When an invitation to a party suggests business casual attire, many people are stumped. Choosing an outfit that falls somewhere between too relaxed and overly professional can be a tough call. The ability to discern the appropriate business casual wear may not come naturally to everyone, but there are some dress code guidelines that fit the definition of this style.
Ditch The Denim
Leave the blue jeans in the closet for the weekend mall excursion or movie outing. Men should break out the khakis or dark pants for a party calling for business casual attire. Women can also choose khakis, cotton capris or an informal skirt, but nothing too short. Silk slacks are another fashion-forward option for women.
Put The Skids On The Way-Too-Casual Shoes
Flip-flops come bejeweled or with designer tags and even have wedge heels, but these casual slip-ons are still not appropriate as business casual attire. Women should opt for a casual sandal, a pump or a closed-toe flat. An excellent choice for men is a leather shoe, such as a loafer, but never athletic shoes, formal wingtips or boots that could be worn on a hike.
Forget All That Glitters
Before you walk out of the house or office bound for the party, determine if the outfit passes the club test. If you would wear it for a night of dancing, it is unlikely to be suitable business casual attire. Sequin tops and pants adorned with rhinestones belong at a different kind of party. A stylish cardigan or blazer with a conservative top is a perfect choice for women. Any shirt that reveals a woman's cleavage is not appropriate for a business casual event. Men should select shirts with a collar or a buttoned dress shirt minus the tie, always neatly pressed and tucked. Sports coats create a polished look, but are optional.
Never go overboard with jewelry for a business casual party. Keep it simple with a conservative watch, classic bracelet and modest earrings. A simple handbag for women is appropriate, but both sexes should leave the briefcase at the office. Go easy on the makeup and cologne, keeping both light. A silk scarf adds a finishing touch to a business casual outfit.
- Virginia Tech: Division of Student Affairs: Business Casual Attire
- LaurenConrad.com: Dress Coding: Business Casual: Lauren Conrad: Sept. 28, 2011
- UC Davis University of California: Washington Program: How to Dress Business Casual: Women
- TheInvitationShop.com: How to Dress Business Casual
- Forbes.com: What Is Business Casual?: Renee Sylvestre-Williams: May 9, 2012
Kelli Peacock Dunn has been a news editor and photographer since 1998, working at a weekly newspaper in Northwest Florida. Her articles have also appeared in "Panama City Living" magazine and "The Lookout."