The Ultimate Business Casual Guide for Men

Business casual has now become the standard dress code for many work environments.

From start-ups to tech spaces and corporates, each company, department, and team will have its definition of business casual.

This guide is here to help you identify some items you may want to add to your collection when stepping into the business casual work environment.

Business Casual Jacket

business casual jacket

The jacket or blazer should feel comfortable with a relaxed yet smart feel to it. It should be unstructured with soft shoulders to allow you to move easily. 

Merino wool in darker colours, such as navy or grey, is flexible enough to pair with light or dark chinos, shoes, or sneakers.

You can just go for a herringbone or a subtle windowpane pattern for that standout accent. A patterned jacket works in the office, out for dinner or at a weekend social event.

Coat

The overcoat is a business casual coat for work and a dress-down coat for social events. Granted, the overcoat is primarily worn in the cooler seasons or out in the evenings, but you know it will always be in style. It’s one to have in your winter coat collection.

The fit should be tailored enough to your frame, to project a refined silhouette.

When choosing a material, go for wool, such as cashmere or merino. A darker colour in a simple style will hold its own as trends come and go.

Shirts

Formal Shirt

Keep the shirt simple and plain. A crisp oxford shirt will go with any outfit, and its versatility lends itself to pairing with blazers, knitwear, chinos, dark jeans and white sneakers.

Opt for white and light blue, which will stand the test of time in your capsule wardrobe collection.

Polo shirt

The polo shirt is the go to t-shirt for the business casual look. It has its place in a corporate environment, the tech space, a start-up and everything in between.

Be sure to go for a neutral tone, and pair it with chinos or jeans. The fit should be slim fitting but not tight.

Business Casual Knitwear

Cardigans, sweaters and jumpers are all essential for the colder climates or when the office air conditioning is just that tad too cool.

The versatility of the zip neck jumper allows it to be zipped down and worn with a t-shirt or dress shirt, or worn like a roll-neck when zipped up.

The crew neck and v-neck jumpers can be worn with a t-shirt underneath, be sure to pair them with chinos and smart shoes so as not to look too casual.

Chinos

The great thing about chinos is that they work in many social settings. As business casual go-to pants, chinos add a level of comfort, sitting nicely between suit pants and a pair of jeans.

A darker colour works all year round, whilst a lighter colour would be more suited for the warmer seasons and your summer outfits. Pair the chinos with a shirt, merino wool sweater, or polo shirt.

Jeans

To work well with a business casual outfit, jeans should be slim-fitting with no rips or distress marks. Pair them with a nicely fitted shirt, unstructured blazer, or even knitwear.

Keep the footwear on the smart side, unless the working environment allows for sneakers or trainers.

Business Casual Footwear

Depending on the environment, the choice of footwear will range from oxford shoes to smart trainers or sneakers.

Brogues and loafers, particularly a tan or brown, will compliment jeans and chinos.

A desert or chukka boot is more on the casual spectrum of a business casual shoe. Pair the boot with a smart shirt to keep the whole look in keeping with the business casual theme.

Wearing sneakers or trainers will depend on the direction your working environment provides. For a large corporation, sneakers may be reserved for a Friday, whereas in a startup, it may be the standard fare for footwear. 

FAQs

What is business casual for men?

Business casual is a dress code that blends traditional business wear with a more relaxed style still suitable for an office setting. It allows for personal expression within the workplace’s guidelines.

How did business casual attire originate?

The concept originated from the Hawaiian “Aloha Friday” in the 1960s, which allowed for more casual wear at the end of the workweek. This concept spread and evolved into what we know today as business casual.

What are key pieces in a men’s business casual wardrobe?

Essential items include unstructured jackets or blazers, tailored overcoats, plain oxford shirts, polo shirts, knitwear like cardigans and sweaters, chinos, slim-fitting jeans, and versatile footwear such as oxford shoes, brogues, loafers, or smart trainers.

By: Stephen Antonio