So What Exactly Is Business Casual?

Caroline Redmond,
the center Marketing Intern


If you are like most college-age students, you will be asked to arrive somewhere in “business casual”. Also, if you are like most college-age students this will be your face when someone says, “Attire for this event is ‘business casual’.”



When did business casual become this well-known phrase that everyone is just supposed to know what it entails??



Was there a worldwide seminar on business dress that we all missed? How are we supposed to know?



Is this business casual??


They are wearing a suit and a dress which is business-y but the denim really makes it more casual don’t you think?


What about this??



Should I wear a suit??



What kind of suit?? Does a superhero suit count??



We sat down with the Career Connections Center’s very own professional fashion guru Matthew Cowley, Assistant Director for Professional Development and Experience, to answer the burning questions that could be the difference between getting the job or not.



So…what exactly is business casual?



Matthew: “It’s almost literally removing some of the elements of business professional…It’s a more relaxed version of business professional. For young men it’s usually slacks or khakis and a button down. You can wear a tie or a sport coat if you want to but it’s not required. For young ladies it can be a wide variety of things: slacks and a nice blouse, a skirt with a nice top, or a dress with a blazer. For young women, business casual tends to start to look a lot like business professional.”


Is it better to be over or underdressed?

Matthew: “It’s always better to be over dressed than underdressed. If you don’t know what to wear it’s always better to be over dressed. You don’t want to show up and be the only one who didn’t get the memo that it was business professional.”


**One special tip Matthew had for the guys was to wear a suit to an event if you don’t know the dress code. If you show up in a suit and everyone else is dressed more relaxed, it’s easy to take off the tie and/or jacket and be more casual! It’s easy to manipulate an outfit if you go over but not if you go under.




If a student is going into an interview what should they wear: business casual or business professional?

Matthew: “First, go by what the employer specifies. If they say business casual, wear business casual. If they don’t specify anything, wear business professional.”


So there you have it. Now go forth, get that internship or job, be prepared for the workplace, you got this!


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