How to Dress Business Casual

By Belinda Claxton (December 8, 2016)

BUSINESS CASUAL  is a term used to describe a type of Office Dress Code or clothing style that is a little more casual than traditional business wear.  Many employers adopt this dress code in an effort to allow employees to feel more comfortable on the job and to have more freedom of expression through their choice of attire.  Although business casual is casual, it doesn’t mean that anything goes!!

Expectations of individual companies differ:  one company might want you to dress in business attire, minus a suit coat and tie, while another company may encourage you to wear chinos or jeans.


You can choose from a variety of Shirts.  Opt for conservative and not too revealing, collar for a more formal look and collarless for a less formal look.  Blouses, plain shirts, cotton shirts and sleeveless shirts are all acceptable and unusual patterns are acceptable as long as they are not wild.  The standard shirt is a monotone design.   

Skirts and dresses are acceptable as long as the hem falls just above the knees.  Avoid low-cut dresses or those with high slits an no sundresses.  Neutral colours are best.


Choose shirts that have collars, such as long sleeve button down shirts. Always tuck the shirt in and pair the shirt with an appropriate belt.  For business casual, tie is optional. White button down shirts are the most formal and therefore the safest.  Unlike pants, all manner of shirt colours are acceptable:  Purple, pink, yellow, blue and red.  Cotton Fabric is the king while silk and rayon are frowned upon.  Choose formal patterns:  Oxford, plaid, and poplin are a little less formal but perfectly acceptable.  Twill, herringbone and broadcloth patterns are more formal and nice to use if sprucing up.  Hawaiian and other irregular patterns are considered too casual.

Go for pants such as dress pants, corduroy pants and only chinos or jeans if allowed by your employer.  Distressed jeans, jeans with holes are not desirable choices.  Stick with dark colours:  black, brown, grey, khaki, dark blue and dark green.  Avoid pants in loud colours such as red, yellow and purple.  Camouflage is not allowed, neither are white pants.

I hope the above has answered any questions on how to dress Business Casual and just remembering it doesn’t mean that anything goes.