Dos and Don’ts of Business Casual Attire

So, what is business casual for men? This can vary according to industry and geographic region. Read on for a general guide to what business casual attire for men should be, as well as some specific shopping suggestions. Here are a few dos and don’ts:

  • Don’t wear t-shirts. 
  • Don’t wear promotional polo shirts embroidered for any company other than the one you work for (a small logo representing the shirt’s designer is okay).
  • Don’t wear baggy or drooping pants.
  • Don’t wear button-downs that strain across a large belly.
  • Don’t wear loud colors or giant prints.
  • Do avoid wearing black shoes with lighter colors and khaki.
  • Do take your cues from senior management.
  • Do consider fashionable accessories that are not overstated, like a distinguished wristwatch or a scarf in the winter. 
  • Do consider a respectable case for your laptop or other items like your lunch.
  • Do keep up with what is fashionable and presentable for men in your age group.

When to Wear Business Casual

Business casual can be specified as a dress code on invitations outside of business environments to encourage attendees to wear casual attire of a certain standard. For men, this means a tie is not expected, but t-shirts, shorts, and other leisurewear would be inappropriate.

Business Casual Examples

Business Casual for Men

Depending on the season, a sample outfit for a man might be a pair of navy chinos, a gingham-checked dress shirt without a tie, with a brown belt and matching loafers. Below are some of our picks for good men’s business casual options to help round out your wardrobe:

Shirts & Tops

Dress shirts are totally appropriate for business casual. Wear them without a tie and the top couple of buttons undone. Look for no-iron versions to make your life easier. While short sleeves polo-style shirts can be permissible, they should not be worn to an interview. Here are several that we (and buyers) like:

Land’s End Supima Oxford Dress Shirt (between $30 – $50)

The French Blue and Daffodil versions of this shirt lend variety to your wardrobe, and the cotton is comfortable, wrinkle-free, and long-lasting.

Crew Performance Polo Shirt ($20 – $45)

If climate dictates and your company allows it, polo shirts are versatile and easy to care for. Tucking a polo shirt in will make it look dressier. Make sure it’s not too faded or wrinkled. 

Nordstrom’s V-Neck Sweater (around $50)

This cotton and cashmere knit sweater is machine-washable and a good example of what to look for in business casual for men. It’s tasteful and can be dressed up or down.

Lauren Ralph Lauren Corduroy Sport Coat ($70-$295)

This corduroy jacket has faux-suede elbow patches and classic detailing. It’s fashionable and timeless. 

Business Casual Pants

Khakis and chinos without wrinkles are business casual staples. Don’t assume that jeans are acceptable. You need to know the standards of where you work. Jeans worn for business casual should be a dark wash, and free from any distress marks and holes. Make sure they fit well, and hems should be clean and not ragged or trodden upon.

Dockers Signature Lux Cotton Khaki Pants ($44 – $62)

You can get these trousers in a color for each day of the week. They are comfy and casual while remaining professional.

Eddie Bauer Flex Jeans – Slim Fit ($45-$75)

If your workplace allows jeans for business casual, make sure they are well-fitted, and it’s best if they’re a dark rinse (and turn them inside out to keep them dark). We suggest these in the black, deep rinse, and dark heritage shades.

Banana Republic Tumbled Italian Leather Belt (around $50)

With supple leather, a decidedly masculine look, and three different color options, this type of belt will be a staple for many business casual outfits.

Business Casual Shoes

business casual shoes

Business casual shoes for men can encompass a wide variety of styles. The important thing is that they are closed-toe and in good repair. They should not be running shoes or sneakers.

Johnston & Murphy Cresswell Venetian Loafer ($120-$160) 

Elegant yet casual at the same time, this sheepskin leather loafer will please your feet as well as be the envy of your coworkers. 

Cole Haan Grand Blucher Oxfords ($126-$180)

These shoes are stylish with shock-absorbing soles and can be a good investment for men’s business casual shoes. They will garner compliments and can be worn with regular denim on days off.

Business Casual for Men: A Takeaway

While certain professions and work environments can permit variations that allow men to bend the rules while still appearing fashionable and respectful, it’s always wise to search out a written dress code for your organization. For men, business casual can mean a way to express your good judgment and taste, while wearing clothes that may be more comfortable and easier to care for than traditional suits and a tie.