“Business Casual” sounds like such a simple concept, but the reality is that both employers and employees struggle mightily with dressing in a business casual environment. Here are ten tips from the Paul Fredrick buying team on putting together a wardrobe for the business casual workplace:
1) Always keep in mind that “business casual” and “golf” are two separate concepts. Leave the golf wear in the clubhouse.
2) You cannot go wrong with wool trousers at the office. From tropical weight wool in the summer, to flannel in the winter, to gabardines in between, wool is the perfect fabric for trousers in the workplace.
3) When it gets really warm, try linen or silk trousers. Both are dressy enough for the office and will keep you cool to boot.
4) The best part of business casual is the large number of shirt options. Wear a favorite dress shirt (with or without a tie), a sport shirt for a more colorful look, or a knit sweater when it is very cold (long sleeve merino wool) or very hot (short sleeve spun silk).
5) Invest in a couple sport coats – they are very versatile. Choose one in the black/grey family and one in shades of tan/brown. Add a navy blazer and you are set for any occasion. Like trousers, sport coats are available in a variety of wool weights appropriate for all types of weather.
6) Sweaters and vests are both great business casual layering pieces, great for spring and fall when temperatures may vary greatly during the day.
7) Make sure your shoes are in synch with the rest of your outfit. Leave the topsiders and tennis shoes at the country club.
8) Solid trousers provide the most versatility in any business casual wardrobe. Pair them with patterned dress shirts or sport shirts to make your color statement.
9) One exception to the above – buy a pair of patterned trousers that you absolutely must have, and match it with a solid knit shirt.
10) Finally, don’t be shy about dressing up sometimes, even in a business casual environment. There is nothing wrong with being the best dressed guy in the place!