casual comfort without looking like you're dressed for the gym, the polo shirt is a smart, stylish option no longer reserved for the golf course, or a polo match for that matter.