Business vs. Business Casual

You’re new to the workplace. As far as you’re concerned, changing out of your pajamas is dressing up. So now that you are working in a professional environment, what do these dress code terms really mean? Understanding the distinction between business and business casual is critical to dressing within the boundaries of your company’s policy. Not all employers have the same definition of business and business casual, so be sure to pay attention to what your coworkers are wearing and ask questions.

Here are simplified and general definitions of these terms:

Business: Keep it conservative and traditional. A pant suit or a dress/skirt with pantyhose are appropriate. Avoid bright colors or bold patterns, and wear basic solids instead. Limited jewelry and simple hairstyles are preferred.

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Business Casual: A nice pair of pants or a skirt/dress without pantyhose are acceptable options. Rather than a blazer, go for a cardigan over your outfit. Jewelry can be more expressive and you can add color and pattern in moderation. 

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Since we are on the topic of dress code, it is important to understand what “casual Friday” means at your workplace. If you have a strict business dress code, “causal Friday” might not even exist. When in doubt, dress more business than casual. Again, pay attention to your colleagues¬†attire and ask questions!