While you can never go wrong with a suit, it is no longer the go-to option when deciding what to wear for a professional event.
These days, the majority of professional, academic and even social gatherings are deemed “business casual.” But what in the world is that?
Traditionally, business casual has been taken to mean khakis, a dress shirt and a blazer for men. However, with the continual trend of the workplace becoming less strict (think Mark Zuckerberg’s t-shirt) with business attire, the lines have blurred even more.
The benefit of that blurriness is that it leaves some extra wiggle room for men to play around in, according to a GQ article.
Men can be creative. Men can experiment with different combinations of clothing. Instead of a blazer, men can be adventurous and throw on a crisp military field jacket over their dress shirt and tie, according to the GQ article. If a man was so inclined, he could channel the king of cool, Steve McQueen, from “Bullitt” and wear a blazer with a turtleneck. These days, the workplace dress code is less like the 10 Commandments, and more like the pirate “guidelines” from the film “Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl.”
The important thing to remember is that business casual is more business with a twist, than it is Saturday morning casual. The classic staples should always be built on top of with some exciting variations, not the other way around. That means if you are not going to wear a tie, make sure to put on a sharp pair of chinos, coupled with a crisp dress shirt and well-tailored blazer.
Overall, business casual is what you make of it. It is never wrong to stay conservative and go with the classic blazer and khakis. However, these days it is okay to be more adventurous. Go ahead and wear that new navy suit with a sweater and t-shirt underneath. Just remember, play up the little things when going casual.
The details matter even more when the dress code is relaxed.
For more info on business casual, as well as some great outfit variations, check out the GQ article I referenced in the post and this article from Forbes.