What Is Business Casual?

In order to compete in the employment market, employers in the 90s searched for creative options to attract new employees and retain present ones. What they came up with is casual Fridays or dress down days. They may have borrowed it from a Hawaiian tradition that started in the city of Honolulu in 1947. Businesses in the city of Honolulu allowed their workers to wear the Aloha shirt part of the year. By the 60s the term “Aloha Friday” was born. The trend for casual dress had made its way to California as the computer industry blossomed in the 70s. The very first computer “geeks” are often cited as the first to bring casual dress to the professional work place. In 1975 John Molloy criticized harshly businesses that were allowing men to wear the infamous leisure suit in place of a formal suit. A series of Levi Strauss & Co. surveys were quoted during the 1990s to show the rise of casual business dress. By 1992, 26% of businesses in the United States reported offering at least one casual day. Companies allowing casual dress every day rose to 33% in 1995 and 53% in 1997. Today, 90% of all US companies have a casual day of some kind, 1/3 of all companies allow casual clothing every day, and more than 40% of all companies have expanded their casual dress options in the last three years.

The modern business casual dress code is tricky and depends on the business. For the financial area or banking, casual is bit more on the formal side. Try apparel that’s different than the traditional business suit, but still appropriate for a boardroom like blazers, oxfords, vests, ties, and scarves. In a less high tech field, Golf shirts rein supreme, as well as denims, chambray shirts, fashion fleece, sweaters and turtlenecks. The trick is to coordinate your separates into a polished look that is suitable for your profession.
Smart companies that recognize the value of high morale and a strong brand image will often give branded apparel for holidays, special occasions, and as incentives that can be worn on casual days. This allows them to set the standard for casual dress for their company culture.

Casual Dress Code – Do’s and Don’ts for Business Casual Dress in the Workplace

If your company has a casual dress code, getting dressed for work can be confusing.

How do you want to be perceived in the workplace? Chances are, whatever your job situation, you want to be perceived as a competent professional. Here are some do’s and don’ts for projecting a professional image on the job.

Do:

1. Recognizer that every organization has a dress code, even if it’s not written down. If you aren’t sure about your company’s dress code, look at the people above you. How does your manager dress? How do the VPs, or owners of the company dress? If you want to be promoted, dress the way they do.

2. Choose clothes that are flattering to your figure, and complement your coloring. Have clothes tailored to fit you -business casual clothes as well. You’ll be surprised at how polished you look.

3. Put some thought into your business casual wardrobe. Many people spend time coordinating their business suits, but consider their business casual wardrobe to be an afterthought. Wrong. You should spend as much time, or more, on your business casual wardrobe, so you look put-together and professional.

4. Build a basic business casual wardrobe, starting with a few pairs of pants/skirts in dark colors that go with everything. Then it’s easy to add color and pattern to personalize your look

Don’t:

1. Don’t believe that permanent press clothes do not need to be ironed. They still need to be pressed lightly.

2. Don’t wear rubber-soled shoes or athletic shoes to the office. This is sports wear, not business casual wear. Wear leather shoes, and make sure they are in good condition.

3. Don’t (women) consider a scrunchie to be an appropriate hair accessory for work.

4. Don’t (men) wear white or athletic socks with dress pants. Wear dress socks that match your pants.

5. Don’t forget to maintain hair coloring. Letting your hair grow to reveal dark or grey roots of one inch or more makes you look like you don’t care about your looks. Head to the hairdresser when your roots start to show.

6. Don’t arrive at work on business casual days without a way to upgrade your look. The simplest way is to have a jacket handy to put over a casual outfit. For men, keep an extra tie available. For women, a necklace or slightly higher heeled shoe can add polish and panache.