Career Style: 4 Staples for the Business Casual Dress Code

Although the business casual dress code might seem quite simple and straightforward at first, it can often be incredibly difficult to understand and get just right, especially when it comes to finding that perfect balance between a casual and formal style. What’s more, each office might have their own, unique definition of what business casual actually is, which makes deciding what to wear that much more stressful. To help you find the most appropriate outfit, here are four staple clothing items both men and women can wear in any business casual setting:

1. The perfectly-fitting blazer

While it might not always be necessary for a more relaxed office setting, a nice, neutral, and perfectly-fitting blazer can be a great way of adding a touch of professionalism and style to any outfit. Men can use it to upgrade their business casual look, tone down a printed shirt, or even upgrade a pair of jeans, if the office permits – just stick to solid colors like black, gray and blue.

business dress

Women, on the other hand, have more freedom to play around with blazer shapes and cuts in a business casual setting, from cropped to oversized styles, depending on the office dress code. However, it might be best to stick to more classic cuts, as they can be paired with nearly any outfit, whether it’s a business dress, tailored trousers or even jeans. While solid, neutral colors are always a good option, you can also choose brighter and more interesting shades, as long as they are practical and versatile enough.

2. A sophisticated bag and wallet

While women tend to wear handbags more often, they fail to realize just how important they are for their image – the right bag can instantly make you look more polished and professional. It would be best to opt for a leather bag in neutral colors, straight lines and more square shapes, as these types of handbags can perfectly complement any business casual outfit, while still looking polished. Don’t forget to choose a matching leather wallet as well, for an added touch of sophistication and style.

business dress code

Photo by Lucas Andrade

Men can also opt for a stylish laptop bag or an over-the-shoulder leather bag, to perfectly match the business casual style, while still getting the convenience and practicality of additional space to carry their essentials. It would also be a good idea to choose a sleek cardholder wallet, as not only are cardholders stylish and professional, but they can also easily fit into anything from a bag to a pocket, without looking too big and bulky.

3. A versatile pair of trousers

Whether they’re straight-leg, wide-leg or tailored, both chinos and dress trousers are always a good option for women in a business casual setting. From basic white button-downs to flowy blouses, and sometimes even T-shirts, trousers can be paired with nearly anything for the office. And while bright colors and prints are often acceptable, it’s always best to check with the workplace beforehand.

Men can also opt for both chinos and dress trousers, as they will always ensure you’re within the business casual dress code. What’s more, nice trousers are versatile and practical enough to be combined with both casual and formal shirts and tops, while still looking fashionable. While the freedom of colors and patterns will depend on the office, you can never go wrong with plain, neutral trousers.

4. The right pair of shoes

When it comes to men, dress shoes and loafers in neutral colors are always appropriate, no matter the occasion, as they make any outfit look polished and refined. Women, on the other hand, should stick to closed-toe pumps, boots, loafers, and flats, as this footwear is usually the best option in most business casual settings.

dress shoes

Sneakers are often frowned upon in professional settings, even business casual ones. However, both men and women might get away with wearing them in more relaxed offices, as long as they pair them with a sleek and professional, solid-colored suit, as well as a basic button-down or blouse. Just make sure to avoid running shoes, and other types that are too sporty or casual, and instead opt for a sleek leather pair of basic, neutral sneakers.

While the exact definition of business casual might vary from one workplace to another, these four staple, basic clothing items will help you construct the perfect outfit each time. Click here for the best sustainable luxury brands for eco-friendly fashion.