A Beginners Guide to Business Casual

Business casual: the preferred clothing choice for the majority of companies. It’s comfortable while remaining professional. What exactly is business casual though and how should I implement it in the workplace? Before I begin, I’d recommend talking to your employer about what the daily attire is. If they can’t explain it well enough, remember that it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed for the first couple days.

When I think business casual, I immediately think button downs and chinos, colloquially known as khakis. This will be your baseline. I recommend checking out my OCBD write up if you’re having trouble starting with button downs.

Docker’s Alpha Chinos will universally be the best bet for business casual. Tapered with a little room in the thighs will keep you comfortable through those long days. These are hard to find in stores, so if you don’t feel comfortable, search for chinos with a taper in your local department store. You can find chinos in most retailers, so don’t be afraid to try some on and see which ones fit the best.

Absolutely no flashy colors. Those bright orange chinos you bought because they’re your fraternity’s colors have no place in a professional setting. Same goes for button downs. Any piece of clothing with a saturated color write off your business casual wardrobe. Solid pastels are a great start for button downs, but if you get bored, subtle patterned shirts like gingham or plaid provide a variety of options. Earth toned chinos like khaki, brown, navy, and olive are great starting points.

In the winter or if your office is notoriously cold, sweaters and cardigans can be a great way to break the monotony. When sticking to earth tones and solid or patterned button downs, your options are pretty big when picking out any knitwear. The only “don’t” is argyle. This played out pattern often thought as “classy” is reserved for an older generation.

Again, I can’t reiterate this enough: solid colors and earth tones are the real backbone of your business casual wardrobe. Once you get a sense of your office attire and gain some seniority in the company is when you can begin to experiment with what you wear. Above all, don’t over-think it and you’ll be on your way to success.