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Defining Business-Casual Menswear

Business casual can be a tough assignment for some men. Although most men understand formal or business dress, they might have difficulty defining business-casual dress. One of the biggest reasons men struggle with sharp casual clothing is because there is some gray area with company policies and the guidelines of business casual.

Business casual and Friday casual are distinct from one another:

  • Business casual: Generally means khaki pants, a plain polo shirt or a long-sleeved casual button-down oxford shirt, a V-neck sweater, sometimes a sports coat or blazer, and brown leather shoes. Loafers are a good choice, and you should wear socks.

  • Casual (or Friday casual): Includes all the business-casual options, and in some companies, can include jeans (that aren't torn or ratty), T-shirts (that are clean and inoffensive), and tennis shoes.

Don’t forget these general guidelines:

  • A short-sleeved shirt is, by definition, always a casual (or business-casual) shirt.

  • Khaki and flannel pants are business casual for most businesses.

  • Tank tops, shorts, and sandals are weekend wear, not business wear.

  • Plain shirts are best, in general; shirts with ads on them are for fishing.

  • Button-down oxford shirts are business casual; T-shirts are for musicians and computer types (and for mowing the lawn).

  • Loafers and dark walking shoes are business casual; clean sneakers, running shoes, and hiking boots are for play but can make occasional appearances on casual Fridays.

  • Blazers and sports coats are business casual for some businesses and dressy for others.

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