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A modern guide to casual wear in the workplace

Updated: Nov 8, 2021

Dressing up casually at your work sounds amazing until you realize that you have no idea what casual wear means. Just because the company gave a casual dress code option, it doesn't mean employees can wear anything they want. Despite the word "casual", employees can't wear shorts or a tank top. But wearing a suit would also not be appropriate. So, how should we dress up casually? That's where we come in! Take a page from our guide and show up to work best (casually) dressed!

Expression in the Workplace

While the typical business professional dress code has its merits, especially in certain circumstances, there is no matching the self-expression that casual wear provides. Suits and other usual formalwear may offer a classy aesthetic, but casual outfits can allow employees to express themselves more easily and feel more at home in the workplace.

First and foremost, casual wear is simply more comfortable than formal alternatives. No one feels confident or self-expressive when they are tightened up by uncomfortable clothing. With casual wear, workers never have to worry about itchy collars, constraining clothes, or overheating again! Not only is the clothing naturally more comfortable, but it's also incredibly cheaper. Imagine all the money you can save without buying formalwear!

Beyond the confines of comfort, casual wear gives employees the chance to express themselves more freely in the workplace. This can greatly increase the employee’s sense of belonging and positively affects the employee’s desire to come to work and their confidence in being productive. The flexibility and autonomy of a casual dress code means that employees will choose outfits that promote confidence and collaboration with other workers. Not only does a casual dress code offer improvements for the employee, but it can improve efficiency for the employer as well.

Women’s Casual Wear

Redefining the professional dress code to something more casual opens the window of opportunities for women's casual outfits. In the business world, when it comes to attire, women have the short end of the stick in that it is not so easy to find a collared shirt and slacks for work. Allowing casual wear lets women express themselves in a multitude of outfits.

A great outfit for any workplace could include pairing a sweater with dress pants. This elevates the outfit while allowing you to stay comfy and warm for winter.

Don’t be afraid to throw on a pair of jeans and a basic shirt! Add a blazer for a more professional look!

Don’t feel like planning an entire outfit? Take the easy (but stylish) way out and throw on a dress with some sandals or sneakers!

Men’s Casual Wear

Men's business casual can be daunting, as there is a huge range of styles. However, the abundance of different styles gives men many options to express themselves professionally during their workweek.

The first step in finding the right outfit is to observe what the rest of your co-workers are wearing to get a feel for the norm of the office. This helps you find an appropriate range of clothing to wear. Next is to decide what style suits you, from casual, business, or a little of both.

Casual includes:

  • Casual Jackets

  • Solid T-shirts

  • Solid Denim

  • Clean Sneakers

Little of Both includes :

  • Sport Jackets

  • Denim only on Fridays

  • Ties Optional

  • Polos are okay

Business includes:

  • Matching Suits, ties encouraged

  • Sport Coats with pants

  • No denim

  • No sneakers

Once you find the appropriate range you can build your wardrobe. Some key reminders are that the more graphics the more casual you are, same goes for colors and trendiness of clothes so avoid those if you want to stay professional.

The most important aspect is to have different options, as you don't want to repeat clothes in a given 2 week period. So find clothes that you love in different colors and patterns, start with neutral colors as they match better with more things. Also try buying a range of casual and professional styles of shirts, jackets, and pants to see what you like. Buy multiple styles of clothes as you can try them for a couple of days and just return the clothes if they do not work for you or the office. Another aspect of casual wear is accessories, like bags, watches, eyewear, and even cufflinks to add elements to your outfit. This can be a fun way to express yourself without being too casual.

Finally, if you are ever unsure about a clothing item you purchase, you can always consult your office human resources worker.

Looking Towards The Future

In the workplace, changes in casual, business casual, and formal dress codes are most prominent. Research and analysis have confirmed that the company's specific dress code policies have interrelated effects on employee behavior, performance, and productivity.

A more casual approach may improve employee morale and comfort! The casual dress code enhances the fun and friendly organizational culture. Why not feel more relaxed at work!

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