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Business Casual Attire Is Confusing

Your Two Cents: Do You Dread Business Casual?

You've conquered your interview with intelligence, charm, and a confidence-building tailored suit, and you are prepared for your first day on the job. You're picking out your outfit for the first day and are trying to create something that says "business casual" — but what does that mean exactly? It can take a few days to figure out if your office leans more towards business or casual, and a work-wear consultant describes this obscurity as "the black hole of style." Do you find yourself struggling to get it right?

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queencessjosie queencessjosie 9 years
carhornsinapril: yeah, don't know why i didnt think of that. youre more than likely right, ha. i cant think of any other remotely "normal" industry that wouldn't care if someone like a CFO walked in wearing a track suit with run DMC sunglasses, and the entire office screamed "moose-nuckle."
Rucachic85 Rucachic85 9 years
I really like business casual- I wear a lot of dresses and suit pants with heels. I can definitely understand where it gets confusing though...everyone in my office seems to have a different interpretation of it!
juju4 juju4 9 years
In our office business casual means not corporate (suits only) and not totally casual (jeans, etc.). We have casual fridays were we can wear jeans.
lawchick lawchick 9 years
sfbutterfly, PANTYHOSE are not business casual!!! Poor you!!!
sfbutterfly24 sfbutterfly24 9 years
We have a bus casual but it strays more to the bus. side. So that means no open toes shoes, no khakis, no jeans, and we have to wear pantyhose with dresses/skirts. So you can see how I was lied to!
lawchick lawchick 9 years
I would wear jeans and a cute top every day if I could. But alas, I am stuck with business casual. Right now I am wearing suit pants with high heels and a mystery-fabric (synthetic) top with a kind of geometric design. Pearl studs. I really work more efficiently when I am comfortable, though I understand what other posters are saying about dressing up making you feel more professional.
bluebellknoll bluebellknoll 9 years
No dress code for me to worry about. I've always worn jeans to work. I could basically show up in sweats and sneakers...but I won't go that far! Occasionally, I will dress up (which probably fits in the business casual category) just to feel like a real business person.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
I'm the dressiest person in my office and I was freaking out about what the hell I was going to wear when I first got this job. Going from waiting tables to an accounting firm was a little big of an awkward jump for me. But since I'm the first person clients see, I make sure that I look nice and not too casual.
melizzle melizzle 9 years
Love business casual... you get the chance to be stylish but still be professional. I do a lot of skirts, dresses and capris. I worked in an office once where you could wear whatever you wanted, so long as you weren't meeting with a client. It was great... but soon I realized wearing flip-flops and tank tops everyday made me feel too casual and less likely to get work done!
ElissaM ElissaM 9 years
I second the comment about Express pants, steen!! They can be washed, then I usually dry them about halfway and hang them up to finish drying. When I'm lazy or they are all dirty at once I'll take them to the dry cleaners. I have about 10 pair!!
bengalspice bengalspice 9 years
No matter what I wear, I still look like I'm in high school and not the workplace.
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
lol @ collars convey power. who knew!
carhornsinapril carhornsinapril 9 years
queencessjosie, that's how it is at my office, too -- i think when you work in internet/new media, the dress code is more frequently casual-casual than business casual. i can wear whatever i want. i used to wear jeans and tees all the time, but i got tired of dressing like a college student, so i started mixing in darker, crisper denim and khakis and dressier shoes. wrap dresses are a staple, although i pair them with a cami if they're low-cut, and full-cut, knee-length skirts are something i wear a lot in the summer.
steen steen 9 years
I work in a stuffy office environment so during the week, I just wear slacks (usually Express since they're my favorite fit and they last forever) and a basic top. For Fridays, I wear nice jeans and a collared shirt or something a little nicer. My office is relatively small and there are only two employees in their 20s; everyone here dresses far older than they are so I just keep it quiet with my wardrobe.
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 9 years
