So you’re applying for a new job and you’ve been invited to attend an interview. Perhaps you are attending a dinner or a meeting with a colleague. Dinner outings, board meetings, company gatherings of any description, in many such cases, you will want to make the right impression. A lot of this will depend on what you wear. On the one hand, you don’t want to under-dress and appear shabby. Looking like you are ready for a night on the sofa won’t go down well at the board meetings. On the other hand, you don’t want to overdo it and make yourself uncomfortable. A three-piece suit at a dinner meeting with business partners may appear too grand. Thus, you have heard it many times before – it’s time to go ‘business casual’.
Business casual? What does that mean or what does that look like? Dressing business casual is a good mix of both appearing smart and casual, or ‘smart-casual’. In other words, smart-casual is effectively the same as business casual. Striking a good mix is the secret here, but it can be hard to arrive at this perfect mix. So, what exactly can someone wear in order to appear both professional and comfortable, well-dressed but not overdressed for the occasion? There are many ways in which to pull it off, and we are here to help guide you along.
Business Casual Clothing Tips For Important Events
Before we get started on the casual dressing help, we would first like to inform you about what else we can offer on our site. In relation to business and keeping professional, we have several ‘how to’ guides regarding interviews. Feel free to read our posts on how to handle phone interviews, behavioural questions, and some of the most common interview questions. We also have many guides on application/letter writings, such as how to write the perfect cover letter, CV, resignation letter, resume, and more. In sum, all you need for beginning the successful career can be found right here on our website.
For now, for the following tips are the best ways in which to own that business casual or smart casual look – both for men and for women.
Business Casual Looks For Women
- In the office you most likely wear something similar to a suit. A great thing to do is to try and make a suit more casual. You can do this by choosing a blazer or jacket of a brighter colour and matching it with a shirt. Ultimately, what will separate your business suit from your business-casual suit are the colours, styles and patterns. Business is more monotone, so try and avoid that.
- Alternatively, you could bear the above idea in mind and ditch the blazer, tucking in your shirt.
- Overall, try to be as creative as possible. The trick is to keep elements of the office, but to transform them into something more fun and comfortable. Shirts are always a good choice, but again try and keep things colourful. The same goes for trousers/pants and skirts. Avoid the monotonous whites and blacks of business.
- A scarf can really tie your outfit together. Don’t be afraid to throw in a lively scarf.
- Ditch the tie. The tie is the most business-like statement in any outfit. The only case in which a tie could be acceptable is if the outfit is quirky. For example, an heterosexual look is always interesting and strikes a great combination between business and casual.
Business Casual Looks For Men
- A sweater-shirt combination along with some chinos. This strikes a great balance between appearing smart and casual. The shirt should be worn under the sweater, and in some cases you can include the tie. Of course, without the tie, it will appear more casual.
- You could eliminate the sweater/jumper and just wear the shirt. A collared shirt, rolled-shirt sleeves optional, is a perfect way to appear smart and relaxed. Try to avoid plain black or white, unless the shirt has a nice texture/design/material.
- Chinos are always a great alternative to plain business pants or trousers. They are essentially business pants, only often a nicer, more relaxed colour and material. Bright colours may be too extravagant, so try to keep the tones down.
- A tie is always a statement of business. Therefore, if you want to appear business casual, the tie becomes perhaps the trickiest feature in the outfit. There’s no easy answer when considering a tie in a smart-casual look, so it’s best to keep it optional, depending on the look. In sum, sometimes a tie looks good and sometimes it’s best to leave it out. Skinny ties are a great way to include the tie and to appear casual at the same time.
- Shoes can make or break an entire outfit. Make sure you choose your shoes wisely. Of course, your shoes should match your choice of trousers or pants. Try not to wear plain black business shoes – there’s too much ‘business’ oozing from that. Instead, choose something of a lighter colour though similar in style. By all means avoid wearing trainers.
What To Avoid
- A little dress of any description. This is too ‘dressy’.
- Ultra-high heels (for the sake of your own comfort, too).
- A tie, unless it’s something quirky.
- A monotonous suit – throw in some colour and change it up.
- A t-shirt (the same goes for men).
- Sports wear (the same again for men).
- Trainers – enough said.
- A three-piece suit, tuxedo, anything that would qualify for a ball.
- Sports wear.
‘I Have No Idea What To Wear, For the Event Didn’t State Anything’
In some cases you may be approaching an event in which you have no idea what to wear. The event doesn’t offer any indication on what kind of soirée it’s going to be. You’re flinging dresses and trousers every direction and panic is starting to really take hold of the situation. Not to worry, there are some easy alternatives when the dress code is non-existent.
First of all, consider the event. If you are still unsure after what nature the event is, try and remain close to what you would normally wear at work, but only more relaxed. For example, a suit of a bright colour, eliminate the tie and a nice shirt, accompanied with chinos and some shoes which are not black business shoes would do the trick. Similarly for women, a jacket and shirt, skirt or trousers, and then anything on the feet except trainers or ultra-high heels.
The golden rule in fashion, is ‘You do you’. Don’t lose sight of this when aiming for business casual. After all, it’s all about being comfortable.