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So maybe you just nailed that job interview and they told you that attire around the office is business casual. Great but… what does that even mean? Can I wear some pants and a nice shirt or is the suit too much?
There is no fine line when it comes to deciding what is business casual and what isn’t. The most important part is looking fresh and feeling comfortable in what you wear. No I’m not talking about pajamas or sweats to work, but what about something that everyone owns, like flannels? You might own a ton, like me, and wondered if flannels are business casual. The short answer is: sometimes. Depending on the pattern and color, you can make it look more professional, or more casual. Let’s go over what to wear it with, and what to avoid.
What are Flannels?
Flannels are more than just the cliche lumberjack shirt. Originally made from wool, and more recently cotton, or synthetic fibers, they provide warmth and comfort for colder weather and have a napped finish for a warm touch. As you can probably guess, they can be worn anytime of the year, with some being more suited for different seasons than others. Though we can talk about fashion trends, we are here to talk business and whether or not flannels are right for work.
Color schemes to consider
What makes flannels fashionable are the varying color schemes and its ability to mix and match with different outfits. Sometimes they come in bold colors like red or green. Other times they are more mild coming in baby blue, or light brown. The bolder colors are not as ideal unless worn with other pieces of clothing like a jean jacket with khaki or black pants. I would not recommend something too flamboyant like a yellow or lime color schemed flannel, but something more modest. If I could write a list of colors I like, it would include: blue (most shades work), brown, and white (preferably with black or gray lining).
So now that we talked about color schemes, let’s talk about how to combine these flannels with other clothing accessories.
Building an outfit around flannels
Let me start with my favorite color: blue. A great combo I have seen was a blue with a red lining flannel worn with a black windbreakers and khaki pants. You wear those light khaki pants to compliment the darker top half. Here’s my list of clothing pieces you can use to mix and match with flannels
- Black or Khaki Pants
- Denim Jacket or a Windbreaker
- Black, Brown, or Gray Loafers or Boots
- Black or Brown Belt
- Nice Long Sleeve or V-Neck
Workplace environment matters
So there are different places you can get away with wearing a flannel. If you are working in a corporate environment such as a law firm, bank, or consulting firm, then my answer is no. You cannot wear a flannel for such a job. If you are working for a tech start-up or creative agency, however, then it’s definitely a yes. From my experiences working both in DC and LA, I can tell you that location and your actual work has an impact on how strict the dress code could be. Like I said earlier, business casual takes on many forms. I recommend overdressing in the early stages of a new job and taking a good look at the office space before you leave to evaluate whether or not a flannel is good for your workplace. Hey, better safe than sorry.
Bottom line, assessing your work environment is a better determiner as to whether or not a flannel can be considered business casual. Though I think it is, you should dress around it by having a nice shirt/blouse underneath, or a stylish jacket over the flannel. I’m not a big fan of it standing alone, but that is personal preference. Don’t be afraid to dress up and get creative with your style. Just make sure you overdress the first day to assess what should/shouldn’t wear, and then determine if this is super business with a littler casual (no flannel), or truly a business casual setting.