What Exactly IS Business Casual?

Sure, I claim to know a thing or two about fashion but I have to admit, when I get an invitation and the dress code says “business casual” my heart skips a beat.  Just what exactly IS business casual?  Can I wear open toe sandals with a blazer on?  Can I wear a short suit?

I think I’m on the right path when it comes to the business casual look. See for yourself here, here and here.

Here’s the thing, if I put “business casual” on an invitation, to me I’m telling the attendee to wear something they wouldn’t mind “meeting the parents” in if you know what I mean.

Being the visual person I am, here are some cool looks you can depend on when you’re trying to decipher that oh so tricky “business casual” trap.


[images via Pinterest]

One thing I should point out is “east coast” business casual is different than “west coast” business casual.  Not that I’m trying to start a coast war but I’m sure many of you east coasters are probably shaking your head at a couple of the looks, and that’s fair.  However, I think we can all walk away with a couple of good pointers.

1. Excessive cleavage is not business casual.

2.  When in doubt, wear a lightweight blazer.

3.  Consider your hemline. Shorts and skirts can work if worn at a conservative length.

4.  Jeans pass.  Just make sure they’re not your “errand day” jeans with the holes and tatters.  The darker the wash the better.

5.  You can’t go wrong with neutrals.

I hope these looks will help you pull together some fun ways to rock the business casual look to your next party of the century!



10 thoughts on “What Exactly IS Business Casual?

  1. I’ve learned there is a huge difference between east vs west when it comes to business casual. Usually when I think I’m casual, I’m still too dressed up by LA standards, but I’ve gotten better at it over time. Interviews still throw me for a loop though and I just err on the side of caution (i.e. I’m probably overdressed).

  2. I completely understand. Having worked in the education field for so long and transitioning from a middle school to a university setting, I’m always skimming the line on what business casual actually is. I guess I’m still learning. While I’d wear most of the above looks to work, I still come off as overdressed; especially when I wear heels. I guess it depends on the industry itself. Great post!

  3. Literally laughing out loud because I was saying to myself “in what world is this business casual” right when I came to your disclaimer. I love the looks, but you’re right, for the most part on this side of the country jeans are only appropriate on “casual Friday” which is totally different than “business casual” for us.

  4. It’s so funny because today I was invited to a business professional event and didn’t know what to wear since I’m so used to going to business casual events. But I definitely love these outfits especially the one where the girl is wearing yellow heels. – justaise.blogspot.com

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