General Question

SamIAm's avatar

What does business casual mean to you?

Asked by SamIAm (8690points) December 20th, 2010

I’ve been working various temp jobs in a very easy going city (San Francisco). For the two most recent jobs, they’ve listed “Business Casual Attire” but I’ve shown up so over dressed!

To me, business casual is black pants, a black tank top/long sleeve, cardigan/sweater, and black shoes. But jeans are completely acceptable at a lot of places around here. Even sneakers are okay as long as they’re not nasty!

Obviously for first days, I always wear AT LEAST black pants and a sweater or a sweater dress… not too dressy but not casual either. But I’m curious as to what you guys think Business Casual means in 2010/2011??

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21 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It means I’m shopping at Express and raiding my mom’s closet because I have nothing like that in my own closet – so not my style.

world_hello's avatar

I usually go with some slacks and nice shoes and a button down shirt that is not tucked in.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’m one of those people who will err on the side on caution when it comes to dressing for work, I’d rather be overdressed than under or seen as messy. To me, business casual for men is slacks and shirt but maybe no tie. For women (I’m female) then slacks and dress shirt or a dress without suit jacket.

I’d never push the envelope of sneakers and jeans even if others wore them but that’s just me.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Definitely, in my mind, it means a skirt, khakis or dressy slacks with clean shoes and a button down shirt or a sweater.

Nothing about jeans and sneakers sounds like “business casual” to me. Maybe my age is showing.

Bluefreedom's avatar

A pair of Dockers slacks, a polo shirt, and a nice pair of loafers.

SamIAm's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie: that’s why I’m asking! This city is young, the places I’m working at are cool, hip, creative type agencies… the girls tend to wear nice jeans and boots, or fun dresses; but not all ... some of them wear nice jeans and Tom’s! The guys will mostly wear khakis, or jeans and sneakers with a t shirt or hoodie… Unless they have a meeting with a client. That’s a different story!

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Samantha_Rae I figure it is always better to be a bit overdressed than to be underdressed. I think something like a pair of slacks and a cardigan or a similar outfit can be worn almost anywhere, excluding very casual or formal events. I tend to dress quite conservatively, so maybe my opinion is skewed, but it just seems like a very “safe” wardrobe. Can’t go wrong there, in my eyes.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I would wear a skirt and a sweater or button down shirt.

Rv654321's avatar

Yea our office is business casual and we all tend to wear jeans or khakis and some clean sneakers and a T-shirt or polo

Cruiser's avatar

I have on a colored button down shirt with a big warm comfy sweater with slacks and casual/dress shoes.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

It sounds to me like you’re following the dress code, and they aren’t. I don’t think of jeans as business casual except on a Saturday they were supposed to have off, but then came in at the last minute (because they’re awesome). I would include khakis in business casual.

janbb's avatar

San Francisco is a more informal place than much of the country so business casual means something different there. Around here, I would think a skirt or chinos and a polo shirt or collared shirt, socks and casual shoes – but not sneakers – would be business casual.

Seelix's avatar

I don’t think of jeans as business casual, even if they’re “nice” jeans. I wouldn’t lump a denim skirt in there either.

Pants that aren’t jeans (i.e. dress pants or khakis), collared shirts and shoes that aren’t sneakers for the gents.
Pants that aren’t jeans, skirts, dresses, blouses/nice tops (i.e. not t-shirts) or sweaters for the dames.

funkdaddy's avatar

Austin’s pretty casual as well and from my experience it’s more the overall look than any one element or rule.

I’m usually in the same situation you are, visiting someone else’s office and working with them, and most places seem to be business casual now. I used to wear slacks and a tucked in dress shirt (no tie) for every first meeting, but after walking into offices full of shorts and t-shirts a few times I’ve toned it down a bit. Since then I’ve never felt like I standout for the wrong reasons as long as I feel “put together”.

For example I’m not a big fan of men’s dress shoes. Don’t like the look, don’t like the feel, just not a fan. So I tend to wear clean tennis shoes, a collared button down of some sort (or a sweater) and then just mix up “nice” jeans or khakis as it fits. I still tend to make sure I’m a bit more conscious of what I wear for first impressions, but I don’t over do it “just in case” anymore.

It sounds like such a brown nose way to put it, but when I worked in an office every day, I would look to my boss for cues on the expected attire rather than my peers. Just because Susie can get away with wearing a half shirt doesn’t mean anyone wants to see me in one ;) ~

Judi's avatar

I think East and West Coast have different definitions. It is WAY more relaxed on the West Coast

downtide's avatar

Jeans and sneakers are not “buiseness casual” they’re just casual. As far as menswear goes (I know nothing about womenswear) buisiness casual means a pair of smart slacks or chinos, and a plain polo shirt, with or without a plain sweater over the top. And smart dress shoes, not sneakers.

Having said that, the company I work for allows us to wear more or less what we like, including jeans and sneakers.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

The nature of the company must have something to do with it. I worked for several years in SF in sales and suits were mandatory for both males and females, ties on the men year round.

JLeslie's avatar

Some business casual workplaces allow jeans on Friday, just a fair warning not to get duped by that. I have never heard of jeans being business casual. I completely agree with @downtide answer, which agrees with many people above. You just need to come over dressed the first day, and ten ask your boss the real expectations, don’t necessarily go by how others are dressed. Most companies have a dress code spelled out in their employee handbook.

Yoman's avatar

As a temp, you’re finding that “business casual” is an elastic term that will change from city to city, and from industry to industry within a city. I agree with the advice above about playing it safe on your first day, and then adjust based on the local mores. It is better to overdress on your first day on the job, then underdress. Business casual for me in my current company means dress slacks, Dockers, and always a button-front shirt, but the shirts can be a wider variety of colors and patterns than in a “business formal” setting.

I showed up at a temp assignment wearing a conservative suit and tie. I was glad I did, because at this particular company, business formal was expected. That company is the exception nowadays, but as a temp, you probably won’t know ahead of time.

AshlynM's avatar

Business casual are nice slacks, dress shirt and dress shoes. You’re still casual but yet dressed for work. As long as you don’t wear any neon colors, logos, or any bright or loud patterns on your clothes, you should be fine.

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