The invitation arrives. You RSVP yes and you’re all set to go to the event, except for one key detail. The invitation says “business casual” and you’re not exactly sure what that means. Even my friends D, Mindy and Gord of the Fresh 103.1 FM morning show asked the question on air and called me bright and early in the morning for an answer.
One part of the debate on business casual that we had is that it’s easier for women to determine what to wear than it is for men. That’s not exactly true. Women have so many choices and variations of each item, so it can be really tricky to pick the right outfit. For men, it’s pretty simple once you have a recipe to follow and can just fill in the blanks.
Image consultant Amy Cassan of Polished Image explains, “The term business casual is a contradiction and that’s why professionals find it challenging to dress in this style. The concern is that we’re seeing professionals focus too much on the casual side.”
Wardrobe consultant Erin Nadler, president of Better Styled Fashion Consulting agrees, saying, “Don’t let the casual fool you. The invitation may say business casual, but it’s still about representing yourself in a business capacity.”
During our on-air discussion, radio-personality Gord Vickman made the point the interpretation of business casual varies depending on the corporate culture – although one company may not allow jeans as part of their dress code, a person wearing a good pair of jeans can look snazzier than a person wearing a crinkled pair of khakis.
He’s correct, they can, but that doesn’t mean jeans are acceptable in a business environment – they are technically causal. It does emphasize the point, however, that the foundation for dressing well, regardless of the dress code, is to be sure you are well-groomed and your clothes are ironed and clean.