What is business casual? Today we’re talking about what this dress code is and business casual outfit ideas.
Wondering what business casual is? Maybe you started a new job that requires you to dress in business casual. Here are some business casual outfit ideas and a breakdown of what exactly business casual is.
What is Business Casual?
It’s easier to understand what “business casual” is if you know what “business” dress code is first. Business dress code is a suit with pants and a blazer or a skirt and blazer. It’s also appropriate to wear a button down shirt or dressy blouse and slacks or a skirt WITHOUT a blazer.
So Business Casual is a step below that. Your top doesn’t need to be a crisp button up or dressy blouse, and you can choose more casual pants and shoes. It depends on the workplace, but sometimes nice jeans can be worn with business casual, and sometimes sneakers can be appropriate. In these cases, nice sleek sneakers and non-distressed jeans are the best option.
8 examples of business casual outfits
Here are some examples of business casual outfits that you can copy with pieces in your closet, or use as outfit formulas to put outfits together.
1. Paper bag waist pants with a tee and blazer
- This is a good example of dressing down a more “business” style outfit. Instead of more conservative dress pants, choose a more bold pair in a fun color, then pair with a basic tee instead of a blouse. I added a linen blazer to keep it feeling professional, and close toed shoes (although open vs. close toed shoe allowances vary from workplace to workplace!)
PAPER BAG WAIST PANTS (wearing size small) | CUTS TEE (code MERRICKSART) | MADEWELL LINEN BLAZER (wearing size XXS, size down!) | SIMILAR LOAFER MULES
2. Try linen pants with a bold blouse
- These linen pants are a great option for summer business casual workwear. They’re so comfy and lightweight, and can work for more professional outfits as well as casual outfits. I chose a bold blouse with them, and added some slim neutral ankle boots. If you wanted to dress this up a bit more, add a pair of classic pumps instead of boots!
ANTHROPOLOGIE LINEN PANTS (wearing size 25, size down one size!) | ANTHROPOLOGIE BLOUSE (wearing size XS) | SIMILAR ANKLE BOOTS
3. Add a cool blazer to a blouse and jeans
- If you’re able to wear jeans with your business casual outfits, these are good ones because they’re a little more dressy with the kick flare, and they have no distressing. A dark wash pair would be a great option too! I paired with a chic blouse and cool blazer to keep things looking more professional, and although I chose a sneaker, it’s a plain white sleek sneaker so it can work for some business casual settings. If you need something dressier, go with a loafer or flat or wedge!
TALBOTS BLAZER (wearing size 2) | KICK CROP JEANS (wearing size 25, size down one size) | WHITE BLOUSE (wearing size XS) | ECCO SNEAKERS | MADEWELL TOTE BAG
4. Wear a basic tee with cool dress pants
- Here’s another way to wear these fun paper bag waist dress pants! They’re super comfy but look chic and dressy. With a basic, black tee and some printed flats, you have a great business casual outfit.
BLACK CUTS TEE | PAPER BAG WAIST PANTS (wearing size small) | ROTHY’S LEOPARD FLATS | MADEWELL TOTE BAG
5. Try a cardigan blazer!
- If you’re not sure about a regular blazer, try a cardigan blazer! It’s super comfy and looks fancier but feels like a sweater. I paired with another pair of nice, elevated jeans (no distressing), a printed tee, and a pair of loafers. A great, easy business casual outfit, if you’re allowed to wear jeans. If you’re not, choose a pair of slacks instead.
SIMILAR CARDIGAN BLAZER | SIMILAR STRIPED TEE | MADEWELL GRAY JEANS | SIMILAR LOAFER FLATS
6. A chic pleated skirt is great for business casual
- Skirts are a great option for business casual outfits. I kept it elevated with a button up shirt and some loafers.
AMAZON PLEATED SKIRT | STRIPED BUTTON UP SHIRT | MADEWELL LOAFERS
7. Denim jackets and blouses are great for business casual
- A denim jacket is another great option as a replacement for a blazer. Denim jackets can be casual, but with a button up shirt, nice pants, and nice shoes, it is great for business casual dress codes.
SIMILAR OLIVE PANTS HERE and HERE | MADEWELL BUTTON UP SHIRT | SIMILAR DENIM JACKET | SIMILAR LOAFER FLATS
8. Dress and jacket outfit
- A dress and jacket or blazer is a great option for business casual. I paired with loafer mules, but you could do a boot or a heel or a wedge or a flat, and any of those would work well!
SIMILAR MW COLLECTION DRESS (wearing XS), SIMILAR LOAFER MULES | SIMILAR DENIM JACKET | MADEWELL TOTE BAG
I hope that helps give you some inspiration for business casual outfits!
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I went to business school, and they really define dress codes for us. Business professional= suit. Business casual is nicer blouses and slacks. Never jeans for business casual and never sneakers for business casual. If your office allows jeans, then these outfits are great for day to day work, but for recruiting events, if the invitation says business casual, don’t wear jeans and don’t wear sneakers. Also, if you’re in Utah, be careful with dresses. You don’t want to look like you’re wearing a “church dress”. A more professional looking dress will work, but it’s a fine line there. Avoiding churchy dresses doesn’t matter so much outside of Utah.