Men aren’t always the most fashion-conscious individuals. That’s not to make a generalization, but some guys just find it hard to figure out what, when, and how to dress in the modern world. Many studies have proven this.
Things can become even more difficult when what is accepted in certain environments seems to be changing with the tides. What once might have been considered standard business casual looks for men have now transformed into something else.
What was once old is now new, and you can’t be blamed for not being able to keep up with the changing trends. What should a business casual look consist of in the year 2021? Read on and we’ll walk you through everything that you need to know.
History of Business Casual
In a way, the idea of business casual is in and of itself a contradiction. While the idea of the business casual dress code has become something of a norm in recent times, it wasn’t always this way.
In fact, the idea of business-casual dress is more recent than you might think. Most people trace the origins of this style of dress back to the 1980s, where companies out in Silicon Valley began shifting their priorities to process instead of appearances.
These workers, mostly men, spent large amounts of time in front of computer screens. They weren’t often seen by many other co-workers or the general public. At a certain point, many of these men found it didn’t make sense to have to wear an entire professional wardrobe to work every day.
It simply was a waste of time and not all too comfortable. As the work culture began to change, so then did the accepted wardrobe styles.
Casual Fridays became an accepted norm across much of the country and a more casual work dress became the new normal.
Business Casual in the Modern Era
Today, more companies tend to employ a business casual dress code than a formal business one. With the exceptions of attorneys and wall street employees, business casual has become the new standard.
In a way, it has simply replaced the old standard of uniform with a new one. Ditching suits and formal attire was hip, free, and cool. Eventually, everyone followed suit (by getting rid of them).
Even banks and firms as large as Goldman Sachs have lowered their requirements for dress in the workplace and allowed more casual fare to take over their offices.
Today, business casual generally refers to a wardrobe that doesn’t include the rigid formality of a suit but still conveys some sense of seriousness and care. That means khakis and chinos fit the bill but jeans and shorts do not, to sum things up simply.
What items might make up the ideal business casual wardrobe?
Key Pieces of a Business Casual Wardrobe
Putting together a business casual look shouldn’t be difficult if you know what you are looking for. What exactly your outfit will consist of will also depend on where you work or what kind of event you’re attending.
An organization that intends to coney classiness and professionality might have higher business casual expectations than a young tech upstart might.
White-collar businesses generally have higher expectations. An employee at a bank or a law firm would be expected to wear a blazer or sport coat to work, even if they can leave the suit jacket at home.
The blazer can be the key piece of wardrobe for the business casual worker in the modern era. It’s what elevates a casual outfit to a business level.
Under that blazer, a worker would be expected to have a long-sleeved dress shirt on. Neutral colors like blue or white are preferred in most contexts.
Dress pants can be worn, but chinos and khakis are also generally accepted as a business casual standard. These items make up the basis of any business casual look.
Dress socks and formal leaning shoes, such as oxfords or boots, are also generally accepted. The more formal a person’s wardrobe is, the more casual they can typically be with their footwear. This is seen as something of a balance.
Sweaters and cardigans can also be worn over dress shirts should the weather be cold. These are generally still accepted as part of the business casual look, as long as the sweaters are generally high-quality.
What About Ties and Bow Ties?
What about a tie? Many people debate whether a tie is really necessary for a business casual look. Most people in the modern era would say it is not, though others might disagree.
Some people split this difference in opinion by embracing ties that are more casual in nature. An employee casually wearing a knit tie would be a common sight in a business casual environment, for example.
Bow ties for men are also seen as a slightly more casual option, though they are not nearly as popular.
Setting is Everything
While the above would serve as a standard in most white-collar workplaces, it’s important to note that standards can vary from environment to environment. At a youth-oriented start-up company, it might be totally acceptable to wear jeans and tennis shoes as long as they wore a blazer and button down.
It all depends on the culture of the workplace that already exists.
Business Casual Looks For Men
If you’re confused about how to dress for your new workplace, you certainly aren’t alone. There are many out there that aren’t certain what typical business casual looks for men are and how to obtain them. The above information can help.
Need more advice and information about the workplace? Keep scrolling our blog for more.
Amanda Byers is a graduate of Columbia, where she played volleyball and annoyed a lot of professors. Now as Zobuz’s entertainment and Lifestyle Editor, she enjoys writing about delicious BBQ, outrageous style trends and all things Buzz worthy.