Sunday, October 24th, 2021

Business Casual: Just How Casual Should You Be?

By Cathy Kuzel on Sep 27 2011 • Filed under The Connected Woman

How Should You Dress for Casual Business Days? (Photo of Oddly Dressed Business Woman)Relaxed work attire is a trend many entrepreneurs have embraced — some perhaps a little too much. In fact, in a recent survey commissioned by The Creative Group found 39 percent of executives said workers and company representatives appear too casual when donning a relaxed look. Part of the problem is not just that the rules are often unclear, but that people are ruled by their individual perspectives and objectives. This means that everyone has a different interpretation of how to dress and why.

As an entrepreneur, we ARE the company and our appearance should reflect that. Every industry and/or organization has its own culture and standards of dress and there are a few universal guidelines.

Here are a few pointers to be ‘best dressed’ without the stress.

Under-do it.

Unless your job is in the entertainment or fashion industry, clothing should never be distracting. Your personal style still can shine through – just don't make it scream. Think of it this way: Would a potential client spend more time focused on what you're wearing than what you're saying? If so, you should probably save the outfit for another occasion.

Look around.

The old rule – dress for the position to which you aspire – still holds true. What is your manager or other professionals in your industry wearing? Notice whether your peers wear suits each day as opposed to business-casual clothing, and follow their lead.

Pay attention to details.

From head to toe, your appearance should be polished and neat.

Temper dress codes with common sense.

Keep in mind that guidelines on attire rarely are comprehensive. While it's wise to review them, don't assume they're definitive – some of the rules may be unwritten. Again, it comes back to observing others. If you've never seen anyone in your business wear capri pants, you may want to think twice about wearing them to work.

Business Casual for Women:

Women can often get away with a wider range of attire than men. Let comfort and professionalism guide you when you're dressing for business casual occasions.

  1. Ask your human resources department for official guidelines. Business casual means different things at different companies. At a large corporation, it may mean slacks or a business skirt; at a smaller company, it may mean a cotton sweater and a floral skirt.
  2. Work for yourself and YOU are the HR department? Then ask HR at your client’s office what their guidelines are for casual attire.
  3.  Before you go casual, check your daily planner to make sure you don't have any meetings that require formal business attire.
  4. Unless it’s part of a uniform, wearing jeans to work is never a good idea.
  5. Wear shoes that are comfortable and appropriate for your outfit. Funky platform, athletic shoes or strappy sandals might be formal enough for some companies; however, it's more typical to wear closed-toed shoes. (bunny slippers are optional!)
  6. Keep the makeup light. Let your natural beauty shine through.

Leaving your clothing to chance prevents you from defining your image and shaping perceptions of yourself and your business. Not caring about how you look can translate into sloppiness and slovenliness. These images can, however unfairly, guide people's perceptions of your work.

First impressions really do count so make sure your appearance give the perfect ‘introduction’.

Now go get connected!


  1. Awesome piece! I have noted everything. I am an events planner, we do not require very ‘formal’ look. Thanks for this info. Cheers,

    • Thanks Bisi! As an event planner, you of all people need to ‘dress the part’ depending on the type of event. Fashion has blurred the boundaries of casual, business and formal so it can be challenging. As a Business Coach and Professional Mentor, I include a section of training that addresses the issue of how to dress. It can make a difference between good and great!

  2. Am happy abt the notes, they r so helpful, am working 4 a big company of which dress code is nt a prblm, bt am happy tht i’ve learned sumthng here….. Thnx a lot!


  1. What Am I Going To Wear? – | Entrepreneurial Woman Magazine

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