The “business casual” dress code can be confusing. It can be challenging to find that perfect balance between professional and casual attire—you want to look smart and professional, but not overly dressed up. By focusing on the types of garments, the fabrications, and the color palette, you can mix and match classic office pieces with more casual garments for the perfect business casual ensemble. Continue reading on to learn what to wear, and what not to wear, when you’re going for a business casual look.
When dressing business casual, you want to look professional enough to be taken seriously, but not as dressed up as you would be for a job interview or big presentation. Starting with pants, you should have a well-fitting pair of black trousers. For example, the TravisMathew slacks I have in my shop are a sleek yet casual performance pant. These pants are versatile and comfortable, making them perfect for daylong wear, from the office to dinner. You should also have a pair of casual polyester golf pants, which you can dress up or down for the office or the course. I’d recommend a pair from Ballin, which is a brand that designs high-quality pants worth the investment. Lastly, a pair of dark denim is great for your office casual wardrobe. Dark denim is perceived as more professional than blue denim, so stick with black or darker washes. If you are wearing jeans to the office, make sure they don’t have any rips or holes—save those for the weekend. Your business casual jeans should be clean and well fitting.
While it might be tempting to throw on a T-shirt for your business casual look, sometimes a T-shirt can be too casual for the office. There are better shirt options to elevate your look. Focus on shirts with a collar to look more professional and presentable. A short-sleeved button-up with a collar is a great option, such as a button-up from Mizzen + Main in my shop. You can tuck in the shirt or leave it untucked, depending on how you feel. If you tuck in your shirt, you can add a belt for a bit more style. A solid-colored polo is another great option. Opt for a polo without a logo, which looks more polished and professional. I’d recommend a polo by Omaha. Depending on the weather, you can choose a long sleeved button-up or long-sleeved polo shirt. Both options pair perfectly with dark denim or slacks for a sleek outfit.
When dressing business casual, an elevated color palette is crucial. Keep it cool for the office with a monochrome, neutral, or dark color palette. Your shirts should be simple, solid colors, and without any logos or distracting details. If you do wear a print, avoid loud designs—micro prints, such as small checks, are more appropriate. For pants, the color palette should be dark, including black and dark blue. However, for the spring and summer, khaki can be an appropriate option for the season. Overall, sticking to a color palette of dark tones and neutral colors will keep your look cool and smart for the office.
Having a wardrobe of both professional and casual pieces will allow you to mix and match for endless looks. When you are looking to dress a bit more casual for the office, you can coordinate your professional office clothing with the more relaxed pieces. Suit separates, button-ups, and sleek yet casual pants are all foundational pieces that will help you dress business casual.
I hope you now feel ready to dress for success with business casual attire. If you need help styling your separates or building your wardrobe, send me a message or stop by my shop, and we can help create your best business casual looks.
3168 East Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85016