Not really. I wear whatever I want in my office. :)
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 9 years
Every day, I am thankful that my office has NO dress code. I could wear a cami, ripped jeans, and flip flops if I wanted to. I don't, though. I wear jeans every day, with casual tops, boots in the winter and ballet flats in the summer. But I do have to dress biz-cas when I meet with clients, and I always stress about it. Because it depends on so many different things. For example, I have one big local client. When they come to my office, I can get away with more casual (open toed shoes, printed summery skirts) because my office is so casual (exposed brick, brightly colored walls, funky art, etc). But when I go to their office, which is a grey cubicle farm, I dress more conservatively. For my clients that aren't local, well, I don't see them much, but when I do travel for business, I never know what to wear. A few weeks ago, I met with a client in Miami, on a Friday, so they were wearing jeans, but I wore dress pants and a blouse with ballet flats (I don't do heels very often). This week, I am meeting with a client in Minneapolis and I have no idea what to wear. I've never been to their offices before but I think they are very corporate. Long story short: yes, I do dread business casual and am so happy that I rarely have to deal with it.
RosaDilia RosaDilia 9 years
I wear jeans on Fridays only! I break down my suits, like today i'm wearing dark grey slacks with a light grey blouse and a fitted jean jacket with black flats.
Kelly-O Kelly-O 9 years
The problem with Business Casual is that it means different things in different offices. I've worked some places that meant still wearing dressy pants and skirts with blouses or sweater sets instead of blazers. Other places mean tailored pants and button downs, but open toed shoes are allowed. Some places mean khakis. It's just not always easy to nail down, particularly if the only person you've met is the boss, who very well may have dressed up a notch for the interview with you or even met you outside the office. My take has always been I'd rather be a little too dressy on the first day, so I wear closed-toe shoes, dressy pants, a blouse and a jacket or sweater. That way the jacket can come off if they're not that dressy, but I'll be appropriate if it fits in. Since you don't always get a copy of the written dress code until your first day, it's the only way I've found to walk that line.
krampalicious krampalicious 9 years
biz caz is where it's at. i like to dress up for meeting and conferences and whatnot, but today i'm rockin black cigarette pants, a black short-sleeve turtleneck and black leather wedge sandals. Add earrings, glasses, watch and high ponytail, and i'm set.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 9 years
I love business casual - almost all the women in my office have wardrobes that look like they're taken straight from Topshop, and I love the variety. I do try to keep it clean though, so I'll wear dark denim, no frayed or ripped jeans, and of course, no low-cut tops!
queencessjosie queencessjosie 9 years
oh lord, business casual.. i do agree that it looks a lot more professional (well obviously) and tidier than having a more lax dress code, but as a student i've never had a part time job where i was allowed to wear jeans or "basic" attire (not including jeans of course). its funny though because if you visit the e-bates and HP headquarters in SF people do not dress up for work at all (well in the higher-ups -- my brother's a project manager at HPSF HQ and was one at e-bates). my brother literally goes to work in t-shirts, sneakers, jeans, hoodies, and track jackets.
shanimalcracker shanimalcracker 9 years
I love business casual attire! I think it's easy and I think it's much nicer than having to dress casually. Frankly, I am the type of person who likes to dress up well for work because it makes me feel like the environment is more professional. My law firm is pretty laid back in terms of dress, which makes me look a bit more formal than the other people, but that is fine with me because I am happy about how I dress.
Berlin Berlin 9 years
Mmmm I have to dress with a bra, a torn up "shirt", and a mini kilt...and at 12am kilt comes off and booty shorts are left as the that's my "business casual" :)
Mintie Mintie 9 years
Being a deisgner that works 3rd shift, I can wear whatever I want [not jeans] every day, so I'm not tied to this [unnecessary] restriction.
BeeMe BeeMe 9 years
What do you all think a/b the statement that "collars convey power"? I was thinking a/b backing off on all the button-downs I wear, but that statement made me think twice.
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