When asked to dress in a ‘business-casual’ style, do you break into a cold sweat? After all, it’s a term that is very open to interpretation.

Perhaps you’ve asked yourself these questions:

“Can I get away with not wearing a tie?”

“Jeans or no jeans today?”

“Flip-flops, peep toes, bare legs or tights?”

What not to wear

Unfortunately, many leaders of companies – advocates of business casual – are now reverting to more formal dress codes because they feel their employees are not presenting the company image in the best way possible.

If the words ‘business-casual’ unnerve you, keep the following in mind: Business casual is still business. Leggings, flip-flops, and oversized T-shirts (or small tight ones) are just plain casual. And a white button-up top with a bright pink bra showing through is just inappropriate, unless you’re going to School Disco. Yes, the latter is an example of something I have seen myself.

Remember that even if you are confined to an office all day, or not seeing clients, you should still be portraying yourself as a smart professional. Pride in your appearance communicates to both colleagues, and clients, that you are serious about the work you do. It’s also almost inevitable that, on the one day we dress down, we’ll bump into the one person we would prefer didn’t see us like that.

Combining formal and informal

Here are my top three tips for getting business casual:

1. Wear business-type items in a casual way
For example, wear the trousers from a suit, or the skirt from a suit, with a separate top/blouse or with a cardigan: but don’t wear the jacket. Wear suit trousers and a shirt, but don’t wear the tie or jacket.

2. Wear casual items in a business way
For example, team a wrap dress with the jacket from your business suit. If jeans are permissible in your workplace, wear them: but add a jacket and always wear smart shoes or heels rather than casual shoes or trainers.

 3. Make sure you are ‘finished’
If you are wearing jeans or trousers that have belt hoops, wear a belt. Accessories will make you look smart and professional. Make sure you are wearing make-up or, if you’re a man, that your facial hair is neatly groomed.

Follow these rules and you’ll look like you mean business – in a cool and casual way of course.

How do you do ‘business casual’ and have you – or someone you know – ever got it wrong?

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Written by Jodi Goldman, image and impact specialist

Jodi Goldman has empowered hundreds of professional men and women, helping them to achieve the success they know they are capable of. If you would like to look fabulous, no matter what your body shape or budget, master the art of body language and learn how to communicate with different personality types, or overcome confidence issues with simple tricks and tools… then visit www.jodigoldman.co.uk . Sign up for her FREE newsletter to start your journey.

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