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What really does Business Casual mean?!

March 12, 2009

workoutfit When you work in a professional environment, the majority have a dress code of business casual. Sounds simple enough; business, but casual. But really, what does that mean?

One piece of advice that I have received is to always dress one level above what you believe the business dress code is for a certain office environment at first. This definitely includes the clothing you decide to where for the interview.

On the majority of first interviews I have been on in the Public Relations profession, I have always worn a black suit just to err on the safe side.

But once you have the job and are working there day in and day out, business casual is what you should stick too. But don’t forget to ask what the specific dress code is for your particular place of business. I know for my internship last summer, each Friday was casual day and they really meant it. Everyone showed up in jeans and t-shirts.

To explain what exactly business casual means, here are some opinions from experts. These are taken from Heather Huhman’s column Entry Level Careers Examiner.

Sarah Shah, an image coach and TV beauty expert, defines business casual more in terms of what is not present. “Business casual wear doesn’t include anything that you would wear to a nightclub, a gym, a beach or anything that you would wear to clean your house or change your oil.”

Dress for the job you want, not the one you have, says Tiffany Monhollon, corporate communications supervisor of Express Employment Professionals. “Your best bet for figuring out exactly what an employer means by business casual is to ask and observe. Dress to impress for your interview, and scope out the wardrobe of the people you meet and see. Then, take your cues for what to wear on the job from the people in leadership roles.”

For more information on the confusion about what exactly business casual means, take a look at this article from USAToday. http://www.usatoday.com/money/workplace/2007-07-09-business-casual-attire_N.htm

Also, this site takes a more indepth look at business casual. http://humanresources.about.com/od/workrelationships/a/dress_code.htm

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Trisha permalink
    March 13, 2009 3:59 am

    I was just having a discussion about the meaning of “business casual” the other day! This has perfect timing. I’ll be sure to pass this along 🙂 I do have one question though: in the article it stated that closed toe heels are the only heels acceptable in the office. Does this mean the “peep-toed” heels are not appropriate? even in warm weather? I know it is all circumstantial, but is there an overall rule about these shoes? Thanks for all the tips!!

  2. Leslie permalink
    March 13, 2009 8:36 pm

    I believe that is really situational. I would suggest not wearing “peep-toed” shoes at first and gauge what the rest of the women are wearing, or just ask.

  3. Lynda Elmendorf permalink
    September 11, 2009 11:45 pm

    The fact that I had to “google” this to understand what “business casual” means tells me it means whatever anyone wants it to mean. . . . I appreciate your comments .

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