An increased amount of work places are adopting a more relaxed, business casual dress code. And it’s left many men scratching their heads as they try to figure out what is appropriate to wear. What exactly does “business casual” mean? Business casual is used to refer to clothing that is less formal than traditional business wear, but still intended to give a professional and "business like” impression. Still confused? Don’t worry, it’s a pretty ambiguous term. In short, business casual falls somewhere between anything that’s smarter than a tracksuit, but less formal than a suit.
We realise that this short definition is not very helpful. So to help you guys out, we’ve pulled together 8 business casual tips to help you achieve the perfect office wardrobe.
Business Casual Shoes
Monk strap shoes are ideal if you’re the type of guy who wants to improve your shoe game, but anything beyond a sneaker is outside of your comfort zone. Dip your toes (a-hem) into the world of smart shoes with the Robinson Dublin Monk Strap. These shoes will help you stand out from the crowd and will elevate any business casual outfit to the next level. Check out the rest of the Robinson Professional Collection to make sure your feet are always ready for any surprise meetings.
Chukka boots are the most informal option for men’s business casual footwear, yet they still look super stylish. These Monty Chukka boots by Barker benefit from a full leather lining and two very stylish colour options – navy or sand suede. These would be best worn with a pair of navy or dark chinos.
A good pair of brogues will see you through many occasions. These Barker Bath brogues are extremely versatile. They look great with a suit, which is perfect for the days when you have a big client meeting. However, for everyday office wear they can be dressed down with jeans for a look that crosses the bridge of smart casual. Add a blazer to heighten the look.
Business Casual Trousers
Denim is widely accepted as business casual. However they’ve got to be the right pair of jeans. When shopping for these seemingly elusive work-appropriate jeans there are a few things to remember. Choose a darker shade, keep jeans tear free, properly hemmed and opt for a slimmer cut. Once you’ve found your perfect fitting pair you can rock the business casual blazer and jeans look like a pro.
Chinos are a great option as they come in a range of shapes and cuts. Once you’ve found a brand and style that you like, (we’re loving Slowear Venezia Chinos) then stock up on a few different colours for your business casual wardrobe.
Thicker, wool/ flannel trousers are another alternative that is a great Autumn / Winter option. Opt for a grey pair as this colour has the most diverse colour combinations.
Business Casual Shirts
No matter how laid back your office dress code is it’s generally best to leave the slogan t-shirts at home and opt for a shirt. A true business casual shirt is basically the same as any you would wear with a suit and tie, with a few key changes. First, the fabric does not need to be as formal. You can try out twill, pinpoint and oxford fabrics to create a more relaxed look. Without a tie, you now have the opportunity to introduce some patterns, play with jacquards, checks, plaids or small prints in fabrics to make your outfit stand out.
Business Casual Jumpers / Sweaters
A few quality jumpers are a great staple for your business casual wardrobe for Autumn / Winter. They’re ideal for layering if you feel like embracing the shirt and jumper combination. It’s best to stick to a monochrome palette with work jumpers; greys, blacks, blues, creams, maroons. As they work well with a dark bottom half and smart shoes.
Business Casual Blazers
When it comes to style, a fitted blazer does all the real work at the office. Plus it can hide a multitude of sins, such as a wrinkled shirt or coffee stain. An absolute essential in our opinion is a fitted, navy blazer. Keep it a trim fit with slim sleeves to reveal just a bit of shirt cuff. Keeping it semi-formal on top means you can have a more relaxed style on your bottom half.
Another great option is a tweed blazer or jacket, it adds a bit more texture and warmth to an outfit. To ensure the best fit make sure it’s cut on the shorter side. A longer cut is more fitting for a country gentleman –which would look somewhat out of place in a business casual office environment.
Business Casual Bags
Generally speaking, you’ll probably travel to and from work with some kind of bag and to achieve that business casual aesthetic it’s best to opt for something that isn’t as formal as a briefcase. Our go-to is a reliable satchel – this beautiful Adlington satchel from the British Belt Company is perfect for all your essentials and comes in a choice of classic black or brown antique pull up leather.
Business Casual Accessories
When it comes to accessorising you can ditch the tie – or at least keep one at the office for any surprise meetings. As for belts, they can make or break an outfit. By that same token, a belt can be the difference between formal and casual. For a business casual look, you should match your metals but you’ve got more leeway on the leathers — brown with tan or tan with white is fine. As a rule of thumb, a formal belt will look a bit odd when paired with a pair of jeans, as formal belt leather is usually sleek and shiny while leather in casual belts is rugged and matte which looks best against denim.
Business casual for men can be a tricky concept to grasp. If you follow these 8 tips then it is hard to go wrong. If you’re starting at a new job look at what your peers and bosses are wearing and use this (paired with our tips) as your guideline. One last bit of advice if you’re unsure whether an outfit, or piece of clothing is appropriate, chances are it’s not. You should always air on the side of caution, as it’s always best to be slightly overdressed than slightly underdressed. Lastly, you can make sure your feet are always professional and respectable by checking out the Robinson Professional Collection.