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What exactly does “business casual” mean, anyway?
What’s appropriate can vary from office to office, and it can be tricky to navigate — but there are some simple rules you can follow to make sure your office looks are always on point.
Read on for answers to business casual questions for men and examples of what to wear to the office.
Are Polos Business Casual?
A question I often hear from male clients is, “Are polos business casual?”
Yes, polos fall under business casual and are a must for a men’s business casual wardrobe.
I often recommend polos to my male clients because they’re a step up from a t-shirt and a step down from a more formal button up shirt.
They’re the perfect piece that looks put together, but not like you’re trying too hard.
When shopping for polos for your business casual wardrobe, look for refined fabrics like merino wool or pima cotton; shirts in these fabrics will look more sleek and office-appropriate than the typical golf polo.
Polo shirts in core colors like black or navy make great wardrobe foundations that can be mixed and matched with different pants and shoes.
Are Jeans Business Casual?
Another common question I hear from men who work in offices is: “Are jeans business casual?”
Jeans are typically NOT business casual — most of the time they read too casual for office environments.
However, jeans may be acceptable for “casual Fridays” in some offices. If you’re unsure, ask your manager and/or HR department.
Are Flannels Business Casual?
Are flannels business casual? The answer to this one is a bit more nuanced: Some flannels can be considered business casual, while others definitely can’t.
As a general rule of thumb, patterned flannels — like the typical plaid here on the left — are a no, while solid color flannel shirts are a yes.
However, I recommend saving flannel shirts for the weekend and opting for a solid colored button down shirt, like the photo on the right, instead.
Solid colors are a safer way to go because they’re a classic style that looks more professional.
Are Khakis Business Casual?
What about pants: Are khakis business casual?
Yes, khakis are perfect and very traditional business casual attire, especially when they fit just right.
If you’re buying khakis, make sure the fit is spot on.
A flat-front slim fit khaki, like the pair on the right, will help you look more put together, in shape and modern; avoid baggy, pleated-front styles like the pair on the left, which are dated and unflattering.
For a slight twist on the traditional khaki, look for a darker shade of khaki or even an olive colorway.
These colors are just as versatile as classic khaki and will give you an updated look.
Need help putting together the perfect business casual wardrobe? Check out my men’s personal styling services.
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Cassandra Sethi is a NYC Personal Stylist and Image Consultant. After working over 15 years in the Fashion Industry, most recently as a Senior Buyer for Equinox, she created her business, Next Level Wardrobe – a luxury personal shopping service for successful professionals.
Next Level Wardrobe has been featured in Wall Street Journal, Today and CNN. See here.