Today, office dress codes are a lax after thought. You go in for your interview, congratulations! You got the job! You ask the basics: Hours, time off, pension, insurance, duties. You gather all your needed information and get ready to start your new career. Oh wait! What’s the dress code? Business casual.
What exactly is business casual?
Seventy years ago there was no such thing. At the end of World War 2, fashion was at its peak with Chanel knit and two button suits. Women wore waist binding dresses with flowing skirts, perfected their coiffes until they were immaculate, and slid into their highest heels. Men were ever dapper in their tailored Brooks Brothers suits and polished shoes.
Career clothes morphed into something else all together over the next thirty years, flowing skirts and cinched waists turned to power pant suits and shoulder pads, big hair and bigger glasses. The 80’s had arrived. Men traded in their immaculate suits for dockers and khakis, putting an end to the idea that work clothes were only for work.
With the arrival of the twentieth century, came the birth of business casual. Work in comfort! No more formal attire! No switching into your heels at the office, or tightening your tie for meetings. Gone are the days of ties and heels, three button suits and shoulder pads. Today, employees are more focused on the task at hand than appearance, comfort over style, clothes you can attend a business meeting in and then go for cocktails after work.
While no one was sad to see the death of formal work wear, business casual is a broad spectrum, the edges are blurred and one could easily wander into uncharted territory. The general idea is expected to be common knowledge, nothing too relaxed, no sweat pants, jeans on fridays, nothing to provocative or controversial. But when assuming everyone has the same guidebook for business casual, you may find yourself in hot water. When working in a professional environment, it’s best to ensure staff have some precedent of what is and is not acceptable, to avoid any mishaps and keep your office ambiance where it should be.