With rising healthcare and other benefits costs, many employers today have adopted an inexpensive and affordable benefit for their employees — a casual dress code. This benefit, often referred to as "business casual," gives employees the chance to wear more comfortable clothes while they work.
But what exactly is business casual?
Not surprisingly, the definition varies from company to company. In theory, business casual is designed to allow employees to wear less formal clothing to work. For men that could mean leaving suit coats and ties at home in their closets. For women, it might mean not having to wear suits or dresses and hosiery. At some companies, however, casual day is even less formal with employees wearing sneakers, sweatshirts, and even jeans.
So how do you know which casual dress code works for your company?
Here are a few simple suggestions that will help you understand what to do and not to do when dressing for casual day.
- Read your company's casual dress policy and adhere to it. If your company doesn't have a formal policy, talk to a human resources representative to find out what they deem appropriate casual wear. Whatever the policy, it's still better to err on the side of caution and dress more professionally when you're uncertain.
- Make sure your clothes are always clean. Casual never means dirty.
- Avoid clothing with holes. While ripped jeans might be great for cleaning out your garage, they don't exactly present a professional image at work.
- Consider your position with the company. If you have direct contact or meetings with customers, it's important to dress with a level of respect for them. That would mean passing over your jeans and sneakers for slacks and a nice shirt or blouse.
- Choose tasteful accessories and don't over-accessorize. While bracelets are fun to wear, putting 100 of them on one arm can be distracting.
- Stock your casual wardrobe with collared shirts and nice, pressed blouses. You can't go wrong with them.
- Wear clothing that doesn't fit or is revealing. For example, baggy jeans may look disrespectful. The fit of your clothes says a lot about you and your professionalism.
- Wear t-shirts, ripped or worn jeans, and sweatshirts.
- Choose clothing that is flashy, glittery, or overly colorful (unless you work for a party entertainment company as a clown).
- Let your grooming go. Just because it's casual day doesn't mean you shouldn't have to comb your hair, shave, or shower.
- Wear wrinkled clothing that looks like you rolled out of bed. Again, clean pressed clothing makes the best impression.
Remember that the flexibility to dress casually is a privilege, so be sure to respect it by dressing appropriately.