Business Casual?

What is business casual these days? Last week I spoke at a conference in San Francisco. The dress code was business casual and I had to spend time on the Internet exploring what that really means these days. If you work for a company that does not dress up, what does that mean when you have to take it up a notch? Business casual does not exist for me. Every day is casual. So when you are in a situation where you might be interacting with customers, vendors, clients, or partners what is the true meaning of business casual?

From what I can tell it means no jeans. However, is that really true? With today’s tech world, are jeans still out of the realm of business casual? I barely had an outfit to wear to speak at the conference and I realized I went from working from home for so many years (and basically living in my pajamas and sweats) to my current company which is very laid back. Why should I add outfits to my closet that I will never wear? I know the origins of business casual are probably not much different then “casual Fridays” — a chance to dress down and be more relaxed. In my mind everyday is “casual” Friday. Yet, my terminology for business casual is not in the traditional sense. My version of business casual equates to: “Am I comfortable?”

Yes, I am not a traditional one. Going from my early career where I had to dress nice (and no, I no longer have any of those clothes) to spending almost a decade hoping that I had showered before Chris came home. I would roll out of bed and immediately go to my laptop instead of acting like a normal human and actually getting dressed. Why should I have when I saw practically no one all day? When you spend most of your day as the voice in a grey conference room speakerphone in the middle of a long table 3,000 miles away from your house to now, where I have a lot of work outfit options. I can be comfy and I can dress nice, so what is the 2015 version of business casual? Has it changed too much? Have we evolved and become a more laid back society? Or do lawyers and Wall Street exec’s still dictate the definition of business casual?

So I ask you, what does it mean to you?

2 thoughts on “Business Casual?

  1. 1) formal – tails to tuxedo (where tuxedos for a while were NOT formal)
    2) business – suit with tie – vest optional
    3) jacked required – business casual with mandatory blazer
    4) business casual – slacks (wool or blend – no cotton) and a button down shirt with full coverage for men (short sleeves ok) and full coverage for women (skirt and blouse ok)
    5) casual a (established company) – nice jeans (no holes or stains) or cotton (chino / dockers / cargo) but still need to state that majority coverage required (hate to say that casual in offices sometimes gets bastardized into mini skirts, shorts and crop tops – i have always found that too far will result in a modified casual attire policy – one company explicitly outlawed spandex on casual days)
    6) casual b (startup company) – nothing illegal with most coverage; shorts, skirts, Hawaiian shirts, t shirts and even with some holes and bleach stains all ok
    7) work from home – just make sure the camera on your laptop is off.

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