Even in a restaurant or nightclub environment, “business casual” indicates a relaxed but professional look – something you might wear to the office on the day of a staff meeting.
For the ladies
For women, “business casual” ensembles are made up of blouses, sweaters, or other fashion tops paired with slacks or knee-length skirts. Dresses that fall anywhere below the knee are also a great choice and can communicate casual elegance. Footwear should fall on the conservative side, with ballet flats or low heels taking center stage. Again, you’ll want to avoid anything too revealing, so a cardigan or blazer might be a good addition to the outfit to ensure the right level of modesty.
For the guys
A collared shirt, preferably a crisp button-down, is your best bet for a “business casual” occasion. In warmer weather or in outdoor settings, a polo or tennis shirt could be acceptable if tucked in and paired with clean-cut dress pants and shoes. Jeans are too casual for this setting, so choose trousers or khakis and a leather belt. Footwear is similar to “smart casual”, so dress shoes like Oxfords and loafers are in, while sneakers are definitely out. Again, choose dark socks in a mid-calf length. “Business casual” venues do not require ties, but if in doubt, go ahead and wear one – you can always take it off later. Whether or not to wear a jacket, like a sport coat or blazer, is totally up to you.
Rules of Thumb
- Do your research: what is the business and what can you find out online about what will be expected of you at the event in terms of attire?
- Keep jewelry and other accessories modest.
- The fabrics involved here will be somewhat high maintenance, so make sure to leave yourself extra prep time for ironing.
- Hair, facial hair, and makeup should be neat and tidy.
- This isn’t Casual Friday, so generally avoid denim. At some venues, jeans may be OK if you are otherwise very well presented. Gentlemen should not wear denim at these venues without also wearing a shirt and proper shoes.
- Avoid open-toed shoes and sneakers of any kind.