What Is Business Casual?

Over the last 5 years of serving as a Pastor at LifeChurch.tv, which has a cool, hip, relevant denim type dress code; I found that I wore denim 90% of the time and the other 10% consisted of weekend athletic apparel and an occasional suit for a wedding or funeral.  The 5 years prior to that consisted of 90% suits as I spent most of my time in business meetings, walking around the State Capitol and other environments where suits were the dress code.

Over the years style has really changed and evolved to a more overall casual look.  I attribute it to the era of the $200 designer jeans.  Men and ladies alike can dress up a nice pair of denim and they can dress down a nice pair of denim.

My wife and I recently went to an event in which the dress code was “Business Casual.”  I’ll be honest, I googled business casual just to double check, because style is ever evolving and changes my the month.  One thing I know about business casual, is there are different definitions.

My old school definition is, Slacks or Khakis with a polo or collared shirt at the least for Men and slacks, skirts, blouses at the least for women.  You can dress any of these up; however denim and shorts are not considered part of the business casual attire.

There was one guy at this particular event that had on shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.  He actually jokingly shared with the group that he had a more casual view of business casual.

Business Casual is kind of tricky… How would you define or describe Business Casual?

  • Jordan

    I’m a bit traditional when it comes to attire. I think having more casual than business (especially in the instance of your example of the dude in the Hawaiian shirt) is to be avoided; the concept of business casual is to be taken seriously (Hint: business is in the name).

    Go ahead and tell me I’m over the top, but I consider business casual slacks/dress pants with a polo or button up (ps – wear nice shoes and dress socks). It stops being business casual when you add a tie, then it becomes more formal. That being said, while it is by no means business casual in my book, I’m a big fan of the jeans, button up, and tie look.

  • I so agree that business casual means different things to different folks. I have pulled off denim jeans with a nice shirt and a jacket. However, I kinda with you Scott on what I grew up considering business casual i.e. khakis, polo shirt, etc. Yea, that’s a tricky one.

    Go Win!

  • RIchard Richter

    As far as I am concerned, Business Casual is code for Khakis required. Top them with what you want (Hawaiian shirt), but the minimum is khakis.

  • Agreed that it has definitely changed! I get asked that all the time by guest speakers. Funny to see the various interpretations of business casual. Sports coat & Jeans, Suit without a tie, Slacks & a button up shirt. It used to be you would over dress to be on the safe side, but if you do that now everyone asks why you are so dressed up. Fun topic. For me it is nice untucked shirt, dark colored jeans, and some casual shoes.

  • Chris Saulnier

    Business casual mostly refers to slacks and a golf shirt or button up shirt with out a tie.

    I however agree with Dean, untucked shirt (usually a long sleve button up for me) and dark colored jeans with my Doc Martins or other leather shoes.

  • Ryon

    I’ve always thought that business casual was khakis or I would tell my male employees – “just take the tie off.” I can’t help but wonder, however, if the bigger question is actually “What is business professional?” As business professional has changed from suit/tie to whatever it is today, the definition of business casual has shifted as well.

  • The 5 years prior to that consisted of 90% suits as I spent most of my time in business meetings,

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