It's hard to understand all of these fashion terms - casual, business casual, business formal, black-tie, cocktail attire, and more. Understanding which is appropriate for which event can be even more daunting as there are rarely hard and fast rules.
If you're here there's a good chance you're figuring out how to dress yourself for work or the office (not that a ton of people are going in during COVID), which involve two things. The first thing is that you remain professional in whatever style you wear. The second thing is being able to showcase your personality while wearing something that makes you feel good.
When it comes to clothing styles, however, they can range from extremely casual to professional suits and ties. It’s important to understand that the way you dress is a reflection of your career and the career you’re striving to have. Thankfully with the coming of modern times, office style is now commonly casual.
This does leave room for error because some people might take casual in a totally different direction. Even with casual office wear, or business casual wear, you want to make sure you’re staying professional. Here, we have a detailed style guide to understanding business casual and provide tips to help stray you from making any embarrassing mistakes.
What is The Dress Code?
Before you begin figuring out your fit for the event, it’s important to figure out if there are clear expectations, which you'd have at an event, or you have to follow less clear societal expectations such as a date night or evening out with the guys. . We’ve broken down the styles into three separate categories that encompass the possibilities of what your workplace may be expecting.
With this style, we’re talking slim cut jeans, a nice cardigan or flannel, and even sneakers. Events that are casual tend to be more creative and young. Having the ability to wear what you are most comfortable in, is very ideal! Just be cautious about what’s appropriate and what isn’t. Casual style is all about creating a comfortable atmosphere and is great for quick day tie activities with friends.
This style implements pieces of casual clothing, but balancing it out with more put together pieces. You want to go along with the easy going vibe, but you can’t just show up wearing sneakers. Mastering the casual formal look is all about picking the right pieces to wear with the more casual parts of your outfit. Once you learn how to mix and balance your outfits, then you’ll be able to style yourself for work with no problem! It's great for Sunday hangouts, church, dates when you want to dress up al little bit and are aiming to impress.
You’ll know as soon as you walk into the office or event your'e attending, which style is most prevalent. Usually, companies that care about their appearance and magnitude, will expect their employees to have a professional dress shirt and be suited up complete with a tie - we like them slim. This is where you can dress for the career that you’re looking to have. People take note of those who take care to show up on time and look professional every morning. There are different ways you can go about collecting the pieces for your professional wardrobe and we’ll get into them later.
Business Casual to Showcase Personality
Casual and Creative
The line between an outfit you’d wear at work and an outfit you’d wear to the Sunday farmer’s market is thin, but not completely broken. You are more able to showcase some of your personality, but be sure to keep it appropriate. You don’t want to risk a trip to HR or shocking people during a meet & greet if your graphic tee is going to offend anyone.
You usually have the freedom of comfortability, but you still need to balance out your outfit to avoid looking too comfortable. Chances are you want to be able to move up the chain of command, and they’re only going to pay attention to people who work on their appearance. A tie and jacket may help you stand out above the rest.
If you’re determined to keep it simple with a t-shirt then we suggest checking out quality shirts like the ones that are made at Nimble Made. They’re basic, but simple and soft enough to give you some class to make it through the workday. Below is a detailed list of everything casual that you can use or should keep at home.
- Do utilize sophisticated graphic tees. It’s a good way to showcase your personality without wearing anything that might be too inappropriate
- Do pair basic colored tees like the ones Nimble Made carries with cardigans, flannels, etc. You can find quality t-shirts at Nimble Made in the link down below.
- Don’t wear anything with a lewd, religious, political, or offensive reference. You want to avoid rubbing anyone the wrong way, especially your boss!
- Don’t wear anything that shows too much skin. For example a tank top or obscenely deep v-neck should be left at home.
- Do wear slim cut jeans. You don’t have to be afraid of mixing it up with a different wash. Experimenting is fine as long as the color doesn’t overwhelm your entire outfit.
- Do invest in quality denim and pants that fit. A good fit goes a long way.
- Don’t wear baggy jeans or pants in general. Wearing ill-fitted clothing to your workplace gives a negative effect to your appearance. You don’t want your boss thinking you’re slobby.
- Don’t wear jeans that can’t even reach your ankle. There’s baggy and then there’s the opposite. It’s just not worth looking like a teenager that has had a sudden onset of puberty.
- Do wear clean and basic colored sneakers. It’s okay to wear something simple and comfortable, but make sure the quality is intact. It’s one thing if you show up in your ten year old converse then a nice clean pair of white sneakers.
- Do utilize the power of lace up boots. They can be terribly comfortable while also giving you a sophisticated look.
- Don’t wear anything open-toed. Sandals and flip-flops are not appropriate for business casual
- Don’t wear anything that doesn’t require socks. Loafers may be appropriate for boating, but they’re usually best paired with shorts. Which are not suitable for business casual or anything style with "business" in it, whatsoever.
Casual, Yet Professional
This style can be a bit finicky to achieve perfectly. It requires a balance between the casualty of your outfit with the professional side. The choices of accessories to add or do away with can determine whether your outfit is casual or casual formal. It can be a decision between a tie or a bow-tie. Either way, we’ve got the tips for you.
Down below you’ll find the in’s and out’s of achieving the balanced and coveted, casual formal look. You want to look easygoing, but you still got bosses to impress. Take this as an opportunity to showcase your personality a little bit with fun, but simple choices. If you just want some basic colored, but quality button down shirts then Nimble Made has a great collection. Soft, simple, able to get you through the work day.
