Business casual has become the new norm in terms of how to dress for a job interview or around the office. Gone are the days where you knew to wear a suit to an interview, welcome to the era where vague, cryptic dressing instructions cause waves of anxiety.
It is an issue we all face and unfortunately, there is no universal definition of “business casual” or “smart casual”. While these terms usually mean that the dress code isn’t a major focus of the organisation, it is still important to set a good first impression. There are a few typical guidelines I like to follow and highly recommend, in order to play it safe.
1. Covered shoulders: Standard office attire calls for covered shoulders. Modesty is appreciated in most work places so take this into consideration. It is important to also note here that you should avoid t-shirts or anything overly tight/low cut. Keep it classy.
2. Jacket: No hoodies and no cardigans. Denim and leather jackets are also frowned upon. Ideally wear a casual blazer or a light sweater. You want to make sure it isn’t formal but not sloppy.
3. Knee length or below: If you choose to wear a skirt, make sure it is an appropriate length. I can confidently say that there is nothing worse than wearing a skirt that is uncomfortably short and that you have to constantly pull down to protect your modesty. If you are thinking of wearing jeans, read the Gents chino section below for some tips.
4. Closed toe shoes: There are many open toe shoes that nowadays pass as office appropriate. Unfortunately, not all work places allow these, some due to OH&S and others due to preference. Chose a closed toe pair, avoid sneakers and dirty shoes.
1. Button down shirt: Casual but professional. This shirt type hits the nail on the head. A t-shirt is too casual and a business shirt is too formal. Button downs are the ideal choice.
2. Take a jacket: Sports coat preferred but don’t worry if you don’t have one. Any nice and casual jacket will be fine. Avoid anything made out of fleece, or sports material.
3. Wear chinos: No shorts. Jeans should only be a back up option if you don’t have chinos. In that case, make sure your jeans are clean, sans holes and tears, and ideally a darker colour. Chino’s are closer to the smart/business quota so make this your first option.
4. Semi-formal shoes: No sneakers or thongs. Make sure you are wearing boots, loafers or another semi-formal shoe style. Also, please make sure they are clean.