Business casual is probably one of the most difficult to translate dress codes. It can vary greatly between companies, cities, and industries. If you’re unsure what business casual means for you, err on the side of caution. You’re better off being overdressed than under-dressed.

While business casual may not have the same defined rules as business professional, there are some guidelines that you can follow. Here are some rules to keep you on the right track.

The Safe Bet

Business casual is not a dressed up casual outfit. Think of it as a dressed down formal suit. You’re not going to your neighbor’s barbecue. You are still at work and need to look neat, clean, and professional.

No matter how little or how much your company leans towards the casual in business casual, there are some items that will always be acceptable. Blouses, blazers, turtle necks, and dressy shirts are a great choice. Unlike business professional, you can wear tops that have a bit of color and vibrant patterns, but keep it tasteful. Make sure the neckline doesn’t reveal too much and that your shirt isn’t so short that you show skin when you bend over or lift up your arms.

Dress pants, a knee-length skirt, or a pencil skirt are acceptable in any business casual dress code. A sheath dress in a neutral color is equally classy. Just make sure that it isn’t too tight, low cut, or has a short hemline. Keep in mind that you are likely to do a lot of sitting in these clothes so check to see how much you show while sitting in a chair before heading to the office.

In most cases companies allow dressy sandals for business casual attire, however, closed-toed shoes with heels are a safer bet. Stick to the classics until you’ve had a chance to see what your company envisions when they say business casual. Shoes should be clean and in good shape.

You can wear interesting jewelry or accessories to spice up your look, which may also spark interesting conversations that allow you to reveal aspects of your personality. Keep makeup light and natural looking.

The Scoop On Jeans

Yes, it’s true. An increasing number of companies are allowing employees to wear denim jeans to work. Keep in mind that you’re still expected to look professional and well put together. No distressed denim, no holes, and the hem should not drag on the floor.

Go for darker denim if you need to play it safe, since they often look like slacks, and make sure the jeans are in good condition. For an extra touch of class, pair those jeans with a vibrant colored blazer and a classy blouse. A pump is another good way to dress up jeans for that perfect mix of business and casual.

Things To Avoid

Don’t forget the "business" in business casual. Showing off your thighs at work is never acceptable. Keep the hem of your skirt or dress no shorter than just above the knee. Avoid t-shirts, tube tops, and spaghetti straps.

Sandals might be acceptable at your workplace but they need to be dressy and preferably with a heel. If your company allows jeans, it doesn’t mean denim is ok for your entire outfit.

Whatever you decide on for your business casual attire, it has to be clean, ironed, and in good condition. Avoid holes, stains, and of course, anything that is derogatory or offensive in nature.

Now that you’re armed with the basics, what’s your favorite business casual outfit?

Sierra E is a Los-Angeles based trial lawyer and entrepreneur. She became partner at her law firm in 2015 and has made numerous appearances as a guest legal correspondent on CNN. In 2018, Sierra launched SuitKits, an online shopping service that allows women to custom design suits and separates to fit their exact measurements, style, color and cut. Through her career, her writings, and her company, Sierra hopes to help women from all backgrounds achieve both personal and professional success for the benefit of themselves and their families. You can find her on Twitter/Facebook/IG @SuitKits

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