How to Dress Business Casual

Many businesses allow somewhat casual attire at least once a week, but dress codes vary. Here are some guidelines for dressing business casual, which is a notch below business formal.

1. Ask your human resources department for official guidelines. Business casual means different things at different companies. At a large corporation, it may mean a sport coat with a tie; at a smaller company, it may mean khakis and a polo shirt.

2. Before you go casual, check your daily planner to make sure you don't have any meetings that require formal business attire.

3. Select clean, pressed and wrinkle-free clothes. Your outfit should communicate professionalism.

4. Wear a collared shirt with an undershirt. You can break up the oxford shirt monotony by wearing a linen or flannel shirt or one with a band collar. Knitted shirts and polo shirts are also generally acceptable. A casual sport coat is appropriate.

5. Wear khakis, chinos, corduroys or other nondenim slacks. Check your company's policy before you decide to wear jeans to work.

6. Be sure to wear a belt, and have it match the color of your shoes.

7. Wear socks that match the color of your pants'leave white socks or tube socks in your gym bag.

8. Choose oxfords, loafers, or rubber-soled leather shoes or boots for casual day. Wingtips are often too formal. Worn-out shoes, sandals or athletic shoes don't make the grade.

Observe what others are wearing to get an idea of what is acceptable, if your company has no written guidelines.

Your casual-day outfit should be formal enough that you can throw on a sport coat and meet a client.

Casual days generally do not include the option of not shaving.

Polo shirts convey subtle messages by Stan
If you wear polo shirts, be aware of what they say. A polo shirt with the company logo, a school or a local charity organization is good; a shirt with golf courses or clubs may show snobbishness. A shirt with a competitor's symbol is definitely a no-no.

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