- Do wear slim fitted jeans that are more on the darker side. Leave the experimentation of different denim washes for the weekend rather than a casual and formal workplace.
- Do utilize chinos. Their fabric and array of colors are complimentary to most jackets and collared shirts. They’re comfortable and still give off a professional look whilst remaining informal.
- Don’t wear chinos or pants in general that pool around your ankles. Minding the length, matters. We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: Don’t wear clothes that don’t fit you.
- Don’t experiment with different colored chinos if you aren’t ready. Wearing colors that aren’t basic and complimentary can be quite hard to match. Make sure your fashion knowledge is savvy enough to distinguish between what matches and what doesn’t.
- Do invest in some oxford shoes or lace up boots. They come in different basic and earthy colors that add elegance to your outfit. It uplifts your outfit enough to make it professional for the workplace.
- Do be sure to wear clean shoes that aren’t beat up. These tips are all to ensure that you don’t inadvertently show up looking like you haven’t bought a new piece of clothing since college.
- Don’t wear sneakers. Though they may be perfect for a casual setting, they are not universal and don't apply to business casual. Therefore it’s better to leave the sneakers at home and opt for the more professional looking shoes.
These can be particularly important when putting together your wardrobe. Accessories for men have the ability to change up different outfit combinations to give them a different feel. They can also help to showcase your personality in different ways.
Nimble Made has a nice collection of different types of accessories ranging from tie clips to collar stays and wallets. They also have a good range of slim ties with varying designs and colors that still manage to keep things neutral whilst staying fun. Check out what accessories Nimble Made carries to scope out which accessories seem more preferable to you.
- Do opt for a tie every now and then. Ties don’t have to become a staple in your wardrobe, but you can easily elevate an outfit with a tie or bow-tie.
- Do consider belts and matching them easily with your outfits. Leather belts are universal, and should have a place in your closet.
- Don’t buy cheaply made accessories. Quality has to be over quantity when it comes to watches, glasses, and bags. If you don’t have too much money, don’t worry. People usually just invest in these items over time, and you should too!
A professional look can’t be complete without a suit and tie. This dress code demands a level of perfection. All you need to do is adopt a professional state of mind. Suits do take some investment, but there are definitely places where you can bargain hunt for quality. Hopefully, obtaining a job that requires a strict professional dress code means you have the finances to invest in the wardrobe that comes with it.
As well as all the other types of professional shirts, Nimble Made also specializes in quality dress shirts at an affordable price. You want to source your dress shirts from a place that takes into account the quality of their products. The affordable price is a positive, showing that premium items can be made affordable. Either way, you can not go wrong with a quality item regardless of the price. Cheap suits that are ill-fitted will make you look more naive than you care to. Check out their selection in the link below.
- Do wear professional dress shirts. You can get them in arrays of colors, letting you be able to style them with anything!
- Do learn the art of ironing. It will help you when your delicate clothing comes out wrinkled from the dryer.
- Don’t substitute all your dress shirts for button ups and button downs. Button ups have stiff collars and may be suitable for work. Button downs are considered a little more casual.
- Don’t wear loud, brightly colored dress shirts. You want something that has enough pattern like gingham, but that won’t overwhelm your entire outfit.
Style Tips to Keep in Mind
Finding the right outfits for each situation will take some trial and error, but you'll quick it up quickly. There are plenty of hacks and advice you can learn before moving forward with any purchases.
Even if you do make a mistake, don’t worry. This is a journey of learning and mistakes are bound to happen. Don’t be afraid of the mistakes, just be ready to learn from them. Before you go here are some more tips to keep in mind when you’re styling for work.
For Casual and Semi-Casual and Professional
- Don’t wear an extremely fancy jacket with a casual shirt and jeans
- Wear button down shirts since they tend to be more casual then button up shirts.
- Polo shirts are to be avoided. They may have collars, but the effect is more of a golfing attitude then a working one.
- During winter, you can pair sweaters and cardigans over your collared shirts for a layered look.
- Stay away from baggy clothing.
- Remember to choose quality over quantity. Pick the clothing that comes from trusted and quality brands.
- Don’t wear shorts, distressed jeans, and any athletic clothing of any kind where business casual attire is required
- Keep it simple with basic colors and designs.
- Once you’ve completed your wardrobe then you can begin to experiment with different types and colors of clothing.
- Keep to straightforward and simple colored patterns.
- Don’t wear any loud patterns that overwhelm your outfit.
- Keep away from wearing informal shoes like sandals, slip-ons or any other form of overly casual footwear.
- Don’t be afraid of accessories and what they can add to your outfits. Things like pocket squares and suspenders can go a long way into showcasing your personality.
When it comes down to it, understanding dress code wear is all about keeping to the basics and simple patterns to ensure a well-rounded wardrobe. The important part is to blend in rather than stand out awkwardly. Having a set dress code always makes things easier because you have fewer things to think about in the morning. More casual events ensure that you can let your personality shine through both in your work products and your fashion.
Regardless of what event you are going to, remember that you can always elevate your outfits with simple things. An accessory like a bow-tie, suspenders, a watch, and many more can help give you more elegance. Once you kind find the right balance for you, getting dressed for work everyday will be the easiest thing you can do!