What Does “Business Casual” Mean? Build a Better Career with These Clothing Basics

Whether you work at a startup or a law office, you should dress appropriately for the setting. The key is to buy clothes that can be accessorized and interchangeable and can be dressed up or down. Invest in your clothes because you want them to go a long way.

Attire for office environments


For women, skinny jeans, blouse and flats are fine. Consider a sundress or maxi skirt, weather permitting. Flip-flops or jeans with holes are not recommended, as you are still in a professional setting.

For men, dark wash jeans, appropriate shirts that fit well and clean shoes. Gym shorts, shirts with stains or baggy pants would not be appropriate.

Business Casual

For women, go with a pair of pants that fit, a blouse and flats/heels. If you are in the mood for a dress or skirt, and if the hem line is more than 3 inches above the knee, wear tights underneath. A popular blog for business attire is, “Hello, Gorgeous!” The blogger posts daily outfits that come from a range of stores and prices. She includes the links, when possible, to the pieces she is wearing.

For men, slim cut jeans/chinos, a button down shirt and nice shoes will give you the edge. Business casual for men includes slimmer pants, slim-cut shirts (tucked in or out), leather belts and trendy shoes. A great website to reference for office wear is Primer Magazine. It pieces outfits together based on the season, occasion and environment, for is feature called “The Getup”.

Business Formal

This office attire is more formal and polished. For women, a pencil skirt and slacks works well with a blouse and blazer. For men, well-tailored suits are a must. You can wear navy, black, dark grey and coordinate your tie with shirt.

Transition from day-to-day casual to conference professional

Whether you work in a causal environment or regularly attend conferences and need to dress business formal there are wardrobe staples that support both.


At work one could wear dark jeans, comfortable flats, blazer, tank top and a statement necklace. When going to a conference, you can easily swap out the jeans for slacks/skirt and the tank top for a colored blouse.


In a causal environment, you can go with dark wash jeans or Dockers, button-up shirts (slim fit) and a nice pair of shoes. To transition into conference wear, you can put on slacks and a blazer and keep the button-up shirt and shoes.

If you are unsure about your office attire, speak with your HR representative on appropriate office wear attire. Each workplace is different. And remember that the best accessory you can have is a smile and confidence.