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What Does Business Casual Mean? – LifeSavvy



 people dressed in business casual attire sitting at table
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Of all the styles of dress you might find on an event invitation, "business casual" could be the most confusing.

glance, it looks like an oxymoron. Isn't "casual" the opposite of "business"? But while that may be true, business casual has become one of the most common dress codes for many events. It's worthwhile to shrug off your frustration and learn what it means.

In our Dress Code Guide series, we'll help you demystify dress codes of all kinds, from casual to white tie, but we're starting with the most challenging one: business casual. Let 's make getting dressed for anything a little easier!

Business Casual: A Definition

Let's say you have a crystal ball that can see the future. It shows you that you're going to coincidentally meet the CEO of a company you love to work at the grocery store tomorrow. What would you wear?

You don't want to look like you're trying too hard (it's a chance meeting at the grocery store), but you do want to make a good impression.

That's the essence of business casual: you want to look professional, but not like you're trying too hard to look professional. It's made even more confusing by the fact that there are specific guidelines for business casual attire, the way there are for other dress codes, like white-tie.

For the most part, business casual means creating an outfit out of items you could wear to work: so no sweats or t-shirts. However, you won't want to stop short of wearing a full suit. Instead, look for high-quality separates like slacks, sweaters, and button-downs.

Business casual can also be more casual or more business, so you have to make some choices depending on the event. For example, dark-wash jeans could be a good choice for a business casual work party, but not for a job interview.

When to Dress Business Casual

 after work business people toasting at restaurant
CandyBox Images / Shutterstock

Sometimes, an event will specify "business casual attire." But there are other times when you'll have

  • Business parties
  • Interviews for casual jobs


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