Business Casual for Men: A Guide

Business casual attire is the perfect medium-ground for any formality requiring a more formal dress but not suit & tie. It’s a flexible formality that allows jeans, but it’s not casual enough to accomodate sneakers. A good go-to business casual outfit can be a pair of dark denim jeans, wingtips, dress shirt, and a wool blazer over top.

A few key factors to consider when deciding on whether or not you should be in business casual are the location, context, and occasion of the event you’re attending. If you’re attending a professional event outside of work hours, then opting for a more casual look with a pair of jeans will do the trick. However, if you’re networking for your business and want to impress fellow attendees, you’ll want to wear chinos and a blazer.

The Wardrobe

  • Dark Denim Jeans
    • Wearing dark denim jeans in a business casual typically means you’re leaning more towards casual than business, but as long as your jeans are made of dark denim (either navy or black), then you’re in the clear. Dark denim is a staple in American workwear, and so it rightfully belongs in a man’s wardrobe.
  • Chinos
    • Chinos are traditionally a business casual pant, so they’re a great option for a business casual outfit. They’re a versatile piece of clothing that will allow you to pair it with any of the following tops. 
  • Shirts
    • Either dress shirts or button-down shirts will work here. Depending on the rest of your outfit, you can choose what kind of shirt to wear to balance out the rest of your look. Opt for neutral colors if you want to stay traditional.
  • Sweaters
    • Sweaters are a great way to layer your look as well as bring it up a notch from a traditional suit & tie. There are multiple styles, such as crew neck, v-neck, and quarter-zip sweaters. 
  • Blazer
    • Wearing a blazer is an important part of business casual. It’s the clothing item that will elevate your look, regardless of what else you have on. 
  • Bonus: Shoes
    • When it comes to the shoes you wear for a business casual outfit, it’s best to stick with dress shoes. Sneakers are too casual, no matter how polished and fancy they look. Unless you’re trying to make a fashion statement, I’d suggest staying away from wearing sneakers and opting for more dress type shoes, such as wingtips or cap-toe dress shoes. Refer to our Shoe Guide for this one.

Outfit Ideas

Winter Business Casual

This style of outfit is great for the colder occasions where you want to layer up but still look stylish. Notice here he’s wearing a turtleneck sweater with a blazer-style jacket over top. This allows him to transition to a smart casual attire if needed.

Modern Business Casual

This is a great day business casual outfit, where you can see a good usage of neutral colors with a nice dotted shirt pattern. The popped collar is a choice you have to make for yourself, but take the occasion you’re attending in mind when choosing your accessories.

Conservative Business Casual

This is a picture-perfect description of business casual. A fitted and tapered pair of dress pants accompanies a tan blazer and light blue dress shirt. Notice the brown dress shoes and matching belt.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does business casual mean?

Business casual is a style of attire that is a professionally acceptable alternative to a suit & tie. Depending on your profession, business casual is actually preferred over a suit & tie while still being formal enough to presently oneself accordingly.

Can I wear jeans in business casual?

Yes, however, they should be made from dark denim. This is because darker-colored denim is widely regarded as more formal than lighter-colored denim.

What should I wear business casual for?

Depending on your profession, it may be acceptable to wear business casual attire to your workplace. Otherwise, it is typically appropriate for work-related events such as happy hours, conferences, and interviews.

Can I wear sneakers for business casual?

No. Sneakers are considered to be too casual for a business setting.

What is business casual, really?

Business casual is the go-to formality option for events and situations that require a more formal setting than a typical gathering, but less formal setting than a typical business affair. Examples of events where business casual is appropriate at are company happy hours, networking events, conferences, and seminars.

Check out these business casual products: