A gent’s guide to business casual

A gent’s guide to business casual

Dressing for the office used to be a doddle; a gent would simply don a business suit, dress shirt and tie, and be on his merry way. But today many workplaces have done away with the suit and replaced it with “business casual”. Whilst this dress code can be awfully confusing for those accustomed to corporate attire, you can successfully negotiate the business casual landscape by following a few rules.

What is business casual?

Broadly speaking, business casual for men means wearing a pair of smart pants, a collared shirt, a sweater or blazer, and relaxed but elegant shoes.

A tie is generally not needed for business casual occasions, however if you are in doubt you should always wear one. After all, it’s easier to discreetly remove your tie and put it in your pocket than it is to conjure a new one out of thin air (unless you’re a magician, in which case, carry on).

For some of us, dressing business casual will be a daily requirement at the office. But even corporate workplaces will sometimes ask their staff to follow a business casual dress code for occasions like dress-down Friday, a company away day or a meal with the boss. You might also receive a wedding invitation that specifies a business casual dress code.

What is not business casual?

It’s important to know that business casual is not casual. This means that jeans, t-shirts, trainers and flip-flops are all absolutely out of the question. Any garments with a slogan are also off the cards.

In general, you should avoid wearing black because it’s too formal for business casual. Instead, choose English countryside colors such as navy, bottle green, red and tones of ochre. And never wear white socks - you want to show your boss that your mind is on the job, not popping off for a spot of tennis.

Business casual basics: the shirt

Business casual basics: the shirt

The most essential ingredient for business casual is a smart collared shirt. Charles Tyrwhitt business casual shirts are made just for the occasion, with a semi-spread collar, a lighter lining and crisp button cuffs.

You could also wear a washed Oxford shirt or a gingham check button-down shirt. Our washed favorite shirts have a peachy soft finish with discreet but contrasting fabric inside the collars and cuffs.

During Winter, you can wear a merino or cashmere sweater over your shirt. Not only will layering keep you warm, but there’s no simpler way to add flair and color to your outfit.

Pants and jackets for business casual attire

Business casual pants include cotton chinos, cords, and very occasionally dark-wash denim jeans. It’s better to be slightly overdressed than slightly underdressed, so only wear jeans if you are sure the dress code will be relaxed enough.

A well-fitting tailored blazer will pair nicely with your collared shirt and smart pants. Often separates work better than suits for business casual, so try a subtly textured jacket with a relaxed construction. Our tweed jackets are perfect - available in versatile colors, these jackets are exceptionally well-made and will see you safely through any occasion.

jackets for business casual attire
Business casual shoes

Business casual shoes

Business casual shoes should be loafers, brogues, rubber-soled leather shoes or boots. Make sure your shoes are clean. A quick polish the evening before will do wonders, and your colleagues will notice your brilliant ideas more if they’re not distracted by your scuffed brogues.

Finishing touches to complete your business casual look

Everything you wear must be clean, pressed and free from wrinkles. If you’re wearing a belt, choose a well-made one that matches your shoes. Your hair and nails should be clean and neat. And check your clothes for any stray threads, creases, stains or loose buttons.

Looking professional is still key here, and casual does not mean scruffy. But business casual is a terrific opportunity to have some fun with work attire and put a bit of personality into your ensemble. Just remember to keep things smart, tidy and unfussy.