Casual Apparel in the Work Place

A blog about appropriate business casual dress in the work place.

Dress Down Days/Casual Fridays

Many businesses have dress down days where the employees are allowed to wear their casual clothing, including jeans and any type of footwear they they prefer. However, though the policy has been dropped for one day it is important to remember propriety when dressing in order to avoid inappropriate clothing for work.

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Though the clothing policy has been dropped for the day, it is important to remember that you are working, hence a sense of professionalism must be kept. 

For females, the basic rules still apply: no cleavage, avoid tightness, and skirt length. Below are three pictures of Taylor Swift in appropriate, and inappropriate, casual wear for work.

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The left and right pictures are perfect example of appropriate things to wear on a dress down day, but the middle picture is not appropriate because the skirt length is too short. If it was a bit longer then it would for okay to wear.

For males, it is alright to wear jeans and and type of footwear that they like as long as it’s appropriate. And example of an appropriate dress down day ensemble for males is:

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The model is wearing a plaid shirt with a gray cardigan on top, dark jeans, and black and white shoes. Dark coloured jeans are better to wear than light coloured jeans as they would look professional while still casual.

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Appropriate Business Casual Shoes

Shoes can actually make or break business casual. You can have appropriate clothes but then, if your shoes are wrong you’d be violating business casual policies. 

In order to avoid violations you must keep in mind that you shouldn’t wear anything that you would wear to go out. For example, running shoes, flip flops, etc. Overly bright colours should be avoided—learn the beauty of neutral colours! It’s easier that way!

For females, while high heels do not violate dress codes, you should keep in mind your comfort. a pair of heels may look stylish but being on your feet all day is no picnic! 

Animal prints should be avoided as well as overly high heels.

Good examples of appropriate footwear:

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For males, you should avoid running shoes and sandals. They don’t go well with business casual and you may be viewed as unprofessional. Shoes with bright colours are very hard to pull off so I would suggest sticking to neutral colours like black or dark brown. For example:

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Business Casual for Male Students

Business casual for male students is the same for adult males. It’s quite easy to dress in business casual, but males students often make a couple of mistakes when dressing up.

For example, they’ll pick appropriate pants but it’d be too baggy and they’d wear it in the same way they’d wear baggy jeans, which is absolutely not acceptable for work. And, also, although wearing collared shirts is to be expected wearing neon coloured shirts are not acceptable whether they have a collar or not. Therefore:

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The basics of appropriate business casual wear for men is: collared shirt, appropriate pants, and appropriate shoes.

1, 2, 3.

Simple as that!

A video with a couple of tips on how to dress in business casual for women by Howcast.

Business Casual for Female Students

As a student, it is very likely that you’ve never had a job that requires you to dress in business casual. In fact, places like clothing stores or grocery stores that often hire students have their own uniforms (e.g. Longos, No Frills) or a dress code where their products are worn (e.g. Aeropostale, American Eagle). However, though you may not need to wear business casual for your job, you are expected to wear business casual for interviews, whether it be for a job, for school, or for internships.

Once you finally get a job that has a business casual dress code you might be confused as to what kind of clothes you should wear. For students, the term ‘business casual’ might mean suits and ties but it doesn’t have to.

As adults have their own way of dressing in business casual, students also have their own way of dressing in business casual.

Female students that like being fashionable might have a bit of a difficulty figuring out what is acceptable for business casual and what is not. Three things to remember when picking out clothes are:

  1. No jeans
  2. Don’t show too much skin
  3. Not too tight

And shorts, now matter how ‘dressy’ are not acceptable. You must also keep the length of your skirt of dress in mind. Nothing too short.

 An ideal ensemble would look something like:

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A good business casual guide for men by StyleMinute.

Business Casual for Men

Business casual tends to be very easy on men so this post will be pretty short. Like with women, there are three things that men must remember when it comes to business casual:

  • Shirts with collars
  • Belt that matches shoes
  • Appropriate length trousers

Men are less likely to violate business casual dress codes than women since they do not have a wide range of choice as women do. You must make sure to avoid jeans—it doesn’t matter if they’re dark coloured, they are not appropriate business casual wear— and shorts.

Men, along with their collared shirts, can also wear blazers, pull over v-necked sweaters, and v-necked vest. It is also okay to wear a turtleneck if a blazer will be worn over it.

A good example of business casual for men:

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Business Casual for Women

Business Casual is, perhaps, the most difficult for a woman. With so many clothing choices available, how does a woman choose what to wear? Of course, they can wear a button up shirt and dress pants, like men would, but what of the fashion conscious woman? What is she to wear?

When dressing business casual, three things must be remembered when it comes to business casual:

  • No cleavage
  • Clothing should not be too tight
  • Skirts should be no shorter than 2 inches above knee 

This shortens the list of things that you can consider ‘business casual’.

For example:

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Here is a picture of Eva Longoria looking stylish in a modern day versions of a blazer and skirt; however, no matter how stylish it looks, this ensemble would not be considered appropriate business casual because she is showing too much cleavage and her skirt is much too short. In order to make this combination appropriate, an appropriate undershirt must be worn under the blazer and the skirt must be lengthened.

A good example of appropriate business casual attire is: 

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These ensembles are great examples of appropriate business wear. They not only look stylish, but also follow the list stated above.

Why business casual?

Your choice of work clothes does not only send a nonverbal message about you, but also affects the way you work. Employees and employers  have mixed feelings about work attire.

Why not just allow casual wear in the work place?

That’s a good question!

Casual attire is often opposed by employers because the boundaries of what is acceptable is often pushed. Employers have come to believe that casual attire in the work place can be blamed for a serious disregard for work and is, in fact, the cause for an increase in absenteeism, tardiness and flirtatious behaviour.

It seems, though, that their opposition is not unfounded. It has been discovered that a relaxed dress code can lead to reduced productivity and lax behaviour.

And so, business casual was born! These policies are less restraining than business formal, but defines the limits of ‘business casual’. In fact, business casual is such a popular policy that that 84 percent of businesses implement this dress code. 

Business casual has proven to be a very versatile dress code.

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What does “Business Casual” mean?

casual [adj] - appropriate for wear or use on informal occasions; not dressy


This definition can be applied to a dress code formally known as ‘business casual’.

Now, business casual can mean different things for different people. Everybody has a different taste in clothing, whether it’s classic, vintage, or fashionable; and, business casual is less restricting than a lot of people think.

Just because the word ‘business’ is in the name, doesn’t mean that you have to dress like an uptight, blue-collar worker—that means you don’t always have to wear pant suits, ladies!

This blog is dedicated to informing you about the do’s and don’ts of casual apparel/business casual in the work place.

My name is Toni and I’ll be giving you guidance on how to dress properly for the work place. I’ll be covering topics from female attire to appropriate footwear in the workplace. So say tuned, you may learn something new!

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