What is Business Casual?

business_casual_-_male4_0We’re often asked in our men’s clothing store in downtown Memphis: what is business casual? Business casual is a term that popped up almost 30 years ago. It describes a trend in business wear that moves away from the traditional suit and tie and introduces to the work place, casual clothing. At the time, most business men wore suits and ties and women wore dresses, skirts with a jacket or a pant suit.

Business Casual Trends are Always Changing

Like anything, fashion tends to change over time. 100 years ago a dress shirt was considered to be underwear never to be worn without a vest and jacket over it. Today some business people work in a tee shirt. Literally, that is underwear!

What is Business Casual in Your Industry?

Business casual is interpreted differently depending on your industry. In some cases, a tee shirt is just fine. In some cases it is not. I prefer to play it safe because someone once told me “there is nothing casual about business”. Before deciding for yourself, take a close look at what line of work you are in. The more exposure to customers and executives, the better your wardrobe should be. Golf shirts and beat up khakis are not going to go over well if you’re selling financial services or insurance. If you’re in a creative environment like advertising or software development, that might be the right look.

Get Professional Advice First

Do your homework and ask your local, hometown clothier. He or she deals with all kinds of business people. At Shelton Clothiers in downtown Memphis, we coach people every day on what to wear. It is what we do, it’s our profession. Be careful about getting advice from that part time employee at the major chain. They may have been there two weeks and barely knows where the dress shirts are in the store!


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