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Just What Is Business Casual?

For many, the poorly understood dress code label business casual is confusing, and with good reason—it turns out there’s no single definition. Instead, business casual is dependent on where an organization is situated and the industry it is in.


Interviewing at a nonprofit or a start-up? Business casual skews to the informal. Starting a new job in DC or on Wall Street? Up your game. Denim is off-limits except maybe on Fridays.


Some basics apply to most, if not all, workplaces. No-nos include jingly jewelry, flip-flops, or clompy shoes. But beyond that, experts suggest researching a company’s culture before laying out cash for an outfit that may work for some organizations but cause you to strike out at others. The best advice is to know who you’re dressing for. A new-hire in the farming community would look out of place in a suit, while jeans and a polo shirt would be poor choices in the medical or legal professions.


Understanding what to wear at work demonstrates the ability to read and fit in with an organization’s culture, a key marker of a desirable hire.


From The New York Times