Business Casual vs Business Professional

business casual vs business professional: business professional attire explained

Written by Tanya Zhang

When it comes to dressing yourself for work or headshots, you may find yourself feeling a little confused about dress code, especially when it comes to business casual vs business professional, black tie optional, smart casual, and more. You’re not alone, as many people don’t know the difference between business casual and professional dress codes.

If you’re here, there’s a good chance you’re figuring out dress codes for work or the office, which involve two things: 

When it comes to clothing styles, however, they can range from extremely business casual vs a business professional dress code involving a professional suit jacket and tie in business formal dress code. As such, it’s important to understand that your professional clothing is a reflection of your career or the career you’re striving for. Thankfully with the coming of modern times, office style is now commonly business casual, allowing one to wear comfortable shoes such as sneakers rather than dress shoes. 

This does leave room for error, however, as some people might take business casual dress code in a totally different direction. Even with business casual office wear or business casual dress codes, you want to make sure you’re wearing professional clothing. 

Here, we have a detailed style guide to understanding business casual dress code vs business professional dress codes, and provide tips to help you make the most of either dress code.

 business casual dress code infographic from nimble made

Business Casual compared to Business Professional Dress Code

An office dress code can set the tone, from business professional dress codes to business casual attire. Some employers believe that customer-facing roles require professional clothing, while others maintain that business casual attire is easier and more comfortable of the two business attire dress codes.

Business Casual

With business casual dress, we’re talking slim-cut jeans, a nice cardigan, polo shirt or flannel, and even sneakers as opposed to dress shoes. Jobs that allow for business casual clothing tend to be places that are geared toward the younger crowd. 

Business Professional

business professional attire for men

You’ll know that this is the dress code as soon as you walk into the office. 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 and dress shoes for business professional dress code

mens ties

Business professional dress codes mean dressing for the career that you want 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 business formal attire or a more formal dress code, which we’ll get into later. 


Casual and Creative Environments

If you’re determined to keep it simple with a t-shirt in business professional dress codes, then we suggest checking out quality shirts like the ones that are made at Nimble Made. They’re basic, yes, but simple and soft enough to give you class and comfort to make it through the workday in comfortable business attire. Below is a detailed list of everything business casual clothing that you can use or should keep at home. 

Shirts

  • 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, so make sure to dress appropriately!
  • Don’t wear anything that shows too much skin. For example, a tank top or obscenely deep v-neck should be left at home. 

Pants

  • 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 and you're able to dress professionally. 
  • Do invest in quality denim and pants that fit. A good fit goes a long way. 

Shoes

  • Do wear clean and basic colored sneakers. It’s okay to wear something simple and comfortable, but make sure the quality is intact.
  • Do utilize the power of lace-up boots. They can be terribly comfortable while also giving you a sophisticated look.      

 

Casual in Professional Work Environments

This style of dress code can be a bit finicky to achieve perfectly. It requires a balance between the casual side of your outfit with the professional side. The choices of accessories to either add or do away with can determine whether your outfit is business professional dress codes or business casual dress codes. It can be a decision between a tie and a bow tie. Either way, we’ve got the tips for you.  

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 casual dress shirts. Soft, simple, able to get you through the workday.

Shirts

  • Do wear something collared. It doesn’t have to be a super fine dress shirt, but something breathable with a collar can bring you closer to a professional look like a polo shirt. 
  • Don’t wear ill-fitted shirts of any kind. You want to keep things slim to your body, or you risk the baggy look. Don’t drown yourself in a shirt! 
mens tshirts for casual outfits

Pants

  • Do utilize chinos. Their fabric and array of colors are complementary to most jackets and collared shirts. They’re comfortable and still give off a professional look whilst remaining casual. 
  • Don’t wear dress pants that don't fit well. Minding the length matters. We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: Don’t wear clothes that don’t fit you.

Shoes 

mens shoes boots

  • 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. 
  • 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.  

Accessories

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. Add a brown belt to match your shoes and make sure the belt is the right size.


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 proper tie length 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 preferable to you and your appropriate dress code. 

 

Dressing for Business Professional Attire

The business professional look is never complete without a suit and tie.

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 business professional dress code like business formal or semi-formal means you have the finances to invest in the wardrobe that comes with it and the means to wear business professional look. Here's a guide on how a suit should fit

 

Shirts

  • Do wear professional dress shirts. You can get these long sleeved shirt in arrays of colors and always fit into the professional dress code!
  •  Here's our opinion on whether you should wear a tie to a job interview.
  • 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.  

  Pants 

  • Do invest in some pairs of slacks. These are business professional pants and always great for business casual - you can’t get much better than these pants for a professional dress code.
  • Don’t wear jeans or any denim of any kind. You’ll have to leave the slim-fitted jeans at home for the weekend. 

Shoes

  • Do invest in some oxford and dress shoes that are at least three different colors. The variability of choices will help you put together more and more combinations of outfits. 
  • Don’t be discouraged by the high prices. Think of it as an investment in the career you’re working on. Remember, quality over quantity.  

Accessories 

  • Do ensure that you have a nice collection of simple neckties to help bring your outfits together and make sure they're tied at the right length. Remember to keep it basic colors and designs so as to not draw too much attention.  
  • Don’t wear anything too flashy or bright. From jewelry to brightly colored neckties and even pocket squares, it’s best if you stick to the colors that can match with the rest of your outfit

Business Professional vs Business Casual Style Tips 

Finding the right outfits for each professional dress code will take some trial and error whether it's for a job interview or your daily uniform. Before you go, here are some more tips to keep in mind when you’re styling for work. 

  • Don’t wear an extremely fancy jacket with business casual shirt and jeans; opt for sport coats instead. 
  • Wear button-down shirts for anything business casual, as they tend to be more casual than button-up shirts. They should always be long sleeved shirts and fitted to your body well. 
  • Stay away from baggy clothing. This holds true for both business casual and business professional attire.
  • Don’t wear any athletic clothing of any kind where business casual attire is required. And absolutely stay away from these in a business professional setting.
  • 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 in showcasing your personality. 

 

Frequently asked questions about business casual vs business professional

1. What is the difference between business casual and professional?

What is the difference between business casual and business professional attire? The terms "business professional" and "business casual" are often used to describe interview attire. Business professional clothing consists of a two-piece suit.

2. Are jeans business professional?

Athletic gear and footwear should never be worn but jeans can be business casual with the right outfit. 

3. What is business appropriate attire?

Appropriate business casual attire typically consists of slacks or khakis, a dress shirt or blouse, an open-collar or polo shirt, an optional tie or seasonal sport coat, a knee-length or shorter dress or skirt, a tailored blazer, knit shirt or sweater, and loafers or dress shoes that cover the entirety or the majority of the foot.

    Comments (0)

    Leave a comment